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Lack of Accountability in Relationships

by Lisa K. Stephenson

“Relationships are not about playing games, they’re about mature and honest communication.” – Miranda Hobbs

When we enter into a relationship it is a decision both parties make which includes transparency, honesty, and of course, trust. One aspect of honesty is your ability to take accountability for your actions, whether good or bad.

So, what is accountability? It is an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions. It is not always easy as in some relationships if rocked by infidelity or indiscretion, taking accountability can be rather difficult. It is no surprise that people cheat and we end up asking the question, why do people cheat on people they love? If the answer were black and white, we could all save ourselves a lot of time and pain.

When one partner fails to take accountability in a relationship it can create an unhealthy environment for both parties to thrive. It becomes a danger zone, sort of like a battlefield. One partner feels pushed out and emotionally isolated while the other party feels burdened by this noun that lingers over the relationship like a dark cloud.

As women it is not abnormal for us to wonder, why do men avoid accountability? You see, most men resist taking responsibility for their unwanted actions due to fear. A change in your perception of what a “real man” should be. But accountability is not a time to beat or abuse one another, it is a time for restoration and rebuilding. Taking accountability is a saving grace for many relationships and if you find yourself dating someone who is never willing to accept responsibility for their actions, then it may be time to call it quits.

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Here are a few things that can contribute to a lack of accountability in relationships:


When you are communicating with your partner about your desire for them to take accountability you should be clear and concise. Let them know specifically what they did, what you are holding them responsible for and what you would like the outcome to be. Be as straightforward as possible.


For some men taking accountability means giving up their authority in the relationship – and this can go for women as well - if we create a safe space for our partners to feel safe in taking responsibility for their actions then the likelihood of them doing so may increase. A man choosing not to take accountability for his actions maybe doing so because he does not favor the outcome. Reassure one another that no matter what you will be willing to stick it out and work through things if that is what you both wish.


This is the most popular reason. When there’s an environment of punishing mistakes, people are less likely to be open about mistakes, take accountability to fix them and learn from them.


If your partner does not feel he/she will succeed and they don’t feel they are going to get support, it is too risky for them to take accountability. Some confident people will bypass these feelings and take accountability knowing that whatever happens, they can deal with it.

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When a partner is disengaged and does not care about the relationship or your feelings, they will not find it prudent to take accountability. People who are engaged will want to take accountability because they can see it as a way to rebuild what is broken and mend any emotional damage that could be present. This takes precedence over any fear that may have, lack of confidence, or lack of clarity.


At times a person may not see themselves as important enough to warrant accountability for their actions. You see, if someone is in a relationship and does not feel they deserve the love they are receiving, he/she will most likely elude accountability because they don’t realize that it coming from them should or will make a difference at all. In other words, they do not realize that they let other people down when they choose to not take accountability.


They see their own leaders or parents being defensive or blaming others than taking responsibility for their mistakes. Or they see leaders taking credit for successes where others have contributed. It is not only demotivating but also discourages taking accountability. If this were the opposite and more leaders were seen taking feedback on the chin, standing up and apologizing for an issue, even if it wasn’t entirely within their control, more people will feel inspired to do the same.

So what can you do? It is important to admit to yourself and your significant other, that you are both human and are susceptible to mistakes. Admit any wrongdoing that you contributed to the relationship and then open the floor for your partner to do the same encouraging them that it is safe for he/she to do so.

Making a mistake is not the end of the road as long as you are willing to learn from that mistake and grow. Repeating the same actions that caused a breakdown in the relationship or caused one partner to feel isolated and unloved is no longer a mistake, it is a pattern and at that point, accountability is not needed. Work on increasing your self-awareness and advising your partner of this as well.

If you know something is wrong or that it will hurt your partner if they found out, don’t do it. You are responsible for your actions. Do not wait for someone to tell you, you did something wrong and your partner should not wait around to hear that from you, either.

You see, dating someone who lacks any self-awareness can in and of itself create unwanted problems. If you are constantly having to beg them to change or take responsibility for doing and saying things that may have hurt or offended you, then they are not mature enough for a relationship and you should move on.

The sooner we admit accountability the sooner we can begin to heal, rebuild and grow as individuals.


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