What to Do If You’re Starting to Resent Every Little Thing Your Partner Does

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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If you’re in a long-term relationship, your significant other is probably going to bug the hell out of you from time to time. It’s completely normal—healthy, even, research suggests—to get annoyed or angry at your partner, especially if you live together or hang out a ton. I’m no exception: I recently snapped at my husband over our broken bed. It happens!

For some people, however, those one-off mild (or even intense!) irritations can snowball. Left unaddressed, you can grow to straight-up resent your partner, and end up scoffing at every teeny tiny thing they do. Fortunately, even though it sucks to feel this way, it’s not a surefire sign that your relationship is doomed. “Don’t feel like, I’m annoyed so my relationship is over,” Anabel Basulto, MFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist at Kaiser Permanente in San Leandro, California, tells SELF. “You’re irritated for a reason and you need to figure out what that reason is.”

In other words, there’s hope for you. Below, Basulto unpacks why you may be so exasperated with your other half—and suggests some practical strategies for reining in your frustration.

Why you kinda can’t stand your significant other right now

The reason you feel so damn bitter is, most likely, that you two have unresolved issues—such as financial stressors, conflicting parenting styles, or less-than-stellar progress toward your life goals—that you haven’t openly acknowledged or dealt with. If you don’t address these problems early on and nip them in the bud, they can fester beneath the surface. Then, you may wind up getting irked by everything your partner does (the way they eat chips, for example, or how loudly they speak), when, really, these little behaviors have absolutely nothing to do with the core issues at hand. “It’s almost like when you put something in a pressure cooker and it’s about to pop and you just keep adding and adding and adding,” Basulto explains.

Many couples start out in a happy-go-lucky blissful state (we all know this as “the honeymoon phase”). Problems like, where you want to live, say, or how to cope with overbearing in-laws—don’t usually bubble up and cause chaos until a few years down the road, often around the seven-year mark, studies suggest. At this point, the honeymoon phase is over (it’s gotta end sometime), you know your partner very well (too well?), you’ve settled into how you function in life as a pair, and certain behaviors you once found adorable may lose their allure, Basulto says.

It doesn’t help that society hammers us over the head with unrealistic expectations about what long-term relationships should be like. Many people are sold the idea that they’ll meet their soulmate and live happily ever after as they gaze dreamily into the sunset of life together—but it doesn’t work like that, Basulto says. And it can be super disappointing when you’re faced with the reality that real relationships have conflict, plus good days and bad days. As a result, you might wind up blaming your partner for these perceived shortcomings, she adds.

So, what do you do if you’ve had it up to here with your partner?

Consider the pros and cons of your relationship.

It’s easy to get trapped in a cycle where you focus on all the annoying things your partner does. Research shows the brain is hardwired to pay closer attention to all the negatives in life than the positives—but it’s important to acknowledge your partner’s best traits, too. Basulto recommends making a pros and cons list about them (that they will never, ever find, of course). Jot down what you appreciate about this person along with the behaviors that set you off.


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