Photo of a couple sitting on the couch arguing in their therapists office, in an article about what it means to resent someone and how to stop it.

What Does It Mean To Resent Someone?

No one likes to feel unappreciated or invalidated, but you might be asking yourself, “Does that mean I resent my partner?” or “What does it mean to resent someone?”

When you are wronged, discriminated against, unrecognized, unappreciated, taken for granted, taken advantage of or devalued resentment towards the other person can develop. Resentment festers inside you when you believe a true, imagined, or misunderstood injustice has occurred.

You can believe that someone has “wronged” you that might actually have happened. However, in my practice, there are times when people misunderstand the circumstances or believe that someone intentionally hurt them.  Couples need to learn how to slow down and speak to each other about what has happened to see if it is an intentional or unintentional action.

Examples of Resentment in Relationships

When you are asking yourself, “What does it mean to resent someone?” you might notice that resentment builds quickly when issues are not addressed. There may be a lack of repair or an ineffective attempt at addressing the issue.

This list can not be read in a vacuum, but happens in a certain spirit of unfairness and unequal distribution of power and equality. There are endless examples of resentment.

Here are the top 5 things that many couples complain about that creates resentment:

  1. The woman is taking care of the kids while her partner is playing games, hanging out with friends or relaxing.
  2. Your partner asks for help and receives the response, “The show (football game, reality show, movie…) is almost over” or “I’m almost done…” or “I’ll be there in a minute” and 5, 10, 30 minutes go by and your partner still has not come to help you.
  3. Your partner forgets something very important to you, such as your birthday or anniversary and then downplays it and doesn’t repair it. For example he says to you, “Why are you making such a big deal out of this?”
  4. Partner brings up your flaws or mistakes over and over again and won’t forgive you.  You feel like you will be paying for this mistake during the entire relationship.
  5. Partner holds in his feelings and does not address things that are bothering him until you have an argument and then all the frustrations, annoyances and hurts that have not been addressed for months are brought up and dumped out.

In my practice, examples of resentment can be around any topic, but the most frequent arguments that cause resentment are money, children, time spent on relaxing activities, and housework.

What does it mean to resent someone?

Resentment might happen after just one event, though more frequently it occurs after repeatedly feeling uncared for and disrespected. You may be resentful if you don’t discuss how you feel about a situation or when you discuss your perceptions you are dismissed or ignored.

The first three years after a baby is born is a notorious time for couples to be unhappy. In Dr. Gottman’s research, he reports that 67% of couples are very unhappy at this time. There are many reasons why this happens. When one or both partners do not feel appreciated, their contentment decreases.

For example, when the father says he’s tired, however, he slept through the entire night. The mother was up 3 or 4 times changing the baby’s diaper or feeding the baby. This is an example of when resentment could build between the couple if their feelings are not discussed.

How do you stop resenting someone in a relationship?

If you are wondering, “Can I really stop resenting my partner?” The answer is yes. And then you may wonder, “How does one stop it?” Usually, couples need to repair the situation by working through what has happened and making a plan for it not to occur anymore. With an action plan and a commitment to act and talk to each other differently, then resentment can stop in a relationship.

Resentment develops when couples ignore their feelings. From there, problems arise and require conflict resolution. When couples fail to solve their conflicts, a sense of resentment will begin. Resentment increases when someone feels their feelings are discounted, not heard, manipulated, shamed, or judged.

You can work through resentment with a partner if you can address the problems head-on and decide to change this pattern of allowing resentment to build up and destroy your harmony.

Additional reading to support your relationship as you explore options for couples therapy and healing:

What Causes Resentment In A Marriage (Plus How You Can Heal Resentment In Yours)

How To Discuss Relationship Problems Without Fighting

How To Communicate With A Man That Won’t Communicate

How Often Do Couples Fight And Should You Be Concerned?

ADHD & Relationships

How To Let Go Of Resentment So You Stop Focusing On Old Hurts & Past Pain

Stuck In A One-Sided Relationship? Here’s How To Talk About It So Resentment Doesn’t Take Over


Lisa Rabinowitz

Lisa Rabinowitz, LCPC is a certified Gottman therapist working with couples in the US and internationally. Lisa has worked for many years with couples who have both diagnosed and undiagnosed ADHD. Her certifications and experience uniquely qualify her to support couples with relationship challenges that often feel insurmountable. Please reach out for a free 20-minute consultation with Lisa today.

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