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[Anger or bitterness at having been treated unfairly.]

Resentments in relationships are the accumulation of negative feelings you have toward your spouse, boss, employee, teammate, stepchild, stepparent, or others that stem from unresolved acts, deeds, conversations, or unmet needs.

Without a resolution, these resentments accumulate and silently deteriorate the relationship, creating distance over time. Vulnerability ceases to exist due to trust being broken.

I call resentments rust in relationships.

Just as a fine piece of steel can be damaged if neglected and allowed to rust, so are resentments in relationships. As they arise, they begin to corrode closeness and understanding.

It is a terrible blind spot to uncover because it feels so justified when someone is causing you emotional or physical pain.

Like any adjective that describes a person, resentment is on a continuum from mild to chronic.

A sad person can be a little sad or debilitated. An angry person can be slightly angry or enraged.

Resentments can be large or small. Robin resents Ralph because he leaves his dishes in the sink or he will not stop texting the woman at work.

The real problem happens when both parties in a relationship collect resentment toward the other. When one causes the other pain, it is easy to feel justified in becoming bitter and add to the resentment bag that we so smugly carry.

Usually, resentments happen when someone's needs are conveyed, and they go unattended. After a few failures to get their point across, the attempt to get a resolution gets dropped from the conversation, but it gets added to the resentment bag.

Resentments are created and resolved through communication. Failure to communicate resentments effectively is their source, and healthy conversation can reduce and even eliminate them.

Here is an example of unhealthy communication.

On the way home from a party, Robin and Ralph are silent. Both are telling themselves a story like this:

Robin: "He did not speak to me tonight."

Ralph: "I don't know what is happening with her, but I must steer clear."

Here is an example of healthy communication.

On the way home from a party, Robin and Ralph are silent. Robin begins to share "the story I'm telling myself" with Ralph:

Robin: "I am hurt by your ignoring me tonight. I want something very different because it speaks to me that I no longer matter, and Ralph, that is not acceptable. I love you and care too much to be treated that way. I remember and long for how you used to treat me."

Ralph: "Thanks for sharing that. I thought you were mad at me and I was giving you space. If I could do it again, I would have asked what you needed from me."

When shared, "the story I'm telling myself" can be a powerful tool for preventing and resolving conflicts. When I share "the story I'm telling myself," it clears the air.

Oh, what a difference it makes to clear the air, stop the assumptions, and operate from the facts.

It is easy and even cultural to collect resentments, don't let rust take a foothold and begin corroding your relationships.

Start with what stories you are telling yourself.

Watch for the blind spots.

Please comment, like, and share, I appreciate your input.

You can get a copy of my book below.

Blind Spots in Relationships

What I don't know I don't know about Myself

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1 Comment

Ava Sloan
Ava Sloan
Apr 28, 2023

So True Jerry!! Thank you!

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