5 Common Causes Of Resentment In Relationships You've Probably Never Thought Of Before

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Subtle Causes Of Resentment In Relationships: The Psychological 'Death By A Thousand Cuts'
Love, Heartbreak

Unless you have been living in some kind of fairy tale, you know that resentment is a destructive factor in marriages and other kinds of romantic relationships.

Resentment is defined as "a complex, multilayered emotion — rather than one of Ekman's six basic emotions (surprise, disgust, happiness, sadness, anger, and fear) — which has been described as a mixture of disappointment, anger, and fear."

When you first fall in love, it’s all fireworks and roses. You believe you have found the love of your life and the two of you will live happily ever after. And while I'm not saying you can’t or won't live happily ever after, I am saying that doing so is difficult for couples in even the happiest, healthiest relationships at times.

One of the common reasons relationships fall apart is the creeping normality of resentment, perhaps best illustrated metaphorically as the death by one thousand cuts. those every day instances that cause the other person pain.

RELATED: The Most Dangerous Emotion In Relationships (And How To Keep It From Destroying Yours)

As explained on Stack Exchange, "The literal death by a thousand cuts was an execution method [known as Lingchi (Chinese: 凌遲)] in which the victim was slowly dismembered, and has come more popularly to mean anything that is a slow process in which a multitude of small, bad things happen which ultimately culminate in the demise of whatever was suffering the changes."

Many causes of resentment are obvious: treating each other with contempt, leaving your underwear on the bathroom floor, not taking out the garbage when prompted to, withholding sex, etc.

But there are other subtle things people do that might unknowingly be just as likely to stoke the fires of resentment in their partners.

Here are five common causes of resentment in relationships you may not have considered before (but probably should).

1. Lying by omission

Lying by omission means lying by omitting something from a conversation.

For example, when asked why you are late coming home, you say that you stopped at the bar for a drink, but you omit that you were there with a friend your partner doesn’t like. You know they would be upset and you don’t want to hurt them or cause any drama.

Have you ever lied to your person because you want to protect them? Have you ever thought that what they might not know might not hurt them? Have you ever purposely not disclosed something because you were scared of the emotional fallout that might follow?

There are two reasons lying by omission is considered a thing.

The first is that you are keeping something from your partner and that is a lie which will only pave the way for more lies. The other is that if you are every caught in one of your lies, your partner will lose trust in you and going forward might be suspicious of everything you tell them.

So, be honest. Always.

2. Not following through

Do you and your partner ever agree to do something and then one or the other of you don’t follow through? Do you not follow through because you didn’t really want to do it or because you forgot or because time didn’t allow? Do you try to sweep it under the rug or make excuses?

Not following through with something without a reasonable explanation is a sign of contempt. That you just don’t do something for whatever personal reason and neglect to talk with your partner about the why's and how's will sow the seeds of substantial disrespect and resentment.

My man and I used to have this problem all the time. When we finally talked about it, we learned that, when we make a plan, I assume that it’s a done deal and he assumes we are still going to talk about it. That is just how we both operated before our relationship. We realized we needed to be clear about our plan — did we decide to do it or is more discussion necessary?

Knowing these things has made following up easier for both of us.

RELATED: 3 Ways To Overcome Resentment

3. Disrespecting what is important to your partner

I had a boyfriend once who hated how hard I slammed the door of his truck. I didn’t know that I was slamming it. I thought I was closing it like I closed any car door. But I guess I was closing it too hard and he didn’t like it.

Of course, I thought that he was being ridiculous. It was a big, huge truck and, really, how could little old me cause it any damage? We fought about it all the time.

What I realize in retrospect, is that me not closing the truck door with such force was really important. He loved that truck and wanted to take care of it, and he felt like my slamming the door was going to harm it.

I pushed back every time, but it should have been important to me to respect that this was important to him and done everything I could to try to remember to close the door more softly.

Is there something your partner does that they love, but seems absolutely ridiculous to you? If there is, accepting it instead of pushing back could make a huge difference for your relationship.

4. Inconsistency

One of the most difficult things for me about my ex was that he became a different person in different situations.

When he was with me he was wonderful, open, honest and kind.

When he was with his family and his friends he was a totally different person. He laser focused on people and then talked about them behind their back. He said things that were patently untrue to make them like him more. He chose not to talk to me but instead to mingle with everyone. He was always the last one to leave a party, no matter what I wanted, because he didn’t want anyone to think he wasn’t cool.

Are you the kind of person who is a chameleon in your life? Do you act differently in social situations and perhaps treat your partner differently as well?

Doing this can cause way more resentment than you might realize. So, pay attention to how you are in social situations and do your best to keep your behaviors consistent.

5. TV "infidelity"

This is a new one, but a biggie.

In this era of binge-watching TV shows, "cheating" on your partner by watching ahead is not OK. Period.

I had a partner with whom I was watching Sons of Anarchy. I told him it was very important to me that he not watch it without me because I wanted to share the excitement of it all.

Then I went away for a week. And what did he do? He watched it all.

I told him how upset I was about it but I truly never got over it. I wanted to share this show with him and the way he disregarded my feelings was a huge issue.

I know it might seem silly but, for whatever reason, it’s not.

Don’t underestimate the importance of not watching ahead on your and your partner’s favorite shows. It could be the end of your relationship if you do.

Trying to prevent resentment in relationships should be the primary goal of each partner.

Those thousand little cuts can negatively impact the health of your relationship even more than overt things like leaving your underwear on the floor.

So, pay attention. Don’t lie, follow through, respect what is important, be consistent and make sure you are careful with your TV watching.

You will be glad you did.

RELATED: 13 Subtle Signs Your Partner Secretly Resents You

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Mitzi Bockmann is a NYC-based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate whose writing has been published on The Huffington Post, Prevention, Psych Central, Pop Sugar, MSN and The Good Man Project, among others. She works all kinds of people to help them to be all that they want to be in this crazy world in which we live, so email her to get started.