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Why can some people not hold a grudge?

I’ve always found it tough to hold a grudge against people, even when I want to. No matter how much someone screws me over or how mad I get, I always find myself forgiving and forgetting and resenting the fact. My ex girlfriend dropped on me out of nowhere that she was kicking me out, aborting our expected baby and my first child and wanted nothing to do with me and I really thought this would be the first time Id be able to hold a grudge and stick to it. Then as soon as shes nice to me again for the first time I tell myself “I’m sure she had her reasons” or “She must have been struggling a lot” and I’m back to being nice.

This is my most recent example but this is an ever too common theme of my life, I just forgive and forget even when I dont want to, and I guess I’m just hoping I’m not alone and theres someone out there who can relate?

Edit – Sorry guys / gals I recieved a lot more responses than I thought. Thank you all so much. But I’m working and unable to reply. I will take time tonight to read all comments and I’ll reply to as many as I can, but if I dont respond please know I have read and I appreciate the lovely words. I hope you all have a wonderful day 🙂

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31 Comments

  1. Being overly agreeable has its downsides too.. For one people may take you for granted and will walk all over you.. And two, being overly agreeable can be seen by many people as an undesirable trait.. It is perceived as indecisiveness or weakness.. Finally, if you bottle all this up you may one day explode.. While you shouldn’t hold grudges you should have healthy boundaries and a strong sense of self. Have we learned nothing from Ned Flanders?

  2. Holding a grudge is just a waste of energy anyway, so be glad you don’t do that.

    As for not letting the same people screw you over again, that doesn’t require a grudge, it just requires you to say no to them when they try to come into your life again. You don’t need to be angry at them to do so.

  3. Your post struck a chord with me because I have found myself asking this very same question before: “Why can’t I seem to hold a grudge?”

    I had a very tempestuous relationship with my (now ex) girlfriend. It seemed like every other week we would get into an argument over some mundane thing, and during these arguments she would sometimes say things which made me feel very small and unimportant. Oftentimes these arguments ended up with one of us storming away, followed by a period of a few days where we didn’t speak to each other at all.

    Immediately following these arguments, I sometimes swore to myself that “I can’t take any more of this” and “I have to break up with her”. But after a few days of being apart, whatever anger I had towards her seemed to mysteriously evaporate, and was replaced by a desire to see her again. As a result, we inevitably reconciled, and then everything was sunshine and rainbows… at least until a few weeks had passed and then we began the cycle again. This went on for *years*, and every time we fought I would blame myself for allowing this cycle to continue because, apparently, I could not hold a grudge.

    In the years since we broke up I’ve done a lot of therapy and introspection, and I think I have a better handle of what was going on with me (and with her) back then. The notion that I “can’t hold a grudge” was never really true — it was a *post hoc* rationalization for other behaviors I was incapable of recognizing.

    It wasn’t that I couldn’t hold a grudge, it was more that, subconsciously, I didn’t *want* to hold a grudge because if I held a grudge, that would require a certain bravery on my part. Holding a grudge would have required me to stand up myself. It would have required me to “be the bad guy” who ended our relationship. And consequently, it would have meant that I was alone. I wasn’t prepared to do any of those things. Subconsciously, I would have preferred to spend the rest of my life fighting over petty nonsense rather than face those fears.

    Perhaps the thing that helped me more than anything else was that I got involved with [Adult Children of Alcoholics/Dysfunctional Families](http://adultchildren.org). The children of addicts frequently become addicts themselves, and although I am not an alcoholic like my parents, I find that it’s helpful to consider my relationship with my ex-girlfriend through the lens of addiction.

    Addictive behavior follows [a very predictable pattern](https://49h8g53knb1m211jg5w51ztx-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/connect/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/cycle-of-addiction.jpg). It feels great when you are doing it, but afterwards (as you suffer the consequences of your choices) you feel guilt and regret. You vow to change your behavior, but as time passes you begin to feel anxious or uncomfortable and so you retreat to the safety of your addiction once more.

    It wasn’t that I couldn’t hold a grudge against my girlfriend — it was that I was “addicted” to what our relationship provided for me.

    I know this is a big post and it’s probably somewhat scatterbrained, but if it’s useful to just one person, it’ll have been worth it.

  4. Clearly you are an intelligent person and are at least AWARE of when a grudge (or let’s say a long lasting opinion of someone’s character which affects your behaviour towards them) is an option. This is good, as it represents a choice later down the line. In other words, you aren’t oblivious to being treated badly, which would be a far worse scenario.

    Perhaps try taking the emotion out of it and decide that upon realisation that somebody has treated you poorly, you remove them from your life or at least choose to treat them appropriately.

    This might go against your gut instinct to be nice to them, but so be it. This is where the choice comes in. You can decide how to treat them, and even if your character would normally lean towards being kind, you can choose to be nastier. It might be difficult at first, but it can be quite rewarding in the long run.

    Manipulative people will try to manipulate people like you, until it is made clear that it will no longer be tolerated. Then they will stop.

  5. I too have the same “problem”. I do forgive but i never forget. I will still be friendly to the person that screwed me over but I’ll never trust them ever again. I don’t exactly hate them for what they did but I’ll keep in mind.

    Edit: typo

  6. I recognize my younger self in what you write. My problem was that I never cultivated a sense of self-respect. You have to start treating yourself well, physically and emotionally, in order to feel outrage when someone crosses you. Otherwise, your integrity withers.

    You sound like you are naturally very agreeable, like me. Take steps to become more selfish. Start prioritizing yourself over others. It’s a difficult balance to strike, and you will probably accidentally become too disagreeable in the process. But with time and practice you will become better at it 🙂

  7. Longest i held a grudge was 12yrs with my cousin darren, but his life kinda went to shit so i figured some higher power was agreeing with me and darren, if you’re reading this FUCK YOU.

  8. well how long ago was this?

    i would give it time… i thought i forgave my ex boyfriend for .. similar crap.. i tried to say to him, that, i forgave him for the ways he hurt me and i wish him well… but then he seemed to come back and just .. yeah eventually i think mainly it was his lack of letting go, and continuing to take advantage of me probably because like you, i was making it too easy for him to do so by being “nice” … we were constantly breaking up, every 3 months for over a year. and, i thought maybe over time i could just, forgive and forget but.. I have to say no..i do hold a grudge now. And honestly before that, I’ve actually never held a grudge in my life (i say that but i have bad memory so maybe i have, but i can’t think of anyone i strongly dislike or hold something against) but i do now. there are a lot of things that can be forgiven, but sometimes… sometimes they can’t. he was physically abusive, and emotionally manipulative.

    its easy to be nice to someone, when they’re being nice to you… but if you take yourself away from the situation and away from them – as in, cut contact with them and or move on so that you can really assess the situation without their niceness, or meanness influencing how you feel and literally leave just the facts and how you genuinely feel – then you may find you do dislike, resent, or even hate that person and indeed, don’t forgive them. by posting here and asking about opinion, you’re really just trying to do that.. have an objective 3rd party view on the situation but, you are indeed capable of providing this for yourself and would encourage to actively seek to do this as it does help you to assess what to spend energy on.

    if you can forgive something i am an advocate of doing that, especially if it doesn’t take much for you to do so. but if forgiving that person starts to come at the expense of your own self – that’s when you have a problem. ask yourself, why’s she being nice to you now? did she want something? did you, stop resenting her and give it to her? don’t let people walk all over you. if they wrong you, at least begin to question their intentions AND take stock of who is in your life and whether they are mostly adding positive influence, and good things.. or mostly negative, and how much of your time you are giving to them if they do not.. vs those who do add something positive to your life.

    ​

    Edit: opsie .. the moment you realise you’re a girl in the AskMen /r.

  9. Some people are more agreeable in nature than others. Some people are more empathetic. People are different.
    Personally I’m the same, someone can do me so wrong and, after the initial anger, I’ll just turn around and ask myself “I’m being too hard on them aren’t I.” It’s not a bad thing to be able to forgive.
    What’s important is that you don’t forget. If someone demonstrates that you can’t trust them or that you shouldn’t rely on them, don’t give them the chance to do it again.

  10. Is this being accidentally two-faced? Shit, do I do this as well? I feel like I might accidentally be doing this… Not announcing or expressing when someone has wronged me and just letting it slide because they probably didn’t mean it / they had their excuses etc

    A reason I broke up with my ex was because I was so tired of listening to her reasons and excuses and then having to explain why that didn’t matter or why I didn’t care… Actually, just expressing myself in that case was a thing but it made me feel like I was dismissing everything from her when actually it was just wearing me out.

    I don’t hold grudges because they require too much effort. I don’t have time to spend hating. But unfortunately that means I do keep some things inside and that just makes me increasingly bitter towards that person. ^(I’ve moved back in with my mum just before quarantine, and holy fucking shit I am so tired of her shit I just can barely talk to her any more. It never gets resolved, a serious conversation just leads to her accusing me of being an arrogant/millennial/young man/child and she is always in the right. I’m bored of my job almost trying to make her less bigoted/prejudice/fucking rude so I’ll just leave her to be her toxic self in private. It doesn’t affect anyone but those of us in the house with her anyway so it doesn’t fucking matter what I think.)

  11. > I just forgive and forget even when I dont want to

    I caught myself doing this through a really messy break up. I started keeping a blog that only I had access to. First I went back and made notes about all the crazy shitty things she did in the past. Then I kept updating it while she continued to be horrible. Any time I started thinking about getting back together with her I’d read the blog to remind myself why I left.

  12. It honestly sounds like you have quite a few very manipulative people in your life. These types of people excel at hurting others while achieving their own selfish gains then flipping the script so their victims either feel guilty or sympathetic and forgive the abuser or, in extreme cases, *seek their abusers forgiveness for being hurt.*

  13. Yea buddy I can relate to that. I find it very difficult to punish people. I always see the good in them and I don’t think there is a single person with absolutely no good in them. So I can’t think of someone as bad no matter how bad things they do to me. I do try to avoid people who hurt me. But if I meet them, I am as good to them as I would be to any other person.

  14. Humans come in various configurations. Some have underdeveloped/missing parts while others have very highly developed parts. There are people who cannot help hold grudges. You cannot hold grudges. Some can murder while their heartbeats don’t go beyond 70 per minute while others will faint at the sight of blood. It is all a game of probabilities/chance.

    Whatever be the hardware handed to you, you have total control over it. The only thing you need to know is the rules of the game you are playing. If you are being screwed over again and again, you definitely need to pause and assess the situation. Don’t hold grudges, but don’t let others walk all over you. Allowing that is stupidity.

    Even a “passive” tree somehow gathers enough information to create toxins powerful enough to repel predators. The same tree bears nourishing fruits too.

    Be forgiving, but be smart enough to not always end up forgiving.

  15. Hold a grudge against your ex that cut ties with you and aborted your baby?

    Sounds like you dodged a bullet if she was going to ice you like that and kill the baby homie!

  16. I can completely relate! (Are you a Capricorn haha jk). You know on the flip side, my ability to do this is a result of being a bit of a sociopath and/or lack empathy. I have noticed in situations where others would be so mad and set a no contact boundary, i can still be friends with that person or lovers . (Because i even lack empathy for myself) which is ok, i don’t know what i am missing) You will find your match, i did and this skill has allowed my marriage to be so successful. But dammit i have had such a hard time training myself on how to be empathetic. Just go with it, but try and make a point to set healthy boundaries for yourself if things get toxic. The people i study for this type of skill are the cast on that show -born this way! They have not only taught me social skills but how to emulate empathy. I feel they would make amazing therapists !

  17. I found that my ability to not hold grudges stems from a mild depression. I often feel numb to everything and everyone. I definitely do not have depression as bad as some people for which I’m lucky but it’s become a part of my personality. I can not remember a time where I “cared” enough to hold a grudge. I drive a taxi for a living so I always encounter Road Rage moments but I take it in my stride, no one was hurt and I expect people to cut me up so I don’t get angry. People do me wrong, I’m likely to avoid them until some time has passed and they reach out but I’m always ready to move on.

    I do not like however the hypocrisy of people, actions that they do and I will over look but if I do the same I am dropped quickly. I don’t have really anyone as a friend, only my wife and family. I found that although I make every effort to build people up and encourage their wants (I’m a people pleaser) it is never returned and as soon as they reach their goal I am forgotten about.

  18. When you realize that some people are careless and even harmful to your career and personal growth, you’ll see the value in grudges.

    I have the same personality as you. But I realized I’m not getting anywhere because I’m not holding people in my life accountable for how they treated me and how their choices harmed me. Once I did, I lost a lot of unhealthy friends m, but gained many more healthier friendships. I also started getting ahead in my career finally.

  19. To me, a grudge is something that bothers me about a person to the point where it’s constantly on my mind and affects how you think and interact with them.

    If I have an issue that is serious enough — something I simply can’t ignore when I think about or am with them, I’m likely to just drop them as friends and move on. If I continue to be friends with them, then I’ll just accept it and there won’t be a grudge, deciding that my friendship is bigger than our differences.

  20. You’re like me. I was this person until about 35. You bottle it up until you explode. Now you look like the delusional one. I don’t trust anyone anymore and would rather be single than completely miserable. Be careful mate

  21. You’re a very agreeable guy. Agreeableness is fine, it helps to avoid conflict, but only to a degree is it beneficial. You want to be able to negotiate with other people better, and stand up for yourself. Be more self serving.

    Whether you like him or not, Jordan Peterson has a good lecture on that topic and helped me understand myself a little better.

    https://youtu.be/G1eHJ9DdoEA

  22. It sounds like you don’t intrinsically think you’re worthy of being treated with respect. Has anyone else in your life treated you this way? Is this a pattern you can see in your life?

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