Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Managing Resentment in Relationships

Staying in a relationship where you consistently give more than you get is unbearable. Eventually, you’ll become sour.  And the person to blame for your resentment is you.

You’re not fully responsible, of course. 

It’s likely you truly don’t know how to have a more healthy dynamic with this person.

Maybe you identify as a giver and you feel guilty about choosing yourself, maybe you’re generous because that’s the best way you know to receive validation, or perhaps you have a tendency to please others because you learned that’s the best way to prevent people from abandoning you.

This mix of fear and discomfort can be enough to lock you into the sycophant role. 

Even if continuing down that road will eventually lead you to grow hostile towards your person and destroy the relationship. 

So how do you stop yourself from ruining your lopsided relationship?

By restoring the balance: give less.

You already know that giving more doesn’t motivate them to meet your needs. You’ve been already doing that for a while. And where has that led you?

Unless they’ve expressed a desire to change for you, the only way to get rid of your growing nasty feelings toward them is to do less.

And it’ll likely feel wildly uncomfortable.

Not only for yourself, but also for them. They’re likely used to you going down on your hands and knees for them. 

Take that away and they might become upset with you. Hopefully. Sometimes they won’t even notice you’re pulling back and that realisation cuts far deeper.

An angry person at least values what you have to give.

Does dialing back your investment feel difficult? Then tune into the anger and hurt that you’ve been feeling for giving that person so much in return for so little. 

Your pain is the motivation to give less.

And don’t get it twisted, you’re easing off out of self-protection, not to jolt the other person into giving you what you’ve been hoping for all along.

It’s possible that your step back will make them want to earn your attention.

But that’s not why you’re doing it.

You’re doing it to end your suffering. You’re backing off to gain peace.

So what is likely to happen as a result of your actions?

Two things.

Firstly, you’ll enter a different, more equal relationship. One with probably less intimacy and depth than you once hoped. 

This brings me to the second and more surprising consequence.

Grief.

If you cared for them, carried them in your thoughts every day, and gave them access to your most inner world—and you recognise they don’t give a stink about returning to that level of closeness?

That’s the stuff that therapy sessions are made of. 

And you need to be ready to accommodate that while stopping yourself from going back into people-pleaser mode to restore the relationship to its former ‘glory’.

If giving less ends with less, you need to accept that new, second-rate equilibrium. 

Stop being angry with people who can’t reciprocate your generosity. Instead, give your generosity to people who appreciate you and are ready to build something nourishing and meaningful.  

And here’s one last bit of advice to help you move on:

Not all relationships are destined for improvement. Sometimes difficulties get in the way and people grow apart. That’s just how it is. 

Don’t let regression get in the way of being vulnerable and seeking new meaningful connections.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach