Often Feeling Resentful? How That Can Be a Glaring Clue to Underlying Codependence
By Rhoberta Shaler, PhD, Relationship Crisis Consultant.
Feeling resentful? When you feel it, do you immediately beat yourself up and tell yourself you’re not being nice, fair, patient, or compassionate enough?
Instead of taking it on as a fault in yourself, stop and ask yourself, “Am I in a relationship that is out of balance: no equality, no reciprocity, no mutuality?”
If that’s the case, stop making excuses, in your head or to your friends, for that other person right this minute. I can hear you saying:
“They’re going through a stressful time.”
“They had a difficult childhood.”
“They’ve suffered trauma.”
“They’re tired, frustrated, hungover, _______.”
“I just don’t love them enough or they wouldn’t be that way.”
“If I’m only more patient, quiet, supportive, _____…, they’ll be______ .”
NO! When you feel resentful much of the time, stop making excuses for their bad behavior. That’s on them, not on you!
One of the most common signs of a codependent relationship is resentment. This could be due to one partner feeling like their needs are not being met, or because the other partner is taking advantage of them. In some cases, a partner might even feel like they must take care of their partner’s needs while neglecting their own. It’s important to recognize this dynamic and address it before it gets worse.
Another warning sign of a codependent relationship is when one person in the relationship has all the power and control. Often this means that one person will make decisions for both partners, leaving little room for discussion or compromise. This type of situation can lead to feelings of frustration and helplessness for the other person in the relationship. And, to resentment.
Codependent relationships aren’t necessarily abusive or one-sided. By being aware of the signs of a codependent relationship and addressing them, both partners can learn to communicate effectively and build a healthy, balanced relationship. Once the balance tips to one partner or the other, that’s when the toxicity and emotional abuse can start.
How balanced is your relationship?
Here are some tips for avoiding codependent relationships:
- Encourage open communication between partners to ensure each person’s needs are heard and respected.
- Take responsibility for your own actions and emotions, rather than placing blame on others.
- Spend time apart doing your own activities so you can remain independent of one another.
- Make sure both partners know what their boundaries are so they can respect each other’s autonomy.
BIG NOTE: Of course, if you’re in a toxic relationship with a Hijackal®*, open, equal communication and autonomy just won’t happen…ever. You will need strategies and skills that give you the confidence and assertiveness to claim that autonomy on your own.
It’s possible that you may be over-nice because you feel like you need to please everyone or are afraid of making mistakes. While it’s important to be considerate and kind, sometimes too much niceness can lead to feeling taken advantage of or used.
Being nice doesn’t always mean being a pushover either; there is power in learning to say no and setting boundaries with others. It’s okay to take care of yourself and not put everyone else first all the time! If you think this could be an issue for you, try talking about it with someone who can offer guidance on how to set healthy boundaries while still being kind.
If you feel uncomfortable with how someone is treating you, it’s okay to speak up for yourself and express your feelings – even if it means speaking up about feeling resentful. There is nothing wrong with expressing your emotions honestly. It often takes courage and strength to do so.
If you’re feeling resentful in a codependent relationship, it’s important to speak up about it. It can be hard to confront someone you are so closely connected to, but it is necessary for self-care and the health of the relationship overall.
So, how do you speak up about feeling resentful (and hopefully have a respectful and mutual understanding at the end?)
1. Get clear on what you need: Before entering any confrontation with your partner or loved one, take some time to reflect on what you need right now in order to feel heard. This will help you feel calmer and more confident when talking to them. Making some notes can help, too, so you can stick to your game plan.
2. Practice active listening: When communicating with your partner, make sure that they can share their perspective too. It can be tempting to just focus on what you want to say, but actively listening is key for a healthy dialogue. If you’re with a Hijackal, though, they will demand you listen… and refuse to listen to you. And will turn everything back on you. This is where you’ll need to be strong and assertive, and ensure you get an equal opportunity to speak. Take note.
3. Avoid blame and criticism: Instead of placing blame or criticizing your partner, focus on expressing how you feel. This will help them understand why you are feeling resentful and create an opportunity for the two of you to find a resolution together.
You already know that a Hijackal has no interest in a solution that works for both of you. That’s WHY you’re feeling resentful, right? Master my Personal Weather Report strategy to strengthen your confidence.
Take responsibility for your feelings: While it’s important to communicate your needs with your partner, you also need to take responsibility for how you are feeling. Remember that no one else can make you feel anything – so don’t put the burden of guilt on someone else, OR let it be unfairly shoved in your lap, either.
By speaking up about feeling resentful in a codependent relationship, you can take a step towards creating healthier communication and a healthier connection. Remember that it is okay to feel this way and that there are steps you can take to foster understanding between you and your partner. (Remember, because a Hijackal has NO interest in understanding you, when you start speaking up using the Personal Weather Report, it’s for your benefit, not theirs.)
Working towards creating healthy relationships takes work, but it is well worth the effort. If speaking up about feeling resentful in your codependent relationship feels too overwhelming or risky right now, don’t hesitate to reach out for professional help. A therapist can provide support and guidance as you adjust and develop better communication skills yourself.
Frequently feeling resentful is often a clear clue that there is NO EQUALITY in a relationship. Co-dependency in one partner is an invitation to be used, exploited, and abused by a Hijackal. If that’s the case for you, it’s time to make a change…and it’s very possible.
*A Hijackal is a person who hijacks the relationship to meet their own needs and purposes, while relentlessly scavenging that relationship for power, status, and control. This is Dr. Shaler’s trademarked term for the chronically difficult people in life.
Host of the Save Your Sanity podcast, Rhoberta Shaler, PhD, helps clients worldwide to recognize, release, and recover from toxic relationships and emotional abuse. She is the author of Escaping the Hijackal Trap and Kaizen for Couples. Learn more about her work and join in her community here: https://www.EmergingEmpowered.com