Having been in business for 11 years I would have to say resentment is so common and the most damaging behaviour to have in a relationship.  Resentment is an emotion that begins small and then builds and festers within you.  It’s often an accumulation of months and sometimes years of unexpressed negative emotions.

Sometimes it manifests itself as boredom. Other times it manifests itself as a mild persistent annoyance. And other times it appears as a snarky comment, withdrawal of affection, or a judgmental comment.

Happy couple smiling at camera at the beach

Resentment is an emotion that builds and festers in the background. It usually isn’t a feeling that just spontaneously appears in your relationship one day. Resentment is often an accumulation of months, sometimes even several years of repressed anger, hurt and disappointment. Then, at some point, you become conscious of it when it becomes too much to handle.

If you’re struggling with resentment in relationships, you’ll be able to identify with many of the following signs:

  • You speak sarcastically to the person
  • You use fake/phony friendliness to hide your true feelings
  • You express lots of agitation and anger around the person for no apparent reason
  • You find it hard to appreciate the person without cynicism or hostility
  • The monkey mind is constantly trying to work this out
  • You give the cold shoulder to the person and withdraw your emotions from them
  • Over time you begin to not care like you use too

Resentment in relationships is an issue that stems from three core problems:

  1. rigid expectations
  2. poor communication skills
  3. lack of empathy

At some point, every long-term relationship experience resentment once the initial novelty and uncertainty wears off.

If you’d like to reduce the resentment you feel for your partner (and ideally put it to rest), these tips may help you out:

Explore the expectations you have of your partner:  Resentment occurs when we approach a person with the preconception of how they’re “supposed” to be or turn out. When a person doesn’t meet our expectations, we become disappointed and disillusioned. If this happens enough, resentment is usually the result.

Examples could include expecting your partner to be more responsible than they actually are – or expecting your partner to be emotionally receptive, when they’re actually unable to and emotionally wounded.  Being honest with the expectations you are carrying can be helpful.

 Listen to your needs and openly communicate:  Much resentment in relationships can be prevented simply through learning open communication skills. When we openly communicate, we share our thoughts and feelings in a non-judgmental, non-blaming way with others. Open communication is about learning to be assertive, listening to our needs, and owning our emotions in a mature way.

Unfortunately, however, many intimate relationships lack such a vital skill. In fact, I’ve observed that many weak relationships tend to belittle or mock the use of communication skills either out of embarrassment, fear, or social/religious conditioning. Major problems will arise if open communication isn’t mastered.

If you’re struggling with resentment in relationships, I can almost assure you that you have poor open communication skills.

 Be compassionate with yourself and empathetic towards your partner:  At its very root, resentment stems from unresolved sadness. When you are resentful towards your partner you are fundamentally upset that they haven’t fulfilled a need of yours (such as the need to be validated, appreciated, looked after, loved, etc.).

The good news is that when you begin to show compassion and concern towards yourself, you stop relying on your partner to give you what you crave for. Resentment is the result of neediness and often co-dependency. And what is the best cure for co-dependency? Self-love. Self-love is about:

  • honouring all of you without criticism
  • respecting your boundaries
  • listening to your dreams
  • living by your values
  • allowing yourself to reach your fullest potential

Empathy, on the other hand, is a product of self-love. When we love ourselves, only then can we can genuinely love others. Empathy is the product of mental and emotional maturity.  An immature person can only react with anger towards another person’s perceived incompetence or damaged nature.

When empathy is missing it means you can’t put yourself in the shoes of the other person or understand why that behaviour is happening. This is the result of core wounds, past traumas, beliefs or upbringing. When you have empathy, you have a deep understanding of the other person and the pain that motivates their behaviour.  You also have strong boundaries as to how much you will tolerate.

Letting go of resentment is like letting go of a heavy bag, your baggage, weighing you down.  Sometimes your own work isn’t enough, and I work very successfully using  Psychotherapy to move resentment and work regularly with couples practising communication skills.