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owning my passive aggressive s%&^

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Gomphus posted 3/7/2014 09:04 AM

A huge part of my new beginning has been self help and introspection. Trying to figure out 'my part' of the divorce. Via several years of CBT, some EMDR, and regular IC I have hit on most of the topics and feel very good about myself and well healed - in general. Lately, through a significant post divorce relationship that ended and recent interactions with my exW I have realized that a big part of my behavior in my marriage was passive aggressive/conflict avoidant. I've known I avoid conflict and am a people pleaser and have been addressing those things. It may be that the PA stuff is very related and I am doing better but I really let it out in my last relationship.

I do this thing where I avoid conflict, don't get my needs met, bottle it up, and resent the other person. The classic codependency triangle. Again, have been much better in my regular life but, apparently, it's still a fall back in relationships. With last SO I started to need some space, felt she was kind of smothering me but feared if I said anything it would end the relationship. So I kept quiet. Until I couldn't any more. Then I kind of exploded on her. To her, it came across that my explosion was how I really felt and I had been dishonest and inauthentic with her prior. So she ended it.

In my marriage, my exW knew all my buttons, never recognized my needs as being important, and I wonder if I eventually developed the PA behavior to keep the peace. She is also very PA and knows how to get her way by making people feel bad. Whereas I am a conflict avoider, she was much more of the PA where people want you to figure out what they want. When I googled PA most of what I read described her but I had to dig to find the PA stuff that fit me.

I am learning to be more assertive but, damn, these old behaviors are so ingrained they are hard to avoid. ESPECIALLY during the tough times. With friends and people I interact with I have drastically improved. I make sure I assert my needs but I still use language that is more PA than assertive. A dear friend explained to me about 'I statements' and how language greatly influences what people hear and I am trying to take the time to make sure I present myself in that light when asserting my needs.

I guess I am feeling that I have backslid and keep asking myself if I'll ever change. Will I always fall back to conflict avoidance, PA, and the codependency triangle in relationships. More specifically, I'm considering contacting exSO to discuss these issues because I'm wondering if they aren't permanent and can be addressed maybe it's not a reason enough to end a relationship. Or maybe I am so horrible at dealing with conflict that I am undateable. Ugh.

In over 3 years I have come so far just to be broadsided again by the same shit.

Thoughts? Similar experiences? Advice?


TrustedHer posted 3/7/2014 09:50 AM

There's a book called "No More Mr. Nice Guy", which is discussed in the The Book Club forum (currently on page 10).

A lot of SIer's disagree with the book and my description of it, but reading it opened my eyes to a lot of my own development and problems. Specifically, my PA, manipulation, and conflict avoidance ones.

It is my hope that understanding will lead to improvement. It seems to be working for now, but this is a journey, not a destination.

Undefinabl3 posted 3/7/2014 10:37 AM

Classic PA is beating around the bush, saying one thing when you mean another, ect...

Basically - you need to stop hinting at what you want. If someone asks you to go to a concert, and you don't want to go. Don't say "Well, this X place would be so much better"....just say "unfortuently that is not something that I enjoy"

OR if someone doesnt take out the trash...dont say "Gee i wish some trash fairies would do someone's job around here" say "could you please take out the trash"

Simple, concise, not wishy washy.

Gomphus posted 3/7/2014 10:45 AM

Thanks for the book link. According to most, I'm a narcassist. Sometimes this armchair psychology really pisses me off. Your summary of the book resonates with me.

I understand fundamentally what I do, but when the fight or flight comes into play, I tend to fall back on old habits.

Changing behavior is hard.

Pass posted 3/7/2014 13:12 PM

but feared if I said anything it would end the relationship.

I totally get this, Gomphus. That's how I felt through my entire relationship with The Princess. I've been working on it with my shrink, and it all seems to come back to shitty self esteem. I always thought that if I expressed an opposing opinion, it would end the marriage, because of course I had no other positive traits that would keep someone interested in me.

I've never met you, but to you, my friend, I say horseshit to that attitude. You are a charming, good-looking hunk of burning love, and you have lots to offer a woman. Present opposing views gently, but don't just sit on them.

You are worth it.

Gomphus posted 3/7/2014 17:45 PM

Thanks Pass. Truth is...I know. Its like my old beliefs get trumped in stressful situations. Maybe I need to EMDR it...

inconnu posted 3/7/2014 18:12 PM

Another book that might be helpful is The Assertiveness Workbook by Randy Paterson. I have not read it, although it is on my bookshelf, but another SIer used to highly recommend it back when I first joined.

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