holding a grudge against someone

How to Hold a Grudge Against Someone

Holding a grudge isn’t very healthy, but it can help get your point across

When someone wrongs another person for one reason or another, it’s not uncommon for that person to display feelings of resentment. Many times, things will resolve themselves one way or another. But other times, the person who was wronged refuses to let it go and becomes consumed with hatred for the perpetrator. Friendships and even family members have had relationships torn apart as a result of one person—or both parties—holding grudges.

Of course, holding a grudge is different than being angry at someone for a horrific or violent crime. Holding a grudge is more pertinent to petty, everyday, non-criminal, non-violent activity, like someone not holding an elevator for you, or getting a promotion over you. When you’re holding a grudge against someone, it is probably a situation that could be resolved with the parties talking it out and offering apologies or forgiveness.

One grudge-holding situation to consider

Dan and Stan were the best of friends despite being very different. Dan was short; Stan was tall. Dan drove a Prius; Stan drove a Hummer. Dan liked a quiet night in, listening to NPR; Stan spent most of his free time at the local strip club. Dan voted for Clinton; Stan wasn’t aware there was an election. Dan listened to gospel music; Stan listened to death metal. Despite their differences, they always met every Sunday at Dan’s bachelor pad to cheer on their Dallas Cowboys.

Unfortunately, things took a dark turn one gray February morning when Stan accidentally backed his car over Dan’s beloved cat, Dez, flattening it. He tried to hide the evidence by throwing the cat carcass in a bush, but Dan caught him in the act. Dan may have been able to forgive Stan, except for the first words to come out of Stan’s mouth. “Oh well, it’s just a dumb cat. It’s not like I ran over a dog or something.”

Days passed, then weeks. Stan left numerous voicemails apologizing and even tried gifting Dan with a new cat, but Dan wasn’t receptive. The two would see each other on occasion when they were invited to events of mutual friends, but Dan kept his distance. When Cowboys season rolled around and Stan didn’t receive an invite to watch the game at Dan’s house, he officially knew: Dan was holding a grudge against him for either killing his cat, trying to cover it up, or not showing resentment… but in all actuality it was a combination of the three.

How do you know if you should hold a grudge against someone?

  • Realistically, the idea of holding a grudge should come naturally and there should be no decision-making involved. “Hmm, that was a real shitty thing to do to me. I think I’m going to hold a grudge against Violet for the rest of our lives” is not something you’re likely to hear someone say.
  • The person in question has truly, intentionally wronged you in some way. Whether showing no remorse for driving over your beloved pet, talking about you behind your back, stealing your girlfriend, pulling down your pants in front of an huge crowd, or dressing up as a mummy and jumping out of your closet in the middle of the night scaring you half to death, there are endless reasons why you might want to hold a grudge against a person.
  • You might also hold a grudge if a person for other reasons entirely. If this person was given preferential treatment over you, defeated you in some sort of competition, wound up dating someone you had a crush on, or inadvertently embarrassed you in some way, your natural reaction may be to hold a grudge against this person even though they have no idea that they’ve wronged you.
  • The person in question has not made a genuine effort to apologize, or their apology came off as forced or contrived, if they knowingly wronged you in some way.
  • Your life would be better off without the person in question in it. If cutting off all ties with Todd from the swim team because he recorded video of him whipping your bare butt with a towel which left a giant red mark is the only way to go, so be it.
  • It’s the best or only way to get even with the person in question. If after six years of holding a grudge against the basketball coach for benching your kid, you feel like you’ve evened the score, then perhaps the grudge was worthwhile.

You’ve decided to hold a grudge, but what exactly constitutes a grudge?

  • Ignoring/not acknowledging/not speaking to a person, including lack of eye contact and hello/goodbye greetings.
  • Being rude or impolite to a person, including snide remarks.
  • Not inviting the person to events or gatherings they normally would have been invited to.
  • Not acknowledging birthdays, anniversaries, births of children, deaths of loved ones, or other milestone or important life events of the person in question.
  • If in a position of power, not giving raises, promotions, or bonuses to that person, as well as giving that person unsavory duties or tasks.
  • Going out of your way to be extra nice or friendly to others when the person in question is nearby. This may include showing how much fun you’re having with common friends in a social media post.

Meaner things like making that person the butt of your jokes, talking about that person behind their back, or resorting to violence are other ways to show your displeasure with someone for an act of betrayal, but that tends to go beyond grudge-holding. At that point, you’re no longer just holding a grudge; you’re in a full-fledged state of anger and may have bigger problems to address.

Of course, holding a grudge is a terrible weight to carry around with you, and we at How To Do That don’t advise doing so, but again, it’s one of those things that just happens naturally without you giving it much thought. It would serve you and the person in question well to address your issue and attempt to make amends. Grudges that carry on for years can take a toll on a person, whereas forgiving a person can allow you to live a much happier life. You simply need to determine whether or not the relationship can be mended, and whether or not the act against you was so egregious that the grudge is warranted.

My Hot Take

As one who hates drama, I do not enjoy holding grudges against people. If someone has wronged me, or if I have wronged someone, I prefer to deal with it immediately and clear the air if at all possible. In a way, though, I have held a grudge against a junior high sports coach for, oh, the past twenty years. It’s difficult to call it a grudge, though, because I haven’t seen this person in twenty years either. But this coach was physically and verbally abusive to me and other kids on the team and I have not forgotten! So, there’s that.


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