It’s okay if you don’t want to read this post. Whatever, it’s fine. We’ll feel a letdown, we’ll be hurt… but it’s not your fault. We get it. Go ahead, click on something else if that’s the kind of person you want to be. Really, it’s fine.

Does this style of communication sound familiar to you? Generally speaking, it is an example of passive-aggressive behavior. It’s the kind of thing that most of us find annoying. You would never do anything like this, right?

Not so sure? Are you absolutely positive that you haven’t become a passive-aggressive partner?

Passive-Aggressive Behavior

Passive-aggression behavior result when anyone makes a habit of non-active resistance. It is a form of deception. A person appears passive, at least on the surface. In reality, they are angry or irritated and they know they are being aggressive. It is as if they are getting you to act out their disguised emotions because, ultimately, it is you who ends up displaying anger. Of course, your expression of anger merely provokes more passive-aggression — and the cycle starts again.

The passive-aggressive person may be motivated by:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Codependency
  • Envy and jealousy
  • Shame
passive-aggressive partner

Whatever the underlying cause may be, the result is the same. Healthy communication becomes non-existent. In terms of relationships, this can be the beginning of the end. So, the question remains: Are you absolutely sure that you haven’t become a passive-aggressive partner?

5 Ways to Tell If You Are a Passive-Aggressive Partner

1. Procrastination

When faced with a task, rather than discuss feelings openly, you simply choose inaction. You’ll get to it “later,” you claim. But later never arrives. Such behavior provokes your partner into an angry response and serves as a self-fulfilling “prophecy.”

2. Sulking

Instead of articulating opinions or needs, you tend to withdraw. This can go as far as giving others the dreaded (and dreadful immature) “silent treatment.” Your partner asks if anything is wrong and you usually say, “I’m fine.”

3. Performing Tasks Inefficiently

When you’re not procrastinating, you might be purposely messing up. If asked to do something you don’t want to do (or see as beneath you), the passive-aggressive choice is to give minimal effort — at best. This shatters trust and again, leads to angry reactions.

4. “Fine” and “Whatever”

These are the two most common words in the passive-aggressive vernacular. They are used to shut down important discussions. They also may be combined with very subtle insults or put-downs. Combined, it all adds up to lip service.

5. Lip Service

You know you’re messing up but you cover it with empty promises. You’ll change. You’ll do things differently in the future Meanwhile, you know full well that you have no intention of changing your behavior. The lip service sounds good and that’s good enough for the passive-aggressive partner.

The Negative Impact of Being a Passive-Aggressive Partner

We may think of abuse as something loud, overt, and obvious — perhaps violent. The passive-aggressive can also be abusive. This comes in the form of manipulation and covert hostility. Your partner may not even react at first, thinking it’s best to ignore such behavior. Over time, dealing with a passive-aggressive partner is like living in a cage. You are both trapped but only of you will not even accept the presence of the bars all around them.

passive-aggressive partner

Embrace the Therapy

Whether it is individual or couples counseling, a mediator is desperately needed at this point. If you attend counseling as a couple, the therapist has the benefit of witnessing the relationship dynamics firsthand. However, you may wish to work solely on yourself first. Again, either choice is a giant step toward ending the manipulative and counterproductive cycle of passive-aggression. Let’s talk soon. Please please read more about relationship therapy. Contact us soon for a consultation.