7 Small Things That Can Build Resentment In Relationships Over Time

by Kristine Fellizar
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One thing that can really change how you feel about your partner is resentment. The thing about resentment is that it builds up slowly over time. You may not even realize you're holding these types of feelings in until that one moment when it all comes out. So how can you prevent resentment from ruining your relationship? According to experts, it's all about being aware of the small things that can cause it.

"Resentment is like a cancerous tumor," Rachel Wright, MA, LMFT, co-founder of Wright Wellness Center, tells Bustle. "It starts small, but if left untreated it grows and grows and grows until it's spread so far that it's not treatable anymore."

That's because resentment basically destroys the positive feelings and warmth you used to have for your partner. Snarky comments, eye rolling, and frustration are all signs of resentment in a relationship.

"Often, resentment can creep up on people in an insidious way and quietly build until there’s an explosion, of sorts," Nicole Issa, PsyD psychologist and founder of PVD Psychological Associates, tells Bustle. "That's why it's so important to catch it early on."

So here are some small things that can build resentment in your relationship over time, according to experts.


Failing To Own Up To Your Mistakes

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"We all have times in a relationship when we aren’t our best selves," therapist Alisha Powell, PhD, LCSW, tells Bustle. "An apology can go a long way." When someone fails to own up to their mistakes, it shows a lack of maturity, and it shows that they value their ego more than their partner or relationship.

It's also equally important for the partner on the receiving end of the apology to accept it and forgive. "There are thoughtful gestures that can happen when a partner is trying to communicate that they are sorry that shouldn't be missed," Powell says. A disregard for your partner's apology attempts can also lead to even more conflict and resentment.


Showing Up Late Or Cancelling Plans At The Last Minute

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"You might think that being punctual is no big deal in a relationship, but punctuality is a form of politeness," Amica Graber, relationship expert for TruthFinder, tells Bustle. "If you’re constantly leaving your partner waiting for you, it can cause resentment to simmer." When you're constantly late or cancelling plans, it shows that you have no respect for your partner's time. Being on time and following through is also a way of showing your partner that your word is good. If you’re constantly breaking your word through your actions, Graber says, you’re silently communicating to your partner that you can’t keep your promises.


Confiding In Other People About Your Relationship Issues

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"Resentment is toxic for a relationship because it buries your emotions," Nancy Ruth Deen, relationship expert and owner of HELLOBreakup, tells Bustle. For whatever reason you just feel like you can't fully express your feelings to your partner, so you may turn to other people instead. But in order to have a healthy relationship, communication is key. So according to Deen, keeping others in the loop but not having those important conversations with your partner can build resentment over time, especially if your partner hears about it.


Assuming To Know What's Best For Your Partner

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It's important for you and your partner to know that you're both allowed to make choices in the relationship. "We all know for a relationship to work, both parties need to learn to compromise," Adamaris Mendoza, LPC, psychotherapist and relationship coach, tells Bustle. "But if it's always you giving in, then something's wrong with this picture." If you don't allow your partner to choose what they want or they try to convince you to change your mind about something important, this will eventually cause resentment in the relationship.


Making Sarcastic Comments Or Jokes At The Expense Of Your Partner

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You may say a sarcastic comment or throw in a "joke" here and there without really thinking anything of it. But your partner can see right through it. When you make a negative jab at your partner, regardless of whether you actually intend to or not, it's hurtful. As Katie Ziskind, licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle, "These are very detrimental to building attachment and can lead to resentment."


Fighting Until There's A Clear Winner And Loser

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"Fighting to decide who's right or wrong is another way of determining who's the winner and who's the loser," Beth Liebling, relationship expert and author, tells Bustle. "This isn't a great approach within relationships." If you want your relationship to last long-term, you and your partner need to learn how to compromise. You're pretty much guaranteed to have fights every now and then. One partner can't be right all the time. If they are, that's one surefire way to build resentment in the relationship.


Feeling Jealous Of Your Partner's Success

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Maybe your partner got a promotion while you've been struggling for years to get noticed at work. Naturally, this can make you feel a little jealous. "But once a relationship turns competitive, it's in dark territory," Dr. Issa says. "Instead of being their cheerleader and biggest fan, the jealous partner might hold the other back from opportunities or activities they enjoy." But just remember, if you're on the same team, their success is your success. So there's no reason to let jealousy get in the way of your bond.

"Since resentment can be so detrimental to relationships, it's essential to develop an awareness of whether you're starting to feel resentful of your partner or detect if they're starting to feel resentment towards you," Dr. Issa says.

Resentment is something that builds over time. But if you're aware of all the small things that can contribute to it, you can prevent it from creeping up on you.