Usually it is a passing feeling, but sometimes we encounter a partner who is constantly bitter, and their partner who is trying to cheer them up (or avoid them).
It is so common that it has become almost a stereotype.
Women express bitterness through criticism, pessimism, grogginess, and overall negativity. Men express this feeling through cynicism, apathy, aggression, or passive aggressive behavior.
In this talk, we unpack bitterness and explain why it is so common in intimate relationships, especially in women, through examples from the clinic and our marriage.
Practical tips will help you become less bitter and more playful.
Click here to join our mailing list and get free resources on enriching relationships every month to your inbox.
Check out more of our content:
Blog on Psychology Today
Podcast show link
Support the show
Better better, better, better, better, better, better, better.Speaker 2:
Do you know what I see most in the clinic, especially with women, I do say it a bitter pandemic. The bitterness is the female pandemic, which I see on a daily basis in the clinic also on men, but especially on women today, we're going to , we're going to just face that pandemic and talk about it.Speaker 3:
You are listening to the potential state podcast with your hosts, Dr. Sal and gullied Romanelli.Speaker 2:
Hi, my name is Dr. Cerebral Minnelli . This is that when we talk about a bitterness, the female pandemic, we are so used to seeing better women that it's already become almost like a stereotypical, the RBF, right? The sour, the crunchy that, ohSpeaker 4:
Yeah. It's like, ah,Speaker 2:
And for men we hide it from cynicism. So we, instead of being bitter, we don't show it. It , we go sentences of everything. We're like, we're too cool for school. Check out the episode on cynicism, but why, why do I see this? So often in the clinic? Why do we see so many bitter women?Speaker 1:
I think it's, it's kind of the, the aftermath of an exhausting dance. And then that's just, you know, women just kind of are like tired and resentful. And so it just channels out and it's like, I better , I'm done. I'm tired. I'm irritated. I'm, you know, kinda like that.Speaker 2:
So it's been my experience, like for a lot of women, since they don't own their aggression or they're not allowed to be angry. Okay. So it's channeled to the unhappiness. The unsatisfaction should, oh , this situation turns into bitterness because bitterness is , is less aggressive. It's more of a passive aggressive. It's not going toSpeaker 1:
More than I think it's this kind of like , um, accumulation of resent and Margaret him , you know, and then like this notion that like, we have to put ourselves last and this kind of self sacrifice and you know, and so then you just, you become consumed by resent men . And when you see somebody else kind of enjoying themselves or being, you know, full or having fun or putting themselves first, right. For example, then you become bitter.Speaker 2:
And it's also fun to wear , to kind of punish your partner by being like heavy and not have fun with me. You're not going to enjoy yourself. You're not going to be happy here. I'm not happy. Yeah ,Speaker 1:
Exactly. Enjoy then nobody'sSpeaker 2:
Coming . But then what happens is bitterness kind of spills over into their professional work ? Even when in the parenting with their friends, it becomes,Speaker 1:
Well, I think what happens is, is that it becomes right. It becomes a behavioral pattern. And then the behavioral pattern even kind of becomes almost like an identity or becomes autopilot. And then you don't even remember how to not be better . How to not be resentful. That's the scary, tricky,Speaker 2:
Right? Because they're like over time they lose that. We talked about the emotional rates from one to 10 to become a one to five or they could just, they stay in the negative aspects of the spectrum.Speaker 1:
Yeah . Where they can't see anything is like light, fun, playful. Like there's , if they're just like, they don't even, they lost access.Speaker 2:
And then what happens, their partner and their kids, people just start avoiding them or mocking them because it's just too heavy. It's like the over apologetic one look at that episode. And then what happens is it's like when you're in this bitter business card, you attract two types of people. Either the fool is the fool to try to making you happy all the time, trying to stay playful and light. But it was like, it never works or just fellow bitter people. And then you're just like, there's two , um, the two old guys, sometimes it's a replicative script. That's how I saw my mom and my grandmother. And I'm replicating it, but it's just lethal. We're working now with a couple that the wife has just constantly better .Speaker 1:
Yeah, yeah. I , yeah. Yeah. There's no play , no lightness. There's there's I think what's interesting is there becomes you kind of become entrenched and you become kind of like you dig your heels in rather than being able to recognize. And that's why I think it kind of comes together with this notion of self-righteousness and Margaret. Um, and, and I think unfortunately, part of it , part of that kind of has to do with the ideals and expectations that women feel they need to live up to. And I think that, that, you know, when you feel like I'll be judged or I'll, you know, I have to do this, or I have to do that, then it's inevitable that you'll feel resentful. It's inevitable. That you'll feel pretty when you can't reach certain expectations that weren't even yours to begin with. And I think kind of, when I think about it in that framing, I have to bring up kind of Glennon Doyle and her amazing book on teams and about how, you know, like we, as women need to really reflect and kind of stop pleasing and start living. Right. And , and I think that is the antidote for, for bitterness. And if you haven't read the book must, it's amazing. So I'mSpeaker 2:
Going to share a few thoughts that we have kind of from our experience of how to work with how to soften this bitterness. And I don't want to say one thing about bitter when you really better than actually you're going to say more nos than yes, you're going to slowly lose adventure, lose a lot of spontaneity, privatization . You're first going to be like this pleasant people are overtime . Just be exhausted. They're going to beSpeaker 1:
Well, I think eventually what happens is that they stop engaging with you because it's just, you're negative. You're negative Nelly . It's too exhausting. They're always going to get it wrong. Um, they'll always be, you know, the , there will be criticism and judgmentSpeaker 2:
And they'll start avoiding you , they'll start outsourcing. And ,Speaker 1:
And then it's just, there's this distance and distance that grows and expands. And then, and I think that that feeds into your feeling of like feeling misunderstood and feeling isolated andSpeaker 2:
Feeling reasonable amount of respect and not , not celebrated exactly. ItSpeaker 1:
Is. It's a vicious cycle, but you can get out of it. You don't need to be better . So how doSpeaker 2:
We do that? So the first thing we want to do is first of all, there's an episode about female systemic empowered . First of all, connect to your shadow, connect to your aggression, to all those other fields . They don't usually bring an extension .Speaker 1:
Yeah. And I also want to say like connect to like put on these glasses of like, of society and see where society plays a role and see kind of what, sorry, what expectations do you feel you have to, like, I always say that a good place to start looking at like the sheds and the half dues . Cause if you're fueled by, I should do this or I have to do this. That's the place where you want to kind of like stop and like check in with yourself who is saying, I should, who is telling me I have to. And what would I be without those shoulds and have tos .Speaker 2:
Yeah. Find ways to express your passion, your aggression, all those places. I know way to submit it .Speaker 1:
But even more, I want to say, it's not even just your aggression, right? Because, because in a way, your bitterness is where you are channeling your aggression, but where can you, where can you access your joy? Where can you access your pleasure? Um , where are those places? WhenSpeaker 2:
That connects us to the second point, which is play, play, reference, the episode plays the loop of life. Find places to create a potential state where you can be playful and light. It's always going to be relational. Someone's going to have to hold a little bit of reality. So you can flip it up a little bit. Right.Speaker 1:
And I think there, it's really important to realize that, that you, that being a mother does not mean being a martyr and you can step out. So someone else can step in and they're not going to do it. They're not going to parent necessarily the way you want to, but it doesn't. That's okay. That's fine. Right. In other words, like if I leave the house for a few days, going to America and I come back and the house is a mess, a pigs die , like, okay, fine. But I was able to go and like be in deep joy with my family. And so the house didn't look the same way that it would have, but like, you have to be able to let, go and referencedSpeaker 2:
The episode on joys of bourbon goat, explore the high emotional ranks, the five to sevens, say to things, surrender lawyer, defenses , be less precise. Let go of precision. Yeah. That's a big one. Right. And when you're feeling like you're going to go bid or say the thing, call yourself out and say, oh , I'm going to go all negative right now. I feel like I'm like, I'm melting, help, reach out. Be playful about it. Don't take yourself too seriously realize it's just one part of you. You have many, many other different parts. Yeah.Speaker 1:
And I would say the other thing is, is that also reflect on kind of your, your heritage, some her story, you know, like, what's your background? Where do you come from? Right.Speaker 2:
How's your mom, how's your grandma?Speaker 1:
Is there a kind of this bitterness gene that is, that is , um, that is passed on. Do I feel like I need to be a loyal daughter by being bitter? Um, you know, do I feel like I'm a good mom? If I, you know, take the martyrdom torch or you know, like where, where does this come from? Where does where? Cause a lot of times these things are bigger than us .Speaker 2:
Yeah. And I want to say, create spaces, go to spaces where it's improv class, a dance class, go with friends that are happy and cheerful, play with little children, try to find areas and environments. We can lay Lego control and B you can explore and experience something different, something open and be prepared that if, if you were kind of a bitter person, it's going to take time for people to believe that you're really different. That's why you have to be super solid to practice it.Speaker 1:
And that's really hard. I think that's one of the harder things, right. Is when our system locks us in and they're like, what are you doing? I don'tSpeaker 2:
Believe that. Or why are you being soSpeaker 1:
Off or so strange? Or you're just faking it or things like that, but just breathe through it and say, you know, yeah, I'm trying something different this time. And it's okay if you know this time it works. And next time it works a little bit less, but next time it works more like you're stepping out of your comfort zone. So it's going to feel uncomfortable,Speaker 2:
Ready to fake it till you make it. It will not feel natural. In the beginning, you are expanding your repertoire. You are growing, you are unchaining yourself. So fight the female pandemic, let go of the bitterness and step into play in potential states where the potential states see you. Next timeSpeaker 3:
You've been listening to the potential state podcast for more information, visit email@example.com. Thanks for listening.