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Passive Aggressive Relationships

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LisaReg posted 1/1/2012 13:11 PM

I've been researching this as well. I have after YEARS come to the conclusion that my FWH is definitely PA. This is the information I have found that just sealed the deal for me:
DEPENDENCY - Unsure of his autonomy & afraid of being alone, he fights his dependency needs - usually by trying to control you.

*FEAR OF INTIMACY - Guarded & often mistrusful, he is reluctant to show his emotional fragility. He's often out of touch with his feelings, reflexively denying feelings he thinks will "trap" or reveal him, like love. He picks fights to create distance.

*FEAR OF COMPETITION - Feeling inadequate, he is unable to compete with other men in work and love. He may operate either as a self-sabotaging wimp with a pattern of failure, or he'll be the tyrant, setting himself up as unassailable and perfect, needing to eliminate any threat to his power.

*OBSTRUCTIONISM - Just tell a p/a man what you want, no matter how small, and he may promise to get it for you. But he won't say when, and he"ll do it deliberately slowly just to frustrate you. Maybe he won't comply at all. He blocks any real progress he sees to your getting your way.

*FOSTERING CHAOS - The p/a man prefers to leave the puzzle incomplete, the job undone.

*FEELING VICTIMIZED - The p/a man protests that others unfairly accuse him rather than owning up to his own misdeeds. To remain above reporach, he sets himself up as the apparently hapless, innocent victim of your excessive demands and tirades.

*MAKING EXCUSES & LYING - The p/a man reaches as far as he can to fabricate excuses for not fulfilling promises. As a way of withholding information, affirmation or love - to have power over you - the p/a man may choose to make up a story rather than give you a straight answer.

*PROCRASTINATION - The p/a man has an odd sense of time - he believes that deadlines don't exist for him.

*CHRONIC LATENESS & FORGETFULNESS - One of the most infuriating & inconsiderate of all p/a traits is his inability to arrive on time. By keeping you waiting, he sets the ground rules of the relationship. And his selective forgetting - used only when he wants to avoid an obligation.

*AMBIGUITY - He is master of mixed messages and sitting on fences. When he tells you something, you may still walk away wondering if he actually said yes or no.

*SULKING - Feeling put upon when he is unable to live up to his promises or obligations, the p/a man retreats from pressures around him and sulks, pouts and withdraws.

A passive-aggressive man won't have every single one of these traits, but he'll have many of them. He may have other traits as well, which are not passive-aggressive.

Symptoms Passive-Aggressive Personaliy
Symptoms include:
• Contradictory and inconsistent behavior—A person with this behavior pattern may appear enthusiastic to carry out others’ requests, but he purposely performs in a manner that is not useful and sometimes even damaging.
• Intentional avoidance of responsibility—Some behaviors that may be used to avoid responsibility include:
• Procrastination—to delay or postpone needlessly and intentionally
• Deliberate inefficiency—purposefully performing in an incompetent manner
• Forgetfulness
• Feelings of resentment toward others
• Stubbornness
• Argumentative, sulky, and hostile, especially toward authority figures
• Easily offended
• Resentful of useful suggestions from others
• Blames others
• Chronically impatient
• Unexpressed anger or hostility

LisaReg posted 1/1/2012 13:16 PM

After finding the info that I posted above, something in my head just clicked. My fwh has told me before that "I will not be told what to do." Yet, he won't do anything without being told. It could be weeks before he mows the lawn, but If I even mention that the grass is looking long, he just won't cut it. So freakin' frustrating.

I am in the process of S/D but we have financial issues to work out first. If I need to continue living with him for a while, I wanted information on how to keep myself sane while doing so. This info has opened up my eyes.

I have pretty much been doing 180 for 9 months now. I just live my life, and do what needs to be done for me and my son. Surprise, surprise, fwh has found a way to get some things done. I don't nag. Hell, I don't ask for anything. I just assume I'm on my own. It is amazing how much PA man can get done when left to his own devices.

Another thing that has always bothered me about PA man is that everything with him is on a need to know basis. He only gives information if asked. Guess what? I don't ask. He knows the things our son has going on, and when sports, music lessons, school activities are etc. I let hime know what I am doing out of common courtesy because it typically involves our son. That is it, nothing more. Amazing how much less stress If feel when I have no expectations. Hoping that doing this early will make the S/D go much more smoothly.

I hope this info might help someone else. I think I need to work on myself now and figure out why it took me so damn long to get it!

[This message edited by LisaReg at 1:24 PM, January 1st (Sunday)]

BostonGirl posted 1/2/2012 08:40 AM

Hi, LisaReg, and welcome. Very good to hear that you are stepping off the crazy train and I understand your relief completely.

It's really true that the P/A dance requires two partners... Hopefully now that you are changing your steps, your H will come to realize what is going on and how he needs to grow and change as well. But that's his job and only he can do it, and maybe he never will... In the meantime, take good care of yourself. Here's hoping for more positive change in the new year!

realitybites posted 1/3/2012 10:14 AM

Happy New Year P/A peeps!

So whats happening when they now go in the reverse, but to the obnoxious?? Meaning, I will stand up to get a cup of coffee and he will *spring up* and tell me he will get it....if I start to clean the kitchen he will *spring up* to tell me he will do it....etc...meaning, its not his idea, but when he "sees" me start to do something he rushes in to do it, like way obvious. What I mean to say is I can get up and get my own cup of coffee once in awhile, or empty the dishwasher or walk the dog...but he will get almost mad when I look at him weird, like why are you offering when I am already doing it?
Does this make sense to anyone?

As weird as this sounds, and I know I should be grateful, but it is ~~weird~~ to the point where it is overkill. And its getting worse. Like the more I just backed off and did not ask him to do anything he is almost going in the other direction to where it is a little manic is the best way I can say it.

beingmiranda posted 1/3/2012 15:06 PM

Hi realitybites,
I know exactly what you mean. I think it's part of the process they are trying to hold up the "I'm an awesome guy" routine. See? What are you complaining about? I do dishes!!*insert sarcasm*
It is frustrating.

beingmiranda posted 1/4/2012 09:50 AM

Please read this excellent article. I thought the woman was describing me!

LionessQn76 posted 1/13/2012 11:09 AM

Well he is now living with the ow because she is offering him a free room. Wth he has my baby over there with IT.

I'm so done its official he is a screw up waiting for a woman to to rescue him.

Really doesn't occur to him he needs to get a another job. Just go live with a woman.

I read living or loving a codependent man last night it really open my eyes to the dysfunction.

Edited misspelled rant lol

[This message edited by LionessQn76 at 11:23 AM, March 8th (Thursday)]

sadandtrying posted 1/13/2012 11:43 AM

As weird as this sounds, and I know I should be grateful, but it is ~~weird~~ to the point where it is overkill.

realitybites, my H does this too...I don't want to seem unappreciative, but it's really NOT what I am looking for...
The overtures are appreciated on some level, but not in the way that really speaks my language, KWIM...

I can get my own coffee (nice to have the offer to bring it to me ONCE in a while, yes)
but it is no substitute for real, mature, communication and relationship building...which is where I'd much rather he put his efforts...

TeaLight posted 1/19/2012 22:36 PM

I recently discovered a webpage that outlines the "boomerang" relationship that is the result of living with a passive-aggressive man, and how it affects the spouse, profoundly!!

Everyone can be PA at times, but my WH has taken it to a new level.

The article is pretty long, but there are a few passages that really hit home for me:

The man with passive aggressive behavior needs someone to be the object of his hidden hostility. He needs an adversary whose expectations and demands he can resist as he plays out the dance he learned from his parents. He chooses a woman who will agree to be on the receiving end of his disowned anger. He resists her in small ways setting up a pattern of frustration so that she gets to express the anger that he cannot.

Somehow, somewhere down the line in our "budding relationship" I agreed to be his adversary. I can recognize it now, but then, I had no idea what I was doing that would make him resist me so much.

The man who copes with conflict by not being there has strong conflict over dependency. He desperately wants attention but fears being swallowed up by the partner. He can't be alone and live without a woman in his life, but can't be with a partner emotionally. He's caught in a Catch 22 -- wanting affection but avoiding it because he fears it as his destruction. He resents feeling dependent on the woman so must keep her off guard. He makes his partner FEEL LIKE A NOTHING through his neglect or irritability but he keeps her around because he needs her. His script is ‘Be here for me, but don't come too close and don't burden me with your needs or expectations.'

It's the slow and painful eating away of my self-esteem that he fed on, over and over and over.

The man with passive aggressive actions is a master in getting his partner to DOUBT HERSELF and FEEL GUILTY for questioning or confronting him.

The woman living with a passive aggressive man goes back and forth between three roles - - the Rescuer, the Victim or the Manager. Living with the passive aggressive man pushes the woman into frustration and anger as a major dynamic in day-to-day conflict. When she cannot get her needs met, she becomes: the Blamer, the Bitch, and the Rager, which then makes the man feel very insecure in the relationship.

I slowly, but surely became all of these things, over time. And he used my anger against me, which in turn made me feel more and more guilty as time went by.

It was a trap that I had no way of getting out of. Even when I would change my "fighting style" or try to not fight and "discuss" instead, I was always met with more PA behavior.
It's a vicious circle that's very hard to break, especially if the PA man doesn't want to break it, and why would he???? He gets to avoid any and all responsibility for the problems in the relationship. It's a terrible way to live, though.

The passive aggressive man lives an internal loneliness.

Her self-esteem erodes as her frustration and anger turn to rage as she feels guilty about the intensity and destructiveness of her aggression.

Reading this information has been very freeing for me.
I no longer feel that I am to blame for who he is.
He tried to blame me for ruining his life and sucking the spirit out of him, but he was sucking me dry, day after day after day.

I hope this helps anyone dealing with a PA man.
I have loads more info if anyone would like me to share.

OntheRocks and heartbroken_kk, your posts could have been written about my ex husband.

The big thing with PA is that recovery is unlikely unless the PA partner can see they have a problem and seeks help for themselves. Not a good prognosis for the majority of relationships I would think.

MissesJai posted 1/24/2012 17:00 PM

yeah, count my H in frustrating. My H possesses all but one of those traits...lucky me....

sad/madtothebone posted 1/24/2012 17:15 PM

I have been reading tons about PA, but I am having a lot of trouble with finding practical advice on how to respond and deal with a PA spouse. I need a manual.

NeverHadAChance posted 1/31/2012 09:57 AM

Oh my god. I thought I had been dealing with a narcissist all this time.

But this is it. this was my life for 10 years. Rescuing him, managing him, being told how I don't measure up in a "constructive way". He was frustrating on every level. It was like dealing with a willful child, but I was complicit in making him appear to be the perfect husband.

realitybites posted 2/2/2012 06:48 AM

but I was complicit in making him appear to be the perfect husband.

^^This^^ is so true.

I worked so hard to prop him up so that I would not look bad. Then how DARE he betray me behind my back...its like I felt I had "made" him somewhat successful, not a screw up.

I sure worked hard to nail my own coffin didn't I? Crazy making stuff when you have to dig far enough to look at yourself in this P/A dance.

let it be me posted 2/2/2012 07:34 AM

So for those of us on "the other side" of the relationship with a PA.....

How many of you recognize co-dependency in yourself?

My IC states it is a natural fit for a PA partner.

I've been co-dependent since FOREVER; abused since age 2 by family (molestation, physical and emotional) then jumped from one abusive adult relationship to my current marriage.....
Started IC in 1998; however, masking my true feelings even to my IC.
Didn't want anyone to know that I can't pull it off and take care of myself and everyone around me...

Just started being honest with my psych in October, as the PA relationship post A (with years of inch by inch mental growth for me) brought me to a place of "it is now or never - I cannot live this insanity anymore, I just cannot keep up the act anymore"....
Was Diagnosed with BiPolar I and immediately taken off AntiD's since they have been just adding fuel to the fire all these years. Started on Atypical AntiPsychotics and WOW! My mind CAN slow down!!!!

But I'm still Co-Dependent.... just able to make more CONSISTENT growth rather than two steps forward five steps back now!

eta - I DO notice that my slowly improving consistency is helping me towards changing MY role in the unhealthy back and forth of the boomerang relationship....

[This message edited by let it be me at 7:37 AM, February 2nd (Thursday)]

dumped&replaced posted 2/13/2012 22:29 PM

Just tell me what you want me to do" puts the responsibility for the project on me, and sets up a situation where he can be the victim, the punished one, the one who has to do what his wife tells him to do. He can also do the job badly and then when I ask him to do it correctly, get angry at me because "he can't do anything right". He will do 90% of the job, then quit. Then it is up to me to finish the job, and he can sneer at me because "nothing he does is good enough, I can't be happy, I have to go in and change what he did".

wow, thank you. You pretty much summed up the relationship between me and STBXH in a nutshell...this was how we interacted for years. Best example - I worked part time when boys were little but when boys got to middle school I got a full time job. Asked him to help more with deciding meals/ grocery shopping..he went to grocery store once or twice but if I didn't give him a LIST (which I refused to do...planning meals and all the ingredients is almost as time consuming as actually shopping...oh and he didn't WANT me to do..."I got it")..he would come home with crap that would get thrown out cuz the boys wouldn't eat it...

By putting himself in the submissive role, he puts me in the dominant role. He puts me in a position where I have to manage him, I "control" him. Then he can lash out at me for being controlling, he can be angry at me for it. So he substitutes anger for a variety of underlying emotional states such as shame and low self image. The anger can be directed at ME, instead of shame being an emotion directed internally.

It has helped me so much to read this, you have no idea...I have been trying so hard to figure out what went wrong in our marriage and what my role in it was...what you describe here was basically the way we related all the time. The day before DDAY he actually said to me "I love you as the mother of my kids, but I don't LIKE you as a person, I don't LIKE you as a friend, you're so controlling it's like living with my mother".....those words have haunted me ever since...because anyone who really KNOWS me knows that I am so far from "controlling" it's not even funny...I have 2 girlfriends who both keep telling me "don't let (whoever/ another friend) push you around"... and my whole family knows I am just not that way....had a lightbulb moment STBX had a family where emotions, divorces, bad things were never discussed. The primary goal was to appear to be perfect to the outside world (and within the home as well)...and now my STBXH hit middle age and went through a major midlife crisis, complete with the affair and the fancy car etc...Our family ( me and my boys) are the casualty of that.

I finally found the forum in "I can relate" I can relate to - thank you!!!!

scissorhands posted 2/18/2012 08:10 AM


This thread has made so much sense to me. I have been calling wh a PA for years with out understand my roll.

Like so many it sounds like they are writing about my wh. More reading for me.

I am so thankfully someone put me onto this site.

shangri-la posted 2/18/2012 09:49 AM

I'm here, and what I'm reading is SUCH a relief....thank you!!!!!

one of the PA things I have struggled with for years is that xwh wouldn't tell me about big decisions, or even little ones if he thought I would have any resistance to them. Of course he'd go ahead with the plan so I would find out and then it would be too late, my resistance to spending hundreds of dollars on a luxury item when we owed rent for example was not the issue - in his mind - what was then the issue would be that I was restrictive and controlling which is why he didn't tell me.

Ironically, if he HAD included me in the decisions, there would have been occasions where I'd have not resisted at all.

heart_in_a_blend posted 2/18/2012 10:00 AM

All this is screaming "immaturity". I wonder if men fit this category more than woman. (just a question) Maybe women just notice it more and are always trying to figure out why things happen and how can we make it better.

I sick of trying to figure out all the crapy my husband does and doesn't do. But that doesn't mean I won't stop trying.

roccodom posted 2/25/2012 20:17 PM

Now, when I came along, I actually treated him as an individual person who had a right to his own thoughts and feelings and expected him to be an adult and be responsible for them. He, on the other hand, took my healthy assertiveness as demands and then "got back at me" by not saying how he felt about something and secretly resenting me and judging me. Man, it's a bitch to try to deal with passive-agression. Like walking in traffic blindfolded. You may hear noise but you never know when and what hit you.

I could have written this.

scissorhands posted 2/28/2012 17:43 PM

This whole PA thing is my husband in a nutshell.

Last night when we do the phone calls and texts after he finishes work in a different time zone I handled things differently with amazing results.

I did not contact him. He texted asking what where we doing. I just said same old same old. So he waits a bit then goes No talkies then.
It turns out he was having a drink in the camp mess. Starts to try to wind me up with the Aren't I allowed a drink after work (hardly ever drinks) and instead of reacting, I just said I was just waiting until you texted and let me know you were available to talk with me. I was calm and serene and he couldn't cope.
Normally he doesn't say much in phone calls. Gets/makes me do all the talking and grunts occasionally.
Anyway you should have heard the chitchat coming from him. I was floored to be honest.
I didn't try to change him, that wont work, but I changed my behaviour and reaction.
Will be interesting to see how this continues to work and to learn new ways of dealling with him.

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