Why Holding on to Grudges Poison Your Romantic Relationship

Relationships are beautiful, but it’s sad to see so many crash due to one past issue or the other. Whiles, it’s good to dream of a relationship with zero fights, the reality is that relationships aren’t devoid of challenges and misunderstandings. As a matter of fact, one of the major causes of breakups is a little misunderstanding that escalated out of control. And the concept of ‘out of control’ is furthered expanded when we hold grudges that prevent the relationship just can’t move forward.

Grudges don’t just happen and holding onto them isn’t always intentional. Whether it’s a toxic or healthy relationship, grudges happen, and keeping them is a slow ticket to ending the relationship.

Grudges are often born out of misunderstandings that weren’t duly settled. It could be that you didn’t let it all out at the time or you just decided to suck things up until you can no longer contain the feelings. It could also be a result of one person feeling as though the apology and steps to make amends were just not enough. When such happens, grudges are held unto unconsciously.

No matter the reason, holding onto grudges leaves you with a dangerously negative image of your partner, no matter their best efforts. Eventually, your relationship will have to pay the ultimate price.

Resentment

Grudges easily breed resentment towards your partner. While your hurt may have been justified, if it is not dealt with, you will end up thinking less of him or her. The problem with grudges is that, while they feed your bitterness, they don’t actually allow you to break up and experience any peace. Because you are, in fact holding onto the past, there is no recent issue worthy of justifying your decision in the present. You have trapped yourself. And you need to feel right, right? So, you just have to wait for one more mess up before you can finally call it quits.

Distrust

Self-preservation is a natural instinct. It operates in different forms, one being doubt or distrust. To avoid being hurt again, you might grow distrustful. Yet when you cling to the grudge, you give no room for healing or trust. In most cases, the grudge will only stimulate you to doubt his/her every word and to find fault in every action. It poisons most interactions as an underlying, unresolved, and uncontrollable pain. In the end, while “love” will keep them stuck in the relationship, they fail to allow the same love to heal the hurt.

Transfer of Aggression

Apart from keeping you resentful, holding grudges tend to spill into your other relationships. You might end up being resentful towards your friends who plead on behalf of your partner. If care is not taken, you might lose both your relationship and friendships.

Revenge

It’s easy to say “forgive and forget”, but in reality it is extremely difficult. Getting hurt often causes a gut reaction to need revenge. You want him/her to feel what you do. You think somehow this will make you feel better. Unfortunately, holding on to grudges capitalizes on that desire to inadvertently exact revenge, despite claiming forgiveness. As your resentment grows so does your desire for revenge. 

What’s more, that the desire to have your revenge is often subtle. You have no idea that you’re nursing the thought of revenge until you end up hurting your partner. When such happens, you’ll find that you actually had no genuine reason for hurting him/her. 

How to Let Go of Grudges

Ultimately, letting go of grudges is a choice you must make for the sake of your relationship. Below are things to note about letting go:

Acknowledge

Think about your partner and observe your thoughts. If you’re prone to thinking negatively, then there’s an underlying issue that makes holding onto grudges easier for you. You must take some responsibility for you own attitude and thought processes. First and foremost, you must recognize the fact that you’re holding a grudge. 

Accept

Do not deny that you’ve been hurt. Denying it just keeps the cycle going.  Also, don’t assume that just because you have verbally forgiven your partner means you have emotionally forgiven. While you may want to forgive, the hurt might still be lurking inside you.

Let it Go

It’s great to accept that you’ve been hurt, but most importantly you mustn’t dwell on the pain. If you fixate on it, then it controls you and your attitude toward the relationship. Here, you have to be willing to move on from the hurt, whether or not the apology was enough.

Straight Talk

Holding on to grudges increases when there is already a lack of communication. While your hurt may reduce the frequency in which you want to talk to your partner, you must be willing to do it. In most cases, your partner is more than eager to talk to you, but he/she just doesn’t know how you’ll take it. At times, you might be the one blocking off every means of communication. To let go of the hurt in your heart, talk to your partner – pour it all out.

Put Yourself in Their Shoes

This can be hard, but you must try to put yourself in their shoes. How is your grudge holding affecting your partner? What has your partner done to try and make amends? You can only find out by thinking from their perspective.

Explain What Would Help

Your partner is not a mind reader. He/she wants to make you feel better. In your effort to let go, you can be vulnerable and tell your partner what can be done to help you recover faster. This also helps you to acknowledge your partner’s effort once they respond and follow your instructions. 

While it’s possible that you might not know what would make you feel better, try coming up with things that make you happy. When your partner does these things for you, rather than being critical, try to relax and enjoy them as you normally would.

Look on the Bright Side

It is often said that for every negative experience, there is something positive to surface. Lessons are often bitter, but they’re invaluable. Having recognized the hurt, rather letting the grudge fester, dwell on pleasant memories and your partner’s current efforts.

Forgive

It’s definitely not the easiest to do, but it’s necessary for healing. While you may find it hard to forget, ensure that you forgive your partner. Forgiveness should not be viewed as doing your partner a favor. Rather, you’re doing yourself a favor by choosing to heal rather than being consumed by bitterness. 

Are You Doing Your Part?

While you’re the one who was hurt, it is still a conscious choice to let past actions continue to deteriorate your relationship. You also have a responsibility to the prospective health of your bond if you intend to stay and work through it. It must be a two-way street moving forward or the imbalance will simply cascade. You can do this. And you will do this if your relationship means enough to you. 

Want to be a part of a new community dedicated to all things surrounding relationships? Here, we will exchange challenges, opportunities, and personal stories about our endeavors to not only strengthen the relationships that matter most to us but to also improve our own abilities to communicate. This group will be a space for all (explorers, learners, teachers, and experts) to come together to hear, share, and mature. Join us here: www.facebook.com/groups/ingrid.peacemaker. 

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