How Does Holding Grudges in Relationships Affect You and How to Let Go?

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Holding grudges in relationships fills you with anger, rage, bitterness, resentment, and negative feelings toward the person who has hurt you. A grudge can sometimes grow out of pure perception too. Someone may or may not mean any harm to you. But, because you believe they are against you or doesn’t stand by you, this leads you to hold grudges.  

The phrase “holding a grudge” comes from the Old French word grouchier which means “to grumble”. The word is related to the modern English word “grouch”. And German and Old English also have synonyms that mean “to complain”, “to wail”, “to grumble” and “to cry out”.

Grudges thrive when people are not ready to let go of something that has already happened. Sometimes, people are simply not willing to forgive. Or to say, they are not prepared emotionally to let bygones be bygones and move forward in life. 

Today, we are talking about the effects of holding grudges in relationships. These feelings seed more bitter feelings that affect you negatively. Thus, we are talking about the subject in depth.

How does Holding Grudges in Relationships Affect You and How to Let Go?

Feelings of aggressiveness and bitterness don’t grow overnight. It happens when you are deeply hurt. More often than not, this hurt comes from people you least expect from. And these are the times when hopes and expectations of doing the right thing by your side don’t end well. The negative feelings grow with the passing of time.

Holding grudges in relationships and clinging onto such negativity for too long never ends well for you too. Because, even if the other person has let it go, sticking to those unpleasant emotions affects you in the long run. Every time you and the other person are under the same roof, you tend to relive the moments that have grown such hatred within you. 

Whether your intentions are pure or not, the feeling of bitterness stays for as long as you hold it. Holding grudges in relationships has the power to hurt you equally as the person who inspired them in you. They hold you back from seeing past the hurt and living a fulfilled life. 

Cultivating grudges holds you back from healing and freeing yourself from the hurt. Because even if it is the other person’s deeds that hurt you, you are constantly living the same scenario repeatedly. This hampers your growth in life. 

Why holding grudges in relationships is bad for your health? 

People who hold grudges are less capable of forgiveness. Research has found that holding grudges can lead to high blood pressure and heart diseases. Forgiveness and holding grudges in relationships are two shores of the same river. Either you can choose the former and thrive as you please or you can choose the latter and let it control your life.

When you continue holding grudges in relationships, it is you who are drinking the poison but you expect the other person to die. It has a strong impact on not just your health but also your self-esteem. It impacts your self-confidence. Constantly reminding yourself of something that has hurt you in the past also affects your immune system. It slows your metabolism and hampers the functioning of your organs. 

holding a grudge in relationships

Holding grudges against others usually backfires as it affects the quality of your life. Living with a grudge means living with the problem. You don’t seek solutions because the constant reminder of the hurt you felt at first doesn’t allow you to see beyond it.

Even though you lie to yourself and the people around you that everything is fine, deep down all of it is falling apart. It is far from fine inside you. It impacts your physical well-being. 

Holding grudges in relationships creates chronic stress. Hence, it leads to adverse physical health effects that include cardiovascular health, digestion, reproduction, sleep, headaches, upset stomach, and even asthma. And anger also affects the longevity of your life. 

Holding grudges is pointless because the other person’s actions show who they are and not who you are. Their behavior has nothing to do with your character and personality. Someone else’s choice of actions doesn’t define you. 


What personality type holds grudges? 

Holding grudges in relationships reflects a negative approach toward life. It amplifies toxic emotions like envy, jealousy, and anger. Your family background or childhood trauma can also contribute to building this toxic mindset and holding grudges against people in your life. 

A recent study highlights 6 traits common among people who enjoy holding grudges in relationships: 

  • They find it difficult to let go 
  • They enjoy severing ties with people 
  • They tend to keep past grudges alive 
  • They have firm expectations for the future 
  • They continue seeking validation and approval 
  • They want to enjoy a sense of moral superiority 

How holding grudges in relationships affects your mental health? 

Holding grudges in relationships can severely impact your mental health. Clinging to anger multiplies it. This way you create a constant loop of negative feelings for yourself. This loop pushes you to relive the negative instances over and over again. It exposes you more to unpleasant emotions and thoughts. You screw your mindset, develop signs of mental health concerns, and gradually your overall well-being is in darkness. 

The loop of frustration you create for yourself leads you to feel more upset and drained out. It makes you feel lonely. Because you are not resolving the problem but only increasing the hurt you feel every day. This self-created loop keeps you away from beginning your healing journey. Because despite the passage of time, remembering the incident all over again makes you feel it is more recent. 

Holding grudges in relationships leads to a self-inflicted wound as it ultimately exaggerates the experience and makes it more painful for you. All of this increases your risks of several mental health concerns like anxiety, unwanted aggression, depression, emotional detachment, mood disorders, and even instigates self-harm or suicidal attempts. Built-up resentment and unaddressed bitterness make a home for added stress, worry, defensiveness, and negativity.   


How to let go of holding grudges in relationships?

Holding grudges in relationships nourishes unhealthy emotional regulation. You blame others and suppress your emotions. Yes, it is hard to not take things personally but you cannot let that affect you and screw your life. The only solution is acceptance of the experience, forgiving the person, learning to let go, and moving on with your life. 

holding a grudge synonym

Letting go of something that has hurt you so deeply isn’t easy. It is a long and difficult process. But, if it gives you back your peace of mind, it is ultimately worth it. Try some of the mentioned ways to move past the grudge and get your life back on track: 

a. Stop victimizing yourself: It is not important how the world sees you. It is important how you see yourselves. To let go of holding grudges in relationships, you first have to let it all in. Feel the pain. Acknowledge and accept it. Instead of questioning why it happened to you, embrace the incident and allow yourself to let go to move ahead.

b. Don’t vilify the person: More often than not. miscommunication and misunderstanding are the root cause of such hurtful experiences. Instead of speaking ill about the other person, talk about it with them. If it was intentional and forgiveness won’t be easy, remove them from your life. If not, try to see things from their perspectives too. Be kind and be a better person.

c. Acknowledge what you must do: Making mistakes is basic human nature. But, evolution and growth are truths of life too. Ultimately, it’s your decision whether you want this person or not. You must acknowledge if the person is worth giving another chance to stay in your life or if you have to forgive them and move on with yours. As important as it is to nurture a relationship, it is equally important to know when is the right time to let them go. 

This may seem like a lot. But, you would agree that we all have been there. We all have been hurt by the people we love. And, forgiving them is the only option. But forgiveness is never for them. It is for your sanity and peace of mind. 

Researches show that acceptance and forgiveness cultivate an emotionally stable mindset. They lower stress and promote healthier well-being and growth. 


What if you continue holding grudges in relationships and never practice forgiveness?

You don’t forgive people for their sake. You forgive them because you want to set them free from the burden of constant struggle and suffering. But sometimes, it can be challenging to forgive the person who has brought you to hurt, especially if it’s someone you trusted blindly.

The feelings of holding grudges in relationships can strengthen when the person at blame doesn’t accept and admit their fault. It becomes easier to hate and curse them because they make it for you. Instead of wanting to be in your life, they may even choose this entire scenario as a stepping stone to increase the distance between you two.

Irrespective of the reason, forgiveness shall happen for yourself, for your sake. And, if you find yourself stuck in the vicious circle of hate, resentment, and reliving the incident of hurt, then these 7 steps that will help you to move on in life: 

  • Choose empathy over resentment. Every situation has two different perspectives. Try to listen to their side of the story too.
  • Ask yourself how you would behave or react if you would have been in their place. Then compare what they did to what you would do. Maybe this will clear some air for you.
  • Remember the times when you were on the other side? Reflect on situations where you ended up hurting people (even if it was unintentional). But, they forgave you. And, how you are on cordial terms (if not good) with them without holding grudges in relationships.
  • Release your thoughts. No matter how negative they are, journaling will help you to let go of the long-stored anger and hate against that person.
  • If you have a mentor or a friend that is wise, trustworthy, understanding, and compassionate according to you, talk to them. Irrespective of the feelings you have, vent them in front of them.
  • Understand that forgiveness is a process and it will take time. Healing doesn’t happen overnight. You might revisit the incident of hurt multiple times. You might also pick on similar situations that involve this person. Forgiveness isn’t once and for all so easily. It has to happen over and over again to let it go finally.


As someone who has been on both sides:  being hurt and hurting someone (unintentionally), I believe there is an abundance of strength in forgiveness. Because a lot of people can complain about life and play the victim card. But not everyone has a big heart to forgive. 

When hurt and betrayal come from the people we least expect it from, that is when you hit the rock bottom. And those are the times when you stand at the test of life. I can say this because I have been there myself. It’s the roughest phase of life where nothing makes sense and you begin to question your deeds and existence to understand where you went wrong for the other person to do such things to you. 

It is in these moments that you should understand that people stay in your life when they want to stay. There is nothing unique you can do to make them stay. 

I read this quote and it changed how my thought process on holding grudges in relationships. It says, “You can only keep people in your life when want to be kept.” 

So, always remember, you don’t forgive the other person for them. You forgive them for yourselves. And, it doesn’t happen overnight. Holding grudges in relationships is worth nothing. It takes a severe toll on your health and emotions. No one needs this negativity in their life. 

Once you can forgive, you are on the path of healing, ready to start a better, grudge-free life. You begin to feel more empowered because you are no more the victim but the hero of your story.

Now, go ahead. Share your story of how you overcame the grudge you had. Have you been through a journey of healing and forgiveness?

I’d love to read your stories. The comment section is all yours!