Warning Signs of Passive-Aggressive Behavior in a Relationship and How to Deal with It

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Passive-aggressive behavior is probably not new to you.

You must have experienced unresolved feelings after someone completely ignored you. When passive-aggressive behavior rears its ugly head in a relationship, it can have disastrous effects.

So what is this unwanted treatment, and what are its signs? Most importantly, how would you deal with it before it shatters your relationship?

What is Passive-Aggressive Behavior?

Passive-aggressive behavior is an indirect expression of anger or hostility. People who are passive-aggressive will take their time to do tasks. They may also become stubborn and refuse to do as told. A passive-aggressive person does things to get results that you wouldn’t want. The aim of this is to irritate those who anger them.

Why People Use Passive-Aggressive Behavior?

Why might your partner suddenly become passive-aggressive? He or she may have a mix of social and personal reasons for throwing sullen tantrums.

First of all, expressing anger isn’t socially acceptable. People learn from a young age that it’s necessary to ‘hide’ feelings so that they can get along. Also, it’s an indirect form of self-expression. It’s just simpler to give a cold shoulder than to communicate displeasure in a thoughtful, healthy way.

Furthermore, it’s a subtle method of getting revenge. Your partner may forget to turn up at a party because the absence would embarrass you. Another reason people choose to behave like this because it’s convenient. Your partner usually attends to your requests to fix leaky drain pipes or take out the trash. However, feeling irritated about work may provoke the cold shoulder.

Effects of Passive-Aggressive Behavior

Passive-aggressive behavior can create rifts in relationships. It creates a fear of closeness and leaves the ignored party feeling isolated.

This behavior may affect the mental health of children as well. Kids may see it as normal and treat their friends the same way.

Furthermore, the tension and mixed messages they pick up may cause them to develop anxiety issues. They may fear to extend their trust to others.

Signs of Passive-Aggressive Behavior in A Relationship

How would you know that your partner is ignoring you, or just too busy to speak to you? Here are some ways to tell the difference.

1.. The Cold Shoulder

First of all, if your partner intends to ignore you, he or she would do so over a period. He or she would usually speak to you once a free moment is available.

2. Snide Remarks

Your partner will also use sarcasm. For example, he or she would say, ‘Thanks for doing the dishes,‘ when you didn’t do them yet. He or she does this to force you to behave in the way they want.



3. Put-downs

Another way your partner may show passive-aggressive behavior is to put you down in front of others. He or she seeks to gain the upper hand in the relationship by making you feel small.

4. Backhanded compliments

You’ll know that your partner’s sarcastic when he or she says, ‘You look so slim in that pair of jeans,‘ when about half a dozen other people feel otherwise. This lack of support can create deep rifts in your relationship.

5. Not Being Supportive

Finally, he or she may refuse to help you in reaching your goals. If becoming a chef’s your dream, he or she may tell you how bad your cooking is.

Manage Passive-Aggressive Behavior Before it Ruins Your Relationship

All’s not lost when you notice passive-aggressive behavior. Use the following strategies to control it before it creates kinks in your relationship.

First of all, refuse to accommodate the behavior. Don’t practice tit for tat and behave passive aggressively like your partner, or there’s no room for communication.

Then, point out your partner’s anger in a simple, matter of fact way. Say ‘It seems that you’re mad at me because I couldn’t come home for dinner today.’ Do this without making any judgment that will prolong the quarrel.

Also, your partner will deny that he or she is angry, but you shouldn’t argue with him or her in the heat of the moment. Leave him or her with the idea that you understand her anger and that you’re ready to discuss it. This approach not only creates room for discussion but also shows your partner that he or she cannot become passive-aggressive to solve issues.

In all, passive-aggressive behavior doesn’t work wonders for a relationship, but you can limit it if you recognize its signs.

By Michelle L.

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2 Comments

  1. Jan Veiga June 9, 2017 at 3:09 am - Reply

    Passive aggressive people are just bullies in a silent form. With all PA personalities, there is usually a big ego attached. If you think you can change it or accommodate them, you are mistaken. You cannot change another person. Walk away from them. They are emotional vampires who will suck you dry,

  2. xyz2352 June 11, 2017 at 3:11 pm - Reply

    A sincere confession…
    I am a passive aggressive male

    Before we were married, I bowed, against my wife’s wishes, to my my mother’s and sister’s directions to have a “formal” wedding. They invited cousins, aunts, and others to the wedding.Nobody on my wife’s side were able to attend.

    We were married in a church that was not of my wife’s choosing. I chose a local church that we had no history of attending. My wife wanted to marry in the church that we attended.

    On our honeymoon, I squealed “gotta have room, give me room” in the bed may wife paid for. The item that crowded me turned out to be a pillow.

    My wife wanted to go to New York our honeymoon, and I said no. Said it was too hot there. We went to south Florida instead, were the heat was even hotter.

    During the honeymoon, my wife wanted to go to a famous water show that she attended when she was young. I did not want to wait one day for the rain to stop so we could see it.

    My wife asked me to drive her back from an outpatient surgery. I bailed at the last minute and she had to drive herself.

    My wife had another outpatient surgery and I went home to eat during the surgery. I was not there if something happened.

    She was there for me when I needed her for medical issues.

    We bought a lesser house together, while my wife found a much better home in a different neighborhood that was a better buy financially.

    I made the decision to fix the house up nice, when my wife’s idea was to just paint it and move in. Her idea would have been the most prudent.

    My wife had separate bank accounts, and I made us consolidate, against her wishes, the multiple accounts. I now have separate accounts for various monies.

    My wife wants a regular drive way (like everyone else) into our house, and I insist on a pigtail into the home. We have had the pigtail for years.

    My wife wants a cover for our cars, but I say we cannot afford (see below)

    I insist we buy a piece of property. My wife tells me how much we should pay. I pay 2 1/2 times as much. In another, I buy a piece of property that she does not want to buy. I insist and purchase anyway.

    In the above transactions, she tells me it is time for her turn to make a decision. I say yes it is, but am going to do it anyway because it is a good deal.

    Ate with my wife and daughter zero times, but ate with many family members at the table a lot of times.

    Daughter baked me my favorite cake, but did not taste it.

    Wife baked me a birthday cake, and I did not touch it.

    At a local restaurant, I was rude by making out the food was bad. Showing out that I did not want to be there.

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