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Why Do I Feel Resentful in My Relationship?

Perhaps you’ve once come home from work seething. You’ve been passed over and ignored one too many times. Your hard work has been credited to someone else, or perhaps some advice you gave was ignored - and now you have to deal with the consequences of someone else’s mistakes.

You’re feeling resentful, and it’s building up inside you, ready to explode.

While feeling resentful about something, such as work, isn’t great, resentment can be even more destructive in a relationship. Feelings of resentment build up slowly, gradually increasing until a relationship is on the rocks and ready to sink.

You might be surprised to learn that the causes of resentment in a relationship can be very similar to the causes of resentment at work. Not feeling appreciated, feeling ignored, or having to clean up the messes of others can all sabotage a healthy relationship.

But how dangerous is resentment? What can cause it, and how can you deal with it? Let’s find out.

What Does it Mean to Feel Resentful?

Resentment is a normal emotional reaction to a situation we feel is unjust. It might be difficult to pinpoint exactly what’s causing our resentment. We know that we feel unhappy and dissatisfied. You feel indignantly angry at your perceived wrong, and that feeling hangs around.

Unfortunately, resentment is an all too common emotion in relationships. Feeling angry and resentful over having to do the dishes every night while your partner watches TV is normal. In fact, this is probably one of the most common fights couples have.

However, if this happens week in, week out, that resentment will build and build. Over time, it forms a solid wall between two people. This lays the groundwork for a relationship to collapse altogether. You lose trust, and communication falls apart.

So, how can you stop this from coming between you and your partner?

Signs of Resentment in a Relationship

Feelings of resentment build up over time. Since it can be difficult to notice resentment creeping into your relationship before it’s too late, here are a few warning signs to look out for:

  • Unresolved arguments which go nowhere.
  • Criticism of your partner.
  • One or both partners paying less attention to the other.
  • Overthinking.
  • Losing interest in physical intimacy and feeling less attracted to your partner.

If you notice these problems in your relationship, it could be time to take a closer look. And a word to the wise: There’s no shame in relationship counseling. If anything, this can sometimes make you both stronger and closer than before.

What Causes Resentment in a Relationship?

Simply put, we often feel resentful when we perceive ourselves to be giving more than we get. There are a few main causes of resentment, although it’s important to remember that each individual (and relationship) is different.

Some common causes include:

1. Feeling Like Your Partner is Putting You Down

Insults and mockery can erode a relationship like nothing else. Quite naturally, you’ll feel resentment if you’re often the butt of your partner’s jokes. It’s important to establish your partner’s motives. Do they realize that they’re hurting you? It could be that your partner thinks you’re laughing along at the joke.

Of course, if your partner is putting you down deliberately, that’s a much more serious problem. In this case, your resentment is completely justified, and this may be a red flag to end the relationship.

Make sure to read: This Is How You Know Your Relationship is Over

2. Feeling Passed Over to Ignored

If you feel that your partner is paying less attention to you, it can be hurtful. But are they deliberately ignoring you? It could be that your partner is tired in the evenings or early mornings.

If they’re willing to work with you on this, you could schedule a time during the day to communicate with each other.

3. Feeling Like You’re Being Taken Advantage of or Doing More Than Your Fair Share

An unfair division of labor in the home (whether it’s cleaning, cooking, or emotional labor) is going to leave you feeling resentful. Try and work out why your partner thinks that your current arrangement is fair.

You must be open and honest with your partner. Don’t be afraid to say no when you don’t want to do chores or something for them.

4. Holding Unrealistic Expectations

Sometimes, we can be our own worst enemy. Expecting something unrealistic or out of character from our partner is setting ourselves up for disappointment and resentment.

Of course, expecting your partner to treat you with love and fairness is not unrealistic. Think honestly about what you expect from your partner, and decide whether or not you’re being fair.

Read this article next: 6 Boundaries Crucial for Relationships in 2021

How to Address Resentment in Your Relationship

Now that you’ve realized that resentment is festering away in your relationship, what now?

It’s important to take swift action. Letting your feelings simmer will only make the situation worse. Remember, feelings of resentment don’t really go away. They need to be addressed. So, how can you do that?

  • Be realistic. Set fair expectations for your partner.
  • Don’t take revenge. An eye for an eye approach will leave both of you resentful and angry.
  • Ask yourself if you can relinquish some control. Are the causes of your resentment really justified?
  • Could you be more assertive? Perhaps you’re simply agreeing to everything your partner says, then feeling quietly resentful when you don’t get what you want. Your partner isn’t a mind reader. Tell them what you want. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should become angry and aggressive towards your partner!
  • Find a way to balance the responsibilities in your relationship.
  • Acknowledge and investigate your feelings. Try and determine the real cause of your feelings of resentment. Are you outraged because your partner forgot to take out the trash, or is it a symptom of a much bigger issue?
  • Talk to your partner. Calm and open communication is the best medicine for a suffering relationship.

Is Resentment a Dealbreaker?

Feeling resentful doesn’t have to end a relationship. However, it can be a sign of something much more serious. If you find that your partner genuinely doesn’t care about being fair, or they’re pushing your buttons deliberately and have no intention of changing, you may need to reassess your relationship.

However, chances are, your partner has no idea you feel resentful.

People are flawed - and your partner can’t read your mind! Telling them how you feel and why can revitalize your relationship and open a new chapter in your life with your partner. You’ll understand each other more, and you might just grow closer because of that.

Related article: 5 Green Flags You Might Have in Your Relationship

Krista Bugden

Krista Bugden

"Believing in yourself is really half the battle," says Krista. Anything is possible and you really can achieve anything you set your mind to, is her motto. Physiotherapist, Piano player, skydiver, yogi, adventure traveler and energetic force of positivity, Krista is herself a (delightful) force to be reckoned with! As... Read More

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