≡ Menu

The Blame Game of emotional predators


Emotional predators use blame shifting to weave their web of control.

In relationships, trust is the glue and the foundation – it keeps interactions healthy. Without trust, relationships normally wither and perhaps die.

So why be with someone who is unsafe, like a Dark Heart or narcissist? How do they keep people enmeshed?

Dark Hearts know trust is important to people, but they can never give it on a deep, supportive, or nurturing level. They can make you feel like they are giving it, but they don’t. ( “I’m promoting John here to this new position because he’s learned well from me how to improve sales.” ) To bypass our need to feel safe and have trust, emotional predators use work-arounds. One is keeping us on our heels with blame.

To understand how this works, we must compare safe and unsafe people as explained by Drs Cloud and Townsend in one section of their book, Safe People.

Safe People
According to the authors, when safe people confront us with integrity, love, and willingness to forgive,

  • They can see and recognize a fault in us, without downplaying or overplaying it.
  • They don’t let the issue lessen their love and concern for us. They know how to move on.
  • Despite our failings, they stay close and don’t play games.

From the book Safe People: “That’s why the forgiving person is safe. He sees our wrong, yet loves us beyond it. And that love helps heal and transform us into the person God intended.”

Unsafe People
When Dark Hearts — who are good at finding weaknesses in others — see a fault in us, they condemn:

  • They hold up our weakness like a banner.
  • They keep waving a fault in front of us so we won’t confront their faults.
  • They won’t allow a weakness to be worked off, forgiven, or repaired.
  • They use our faults to keep themselves in the more superior, more righteous position.
  • They value a rulebook more than developing true friendship.

From the book Safe People, “Yes, we need to be confronted with our weaknesses. Unsafe people, however, confront us not to forgive us, but to condemn and punish us. They remove their love until we are appropriately chastened.”

The Dark Hearts bypass our need for trust in a relationship by focusing us on our own faults, weaknesses, and failings. They do this so well — and often so subtlety — that we feel any problems in the relationship stem from us.

Ain’t that some trick?

How we respond
And being goodhearted instead of dark-hearted people, we jump into thinking:

  • I’ll fix this by putting in more time.
  • I screwed up, so I must be more careful.
  • I must not have listened well enough, so I’ll shut up and listen more.
  • I don’t know what I was thinking! Time to wise up.
  • I hope I can make this up to them. I’ll try harder.

These thoughts are fine if you are dealing with a person who truly appreciates your efforts. But if all this is being pocketed in the Dark Heart’s memory to prove his position and wisdom over yours ( “Last time we talked you admitted you were in the wrong…” ) they are hardly empowering thoughts, are they?

We all play different levels of the blame game in our lives. It’s because we don’t want to feel the weight of personal responsibility. That is human nature. Emotional abusers, however, use the blame game to control, manipulate, and belittle others so they always come across as the wiser, smarter, or more morally superior person in the relationship.

Want to know more? Take a look at
The Narcissist — A User’s Guide

Take away exercise:
Ask yourself and teach kids to ask:

  • Deep down, does this person make me feel more —  or less —  whole and safe?
  • Does this person act morally superior to me?
  • Does this person blame me for relationship problems all the time?
  • Can I tell them anything without expecting a chastising, verbal spanking?
  • Do I look too much to this person to “keep me in line?”

This is a small portion of what I will be writing about regarding this subject and on this site. I hope you subscribe or return often to discover more about unplugging from emotional predators.


Thank you for visiting and learning about self defense.
If you think others can benefit, please pass it on!

Lori Hoeck

ALSO — To give a better picture of Dark Hearts and their effect on people, I’ve written a short story and a powerful poem at my writing blog LoriHoeck.com.

Photo Credit Speech Path Girl

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • janice June 16, 2009, 12:31 pm

    Thanks, Lori. Another intriguing one. I feel we should be creeping down to Snape’s basement to read these…

    I’ll check out your other blog tomorrow.

  • Betsy June 16, 2009, 2:23 pm

    This post should be a gift to every child. Rinse and repeat. Thank you, Lori.

  • Kathy | Virtual Impax June 16, 2009, 2:59 pm

    Another great post Lori! You point out the KEY element in dealing with someone of the “Dark Heart” persuasion….subtlety!

    Thanks for shining a bright light on a very dark subject!

  • Lori Hoeck June 16, 2009, 9:18 pm

    Hi Janice,
    Hope you enjoy the reads at my other site.

    Hi Betsy,
    Thank you for the kind and wise sentiment.

    Hi Kathy,
    Subtlety indeed. I’ll show more of their subtle ways in a future post on how they can shade the truth.

  • Davina June 18, 2009, 12:34 am

    Hi Lori. I LOVE the new direction you have taken with your blogging voice. This is a brilliant post. It is so easy to give our power away to others when we don’t see or believe how brilliant we already are.

  • Vered - MomGrind June 18, 2009, 10:40 am

    Interesting. I tend to agree that there are essentially good and bad people, and that we should stay away from the bad ones, but some say that we are all a mix of good and bad and that there aren’t “bad people.”

  • Lori Hoeck June 18, 2009, 10:47 am

    Hi Davina,
    Thank you for the affirmation!
    And yes, insecurity is a tough one to overcome!

    Hi Vered,
    A friend wrote to tell me he calls these people, “The Evil Ones,” and Scott M Peck describes them as evil as well. I use the term “Dark Hearts” not to represent their evilness or badness so much as to express the lack of light, love, and truth inside their hearts.

  • Barbara Swafford June 21, 2009, 1:57 am

    Hi Lori,

    As I was reading this, I was reminded of people both in my life and some who have touched my life who do/did just what you described. I never thought of it as being a way of taking the attention off of them, but the more I’ve thought of this, it’s so true.

    I remember hearing years ago, “when we point a finger at someone else, we have three pointing back at us.” I keep that in mind when others are being demeaning (to me or others) and realize it’s usually their problem, not mine.

  • Lori Hoeck June 21, 2009, 8:54 am

    Hi Barbara,
    From what I’ve seen, subtlety and subterfuge are the tools of Dark Hearts because they can play on the slightest guilt feelings, push our people-pleasing buttons, and leverage our desire to be good people. Knowing and naming their game helps clear the fog they use to surround a relationship.