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Contempt in Relationships & How to Stop Subtly Disliking Each Other

If you feel contempt towards your partner, it means you resent them and you’re starting to really dislike them. Does contempt in relationships mean the end?

contempt in relationships

Hate based on resentment and bad feelings doesn’t make for a happy union. It doesn’t matter whether it is between family members or within a romantic relationship. There can be contempt in relationships of various kinds, and it’s something you either need to face and overcome, or allow it to signal the end of a happy relationship.  

Most of us have been in cyclical relationships where you get along one minute, and the next it is all shot to hell, and everything is wrong. And as the relationship starts to go downhill for no apparent reasons, the real culprit of it all is something called contempt.

It is the inability not only to forget, but also to forgive.

The problem is that if you are holding onto contempt in your relationship because you’re upset by something, it is not only hurting the other person and the relationship, but you too.

[Read: 16 signs you’re settling in an unhappy relationship that’s only hurting you]

What exactly is contempt?

It’s hard to pinpoint what contempt in relationships actually looks like. That’s because it’s subtle in some ways but adds up to major issues over time.

If you have started to dislike your partner more and more, you’re pulling away from them, blaming them for everything, and you simply don’t know why you’re with them anymore, you could be struggling with contempt.

Contempt normally arises over time. One partner could have done something to the other to hurt them *intentionally or unintentionally* and they haven’t talked it over and dealt with it. This is one very common reason for contempt in relationships.

However, it can simply be that you’ve outgrown one another, and rather than dealing with it, you’re allowing your relationship to turn into something very toxic indeed.

If you don’t address contempt in a relationship, you’re going to find that it ends pretty quickly. So, you have a choice to make. Is this relationship worth fighting for, or do you want it to end? [Read: Falling out of love and why it happens to you]

The fastest ways to get over contempt in relationships

Contempt is not an easy thing to let go of, but carrying it along with you is even more difficult. If you want to find a way to get past contempt in relationships, it is about learning to forgive, understanding, and starting over.

In any relationship, you may have to start over a hundred times… or sometimes more.

But, the key to starting over is truly letting go of the past to start anew. Otherwise, starting over is nothing more than picking up the same hurtful baggage and carrying on. [Read: Tumultuous relationship – 15 ways to deal with a messy romance]

If you believe there’s some resentment and contempt in your relationship, here are all the things you need to start doing today. And most importantly, remember that getting over contempt is about changing the way you see things, and believing in the positive instead of focusing on the negative.

Let’s start with these steps, and you’ll notice a difference almost immediately.

1. Assume the other person is coming from a place of love

There is one strong reason why many relationships find themselves back in the same horrible position, again and again. It is because after you are burned or hurt, you have a tendency to make assumptions that people mean to hurt you in some vendetta.

If you want to move forward with someone and believe they are good enough to build a life with, then you have to assume that when things go bad, their actions or behaviors are coming from a place of love instead of always assuming they’re out to hurt you.

People have a tendency to live up to your expectations. So, if you stop expecting the worst from them, you may just find their goodness. [Read: Is your negative thinking ruining your life for you?]

2. Ascribe no intention to actions and behaviors

When you are in a tumultuous relationship, you often ascribe intention to behaviors that aren’t real. If your husband didn’t take out the garbage when you asked him to, don’t automatically assume that he left it there to add one more thing to your already full plate.

Perhaps he just forgot, or thought he would bring it out when he got home.

Prescribing your own projections onto any action can lead to miscommunication that can’t be fixed, and an argument around every corner. If someone hurts your feelings, ask why they did what they did before you accuse them of doing it intentionally. [Read: How to tell how your partner feels and learn to read their mind]

3. Forgive… truly forgive

There are many times when we say we are going to forgive, but we really don’t. Forgiveness is not an easy thing to do. The problem is that if you don’t forgive, then you are forced to carry the situation around with you. And it will forever spoil everything going forward.

Forgiving means to put things behind you. If, every time that you have a fight, you bring up the same issues, then you aren’t forgiving. Once you have forgiven someone for something, then you promise in your heart never to bring it up again.

If you continue to bring something they did before into the present after you have already forgiven them, then you didn’t really forgive them to begin with. A fight should be only about things that are real and present, not a laundry list of all the past wrongs. [Read: How to forgive and forget – 15 guidelines to follow]

4. Recognize how you play a part

If you think that you aren’t responsible for anything, you are wrong. There are only rare situations where a fight or argument is a one-way street. In fact, if only one person is responsible for an argument, then by definition it isn’t anything more than an opinion or a statement. It takes two to tango.

If you want to stop having contempt in relationships, then you have to take responsibility for the part that you play. You know their hot buttons as much as they know yours. If you don’t walk away and instead stay and fight, you are just as responsible for causing a rift in the relationship.

Remember, if you want the relationship to work, then you have to stop thinking that you only have to fix your partner *because it’s all their fault*, and perhaps have some introspection to work on your behaviors too. [Read: 16 silly bad habits that can hurt your relationship]

5. Look at the situation from another perspective

If you are always looking at things from your perspective only, you are never going to see the whole story or how to stop the animosity.

The only way to stop contempt in relationships is through empathy and the acknowledgment of how the other person feels. If you are always putting your own feelings first, you aren’t ever going to find a happy medium or a way to be happy together. [Read: 12 signs you’re being selfish in the relationship]

6. Seek out a third party analysis and be honest

When we have contempt in relationships, we often seek out people to vent to or to analyze the relationship with us. The problem is that we go to the people in our lives who will tell us we are right and what we want to hear. There is no better feeling than someone providing you with validation.

Turning to your family members or the people who love you to be the judge and jury will never help you solve your problems.

In fact, it is a surefire way to put more distance in your relationship. Seek out someone who will tell you not what you want to hear, but what you need to. [Read: 13 signs your friends are unintentionally ruining your relationships]

7. Try counseling

Sometimes if you just can’t seem to get through the contempt in a relationship, you have to seek out someone to be a mediator. A mediator can come in many forms. But, a relationship counselor is someone who is trained to help you work through your issues in an effective manner.

They can also help you develop better skills to communicate with one another in productive ways. When you get stuck in a rut, talking in circles with someone only creates more frustration, which can lead to contempt.

If you feel like you need a third party to “translate,” a counselor can be a great resource. [Read: Relationship counseling – 10 signs you need it to save your love]

8. Read famous theories on romantic relationships

The reason that the sexes have such a hard time living together is that we are inherently different in the way that we think and the way that we communicate. Many famous books have been written about how to relate to the opposite sex.

Some people find them very helpful. For some, they aid to get past the hurt in a relationship and find a way back to love. Books like Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus and The Five Love Languages can sometimes be a great resource to aid couples in getting past their struggles. [Read: 20 things happy couples don’t ever do in a perfect relationship]

9. Forget over-communication and move forward

Many couples think that their problems stem from a lack of communication. But sometimes, it stems from too much communication. If you think that you can “talk” your way out of contempt by presenting your side, over and over and over again, guess what? It isn’t a communication problem.

The next time you want to talk things out, try being silent as a new approach. Sometimes, your actions and behaviors are way more effective than the words that come from your mouth. [Read: A guide on effective communication in a relationship]

10. Stop looking for an apology. And, if one is offered, accept it without conditions.

If you are waiting for an apology, you may have gotten one and missed it. Or, you may have accepted one and then thought it didn’t go far enough.

To forgive someone, you don’t have to hear an apology. Sometimes people are incapable of saying they are sorry in concrete ways, or in the specific way that you want. If you know that someone is trying, give them a break and stop hoping they’ll do things they are not capable of.

Stop looking for the exact words you want, or the signals that they are really sorry, and accept what they are capable of giving you. [Read: 17 awww-so-sweet ways to genuinely let your partner know you’re sorry]

11. Stop overanalyzing

Sometimes, contempt in relationships stems from overanalyzing it. If someone says something to you, then take it for what it is worth.

If you sit and mull over a situation, or go over in your head twenty different scenarios about what they were saying, then you are playing the relationship out in your mind instead of what is really happening… or any real sense of reality. [Read: 20 ways your overanalyzing is ruining your relationship]

12. Let go of fear

Fear is one of the worst things about any relationship. We have all been rejected, hurt, or downright torn apart by a relationship in our past. Letting go of fear can help you to forgive and move forward.

The fear of being hurt again can keep us stuck and stop a relationship from mending. If you have contempt in a relationship and have built up a wall, it isn’t doing you or the union any favors.

Having contempt in relationships is a silent killer that encompasses everything. If you want to get past it, then you have to learn to forgive – truly forgive – and let go. If you keep pulling the past into the future, you won’t ever find happiness. Let go of fear, prejudice, ascribing intention, and assuming the worst so you can find more peace in your relationships.

[Read: How to stop being insecure – 15 steps to transform your life]

If you are tired of carrying the load of all the baggage, then don’t. Put it all away and resolve not to pick it up again. That’s how you heal contempt in relationships.

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Bethany Locke
Bethany was born and raised in Scotland and now resides in Brighton where she lives with her partner and rather disobedient cocker spaniel pup. And in her spare...
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