The beginning of any sexual relationship starts similarly enough: meet, greet, a date or two or three or six, copulation and then off to the races. Somewhere in the “off to the races” portion, the couple gets to know each other’s likes, dislikes and, in many cases, families.

Arguments show up too, which have their place because they show active engagement in the relationship. But should there be too many of them—well, we may have a situation like this or this. Relationships vary too much to generalize a source of contention, but toxic relationships do share a tendency.

The Blame. Game.

In this overly medicated and terminological world, we know that there’s a name and disorder for everything. And when it comes to blaming people for your problems, there is no exception. According to the exceedingly accurate Wikipedia, Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a personality defect that leads to unstable moods, chaotic relationships and a pathological affair with black and white thinking.

In other words, if I’m right, and we’re arguing, then it’s you who’s wrong.

There are more than a few problems with this mindset, the greatest being the inherent narcissism. Narcissism has numerous cloaks and ways of manifesting itself. Likewise, there are a million ways—terms—of saying what the real problem is in any toxic affair: the rigidity of ego from one or both sides.

An ego isn’t necessarily bad; at its essence, it’s a healthy trait. Asserting yourself as a human in society requires that an ego be present. If you’re in any management or leadership position, you know that instilling organizational ethos in your employees or members or family is paramount to your success.

You can’t be a CEO at Goldman Sachs and not wear the “Goldman Sachs is the best securities firm in the world” badge. Countries use patriotism. Schools use traditions to instill school spirit. Religious organizations use a collective belief in their text and prophets to create their identity. There’s no successful team that is devoid of ego.

It’s the degree of ego that is problematic. Specifically, it’s problematic when ego becomes a zero-sum game that skews the definition and application. There is no better way to expose this degree than to be in a relationship. We’ve heard many times about how sacrifice is needed in order to sustain a team. Look at any special about any championship team in sports and you’ll see the terms “sacrifice” and “for the team” and “buying into the team concept” thrown around like non-sequiturs on a public Twitter timeline.

Who’s blameless in any interdependent relationship? The whole point of interdependency is to share responsibility in the outcome, to rely on each other for a synergistic result. In a relationship, one plus one doesn’t equal two because the total is greater than the sum of its parts.

But the parts have to work together to create a synergy. When egos are rigid, x + y does not equal z, because x and y are working against each other. Neutralizing each other’s strength, they are working on bad math and will never achieve z. A problem with many team-based activities (families, churches, throwing a party) in society is that they fail in this regard.

In the Black community, the number of single-parent households and absentee fathers highlights our dearth, or want, of “quality teamwork.” So how can we straighten out the equation? Well, prior to entering the relationship, the decision to accept full responsibility for however the relationship turns out must be made by each person. After that, both people have to cooperatively decide: What exactly am I here for?

Establishing ego in the success of the team is a necessity. It’s hard to blame someone else for an outcome for which you decided long ago you would take responsibility. One person could always flip the script during the relationship, but figuring out on the front end the collective goal reduces that chance.

And if the other person in the equation reneges on his or her promises, you can leave knowing you were as proactive as possible in working toward your relationship’s success, which is better than leaving full of questions and confusion as to how something like that could happen. Individuals in relationships are constantly evolving, so revisiting that “what exactly am I here for” question periodically could serve a world of good. Or not.

Pretty picnics are planned all the time, but that weather predicting capability eludes even the best of us.

You always said Yeezy I ain’t your right girl
Probably find one of them “I like art” type girls
All of the lights, she was caught in the hype girl
And I was satisfied being in love with the lights
And who to blame, you to blame, me to blame
For the pain and it poured everytime it rained

– Kanye “Let’s Play The Blame Game”

Taking a more business-like, mathematician’s approach to a relationship isn’t the most popular way, simply because the emotional spontaneity of a new relationship adds more to the human experience. Why take such a logical route to something so . . . human?

What good is ensuring stability and effectiveness if it reeks of insipidness and boredom?

We don’t want to make that decision. Which is why we get exactly what we get. After all, games spice up life. Even if they are centered on blame.

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