SurvivingInfidelity.com® > I Can Relate
Passive Aggressive Relationships
Trying to get you to "show that you care" is also about dependency stuff, controlling and trying to keep you in the dynamic. PAs are not true adults. The codependent/PA relationship is also called the parent/child relationship or the pursuer/distancer relationship, etc. Both are dysfunctional.
They are angry children that do not want to play grown up - so they pout, obstruct, etc. Basically a constant, quiet temper tantrum.
Rescuing, managing, etc. turns you into the mother of a tantruming child. So, please .... don't reach more than half way on anything in the marriage - not housework, tasks, bill paying, emotional, sexual, nothing. They either figure it out and grow up or they have to go.
I don't know if I want to cry or laugh.
Reading these post is like reading my biography for the last year.
I feel like an idiot not seeing how manipulated I was. I can't believe how manipulative and immature he has been during the cheating and after.
He even manipulated me into reconciling only after a wk I wasn't kissing his behind and I wanted to read about r before anything. He told me" I wasn't saying nything" or "it seems to me the more i talk about the cheating you see me different"
Even after dday he was mean and nasty towards me.
Didn't he lie and cheaT for months while I suffered in silence with PPD.
THANK YOU wish I had this info yrs ago. Esp this past year I thought he had bad coping skills and was depressed.
The personalty traits iS scary bc I was his "fuckable mommy" now I know I was right I'm not just a jilt crazy woman.
Lioness - I wish I had understood codependency and PA earlier in my life too. But now we know!
The PA understands very well that the codependent REACTS to distancing, detachment, cruelty, witdrawal, etc. by PURSUING. We reinforce their behavior by rewarding it. I know...sucks to know we were equal partners in the f***ed up dance. But we were.
No one can manipulate us without our permission and support. It is a dynamic. PAs don't seek healthy partners and vice versa. Instead of "he manipulated me," try "I allowed myself to be manipulated because .. (I wanted him to want me back so I didn't feel rejected, abandoned, unworthy)or (if I could fix him, he would be nice to me, making me feel worthy) or (I love him more than I love myself)or(emotional crumbs are better than nothing) or (I look to him/others/external sources to validate my worth and give me the love I can't give myself).
We have to find our WHY. Why did we find the PA attractive in the first place? Why did we accept and settle for crumbs, loneliness, frustration and all the fun the PA brings to the marriage? What are our FOO issues?
As for the "fuckable mommy," that ends eventually. The PA's resentment (stored, hidden anger) leads them to rebel against "mommy" by withholding sex or having an A or leaving to find a fresh, new codependent to start the dance again. They are SO MUCH FUN!
[This message edited by LisaBrandNew at 7:13 PM, November 28th (Monday)]
Thanx lisa yea I know I let a lot go bc I was in between jobs and then my mother and brother passed and then I was pregnant.
So I never confronted my issues with his dependency on me guess I needed until the baby came then it was just sicKening.
I feel like a just relived 33 years of my life reading all these posts. My WH is classic PA! I don't feel so crazy anymoore. I thought it was ME!
A typical conversation:
Me:How was the doctor/therapist visit?
Me: what did you talk about?
Me what stuff?
HIm you know work and stuff
ME: why what happened at work?
HIM: same old same old
Me:getting frustrated. what same old old?
HIM: you know what my boss always does.
ME: NO what does your boos always do?
Him: what's for dinner?
Me" did you pick up milk?
Him: I forgot. Did you tell me to pick up milk? I don't remember you telling me. So It's your fault that I forgot to pick up the milk.
Is anyone partner a textEr. I noticed during the fling with hofriend he only text each other.
But I notice we have a convo then he leaves and then 2 seconds later he's texting me his point of view or manipulating whAt I said 2mins ago.
WTH does anyone deal with this?
The PA understands very well that the codependent REACTS to distancing, detachment, cruelty, witdrawal, etc. by PURSUING. We reinforce their behavior by rewarding it. I know...sucks to know we were equal partners in the f***ed up dance. But we were.
Yeah, so true. It took me a long time to see I was CoDep...you see I was such a together person, good business woman, took care of everything, very logical...I had this false image of what I "thought" a CoDep looked like and it wasn't me. UNTIL I found the book "Codependent No More" and also started reading up and learning about P/A's. I was then like shocked
This was ME, this was my life....talk about big huge lightbulbs that went off. But it also meant that I had to learn to fix MYSELF and not try to figure out how to fix him. Once I started to learn the techniques of stepping away instead of stepping towards him when he acted out, it make a huge difference.
One other thing...I have a P/A who is a tricky one, in the fact that he uses his KISA techniques to the MAX, meaning he loves to look like he is saving the day by helping me out, or helping a stranger or helping out too much at work. And I know that sounds so weird when I say this as people mistake it for kindness. And it is, but he does it for the praise...again, as weird as that sounds. And when someone doesn't acknowledge this or help him or in my case keep him company while he is doing a chore around the house he gets mad. Or I get the silent treatment. He doesn't like me leaving the room to go read a book or go watch a TV show I want to watch.
So this is a very weird and very deceptive type of P/A that I deal with....I also thought he was so nice and so thoughtful and loved me so much...until he gets resentful and angry out of the blue. I have always said that thru our 30 yrs together he seems really good for about 4-6 yrs and then its like he has to self implode his whole life...he has done this with his career throughout the years and our marriage. Very strange.
Reality - It is very hard to be around a PA who has victimization issues. Mine has manipulated me forever by using guilt. It is astonishing how they manage to twist things around so you are guilty of their misbehaviour. I bought into that because, as I said, that was how I was raised. However, always trying to be more perfect has made me into an amazing person, lol!
[This message edited by trebleclef at 11:55 PM, December 3rd (Saturday)]
realitybites - What better way to set you up to be the bad guy, doubt yourself, or feel guilty. "Well, he is trying." Codependents are so grateful for any help, any crumbs. Equal participation from a partner can make us feel guilty.
They learn alot from us. We give in to silly requests/demands, such as keeping them company while they do a chore. Or apologize for asking for help, etc.
When I look back at my own behavior, I cringe. Now, I would say, "Really? I think you can manage without my company" without a drop of guilt. Any attempts to make me feel guilty would not work and pretty much disgust me.
trebleclef - they twist things around to make us feel guilty because they can. Would the same behavior from him work now? For me - NO WAY!
A PA Man-Child would not attract me now in any form. And they come in lots of emotionally unavailable forms. For me, the wounded man afraid to love and trust triggered my rescuing, my pity. I wanted to give him the love he never had, to make him feel secure and safe. The deeper I go into my own codependency recovery, I realize that it is me that wanted/needed those very things. I was just so used to not having those needs met. Denial and repression became my coping methods. I know what I need now. I will rescue and fix me. I will give love and safety to myself. In a partner, I expect a loving, communicative, emotionally available, mature grown-up.
A healthy man and real intimacy will scare the hell out of me. I have no reference point for a healthy loving relationship. The book, "Fear of Intimacy," says to just do it. Don't run away. Don't panic.
Live and learn a new language, a new dance. That you are perfect for yourself or for someone exactly the way that you are. That you don't need a role or to be needed or to work your ass off to be loved or keep love. And that no one defines your worth. Never love someone more than you love yourself.
Interesting that so many of us are successful, intelligent, and amazing. For me, I always thought being the best, working the hardest, etc. in any area would "earn" me acceptance, indispensability, and affirmation. That was a hard realization that I never thought I would be accepted just as I am. But, on a good note, I have one hell of a resume!
Sorry to be soapboxy, but PAs are crazymaking and really do a job on our already shaky self esteem. Detoxing from codependency and a PA relationship requires real vigilance. Best wishes to all on our journey to reclaiming ourselves!
[This message edited by LisaBrandNew at 9:39 PM, December 4th (Sunday)]
Longtime lurker, first time posting in this thread. I really appreciate everyone who's shared their experiences here, with a special shout out to Lisa BrandNew for being so thoughtful and articulate about PA and especially breaking free from it.
My husband is (tentatively hopeful that I can say "was") PA and it was practically my undoing. Completely crazymaking. I learned (and learned and learned) that asking for something directly was the way to ensure that I'd never get it. But that oh so mild demeanor, well, he was such a nice guy, who could get mad at him??
I'm sure I don't need to tell you all that this ended in disaster...
To my complete and utter amazement, I think he is finally starting to "get it" and pull out of it. Two things in particular I think have made this come about:
His elderly parents' rapidly declining health. They live on the other side of the country and my H and his brother were trying to take care of their parents long distance. Eventually my H started figuring out that his parents were treating *him* in the same harmful ways I had been saying he was treating *me*. As in, blowing him off about uncomfortable subjects, just to get him off their backs--but then the uncomfortable situation/problem still exists and needs to be dealt with, but now there's a layer of mistrust on top of it all. Also just being really distant, closed off, emotionally disconnected, uninterested in reaching out, etc.--this really hurt him, he finally saw that this was how he had been treating me.
So, this "ghost of Christmas future" experience really woke him up.
Then I gave him Patti Henry's book "The Emotionally Unavailable Man". I think this really spoke to him and he seems to have taken it to heart. The main premise is about men not being able to deal with womens' strong emotions ("hurricaning" is what she calls it) and so withdrawing, acceding their power and voice, relinquishing responsibility--classic PA. This was definitely a strong dynamic in our M and he recognized it immediately. Seems to have made a big difference as he's starting to realize that he really is responsible, can be proactive, needs to talk, needs to be able to be present when I am sad or angry or otherwise emotional. I'm amazed and am hoping for the best... we shall see...
I hasten to add we've talked about these issues A LOT in a couple of rounds of MC over the past year--that my H needs to "step up" and do his part. But it's only in the last month that he seems to have really "gotten it" and started to do it. The events and book above in combination seemed to be what made the key turn in the lock.
Wish us luck--as I wish you all luck.
Welcome BostonGirl! and thank you for the compliment. I have read parts of Patti Henry's book. Hurricaning is a good way to explain the mindset of a PA man or any emotionally stunted person. It was uncomfortable to read and see myself too. The dynamic. The more he withdrew, the more I "hurricaned" him, trying to analyze, fix, convince. Lots of intensity of my part because of frustration.
It is a very challenging dynamic to overcome, especially on the heels of years of frustration and now with the betrayal of infidelity. Books can help bring awareness to the individual, but only a change in the behavior of one of the partner's can jolt the dynamic.
You are doing amazingly well, but I do want to mention that giving him the book was still you trying to fix him, enlighten him, etc. It is still Pursuit. I have never seen anything more effective than Distancing/Detachment
/180 by the codependent spouse. It will shift the dynamic. At the very least, it stops the reactive, crazymaking grip the PA has over you. Clear boundaries for what you expect, acting like the prize that you are, and acting as if/getting a life, etc. often trigger pursuit (initially the PA may intensify their withdrawal to force you back into place)in which the PA has no choice but to give up the sadistic dance.
Pursuit is not love. It is a visceral reaction. Like how rejection by the WS makes BSs want them more. But at least with detachment, the BS can reclaim herself. Let the WS/PA know that change is required to continue - counseling (and books). Suggestions are fine, but they must take the initiative to get the help and resources. Otherwise, you are back into codependency and the sick dance. It may look a little different, more empowering, but if you are doing anything to pull them along, it is the same place as before.
That is why I say that I am in codependency recovery. Fixing is addictive, a very stubborn lens for how we view ourselves and our role in our relationships.
Stand back, way back. If they are capable of change, then it must come completely from them.
Thanks for your (typically thoughtful!) reply.
I know exactly what you mean about pursuit and fixing, and agree 100% with what you said about growth and healing having to come from him, from within himself.
For context, we are separated, have been for 6 months, and only returned to MC when we started having conflict about coparenting issues. Both he and I realize that we have to get that issue right, if nothing else--so R was not really on the table as we started MC, and we are still far from it. I am holding my ground and watching to see whether he really is turning over a new leaf, whether his actions live up to his words.
I told him three weeks ago that I would do absolutely everything in my power to get us to a friendly, functional coparenting relationship, but that I was not going to put in any effort/leadership into rebuilding a marriage, because I had done way, WAY more than my share of that while we were together, with no recognition/response/respect for that. I said, I still wish we could have the marriage we both said we wanted when we started out, but I am not going to be the one to do the work. I think that was also a wakeup call for him.
I wrestled mightily with myself about giving him that book. I bought it (among others) over the summer, when R was totally off the map, in trying to understand for myself the dynamic that was at play in our marriage--to try to understand why someone clearly smart and capable in many other ways was so seemingly willfully ineffectual interpersonally. I originally had no intent to give it (or any other book) to him.
What prompted me to do so, maybe a month ago, was seeing him struggle in MC with finally realizing that he does have a big blind spot--and that his actions/inactions really have played a major role in the bad dynamics between us that have been hurtful to and hard for him. He was clearly trying to "get his arms around the problem" but clearly didn't really know what to do to solve it. That book is specifically about how to do that, so I thought it could help him if he'd take it to heart.
Like I said, I struggled. I decided to give it because I thought it really could help him. But I also told him (and our counselor) how loaded it was for me to do so--that "putting myself out there" and trying to help in any way now feels like it's taking away from me, that I'm letting myself be taken advantage of again, that he's slacking and getting off easy.
This very issue is a big one and we are working on it in counseling too. If we are to have a good, healthy, relationship, the communication has to go both ways, we BOTH need to put in effort and do problem-solving. One of the horrible things about living in a PA relationship for so long is that I've been so burned by that and need to see a lot of proof, develop a lot of trust until I can do that again with him.
Anyway, I'm glad I did give it to him. I think it has helped a lot, and in turn that is helping me. I think it has helped him recognize that he has a voice, he has power (which he can choose to give away or not), and that he is NOT a victim.
The new leaf he seems to be turning over is really good--he is being proactive and demonstrative in a way I've been hoping for for years. I am being supportive and appreciative but also very clear about my misgivings and the sorrow and anger that is coming up now that he's finally living up to what he should have been doing all along. Amazingly, he is willing to sit with that and to engage me in my sorrow and anger and to comfort me, which he has NEVER done before, and to accept responsibility for his part and talk about how he can do better in the future. I am amazed and hope he comes through.
I literally NEVER thought I'd see this happen and am still not sure of the outcome. But even if we do end up D, just having my concerns and sorrows finally HEARD and him owning his part in it is really healing.
BG - I am very happy for you. You seem to be very aware of your marriage dynamics and yourself.
Your H seems like he is finally turning inward and taking responsibility for his behavior. I truly hope he continues to do the hard work on himself.
You are supportive, but not enabling or fixing. You gave him the book after he started showing awareness. Then you backed off.
These roles are so deeply entrenched. I admire both you and your H's efforts to break out of the dysfunctional dynamic. It will take time and hard work, but maybe love can conquer all this time. I think you are off to a very good start!
I know for me I am very protective of myself now. I hope I don't come across as cynical. I will try to explain why, for myself, I stay so vigilant.
I do believe that the human spirit can surprise us and transcend the damage inside(with very hard work). But I also know we can be so fearful that change and internal focus is next to impossible. I know that for me the PA, CA, emotional repression, etc. in my marriage almost destroyed me, especially the last year or so. MLC came into play and I could no longer deny that the emotional crumbs were now ever diminishing specks. I could not fix, manage, or analyze enough. I was in free fall, getting sick constantly, anxious, talking too much and too fast, threatening divorce, then feeling guilty, apologizing, then resenting feeling guilty, etc. It was a form of panic. His increasing distance was my punishment and seemed to be a testimonial of my worth.
But I continued to confront his behavior. I was tired of not having an emotionally available H. I tried to shift the roles. He knew I was changing. Our dynamic was NOT working for me anymore. The A seemed to be a final act of PA rage.
He made two very weak requests for R. I saw the crumbs again and said No. I have no regrets for the hard core distance I keep from him. My choice, my requirement so that I can have the space to get healthy. I saw every occasional kindness, helpful behavior from him, again as crumbs.
The PA behavior is a huge barrier to intimacy and healthy love. Very difficult to treat. Hidden anger breeds all kinds of mangled interactions. For a codependent desperate for love and affirmation of her worth, it takes enormous vigilance to not engage in the dynamic at some level. Add in the betrayal of infidelity, and the usual blame, projecting and hostility toward the BS, well it just seems like just entertaining R under such circumstances feels codependent for me. So for my own recovery, I feel that PA WSs have to move mountains, go to Rock Bottom, and face their inner demons to even get a second thought.
They have to prove themselves with a vengeance with deep remorse and long term, intensive therapy. To attempt R before these actions is risky to pulling us back in. So I may sound cynical, but I like to think of it as loving myself more than him. Expecting the opposite of crumbs. Expecting nothing short of biblical level redemption.
I so remember when we separated, how difficult it was for me to let go. But whatever it was, that one last thing that just tipped the scales and I just snapped and wanted nothing more to do with him. So I do understand how distancing yourself from a P/A is necessary. I had chased after him long enough and I was just finally done. NO MORE. And he hated that, his rage actually got worse the more I distanced myself, in fact I am surprised we are even back together as he did every temper tantrum, ugly, mean, manipulative thing he could do to get me to pay attention and I just shut down, closed the bakery, did not engage AT ALL and it drove him batty.
Made me the happiest I had been in a long time. Still cried at night for where my life was at and how screwed up it was....but until he finally stopped the stupid manipulative tactics I wanted nothing to do with him.
Come to think of it, I should have stayed that way...I felt the best I had felt in so long and it was because the dysfunction wasn't in the room anymore!
Lisa, reality, I can relate so much to what you both say.
I could not fix, manage, or analyze enough. I was in free fall, getting sick constantly, anxious, talking too much and too fast, threatening divorce, then feeling guilty, apologizing, then resenting feeling guilty, etc. It was a form of panic. His increasing distance was my punishment and seemed to be a testimonial of my worth.
Yes, yes, yes. This was exactly my experience all last winter and spring, that frantic attempt to find some way to break through the wall.
Nothing worked. And my passive, won't-take-initiative-or-responsibility-for-life-decisions husband found the internal resources to plan and execute a move out of our family house alone. Never phoned, emailed, talked to me about anything except kid stuff, even though we work at the same company and are in the same building every day.
Message received, loud and clear. Broke my heart but I am building a new life without him. The recent change has been very healing and means a lot to me, and I am giving him due appreciation for it. But even though now he is clearly and ardently in favor of R, I am in no way convinced that life with him again would be an improvement over life without him--it hurt him to hear that but it's the fact. I wish we could have the marriage I hoped/dreamed we had at the outset, but that's not the marriage we actually had--and the marriage we had is not one that I will live in for the rest of my life. So, the story is not yet done.
Incidentally, his take on his leaving is so classically PA too: since I was the one who initially said we need to separate and told him about the apartment vacancy (I found an apartment nearby and close to the kids' schools, I first said I was going to move out before I realized, hey, I bought every stick of furniture in our household and I'll be DAMNED if I'm going to move it all again or buy another houseful)--he interprets this as "I kicked him out." As if there were no other response to the statement that we need to separate, you know? Not: This is the line in the sand we must not cross, we need to redouble our efforts to find a solution. Not: YOU move out, you crazy bitch. Not: This will impact our kids' lives forever but I will take responsibility for the choice I am making.
No, even though he (a) contacted the leasing agent, (b) saw the apartment, (c) signed the lease and delivered the deposit, (d) packed and moved all his shit: HE didn't move out--nope, not his responsibility at all, because I kicked him out.
Miles to go, I tell you, miles to go.
rb - life is more peaceful without the dysfunction in the room.
BG - Everything is my fault too because I threatened divorce. Doesn't matter what drove me to that state of mind. It's all on me - the lying, betrayal, cheating, leaving for the teenage girl that was my former student, getting her pregnant, more lying, blaming me to family and friends, blah, blah, blah. His behavior is so deep in disgusting and appalling, but I deserved to be punished.
I love reading here. It makes me realize how lucky I am to be out. And how important it is to stay out.
This has been bothering me. The past couple weeks x stopped talking to me and seem to have a harsh tone and rushes me off the phone.
Now I know he had a appt with psychologist coming up back in November the same time he stopped speaking. I never asked about the session if he went back etc.
My first thought he crawled back to the hofriend but now I think its the pursuing?
What do you all think?
Lionness - can you clarify what you mean by "but now I think its the pursuing?"
Is his behavior (increased distancing) triggering "analysis paralysis" (a form of pursuit).
PA/WSs will act all kinds of ways (blaming, projecting, distancing, etc). Why do you care?