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Passive Aggressive Relationships

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heartbroken_kk posted 11/12/2010 19:36 PM

Hello all you co-sufferers out there.... my heart breaks for all of us.

I got the following, not sure where it came from. Hope it helps... KK

Passive aggressive people can be a frustrating bunch. They tend to use
sarcasm and other subtle characteristics to avoid confrontation or
avoid doing certain tasks.

Dealing with a passive-aggressive person can cause you to be irritated
and even angry because of their inherent stubbornness and lack of
concern. Many passive-aggressive people also have a negative attitude
towards many situations in life and towards other people.

If you have a coworker or family member with passive-aggressive
tendencies, there are some things you can do to help yourself stay

Recognizing the passive-aggressive traits
The first and most important way to deal with a passive-aggressive
person is to recognize the behavior. If you work with a person who has
a passive-aggressive personality, you will likely notice that they
tend to avoid responsibility for several tasks.

They might also try to avoid working on the task by using
procrastination or forgetting about it altogether. Other
passive-aggressive people might simply complain about the task or
create a sense of chaos so somebody else will offer to do the task

Passive-aggressive people also have a unique way of interacting with
others. They may seem excessively paranoid or overly sensitive about
what people are saying. They might also feel that everybody “has it in
for them” and nobody wants them to be happy.

This is a way that passive-aggressive people pass off their
unhappiness to outside factors rather than accepting their own ability
to be happy. If they can find a way to blame others, they can shirk
off the responsibility for creating their own emotions through their

People who tend to be passive-aggressive are not typically open to
receive suggestions for how to do things.

When a passive-aggressive person is given a suggestion or an
alternative way to do something, they will generally avoid doing the
task in that way out of spite for the person who gave the suggestion.

Oftentimes, passive-aggressive people will resent people who offer
advice and suggestions; the people feel their way is the best way.
Even if somebody offers another way, they will resist it despite the
fact that it might be a better option.

You might also notice that passive-aggressive people have a tendency
to be sullen and stubborn. Oftentimes, this appears to be like pouting
or sulking and it can frustrate people around them. They might also be
easily offended because they will take the things that people say to
them and misconstrue them into a personal attack.

They do this because it puts others on the defensive that, in turn,
helps them appear like a victim. Even though they tend to be overly
sensitive to the things people say to them, they are often quick to
point out the shortcomings of others.

Passive-aggressive personalities also have a fear of intimacy. For
them, intimacy is a sign of dependency and they do not like to feel
dependent on anybody or anything.

Although they often involve themselves in relationships, both intimate
and platonic, their negativist personality traits tend to be an
obstacle that presents itself.

In addition to the disdain towards intimacy and dependency,
passive-aggressive personalities do not communicate well. This trait
plays into a type of self-fulfilling prophecy.

They often feel that others do not communicate well with them and, as
a result, they refuse to communicate well with others. In fact, their
behavior has trained others around them to avoid communication.

This leads to both parties who refuse to communicate with the other.
As expected, the passive-aggressive person will blame the lack of
communication on others rather than themselves.

Avoiding conflict is another personal trait that many
passive-aggressive people strive towards. They typically have ideas of
confronting others, but they often get scared or choose to go another

For example, if a passive-aggressive person lives in an apartment and
their upstairs neighbor constantly blares music, the person might
imagine going to the neighbor to ask them to turn it down. Instead,
the irritated tenant will do something more subtle to try and get
their point across.

One option might be to turn their music up to drown out the neighbor’s
music. Other passive-aggressive people might even talk to the building
manager. For some, though, this action is even to confrontational.

Dealing with passive-aggressive people
While the traits described above are many of the personality
characteristics of a passive-aggressive person, there are several
more. People with a passive-aggressive personality might only show a
few of these characteristics or any combination of these.

If you have a relationship with one of these personalities, whether it
is a coworker, a significant other, or a family member, there are some
techniques you can use to deal with them.

Passive-aggressive people can be emotionally exhausting and
frustrating. The following tips, however, can help you keep your

The first rule for dealing with a passive-aggressive personality is to
refrain from getting into a power struggle. They have had a lifetime
of practice in doing this and you probably will not win this struggle.
In the end, you will likely end up being frustrated and the other
person will feel like they have won a battle against you.

Next, do not let the passive-aggressive person get to you. They
usually know how to get under a person’s skin and irritate them until
they become frustrated.

Once you have become irritated and frustrated, you lose any edge that
you may have with them. Passive-aggressive people often feel a sense
of accomplishment when they get somebody frustrated with their subtle

If you find yourself in an argument or struggle with a
passive-aggressive personality, try to turn the tables on them.
Describe the behavior that they are exhibiting in a calm and rational

They will likely deny that they are behaving in such a way and
probably say that it is merely your perception, but putting them on
the defensive will often make them back down.

You can also point out the inconsistencies in their behavior or their
argument. Trying to see the argument from their point of view will
help you debate with them with more success.

Finally, ask the passive-aggressive person how they would solve or
improve the situation. Since they are accustomed to avoiding
responsibility and making decisions, they will likely avoid the
opportunity to give their advice.

As long as somebody else makes the major decisions, the
passive-aggressive person will have somebody on which to place the
blame if something goes wrong.

Passive-aggressive personality is listed as one of the abnormal
personality disorders with the American Psychological Association. As
such, people who suffer from a passive-aggressive personality have
more limited abilities to reason with logical arguments and thoughts.

It is important to remember this if you encounter somebody who has
this disorder. Rather than debating the person using the same methods
you would use with logical person, you will need to use other types of
arguments and techniques to get your point across.

Even though it is not a debilitating mental disorder, people with this
disorder can prove to try your patience and cause a great deal of

texann posted 11/16/2010 19:45 PM

Can I just say that I have lived and experienced this entire post and can say that it has been the most frustrating thing I have ever been through. Passive-Aggressive behavior is insideous, and destructive. It will eat up the person on the receiving end till they don't know who they are, or who they were supposed to be. Then when you add the insult of an A to the whole situation, Wow!!! It is a definite WTF momnet. Not a light bulb moment, but a WTF!! I don't know where to go from here with this information. It is scary.

oceanwaves posted 11/17/2010 22:08 PM

Im in this club too.

H is getting better with 12 step meetings and IC.

I find this all depressing, I knew something was wrong all along.

realitybites posted 11/23/2010 09:23 AM

As long as somebody else makes the major decisions, the
passive-aggressive person will have somebody on which to place the
blame if something goes wrong.

ALWAYS leaves the decisions or big ones to me, then will complain if it did not go right or even just to complain.

I have worked very hard at learing to not engage. The A was blamed on my anger, but the anger came from having to deal with a P/A for so long! I learned with alot if IC how to not let my anger get control of my own well being...but it ain't easy as they say.

2yrsinthedark posted 11/23/2010 12:50 PM

I have never posted here but have recently realized my WH is a P/A. I'm hoping to get some advice. A few days ago I found out he lied to me bout a phone call and even deleted from his history. I havent confronted him but he obviously knows I know. As usual he will never confess and is giving me the silent treatment. He always tries to make me feel bad and turn things around. I'm bound and determined not to let that happen. Should I confront him or just continue with the 180? He seems to be continuing on with out a care while I'm sitting all upset

tryinginmi posted 12/16/2010 08:31 AM

ALWAYS leaves the decisions or big ones to me, then will complain if it did not go right or even just to complain.

This is my life. WOW!

My IL's are the same, and have completely turned their backs on their son because I called them on their bad behavior and he said yes, she is right.


Boy do I have a lot to talk to my IC about next week.

Trying_To_Decide posted 12/26/2010 09:11 AM

Holy Crap, this is my life. I cannot tell you how big of a relief it is to put a name to what I am living here.

Yesterday was a HUGE PA day for WH. When we finally returned home from Christmas at my sister's, he had all these things he was going to get done...didn't doa single one.

I asked if he would put my new office chair together...he made himself buy with other things and either forgot entirely, or chose to pretend to forget .

After the argument we had last night (read my thread called Gah!!! Is that how it's going to be???? in Reconciliation), I see his PA ways completely clearly now.

heartbroken_kk posted 1/28/2011 21:04 PM

bumping for Betrayed...


Betrayed_1692 posted 1/28/2011 22:22 PM

Wow, so not alone. Thanks!

LisaBrandNew posted 2/3/2011 23:24 PM

My marriage ended today. I had hope that my husband's affair with a troubled teenager (my former student) would be the catalyst for change in my PA husband. So obviously crazy wrong and inappropriate. I had hoped he would come out of the fog devastated by actions and do the work to heal himself and me. But that hasn't happened and won't. He is still blaming our marriage as the reason for leaving me. He blames, denies, and justifies his behavior. Even if he wants reconciliation (which did seem to be), he doesn't get it. PA can be so severe that is a personality disorder. Everything is viewed through the lens of PA. Taking responsibility for his destructive actions or showing (let alone feeling) any remorse for me is equivalent to a teenager admitting mommy was right. He will always feel controlled, no matter what I do. I will always be the bad guy, the one he has to keep at arms length. He can't feel empathy for me because his feelings are locked down - not just anger (a life time's worth) but love too. Any strong emotions are repressed. He is sick. A deep down soul sickness that makes true love something to avoid and mangle. Trying to work with this means I am sick too - with codependency. I realize that the loving marriage I thought I had was a lie. The elaborate games of distance, withdrawal, indecision, passive resistant, forgetting, never initiating compliments or affection, etc. etc. were there, but I overcompensated, filled in the social and emotional spaces, and eventually became so angry and lonely that I forgot who I was and changed into someone I didn't want to be. I wanted to believe that he was different, that we were different - that love would be stronger than fear, break through distorted thought processes, that true love conquers all. But in the end, he is what he was raised to be. Sad. I wanted to rescue him, give him the love he didn't have, but instead I was broken down and my anger helped him to continue convincing himself that he was the victim. Now I need rescue, a safe and loving harbor to turn to after he left. I need the love I never had - but there is no knight in shining armor for me. I have and will do it for myself, but I now realize that I have never had that in my life. A safe person. He left 6 mos. ago and the trauma of his SA with this girl that I mentored and tried to help has been agony. I still held onto some belief that when he realized what he had done, the remorse would turn him inward. Now I have to tell my two little boys that the separation will be a divorce. My heart breaks for them, so much it feels unbearable. But to try to reconcile with a man that is so deeply troubled and in denial seems more unbearable. I would spend every day aching to be loved with his whole heart and it would never be. I will miss what I thought we had, but I have to face reality. He isn't going to figure it out. He isn't going to change. Staying with him will destroy me and I will never know what healthy mature love feels like. So I am saying goodbye. I don't think he believes it yet, but he will as the light leaves my eyes, distance grows, contact diminishes and the divorce is final. I would like to think he will look back and realize how lucky he was to have someone who adored him, but he will remember the bad (mostly my frustration with his emotionally unavailability) because he needs to be the victim. Sorry so self pitying. I though DDay was as bad as it could get, but this is a different grief because it is final and without hope. Real letting go. But I am hopeful - it has been very lonely, confusing, and crazy making loving this man. I know I tried. I look forward to the day that the light is completely out. I won't have to try to figure him out or wish I felt more loved. Even alone, I won't feel as lonely. I know it will be OK.

Faith2011 posted 2/5/2011 08:54 AM


Your post brought tears to my eyes. I have also loved a PA man for 11 years. Gradually he took away everything. Sex, affection, holding my hand, compliments, wanting to go out together, my trust .. all to 'punish me'.

I believe my WH is too broken to change in his lifetime. I'm so sad but I know I don't have the time or the energy to focus on his brokeness at the expense of my own healing.

LisaBrandNew posted 2/5/2011 11:23 AM

Hi Faith, So sorry for your pain. It is emotional abuse. It triggers all the abandonment and self esteem issues deep down inside of us. After my post, I cried and screamed more than DDay, more than I knew was in me. For hours, on my knees. Begging God to take away my pain (and I thought I was an atheist). I knew it was over for me, that even if he wanted to come back, that I can not let him back into my heart for my own sanity. It was the deepest pain of my life and looking back I believe it was a life time of accepting crumbs of love and emotional connection. It was about a deep wound in me that wanted so much to be loved and to feel safe, but chose someone that is emotionally unavailable. I realize that I had the same kind of parents and I overworked,fixed,etc. to earn their love. Seems to be similar. It doesn't work because it is not about us. My husband didn't leave me because I am unlovable. He left because doesn't love himself and is broken deep down. His behavior sent my codependency issues into oblivion. But I am not codependent anymore, I see the dynamic and the emotional abuse, I see my role, and I am done. I feel much better today. Still a little sad, but trusting that with strong boundaries and healthy expectations in my relationships, I can't lose.

Faith2011 posted 2/6/2011 06:22 AM


Your post could have been written by me. Yes, I come from a very dysfunctional family where I learned to accept the crumbs. Where I learned that I should be 'happy' when my WH chose to show me affection yet not to expect it when I needed it desperately from him at my choosing. I tried to rescue him from his stagnant life, thinking my love would reach his heart. I was so wrong. He ended up resenting me and therefore punishing me.

I accepted and allowed him to treat me appallingly. One example: when I had a serious medical condition (asthma)and he reluctantly agreed to take me to Emergency. As I struggled to breath he sat squirming in the chair and sighing with impatience. When I told him he didn't have to stay he took off so fast my head would have spun had it not been attached to various bleeping machines. He left me ALONE in hospital. I felt so ashamed.

A good friend who is also a counsellor told me today I allowed him to treat me in this way because of my low self esteem/abuse issues from my childhood.

Later today I went to the supermarket and a man pushed in front of me. I turned to him and said "Excuse me, I was here first". He continued to served and said to me "I didn't see you" then he dismissed me.

I WAS LIVID with anger. I realised that is how I lived my life!

That man showed me what I need to fix about myself. It was like The Universe sent this man as a wake up call.

I sense from your posts, Lisa, you are an incredible woman with incredible insight. That tells me you will be more than okay. You now have the opportunity to start healing the broken part in you so that you will no longer be willing to put up with the kind of bullshit and abuse your WH thought he could do to you.

LisaBrandNew posted 2/6/2011 10:11 AM

Faith - you were treated terribly. It must have been a very lonely life. Your WH was very blatantly cruel and selfish. My STBXWH was more subtle. I think more insidious and crazy making in some ways. You can look back and say WTF to clear examples of abuse. I always doubted myself, felt guilty. He is a master of looking like a good guy, but the negativity, detachment, resistance, resentment, etc. etc. seethed below the surface always. In a one minute span of time, he could be appearing to be loving or helpful and yet be obstructing, distant, or bitter. In the end, it was worse - the negativity and circular arguments about nothing. Constantly resisting everything - God, writing back and forth with you continues my epiphany. No way I could ever return to such a soul sucking situation. I am sorry he was abused, but so was I. I can't let my pity for his childhood pain (or my love for my children) make me weak. He can not come back. I hope you will do the same if he tries to return - because they often do. You have a chance to be free and heal. Since my crying and screaming (and letting go) episode, my sense of humor seems to be returning. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel - it is still somewhat in the distance, but I can definitely see it now and it gets brighter with every step forward.

Faith2011 posted 2/6/2011 20:18 PM

Dear Lisa

You are strong and yes, most often the PA will try to return. I'm aware of that and prepared. Once he is out of the house (counting down the days!) there will be total NC.

Apparently some PA's can change but it takes years of counselling and, and this is what puts me off, huge amounts of effort from the PA's spouse to learn how to communicate with the PA because they don't 'think'
like a rational logic person.

Forget that! I don't have the time or the energy to deal with WH's PA issues and try to heal from the A at the same time.

I'm over having to make all the decisions then have him complain. I'm over him and his blaming his boss/work for his inability to stick to a job. I'm over him sulking and giving me the silent treatment. I'm over him resisting, being obstructive, withdrawing, listening to his lame excuses designed to make me feel bad when it was all about him.

We both have a bright future ahead of us. We now know the red flags that indicate a PA. And I ain't going down that road again! I'd rather be alone and happy.

LisaBrandNew posted 2/7/2011 07:50 AM

Faith - You are right- Forget that! Dealing with the PA and trying to heal from the affair. These guys are too much work - and that's what it would be. WORK for us. I have to say that SI and strong, intelligent people like you have saved me during this time. I always feel better after time here. A little addictive though. We are going to happier than ever.

sadandtrying posted 2/10/2011 16:41 PM

Lisa and Faith, you two are will move on and feel the relief and peace you deserve. I think those of us married to PA people, try SO hard for SO long...

....but the negativity, detachment, resistance, resentment, etc. etc. seethed below the surface always.

I KNOW the subtle ways my H exhibits his PA behaviors, but he doesn't realize it in himself at all, not to mention how masterful he has become in his behavior.
It truly can be crazy-making.

I am completely convinced that my H's A was a PA act. He expects people to know what he's thinking and feeling...what his needs are... Then when he doesn't get what he wants (that which he *thinks* he communicated, but didn't) he acts out to "punish them".

I see him do this with his family and those with whom he works. Fortunately for me, I have a very good relationship with one of H's sisters and recently we have talked about this.
She is totally aware, and the validation is great for me.

For now, I'm still in here, trying... but I can't say that I will always be willing to be...
The stronger *I* get, the less strength I have for *it*....

Beloved827 posted 2/11/2011 12:22 PM

I am literally in tears after reading all of the posts in this section, it is like someone reached into my soul and told the story of my life with my husband for the last 12 years.I don't even have adequate words to describe how I feel right now I just know that for once, without any uncertainty that I am not alone anymore.

heartbroken_kk posted 2/11/2011 23:16 PM

Beloved827, welcome to SI, so sorry you are here.

there are others out there just like you, dealing with the same crazy stuff and feeling the same awful way.

Make sure you read the healing library (link is in the top left toolbar), and post as needed.



LisaBrandNew posted 2/11/2011 23:55 PM

S&T,Beloved,HB - Sometimes it feels like the affair has been a blessing in disguise. I don't think I could have escaped the codependent, reactive mindset I was stuck in with my severely PA husband. I was so devastated by the cheating that I had him leave within 2 weeks of DDay. The space and "Going Dark" (minimal contact due to kids) has allowed me to see his crazy making behavior more clearly. Everyone says I seem happier (less burdened) than I was in the marriage before the affair. The first 3 months were hell, but I do feel lighter in many ways. I have also realized the PA's really don't love deeply - too threatening. My fantasy, my idea of him as my soul mate is seeing the light of day and not holding up. Truthfully, I was settling for way less than a loving healthy relationship, which says so much about me and my issues. I want the real deal now - affection, communication, assertive, an equal, mature partner. He knows I won't settle for less. His games and manipulation to pull me back in are not working. He can't come back without a major catharsis and tons of therapy. He loves being the victim so much, it won't happen and I will be well on my way to a happier, healthier life. Set the bar high for what you want!! You cannot lose. I promise.

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