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Passive Aggressive Relationships

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tryin2smile posted 9/15/2009 18:09 PM

wow. totally, totally see myself in that description.

shushpuppy posted 9/17/2009 03:48 AM

I used to be codependant and can see how i fed into his passive agressive personlity.

The problem is i have now stopped being that way and placing more responsibility on him for his actions and choices in life.

This is having a huge impact because he cannot cope. He loved it when i would take all the weight and stress off of him but lately i refuse to do it.

I am taking care of me more these days and yeah he says i am "selfish".

Nurturing and taking care of him used to constantly bring out his rebellious side and boy would he go to town on being defiant. He would get a huge kick out of not doing things that were expected of him but now the blank look on my face and no reaction is causing him to feel neglected.

He is playing the "woe is me card"

Hope4TheFuture posted 9/17/2009 07:08 AM

This thread has given me answers to questions I've had for quite some time.

Thank you all for that.


Crushed1 posted 9/25/2009 22:18 PM

I found this article on P/A personalities to be the most helpful I've ever come across for those dealing with a P/A person in our lives. My H is P/A and this has helped us a lot!!! Best of luck to everyone!

What is passive aggressiveness?

I act in a passive aggressive way when I:

* hide my hostility by seeming to be nice to someone I dislike, and am unable to be honest with the person.
* say I agree with something but don't follow through because I really don't agree with it.
* act opposite to what others are expecting.
* quietly manipulate to get my own way after voicing a completely different opinion, just to keep the peace.
* seek revenge by agreeing and looking "good", but never following through on my promises.
* tell people what they want to hear, even if I don't believe in what I am saying.
* try to please people by agreeing to their plan of action, yet actually doing the opposite.
* act one way, which is true to my inner feelings, yet say another.
* am out of touch with my inner feelings; the only way to know how I feel about something is to observe my behavior, don't trust my words.
* hate something or someone but am afraid of letting my true feelings show.
* feel pressured to act or believe in a certain way when I really don't want to.
* avoid conflict at all cost by giving in to others, then procrastinate and never do what I agreed to do.
* am angry but afraid to show my anger, so I quietly take my revenge by doing the opposite.

What are the typical reactions to my passive aggressiveness?

When people recognize my passive aggressiveness they:
* are surprised.
* get disappointed.
* get angry.
* are confused by my behavior.
* confront me on my actions.
* realize that I lied to them.
* get frustrated by the inconsistency in my behavior.
* begin to do battle with me, resulting in a conflict greater than the one I originally tried to avoid.
* get upset and fly into a rage and this damages the relationship.
* no longer trust me.
* resent me for being dishonest.
* act in a similar way with me and our communication winds up at a standstill where neither of us "wins.'
* feel challenged by me and in their competitive reaction become more adamant in seeking to achieve what I had originally verbally agreed to with them.

What irrational thinking keeps me being passive aggressive when I disagree with others?
* I must avoid an argument, fight or conflict at all costs.
* I never "win" in confrontation.
* There is no use in opposing them, they are much more powerful than I am.
* I must please people by telling them what they want to hear.
* I never get anywhere by showing my anger openly.
* It's bad to get angry.
* No one wants to know how I feel.
* No one will understand how I feel.
* My problems are unique; I need to hide them since no one would understand.
* I am a loser and failure anyway; why try to defend my position?
* I will never "win" in this situation; why try?
* I enjoy seeing people get blown away by my agreeing with them and then my doing the opposite of what I agreed to do.
* I'd rather back down right away to minimize the damages a fight could bring rather than tell people how I really feel about things.
* It's so hard to be honest with people about how I feel when what I feel is counter to what they want me to feel.
* It's important for people to like and accept me and I say anything just so long as they like me.
* It's not what I do or how I act that is important to people, it is what I say that influences them.
* People will never know I'm angry and disagree with them.
* I hide my feelings well from others.
* Feelings don't count. It is better to deny my feelings than upset another person I am in disagreement with.
* I'd rather lie than get into an argument with someone.
* If I lie about how I feel, others will never know the truth.

How can I recognize when someone is being passive aggressive with me?

I can tell that people are being passive aggressive with me when they:
* always agree with my point of view, even when I am being narrow minded or blind to other alternatives.
* never disagree or argue with my point of view.
* take every opportunity to "put me down" in a humorous or sarcastic way.
* never confront me with their negative feelings.
* avoid discussions about unpleasant topics.
* are always cheerful and upbeat to my face; yet I hear from others how negative they are about me behind my back.
* "yes" me constantly, never disagreeing with anything I say.
* consistently do the opposite of what I thought they agreed to do.
* withdraw or pull away from me whenever I confront them with my anger or negative feelings about them.
* deny that they have any problems with our relationship.
* talk about others in a negative or disparaging way, yet are nice and friendly to their faces.
* demonstrate behavior inconsistent with their words.
* make me feel foolish for expecting one thing from them when they deliver the opposite.
* make me believe I can count on them to do something for me but they never follow through.
* talk with fantasy and magical thinking about how they are going to change, yet the change never occurs.
* show a consistent pattern of exerting no effort toward improving our relationship.
* talk or act irrationally in dealing with a problem, as if it were very easy to overcome and correct.
* minimize the extent of the problems facing us in our relationship.
* tend to patronize me and try to make me believe that I am just imagining problems between us.
* continue to deny that a problem exists when all the evidence points to the opposite.

How can I confront a passive aggressive person?

If others are being passive aggressive with me I can:
* point out the behavior that indicates passive aggressiveness on their part.
* point out the inconsistency between their words and actions.
* pay attention to their actions rather than their words, then give them feedback as to what their actions tell me about their feelings.
* ask for their true feelings reassuring them that it is OK to share negative feelings.
* ask them what has them so intimidated that they fear sharing their feelings with me.
* reassure them that we can reach a "win-win" solution in our communication if we are willing to compromise.
* defuse the competition in our relationship. It doesn't matter "what" we are discussing as long as we respect how each of us "feels" about what we are discussing.
* remain open to any negative feelings they have and let them know this.
* begin to trust what they "do" rather than what they "say" and let them know that I am doing this.
* make myself more accessible to them.
* help them lessen their fear of rejection from me by reassuring them that I really do care.

If I find myself being passive aggressive, how can I correct this?

To avoid being passive aggressive with others, I can:
* try to be assertive, open and honest with my negative feelings or anger.
* warn people to "read" my behavior rather than my words if they want to know my feelings.
* confront myself with my inconsistent behavior and challenge myself to explain it.
* take the risk to confront my anger assertively and "on the spot" so that I can bring my behavior in line with my feelings.
* work at making my behavior consistent with my feelings.
* change the way I interact with people and make my relationships more honest.
* admit that I have been a liar.
* work at being more honest with people even if it results in a conflict.
* identify the irrational thinking that prevents me from confronting people when I am angry.
* learn how to become assertive with my negative feelings.
* accept that it is OK to have conflict and disagreement.
* learn to compromise and come to a "win-win" solution.

Why is it useful to eliminate my acting passive aggressive?

By eliminating passive aggressiveness when I am angry, I could:
* have deeper, more honest and longer-lasting relationships.
* feel less stress, anxiety and depression in my dealings with others.
* learn to be clear and consistent about my feelings.
* reassure others that they will no longer have to guess how I "really feel."
* stop resorting to lies about my feelings.
* develop self-respect, self-confidence, self-esteem and self-worth.
* have more energy because I would no longer be defending myself from powerful, intimidating people.
* have clarity of focus and purpose, working on the things I want rather than what others want for me.
* have fewer people venting their rage on me.
* experience a sense of harmony in my life.

Steps to eliminating being passive aggressive

Step 1: First, I must begin to recognize this behavior when it occurs. To do this, I will answer the following questions in my journal:

A. What is my usual response when I disagree with someone who intimidates me?
B. How do I feel when I am angry or upset with someone who intimidates me?
C. How often do I agree with these people rather than confront them just to avoid conflict?
D. What benefits do I derive by avoiding confrontation?
E. What are my feelings after I have backed down from someone who intimidates me?
F. From whom have I backed down? How successful was this? How often did I go ahead with what I had planned, ignoring what these people wanted me to do? What usually resulted from my failure to follow through with my part of the plan?
G. What do I do now after I've backed down from a disagreement? Am I still passive aggressive? How can I tell? What are the results? How often does this happen?
H. Under what circumstances do I resort to passive aggressiveness?
I. What is involved in these situations? Why do I resort to passive aggressiveness?
J. What are the negative results of my passive aggressiveness?

Step 2: If I find that I am resorting to passive aggressiveness, then I need help to recognize the negative impact it has in my life. To do this I will record the following exercise in my journal.

My Passive Aggressive Ways

Write a story about five separate incidents during which I acted passive aggressive. In each story, detail:
* When it happened.
* With whom it happened.
* What I was angry about or over what we disagreed.
* Why I was intimidated.
* What I did later to show I was being passive aggressive.
* The reasons I acted the way I did.
* How others reacted to my passive aggressive behaviors.
* How others confronted me on how I was acting.
* What they told me about my behavior and how they felt about it.
The final outcome of the situation.

Step 3: I am now ready to confront my past passive aggressiveness and ways I could change it.

Complete the following exercise:

The Other Side of the Story
Write a sequel to each of the five stories from Step 2. In each sequel include:

* What I did differently when I first recognized that I was angry or had negative feelings.
* How I honestly confronted my feelings as being different from my behavior.
* How I made sure that my actions were consistent with my expressed feelings.
* How I gave others permission to "call me on it" if I deviated from my expressed feelings.
* How others handle my being assertive with my anger and/or negative feelings.
* How we resolved the conflict or disagreement that resulted.
* The impact this confrontation had on our relationship.
* How the stress and anxiety of intimidation and power games was eliminated from our relationship.
* How I felt about learning to handle my anger and/or disagreements in a healthy way.
* The benefits of my being direct and assertive in confronting my anger and/or negative feelings with others.

Step 4: Once I've been able to rewrite my passive aggressive behavioral script, I need to apply it. Whenever I am angry or in disagreement with someone, I will strive to follow these tips:

Tips to Overcoming being Passive Aggressive
Tip 1: Tell the person immediately how I am feeling, even if I am angry or in disagreement.
Tip 2: Allow the other to express feelings openly as well.
Tip 3: Ask the other to allow for a compromise "win-win" solution.
Tip 4: Ventilate feelings, then jointly brainstorm solutions.
Tip 5: Arrive at a solution in which we both "win."
Tip 6: Act on solutions in which we both "win."
Tip 7: Make sure my actions are consistent with the agreement.
Tip 8: Make sure my behavior is consistent with my feelings and what I said in the agreement.
Tip 9: Give the other person permission to point out when my behavior deviates from our agreement.
Tip 10: Monitor my emotions and renegotiate our solution if they aren't consistent with our compromise.
Tip 11: Let the other know if I get upset over the compromise with no masking of my feelings.
Tip 12: Confront intimidation openly and honestly.
Tip 13: Insure that our relationship is based on honesty.
Tip 14: Accept the uniqueness and individuality of others, allowing each of us to be ourselves.

Step 5: If I find I am still resorting to passive aggressiveness then I need to return to Step 1, and begin again.

About this Author:
James J Messina, PhD, is a licensed psychologist with more than 35 years of experience counseling individuals and families. Messina, who specializes in adult and children psychotherapy, serves as Director of Psychological Services at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital in Tampa, Fla. He has a private practice in Tampa and is also a member of the American Psychological Association.

dreamlife posted 9/25/2009 22:36 PM

This is great...thanks for posting!

prayformiracle posted 9/25/2009 23:19 PM

thanks for the post.

i see a lot of it in me. except, i felt it safe to take my anger out on my wife and children verbally and emotionally. now i dare not, i respect them too much, they never derseved what i gave them.

i am making it up to them and i appologize for my action for all these many years.

realitybites posted 9/26/2009 09:35 AM

So I wrote on the General forum in regards to my H and his place of work closing. We knew about this last Monday. You can just imagine the P/A stuff going on all over our household right now. I am praying that he proves me wrong and makes the right decisions but I have been dealing with a P/A man for so long that I have PTSD from this whole thing. I am a nervous wreck.

dreamlife posted 9/26/2009 17:27 PM

rb sending you huge hugs!

Jinny posted 9/29/2009 10:26 AM

I'm so glad I found this thread. It's like all the pieces of my marriage are falling into place before my very eyes. I'm going to read, read and read some more although at this point in time. I'm not sure that this marriage ever began, let alone what there is to reconcile.

We had a conversation when I asked him what marriage means to him, what are his expectations from it, what does it look like? His reply was that he doesn't know what marriage is. I'm at a loss - we can't have a marriage unless we know what it is.
It's now perfectly clear why we've got through many therapists, the work they gave him to do outside of the sessions was always completed at the last minute. He'd put it off and put it off - he was given a sort of assigment by one therapist, he missed a session because he hadn't done it and then manipulated my "permission". He completed the assignment for the following one, but then as he always does, put it right behind him and locked it away in a box.

Oh I'm just rambling...I'm just glad I found a place of refuge where I can fathom all this crap out.

hollow-promise posted 10/8/2009 14:23 PM

My FWH is in PA mode right now. He wants to live up north in the boon docks and I want to stay in the city near my kids and grandson. We are fighting about this, and he sees me as a roadblock to his happiness. I better keep an eye on him, he tends to have affairs when I don't do what he wants. He says that he will get me to change my mind, so far it's not happening.

heartbroken_kk posted 12/18/2009 17:13 PM

Bumping this thread for newbies.


heartbroken_kk posted 1/29/2010 19:51 PM

bumping again

heartbroken_kk posted 3/24/2010 00:41 AM

bumping for RUKM

dreamerinnc posted 4/30/2010 06:32 AM

I just discovered this and cannot believ how this is my WH and our marriage to a T. I never relaized it before I had such an ah-ha moment yesterday. This is why we are still sitting in limbo all this time later! I told OW in the beginning WH would never make a decision, he never has and I am right, now I think I know why,PA.

WheredoIgonow posted 5/2/2010 09:05 AM

We've been married for over 25 years and after his A (DDay 6 months ago) and I've read A LOT of books and the SI forums, my WH would be considered PA.

He says I'm "always" criticizing hime.

He plays the victim and often says "I make mistakes" on just the littlest thing that wasn't even a mistake.

He wants me to make the decisions but HATEs it too - or disagrees with them if I do.

He had (has) a very, very domineering father and when we are around his Dad - we are all secondary.....

I've typically been a very strong person - and now I see why he probably liked it at first.... but over time he's built up so resentment towards me.

We've had fights/discussions and I express how hurt I feel and why am I married to the nicest man in the whole world "to everyone else" and Im the one he is the "meanest" too - or acts like he likes me the least at times?

I put up with this for so long and let so much go (or tried to). But when the As were revealed - by confidence went to hell. I'm just starting to build it back up - and now I see his behavior.

texann posted 5/2/2010 14:57 PM

Found out thru SI that my FWH is a poster boy for passive-aggressive behavior. If you go to a website called click on boomerang relationships it talks about the passive-aggressive personality. Boy did all of it make sense in my case. FWH fit all the descriptions to a T. Now what do I do?

sadandtrying posted 5/5/2010 20:03 PM

Now what do I do?

That is my question as well, since I have recently identified my H as Passive-Agressive.

One thing I am going to do is stop being intimidated by it (which has been my pattern).

texann, "" was a great recommendation. I spent a bunch of time on there myself last night.

It seems clear that this is a tough road to be on....for both people involved in a P-A relationship.

I'm going to talk with my IC about it at my appointment tomorrow.

MYBOYSMOM posted 5/24/2010 23:51 PM

Whoever wrote the article about the Boomerang Relationships must have been studing my marriage. It fit us perfectly. Reading it really opened my eyes to both X and MY OWN behavior.

Now that we're D I try to keep what I read in mind when I have to deal with him.

He, of course, is still in massive denial that he's PA - even after one of his counselors TOLD me that two things X needed to work on were conflict avoidance and passive aggressive behavior...

ggrahamrob posted 6/2/2010 14:33 PM

Maybe you can help me to determine if this is passive aggressive behavior. I have always felt that my WH used the two affairs as "punishment." He would never tell me if he was unhappy with me or something I had done. I would even check in at various times during the marriage when I felt he was struggling and ask "how are we doing?" It was always "fine." Then he would have the affairs, or he would vent to his family and friends about how horrible I was, and then punish me again when I didn't know what was wrong! Ahhhhh

wantinghappiness posted 6/2/2010 17:39 PM

I never read in the I can relate forum, partly because I spend a lot time on SI anyway and was worried I'd find something like this, that deserves hours of attention. But today, I happened to notice this thread and the timing was right.

The PA issue definitely played into my H's decision to enter into an A and his behavior in the aftermath. I recently have noticed that the closer I come to forgiveness (true, blissful forgiveness), the more the "basic" problems in my marriage are hightlighted. This being a biggie.

I read the first page and the last, and can't wait to read all in between (I do need to work as well!!) Eye-opening, to say the least. Lately, I have been pondering the irony of this aspect of living with a PA spouse: He frequently condesendingly tells me to "communicate" and "just talk to him" (he even says these things slowly, like I am a mentally challenged child), BUT he is the WORST communicator. Never direct. Never makes any effort to "understand" if the other person does not fill in all of the blanks. Never answers a direct question directly. Answers questions with questions or tangents. Walks away, looks away, closes doors, etc. while others are trying to communicate. I could go on and on. This is where we are now. It is part of why R has been so hard and is taking so long, and it is part of why I am so often in such a state of stress.

Anyway, I am glad I found this. I will read read read and try to learn learn learn --- there must be a way to break this pattern and bring out the best in my H and my self.

Debs posted 6/2/2010 19:32 PM

Wow this is striking such a big chord with me.

A typical set of scenarios for us is me wanting to do something new will say

"how about we do such and such" Immediate answer from WS "No"

but if I say instead "I am going to do such and such (exactly the same thing)" Response from WS is "Oh you don't want me to do that with you"

I'm left totally pissed off and confused.

I am set up to make major decision for us because if they don't work.. he has someone to blame. He puts off making major decision around work in his own life because he is so scared of making the wrong one but is jealous of me.

Why am I staying with this.. maybe I am co-dependant now. I never used to be

Oh hell ..the journey starts again.

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