- Gender and Relationships
Passive Aggressive Partner – Is Their Behaviour Bringing Out the Worst in You?
Enduring Passive Aggressive (PA) conduct from a partner is "crazy making". At times it can have you wondering if you yourself are the one to blame for the difficulties in the relationship!
Read on for pointers on assessing whether or not you share any responsibility for this dynamic in your relationship, how walking on eggshells can affect your personality generally and whether or not you should have any degree of compassion for your difficult partner.
About the Root of Passive Aggressive Behavior
Children who have an overly strict, quick tempered, imposing, authority figure may feel frustrated when it comes to communicating their opinions, wants, needs and emotions. In particular they feel sure their anger will not be tolerated so they feel bad about themselves when they are angry.
They may even deny to themselves that they are angry, never openly expressing it. However, it is inevitable that the anger will ooze out at some point - often in clandestine ways which can afford the child a sense of secret satisfaction and/or revenge.
Have You Ever Wondered If You Too are Passive Aggressive or Becoming That Way?
Most people are passive aggressive in certain limited circumstances only. However, if you spend enough time around an extremely Passive Aggressive person, some tit for tat passive aggression on your part could well come into play.
To help you determine if you are the main aggressor with regard to PA behavior in your relationship, take a few minutes to focus on one of the commonest, most troublesome traits of such people - i.e. The Dreaded Silent Treatment!
- how many people have you given the silent treatment to in the last 10 years or so?
- what is the frequency of this happening - i.e. how many times have you been on "not speaking" terms with someone?
- on average how long is it before you actually resume speaking normally?
- Now ask yourself the same questions about your spouse.
Think long and hard about the above and try to be honest and objective. Then you should have your answer as to whether or not it is you or your partner who is mainly responsible for the PA dynamic that exists.
If you determine that you yourself have engaged in passive aggressive conduct, do own this. Moreover, for the future, consciously resolve to be more self aware and take active steps to lessen/stop initiating or reciprocating passive aggression.
Even if signs point towards your partner being the major protagonist as regards to passive aggression, it must always be remembered that the only person we can change is ourselves. Passive Aggressive behavior from a partner is EXTREMELY difficult to deal with but it can only defeat us if we let it. If it's taking a toll on your happiness, it's time to change your response to being on the receiving end of this conduct.
Silent Treatment - When your partner won't answer you!
The Difficulty of Living and Dealing with Passive Aggressive Behavior
Working out how to deal with Passive Aggressive behavior can leave you utterly confused and unable to make decisions about the future.
If you do have your husband, wife, girlfriend or boyfriend listen to your concerns about their conduct and they become worried that you may turn your back on the relationship, they may say and convince you that they will do better in the future.
However, you may find that time after time the same PA behaviors take place. For example, they may agree to do certain things but delay and procrastinate and it never happens. Or they may make a start in the right direction but a start is as far as it goes. They know what it is you want to hear and they will tell you, but as soon as some time passes and you are off your guard they relapse to their old ways.
Retaliatory Passive Aggression
Are you able to resist the urge to engage in tit for tat passive aggressive behaviour?
Passive aggressive men and women are adept at giving you the impression that they will do whatever it was you both agreed on, but deep down they have no firm intention or plan to do so. When called on it they will have an excuse. They may claim it is your fault they didn’t carry out what they promised. Again they may claim they cannot remember, misunderstood and that now they understand they will carry out whatever it is. But then the cycle repeats only next time there’s a different slant on their excuse to buy them more time. Sadly, seeing you frustrated, upset, bewildered or angry may constitute a win for them.
PA folk are quite expert at turning the tables and blaming others for their bad conduct. Although they may "graciously" declare that they themselves are not perfect, when you try to pin them down they cannot actually recall or detail any of their own shortcomings. Instead they readily and vehemently reel off an elongated list of your imperfections!
Are You Forever Walking on Eggshells?
When a passive aggressive partner brings out the worst in you, it can exhibit itself in a variety of ways. For example, you may be uncharacteristically lacking in self confidence, feeling more insecure, defensive, pessimistic or secretive. Furthernmore, the constant need to walk on eggshells can affect your physical health in a variety of ways.
Needing Clarification and "light-bulb" moments ...
For further insight and to help restore your sanity, you may be interested in the book “Why Does He Do That?” by Lundy Bancroft – e.g. one reader who had a history of silent treatment abuse throughout her relationship said that the book was very enlightening and gave her some relief in that she no longer believes she is crazy/mad. Click here for this and further reviews.
Another highly regarded book is The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert – John M Gottmann. This book details how Criticism, Defensiveness, Contempt and Stonewalling impacts communication in relationships. (See the link in this paragraph for reader evaluations of this book.)
IMPORTANT - Do seek professional advice rather than rely on internet articles if you are in an unsafe/potentially unsafe relationship.
Should You Have Some Empathy for Your Spouse?
People with Passive Aggressive personality disorder cannot seem to help being the way they are and as such you might be tempted to feel some compassion for them at times.
However, because your PA partner cannot help themselves, you do not simply have to accept their crazy making ways as your lot in life and allow it to drag you down.
Think of it this way - if your partner had a skin disorder which meant they could never go out into the sunshine, it doesn't mean you cannot ever again enjoy a walk down the road on a sunny day.
Some people choose to leave such relationships and who can blame them. However, if you are going to stay in a relationship with a passive aggressive girlfriend, boyfriend, husband or wife, you have a duty to yourself to plan around this issue, refuse to let it engulf you and positively make the most of your life regardless.
Other articles on Passive Aggression in Marriage
- My husband is Passive Aggressive | The Marriage Restoration Project
What can you do if your spouse is passive aggressive? Turns out a lot. Click here for some surprising solutions.
- Passive Aggressive Silent Treatment Emotional Abuse ...
Further ways to cope with silent treatment emotional abuse in relationships. Self help for becoming upbeat rather than beset with negative feelings.
- Passive Aggressive Partner - This is How to Cope
Learn what you can do to cope with your passive aggressive partner, what not to do and what to expect. Stop them from stealing all your joy in life.
- Define Passive Aggressive Behaviour - Examples in Ma...
What is passive aggressive behaviour and how does it manifest in relationships? Examples to help identify if your partner might be passive aggressive.