Resentment is a very complex feeling that can be incredibly detrimental to an otherwise healthy relationship. If you are experiencing resentment in your relationship, it may be time to address it and come up with a plan to rebuild your relationship so you can begin to overcome it. If you let the resentment built up, you may risk permanently damaging or ending your relationship.
Resentment in a relationship may result from one or both partners feeling unappreciated, taken advantage of, or forced to accept something unfair circumstances. Sometimes it may mean you aren’t feeling empathy from your partner. You may feel undervalued or unrecognized due to a situation or event, or a series of them that have built up.
Many things that make us feel resentful start out small. You might have said something about your needs not being met. After nothing changed for a while, the feelings may have started to snowball. You may become bitter or angry because you feel there was unfair treatment.
Having a child is one example of a major life change that can bring about resentment, but it is not necessarily always the case. However, when a major life change, such as having a child, comes into play, partners may compare the amount of work they are each doing and feel like there is a disparity. This can cause difficulties in the partnership such as arguing—or feelings of resentment.
However, an argument doesn’t necessarily need to take place for feelings of resentment to become apparent. Sometimes, a lack of communication, which can prevent arguments, may actually magnify feelings of resentment. You may begin to resent your partner for not knowing something was wrong or trying to fix it, even though you never spoke up about what has been bothering you.
The good news is, no matter the reasons for your feelings of resentment, with effort, empathy for your partner, and attention to your relationship, it is possible get past it.
Feelings of resentment can be incredibly damaging and toxic to a relationship. Here are some ways they may negatively impact a partnership:
When feelings of resentment occur in a relationship, it may affect communication. When you feel undervalued or unappreciated, it may deter you from wanting talk to your partner. Alternatively, you may have already attempted to start a conversation and found your feelings were minimized or unheard. This can further exacerbate your frustration and resentment for your partner, ultimately making problems worse.
Over time, this lack of communication can cause bigger issues in your relationship. If you aren’t talking to your partner, small issues are much more likely to snowball into larger problems. To ensure this doesn't happen, or to overcome issues before feelings of resentment arise, it may be important to practice healthy communication and active listening with your partner.
If you would like to improve or overcome your communication issues but aren’t sure where to start, therapy may be able to help. A trained couples therapist can identify your issues and provide advice and strategies that may help you get back on track and improve your relationship.
When resentment is present in a relationship, it may bring about a lack of empathy between partners. Many people find it difficult to understand—or have a lack of desire to understand—their partner’s emotions when they feel resentment. This may be because they feel they were treated unfairly, are being misunderstood, or have been ignored.
A lack of empathy may cause even further problems in a relationship if it is not addressed. It may affect communication, as well as hinder your ability to support your partner through good times and bad. This may make it difficult for couples to connect authentically.
Feelings of resentment can negatively impact attraction and intimacy in a relationship. Both emotional and physical intimacy are very important aspects of most romantic relationships. Intimacy makes us feel loved and reminds us why we chose the partner we did. It can facilitate a strong bond and connection with our partner. A lack of intimacy may cause one or both partners to feel lonely—and to potentially seek intimacy outside the relationship. It’s important to mention that most relationships go through periods where the level of intimacy goes through highs and lows. Fortunately, with a bit of effort from both partners, it is completely possible to improve intimacy in a relationship.
Resentment is a complex emotion and can breed feelings of contempt for your partner. If you are experiencing a reduced interest in spending time together, it may be due to feelings of resentment. These feelings may make a partner feel a lack of desire to connect or share aspects of their life with their partner. Quality time in a relationship is important, and if resentment is causing you to spend less time together, it may be something that needs to be worked on.
Couples who feel the need to compete for the spotlight, with the intention of being heard, may cause resentment in a relationship.
Resentment is often caused by feeling unappreciated or misunderstood in the relationship. Many times, if both people are feeling this way, they may compete to be right or to be understood. However, to improve the relationship and overcome the need to compete, communication can be key. Practicing active listening and empathy when your partner is talking or needs support may be crucial.
Because of the lack of communication and empathy caused by feelings of resentment, couples may resort to passive-aggressive behaviors. The feelings you have inside may have been suppressed so long that you aren’t comfortable expressing them outright anymore.
This could be for a variety of reasons. Being passive-aggressive is often a sign that you are using defense mechanisms in your relationship to cope with any negative emotions or pain you may be experiencing. You may feel worried that if you do speak up, you will be misunderstood or go unheard. Alternatively, you may feel you don’t have the energy to start a conversation with someone you feel doesn’t listen to you. However, bottling up your feelings and not having an open, honest conversation may further bring up feelings of resentment and magnify them.
If you're experiencing feelings of resentment in your relationship, it’s important to know you are not alone. If you’d like to overcome these negative feelings and improve your relationship, a professional therapist may be able to help. ReGain is an online therapy platform specializing in relationship concerns. The platform makes it simple and convenient to get in touch with someone on your time, as soon as you are ready. They offer couples and individual therapy, and the interface makes it easy to connect with a licensed therapist who best suits your needs. They can provide guidance to get to the bottom of your relationship concerns and tools to overcome them.
If you are experiencing resentment in your relationship and want to overcome it, it’s vital that you address it. If you are willing to reach out and get the help you need, you can improve your relationship and strengthen your bond. Continue reading below for reviews of ReGain therapists from individuals who have experienced similar concerns and were able to overcome them.
“Austa has been wonderful thus far. She has helped my partner and I during an unimaginably difficult time... She has also guided us in communicating effectively and setting appropriate boundaries in our relationship. I was hesitant to pursue counseling at the beginning, but I truly believe that it is making a difference for our relationship. Austa is easy to talk to and she is a great listener. I would wholeheartedly recommend her as a counselor.”
“Sessions with Natalie are very insightful and give practical advice on implementing new habits and changes. Be prepared to engage and be challenged to think in a different way. I know that my partner and I can already see improvements in our relationship and feel more positive about working through our issues together.”
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What does it mean to feel resentment?
Resentment is a complex emotion that can often be described as a mixture of anger, bitterness, and disappointment. Those who have feelings of resentment may feel as though they were treated unfairly in a situation.
What does resentment do to a person?
Resentment may harm relationships and cause emotional distress for an individual. It can lead to negative emotions or feelings of contempt toward someone. If you resent something or someone, it usually means that you haven't let those feelings go, typically because something bothered you but wasn't addressed. Often, resentment occurs when we either don't bring up something that bothered us or have tried to discuss the situation but been rebuffed.
Healthy communication can be effective in preventing issues and working through feelings of resentment. To improve a relationship, whether a romantic partnership or an interpersonal relationship of any other kind, it can be important to work through and talk about anything impacting the relationship and your feelings toward the other person. However, to effectively work through an issue, both individuals will need to be willing to talk about it and, possibly, be vulnerable in some capacity, which can be hard for some individuals.
What are some examples of resentment?
Even if you fully understand the definition of resentment, you may wonder what it looks and feels like when someone experiences it. Here are some examples of resentment:
It's important to note, these examples may not represent the way resentment will feel for everyone. Additionally, they do not represent every potential situation in which resentment can arise. The origin of resentment will vary based on each individual.
What is resentment in a relationship?
Resentment in a relationship is often due to a person feeling unappreciated, misunderstood, or unfairly treated. Resentment can be incredibly toxic and damaging to a relationship. Feelings of resentment that are not addressed may lead to further issues down the road, including lack of communication, lack of empathy, decreased intimacy, and passive-aggressive behavior. If you're experiencing feelings of resentment in your relationship, it’s important to talk about it with your partner. If necessary, support from a professional therapist may help.
Does resentment mean hate?
Having feelings of resentment does not necessarily mean you have feelings of hate, and hate is not a synonym for or a definition of resentment. In fact, you can love someone very much while having feelings of resentment, and this is part of what makes feelings of resentment so complex. Resentment is often caused by someone doing something that makes you feel as though you were treated unfairly or misunderstood. Because of this, an individual may experience feelings of bitterness, anger, or disappoi