10 little things that always build resentment in a relationship, according to psychology

There’s a fine line between a happy, healthy relationship and one filled with resentment.

Often, it’s the small things that tip the balance.

They seem insignificant at first, but over time, these little things build up, leading to resentment and creating a rift between partners.

According to psychology, it’s not always the big betrayals that cause the most damage; it’s the small, daily disappointments and misunderstandings.

This article will uncover those little things that always build resentment in a relationship.

Let’s dive in and help you avoid these pitfalls.

1) Lack of appreciation

In every relationship, feeling valued and appreciated is crucial.

One of the little things that can build resentment in a relationship is a lack of appreciation. It’s easy to take your partner for granted, especially when life gets busy.

You may not even realize you’re doing it. But over time, your partner might start to feel unseen or unimportant. This can breed resentment and harm your relationship.

It’s not grand gestures or expensive gifts. Often, it’s the simple, daily acts of appreciation that matter most—a thank you for doing the dishes, a compliment about their appearance, or an acknowledgement of their hard work.

By regularly showing appreciation for your partner, you can prevent this little thing from turning into a big issue.

2) Poor communication

Communication is the backbone of any relationship. If done poorly, it can quickly lead to resentment.

In my early days of dating, I would often keep my feelings and thoughts to myself, thinking that my partner would somehow understand what was going on in my head.

I would get upset when he didn’t anticipate my needs or failed to react the way I expected him to. This led to misunderstandings and unvoiced frustrations, creating a silent rift between us.

This lack of effective communication is a common cause of resentment.

We’re not mind-readers and expecting your partner to always know what you’re thinking is unrealistic.

Expressing your needs, desires, and feelings clearly can prevent such misunderstandings and keep resentment at bay.

Being open and honest isn’t always easy, but it’s a small thing that can make a huge difference in your relationship.

3) Neglecting shared interests

Couples who regularly engage in shared activities tend to report higher levels of relationship satisfaction.

However, as relationships progress and life gets busier, it’s easy to overlook this. When you stop spending quality time together, doing things you both enjoy, it can cause a disconnect.

This neglect of shared interests can slowly build resentment. One person may feel like the other is losing interest or doesn’t care about maintaining their bond.

Making time to enjoy shared hobbies or discover new ones together can help keep your relationship strong and resentment-free.

It not only brings joy, but also fosters deeper connection and understanding between partners.

4) Avoiding tough conversations

Tough conversations are called that for a reason—they’re not easy. Whether it’s about finances, future plans, or personal boundaries, these discussions can feel uncomfortable.

However, avoiding them doesn’t make the issues disappear. In fact, it can make them worse.

When concerns and grievances aren’t addressed, they tend to pile up. This can result in feelings of resentment, as one or both partners may feel unheard or misunderstood.

Having these difficult conversations early and honestly can help prevent resentment from seeping into your relationship.

It might be uncomfortable in the moment, but it paves the way for a healthier and more understanding relationship in the long run.

5) Unresolved arguments

Disagreements are a normal part of any relationship. However, when arguments are left unresolved, they can turn into breeding ground for resentment.

Leaving an argument in a state of limbo can create tension and unease. Over time, this can build into a wall of resentment that becomes harder to break down.

Instead of sweeping arguments under the rug, it’s important to find a resolution, even if it’s agreeing to disagree.

Acknowledging each other’s viewpoints and finding a compromise can help keep resentment at bay and strengthen your relationship.

6) Lack of emotional support

We all have our moments of vulnerability. During these times, the support of our partner can make all the difference.

When we feel alone or unsupported in our struggles, it can create a deep sense of resentment. We might start to question the bond we share with our partner and whether they truly care for us.

Being there for your partner emotionally is a small act that carries significant weight. It’s about listening, showing empathy, and offering comfort when they need it the most.

Remember, love isn’t just about sharing the good times together. It’s also about standing alongside each other during the storms and offering a safe haven in each other’s arms.

7) Keeping score

In the past, I’ve made the mistake of treating my relationship like a game, keeping score of who did what.

Every time I did a chore or went out of my way to do something nice, I expected something in return. When it didn’t happen, I felt resentment creeping in.

Keeping score is a subtle yet harmful habit that can lead to resentment. It creates a transactional relationship where love and kindness are exchanged for points, rather than being expressions of genuine care.

Maintaining a healthy relationship isn’t about quid pro quo. It’s selflessly giving and loving without expecting anything in return.

When we let go of scorekeeping and focus on creating a loving and giving atmosphere, we can build a resilient bond that’s free from resentment.

8) Over-apologizing

Saying sorry is important when you’ve made a mistake. It shows accountability and a willingness to make things right.

However, constantly apologizing for everything, even when it’s not your fault, can actually feed resentment.

Over-apologizing can create an imbalance in the relationship. It might lead your partner to feel guilty or burdened, or they may start to believe that they’re always in the wrong.

The key is to apologize when necessary, but also to stand your ground when you’re not at fault. It’s about finding a balance between taking responsibility and maintaining your self-respect.

This helps foster a relationship that’s built on mutual respect and understanding, not resentment.

9) Not respecting personal space

In a relationship, it’s easy to forget that your partner is also an individual with their own needs and interests. Respecting each other’s personal space is crucial to maintaining a healthy relationship.

When personal boundaries are repeatedly crossed, it can lead to feelings of frustration and invasion. Over time, this can build into resentment.

Whether it’s respecting their alone time, their hobbies, or their need for silence after a long day, understanding and honoring your partner’s personal space can prevent resentment from creeping into your relationship.

10) Lack of trust

Trust is the foundation of any healthy relationship. Without it, a relationship can quickly become a breeding ground for resentment.

When trust is broken or when there’s constant suspicion, it can lead to feelings of insecurity and anger. These feelings don’t just disappear. They simmer beneath the surface, building resentment over time.

Building and maintaining trust requires honesty, transparency, and consistency. It’s showing your partner that you can be relied upon, that you’ll be there when you say you will, and that your words match your actions.

When trust is strong in a relationship, it creates a safe space where love can thrive, free from resentment.

Final thoughts

Empathy is a key factor in maintaining healthy relationships and preventing resentment.

When we empathize with our partners, we step into their shoes. We start to understand their needs, their fears, and their desires. We see the world from their perspective and this changes how we relate to them.

Instead of viewing them as adversaries during conflicts, we see them as teammates. Instead of focusing on our own needs, we take theirs into account. Instead of reacting defensively, we respond with understanding.

Being aware of the little things that build resentment is the first step. However, it’s empathy that allows us to take the next step—to change our habits, our responses, and our interactions in ways that foster love and harmony in our relationships.

Isabella Chase

Isabella Chase, a New York City native, writes about the complexities of modern life and relationships. Her articles draw from her experiences navigating the vibrant and diverse social landscape of the city. Isabella’s insights are about finding harmony in the chaos and building strong, authentic connections in a fast-paced world.

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