Are you and your partner struggling with resentment? Address it now

A lesbian couple give each other the cold shoulder in a stock photo about resentment.
Image: Rodnae Productions/Pexels

Would you rather do a liturgical dance in a burnt apricot taffeta evening gown with puff sleeves in front of your homophobic Uncle after he’s had 17 stubbies on Xmas day than have sex with your partner?

Are you distancing yourself from people you used to be close to?

If so, you may have an accumulation of those buggers called resentments.

They suck (and not in a good way) because they pull people away from each other and can lead to people responding in considerably angrier ways than the situation warrants.

The shape of resentment

Resentments are often annoying or hurtful things that others do that you don’t like, and that they keep repeating.

These feelings are worse when you have communicated and yet they still do it. It can also be the result of you not asserting your needs while feeling that you are always meeting theirs.

Over time resentments can accumulate. In intimate relationships, friendships, or even in professional relationships with your boss or colleagues at work.

Not only do you feel distant from the person, but you can get pissed off easily, become hyper vigilant, and interpret much of what they do as being negative.

If you’ve been sitting on it for a while, so to speak, this can lead you to act in a way that can appear irrational, angry or passive-aggressive.

As social beings, we are hard-wired to communicate about our emotions and needs openly with others. When we block this, our emotional wheels get a bit wobbly and we don’t function as well as we could.

If we don’t talk to the person directly, it’s like having a tank that gets full and then overflows.

If there are years’ worth of resentments, you can reach a stage where it might be too late and the emotional attachment to them may not survive.

This is one of the reasons why acting sooner than later is important.

Communication, communication, communication

The most important tool for overcoming resentment is empathetically communicating with the other person.

This empathy bit can be very challenging. It can be very tempting to say, “I’ve just read a book called I’m OK, you’re a Dickhead and it reminded me of you”, but this will only make things worse.

Rather, wait until you are in a positive situation such as going for a walk with them.

Stay in a calm state of mind and ask if it is okay to bring up the issue at that time. If they say no, ask what time would work for them.

When you do talk to them about the behaviours you don’t like, try to avoid making judgmental or personal observations.

Talk about how you feel emotionally. Try saying, “I find that upsetting” and follow up with what you’d prefer them to do.

Ideally, they will listen to this; they might even disclose they have some issues with you. Try to keep these separate, talking through each issue on its own.

Try to listen to them and paraphrase what they said and how they felt. It is ideal if they can do the same back to you.

However, If you keep struggling with any of this it might mean that you’ll benefit from seeing an LGBTIQ+ experienced psychologist such as those at Centre for Human Potential.

Paul Martin is Senior Psychologist at the Centre for Human Potential in Brisbane. Visit to book an appointment.

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Paul Martin

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