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Defeating Weaponized Incompetence

weaponized incompetence

Let’s talk about something called “weaponized incompetence.” Woah, big words, right? But don’t worry, I’ll break it down. Have you ever had a problem with your partner where they just kinda act like they don’t know what they’re doing? Does it seem like they’re playing dumb so that you step up to the plate? Or like they forget to do stuff on purpose, and then pretend they can’t help it? That’s what we mean by weaponized incompetence.

Here’s an example: Let’s say you and your partner agreed to do the dishes together after dinner. But when it’s time to do them, your partner suddenly acts like they don’t know where stuff goes or how to put stuff away. They might even make excuses like, “Oh, I’m just not good at this stuff.” Sound familiar?

Weaponized incompetence is when someone acts like they don’t know what they’re doing on purpose. It can be frustrating because it feels like they’re not taking responsibility for their actions. But don’t worry, there are ways to deal with it!

Effective Communication to Help Overcome Weaponized Incompetence

First things first, communication is key. Talk to your partner about how you’re feeling. Let them know that you’ve noticed what’s going on and how it’s making you feel. Remember to use “I” statements like, “I feel frustrated when…” instead of blaming them.

Next, try to understand where they’re coming from. Maybe they’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed about something else, and it’s coming out in their behavior. Ask them how they’re feeling and if there’s anything you can do to help.

Setting Boundaries: Establishing Expectations and Limits

It’s also important to set boundaries. Let your partner know what you expect from them and what you’re not okay with. For example, you could say something like, “I understand if you’re feeling stressed, but I need you to still help out around the house.”

Or…try getting buy in from them. You can ask, “What can I help you do so that you can remember how to do this?”

Be Patient: Nurturing Growth and Change

And finally, be patient. Changing behavior takes time, and it might not happen overnight. You might even encounter a good dose of defensiveness. But as long as you both are willing to work on it together, you can overcome weaponized incompetence and strengthen your relationship in the process.

Practical Steps for Overcoming Weaponized Incompetence

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s dive deeper into some practical steps you can take to overcome weaponized incompetence in your relationship.

Step 1: Identify the Behavior

The first step in addressing weaponized incompetence is recognizing it when it happens. Pay attention to patterns of behavior in your partner that seem intentionally incompetent or evasive of responsibility-then….NAME IT! Start acknowledging this as a thing! Bring it up gently, or even as a joke at first.  Start to create shared language around what this means.

Step 2: Communicate Effectively weaponized incompetence

Once you’ve identified the behavior, it’s important to communicate your feelings to your partner in a constructive manner. Use “I” statements to express how their actions make you feel, and avoid blaming or accusing language.

Here’s some examples:

  1. “Hey, I’ve noticed that sometimes when we have tasks to do together, it feels like things don’t get done. I feel frustrated when I’m left to handle everything on my own.”
  2. “I wanted to talk to you about how I’ve been feeling lately. When you forget or avoid tasks we agreed on, it makes me feel overwhelmed and like I’m not being heard.”
  3. “I understand that you might be stressed or busy with other things, but when you don’t follow through on what we’ve agreed upon, it makes me feel like my needs aren’t being considered.”
  4. “I’ve noticed that we’ve been having trouble completing tasks together, and it’s been bothering me. Can we talk about how we can better support each other and work as a team?”
  5. “I want to make sure we’re on the same page about our responsibilities. When things don’t get done, it creates tension between us. Can we figure out a better way to communicate and manage tasks together?”

Step 3: Seek Understanding

Try to understand the underlying reasons behind your partner’s behavior. Are they feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or insecure? By approaching the situation with empathy and compassion, you can foster a deeper understanding and connection with your partner.

Here’s some more examples;

  1. “I’ve noticed that you seem to struggle with certain tasks lately. Is everything okay? Are you feeling overwhelmed or stressed about something?”
  2. “I understand that things have been busy for you lately. Is there anything specific that’s been on your mind or causing you stress?”
  3. “I’ve noticed that you’ve been acting differently lately, and I’m concerned. Is there something going on that you’d like to talk about?”
  4. “I want you to know that I’m here for you, no matter what. If there’s anything bothering you or causing you stress, I’m here to listen and support you.”
  5. “I know that sometimes it can be hard to talk about what’s really going on inside. But I want you to know that I’m here to listen without judgment, and I just want to understand how you’re feeling.”


Approaching the situation with sensitivity and a genuine desire to understand your partner’s perspective can help foster trust and strengthen your connection as a couple.

Step 4: Set Clear Boundaries

Establish clear boundaries with your partner regarding what behavior is acceptable and what is not. Communicate your expectations openly and assertively, and be prepared to enforce consequences if necessary.

This might sound like:

  1. “I’ve noticed a pattern of behavior that’s been bothering me, and I think it’s important for us to address it. I want to make sure we’re on the same page about what is acceptable and what is not.”
  2. “When certain tasks or responsibilities are consistently left undone or ignored, it creates tension and frustration between us. I think it’s time for us to establish some clear boundaries about what we expect from each other.”
  3. “I believe that we both deserve to be in a relationship where we feel respected and supported. In order for that to happen, we need to have a mutual understanding of what behaviors are unacceptable and what consequences may follow if those boundaries are crossed.”

Step 5: Work Together Towards Changeweaponized incompetence

Finally, work together as a team to address the underlying issues and make positive changes in your relationship. This may involve seeking outside support from a therapist or counselor, practicing effective communication techniques, and committing to ongoing growth and improvement.

Strengthening Your Relationship Through Adversity

In conclusion, overcoming weaponized incompetence in your relationship requires patience, understanding, and effective communication. By recognizing the signs, setting clear boundaries, and working together as a team, you can navigate through challenges and strengthen your bond as a couple. Remember, it’s normal to face obstacles in a relationship, but with commitment and perseverance, you can overcome anything that comes your way.

Additionally, seeking help from a professional counselor or therapist can provide valuable support and guidance as you navigate through difficult conversations and address underlying issues. Couples counselingoffers a safe and supportive environment where you can have uncomfortable yet courageous conversations about weaponized incompetence and other challenges in your relationship. It’s not always easy to admit when you think these things are going on, but with the help of Knot Counseling, you can gain insights, develop healthy communication skills, and work towards creating a stronger and more fulfilling partnership. Don’t hesitate to reach out for support when you need it – together, you can overcome any obstacle and build a brighter future together.


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