Relationship Advice From Your “Big Sister” Part Five: Passive/Aggressive Behavior


Passive/Aggressive Behavior

A person who is Passive/Aggressive is much easier to identify than the misogynist, but it may take you a while. (Remember that I speak in the masculine, but this behavior can apply to women, too).

He’s the guy who makes you angry, but you can’t figure out why you are angry with him.

He seems like a nice guy.  He avoids conflict like the plague, so you are initially caught off guard. He does not express anger openly. He learned this pattern in childhood when he may have been punished for showing emotion, or not permitted to speak his mind.  He was the child that was often told to “man-up” or that “boys don’t cry”.  She is the woman who was taught to never be vulnerable.

He learned early on that he needed to withhold expressions of emotion.  Instead he retreats into the “silent treatment”, simply walking away from any problem or discussion.  Trying to engage him in a meaningful discussion is nearly impossible.

His strong suit is not communication.  He prefers to “shut-down” or withhold his affection, participation, sex, finances, or any other thing that he can use to gain power. 

He stuffs his anger down until it eventually rears its ugly head in a more destructive manner.  He avoids responsibility by being passive.  He refuses to make even simple decisions, and then resents the decisions you make, often waiting until after something has taken place to tell you that he never wanted to do it in the first place. 

I know this guy quite well.  I was once married to him.  He is a source of constant frustration as you try to understand and unravel his behavior. 

My guy would do things like tell me that I could pick out a piece of furniture.  No, he didn’t want to have anything to do with the choice.  And then years later tell me that he had always hated that particular piece.

He would not want to choose a restaurant or a vacation destination, only to let me choose and then find him sulking because he did not want to go there.  He enjoys punishing you for “making him do something that he did not want to do”.

He so enjoys playing the victim.  He loves making you out to be “the enemy”.  It gives him great pleasure to keep you waiting, or to embarrass you in front of your friends.

Be aware that he may very well express his negative feelings about you to family and friends so that he has secret support from others. It makes him feel dominant to make you look bad.  If he someday decides to leave, everyone that he had confided in is not surprised, and they all blame you.

He will often hide his anger by voicing a “whatever” or “fine”, even telling you he “is not mad”.  This is just his way of ignoring emotional honesty. 

He deliberately forgets important things like birthdays or anniversaries, and is completely baffled when you mention it. It makes him feel powerful to ignore anything that might be important to you.

He fears conflict and will go to extremes to avoid it. He does not make intimate connections with anyone, let alone his romantic partner.  You may, however, find that he loves animals.  Animals give unconditional love, and he never has to be accountable to them for any reason.

His brand of “crazy-making” is to make you feel that you are “unreasonable” and “expecting too much from him”.

What you may not realize is that he is secretly afraid of you.  He does not want to be alone, but he does not want you to think that he wants to be with you, either.  He needs to get the upper hand by trying to control you.

He may try to tell you who you can have as a friend, where you can go, what you can do, or how much money you can spend.  He may closely monitor your purchases.  If you do not fall in line with his “orders”, he becomes emotionally absent from the relationship. 

He sends mixed messages, so that you begin to doubt your own thoughts.  Since he doesn’t argue, he seems like such a nice guy, so by default you become the “evil party”.

He has many expectations of you that he does not articulate, so it is impossible to meet them.  He responds by resentment and punishment, leaving you baffled.  He often feels underappreciated.

If forced to talk about feelings, he will often criticize you, invalidate your feelings, insult your appearance.  He gets a false sense of importance by doing this.

Sarcasm is his greatest tool.  He can say what he really means, using veiled humor which is often biting and cruel.  It is an attempt to create insecurity in you.

This guy is a liar.  He likes to “push your buttons”, and he knows exactly how to do it.  He likes to use your vulnerabilities and weaknesses against you.  He often uses exaggeration to drive home a point.  Catastrophic language is his forte, making any little thing take on huge proportions.

He likes to manipulate facts to make himself look good. He also likes to transfer all blame on to you or someone else.  Anything to take the focus off of him.

He will hold you accountable for his unhappiness, and will tell you about it at frequent intervals.

He will often withhold information.  He likes to make life more difficult for others.

He is often jealous of your success, and will make you seem “less important” because of it.

He is stubborn, and trying to get him to do anything may result in a power struggle.  He loves this because making you frustrated gives him a “victory”.

The real truth of the matter is that the passive/aggressive guy is really suffering from low self-esteem, and can only express himself by being meek. This meekness disguises his deep resentment and loathing, making him appear to be the injured party.

His actions are that of an immature child, and in fact, he may refuse to grow up.  It is so much easier to remain a child with a child’s emotions and behaviors. 

If you don’t watch out, you could easily start thinking that there must be something wrong with you.  What are you missing?  This is a trap.  You are not responsible for everything that is wrong in your relationship.  Problems are never one-sided.

This is a personality type that easily becomes a cheater. He seeks the company of other women to sooth his feelings of inadequacy and failure.  He is usually the type that will line up another woman before he tells you that he is through with you.  He needs to do this because his fear of being alone is so great. This is the guy that goes to online dating sites to scope out the possibilities. His online profile will not contain a photo because he is still married or in a committed relationship.  Does your guy shut his computer when you enter the room?  It may not be because he wants to give you his undivided attention.

To him, you are, and always will be, “the enemy”. You will never be able to win at his game.  There is no common ground to be found.

Do you really need this?  Isn’t the hallmark of a healthy relationship open and honest communication?  If you cannot talk about needs and meeting each other’s needs, how could you ever hope to achieve compromise?

Is he willing to seek counseling with you?  If not, you are in a lose/lose situation.  Even if he agrees to counseling, he may refuse to fully participate.  He will use his passivity to refuse to do homework assignments, or to fully participate in conversations, never really willing to do the “work”.  He truly believes that he did you a favor simply by showing up.  In doing this he makes everything “the woman’s fault”.

If you continue down this path it will only eat away at your own self-esteem.  It may be time to let it go and move on.  The decision is entirely up to you.  Just realize that his aggressive side may, at any time, become dangerous.  Keep yourself out of harm’s way.

Continue to follow my blog.  I will next discuss the powerful and power-hungry man and the toxic relationship traits that he may exhibit.  Think being with an alpha-male is a good thing?  Maybe, maybe not!

2 thoughts on “Relationship Advice From Your “Big Sister” Part Five: Passive/Aggressive Behavior

    1. Thanks for joining me on this journey, and for your kind words!


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