Passive Aggressive, Understandind

Four Ways of Understanding Passive Aggressive Behaviors, while Keeping your Sanity!

How can you pursue this relationship without being hurt? There are a lot of hidden assumptions, suppositions and emotions underneath every response.

Here is a short list of indicators to help you be aware of what is going on:

1.- The Hidden Anger aspect:

People displaying passive aggressive behavior carry a lot of repressed anger from their childhood, now projected on the people around them. It appears as sarcastic comments, derisive opinions and blaming other people for their own shortcomings.

Please, look at any annoying behavior, even when framed as normal response, as "a behavior done with direct impact on me".

Recognize your emotions: is it anger? or sadness? or disappointment? and remain calm and poised. Control your own breathing. Don't let him get the best of you. PA people begin to win when the shouting starts and you become defensive and angry at their inconsiderate behavior.
Instead, describe his behavior, and then talk about how it creates a problem. For instance, you might say, "When we are discussing something and you make a sarcastic remark, it blocks the conversation and then I'm not able to tell you what you're really asking. It would be helpful to me if you would tell me directly what you're thinking and feeling. That way, I can respond and perhaps we can even make things better."

It's very important to become aware of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors provoked by the reticent silence of passive aggression. Even if you ask for direct talk, you still could get denial or silence as your response.

Refusing to talk clearly with you plays a part in passive aggression, so you need to expect some degree of silence covering up his real intentions behind the sneaky comments expressed in a casual way, or his procrastinating behavior.

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2.- The Insecurity aspect

How can you manage this behavior? It appears as manipulation, describing things differently according to the recipient, backstabbing and in general not owning the problematic behavior. PA persons feel that they are the victims, and that their behavior is rational because it is done in self-defense. Confronting this behavior in a firm but caring way, with some proof (perhaps keeping a journal of what was promised or said to you) is necessary.

3.- The Failure of Appreciation aspect

It makes very difficult for them to see life as a “half full glass” proposition. If there is a way to describe their situation as negative, they will exploit every part of reality able to be construed as a miserable situation. They love piling up misery after misery, rejection after rejection! Positive aspects will be thoroughly ignored or rejected. Of course, their misery is never their fault, and probably you or someone else needs to be blamed….

You need to be sure of your own accomplishments, and be proud of them, before they are diminished by the “misery framing.” Find a way of reminding yourself of how good you are, before it’s too late and you begin to accept the misery framing.

Always remember not to let this person steal your joy and make you believe you are not a good person, only because he feels miserable. Stay focused on the things that matter to you the most, and give up the pretense of being able to solve his problems.

4.- The Fear of Life aspect,

It goes hand on hand with a general lack of trust on others. Passive Aggressive persons resist getting near of others just because they assume that others are not worthy of their trust, thus behaving with suspicion, which makes other people act with prevention, which in turn fulfills the prophecy. As a result of this way of thinking, other people (including you) are less deserving of love and appreciation, don’t deserve respect and then can be ignored with impunity.

You need to deal with this aspect by generating your own circle of friends or relatives, who will confirm what you believe is true. Be persistent in taking care of what you value, so you can receive confirmation from your own trusted sources of appreciation.


Don’t expect or want anything important, fundamental, or vital from Passive Aggressive people, at least at the beginning. As much detached you can be from the final outcome of any shared project, the more protected you are from manipulations that would disappoint you.

You can count on your own resources, but do not depend on the Passive Agressive person for financial, emotional or companionship issues. If you could get severely hurt if disappointed, this is the weak point where you are going to be hit.

Now, this looks like a lot of work, right? Indeed, it is. But remember, you want to keep your head clear and your self-esteem intact, at the same time entering into one of the most difficult relationships in life: having an intimate relationship with a Passive Agressive person. Perhaps getting in touch with other people dealing with this challenge could help a lot.

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