Passive-aggressive behavior is not a woman’s thing, nor is it a man’s thing. Both genders can have it and you may have noticed it but was not aware of the signs.
It can be as simple as saying you’re okay when you’re really not. Then perhaps the person will slam a door or throw something in their pathway. You know they are upset, it’s clear, but they won’t say a word. This is also self-sabotage at its best.
Having a passive-aggressive partner is no fun. Fortunately, there’s hope for these individuals. Of course, they must want to get help, otherwise, it won’t work. In the meantime, you need ways in which to cope. Let’s identify a few behaviors so you know how to talk to a passive-aggressive person when it’s time.
Learn the Behavior Patterns
Most passive-aggressive people appear to support their friends, family members, or lovers, but deep down they are not happy. They show this resentment by undermining you or the relationship routinely. If not that, then they:
- Shrug off the comments they make although they know they were hurtful and say they were misunderstood
- They continue to dwell on the conversation, although you have talked about it until you were blue in the face
- If you don’t like being around them or if they seem to make you angry for no reason at all
- You are afraid to say anything to them for fear it may set them off
Sometimes, it’s difficult to determine if the person you know is passive-aggressive, but you’ll learn their patterns. It’s kind of hard to ignore, especially if you’re gut is telling you the same thing.
What Triggers Passive-Aggression?
Knowing the triggers will help you to understand why your husband or boyfriend is repeating these passive-aggressive patterns. Are they afraid to tell you what’s on their mind? If so, this could be their way of getting attention, although it’s negative and hurts you in the process.
Couples who go through this, we find, generally have a few underlying issues behind passive-aggression. Your partner may have low self-esteem or a sense of insecurity or helplessness.
Your spouse may even talk bad about you just to make himself look good. This happens a lot in relationships, especially if one feels he has lost control over a situation. At the same time, they may be jealous of you. For example, men act out when their wives make more money than they do or if they feel inadequate.
Don’t Excuse or Justify Their Behavior
You won’t help them by excusing their behavior or even justifying it with your friends or family. However, you can’t call them out either in public. When confronting a passive-aggressive person, you must be very cautious as you make a stand and make your demands exceptionally clear. Let them know what behaviors you will not tolerate.
Realizing the person you love may not be happy for you or wants what’s best for you can hurt. It’s difficult, but you must learn now how to protect yourself from this behavior.
How to communicate with a passive-aggressive partner? You need to take steps to set boundaries to eliminate further behaviors. Be selective in what you share with this person. Keep your feelings, aspirations, and serious thoughts to yourself.
How to Respond to a Passive-Aggressive Partner
Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott say it’s important to “approach your spouse with vulnerability and empathy. Start a conversation that eventually leads to a discussion and an opportunity to speak truth to your spouse’s abilities and talents, breathing life into those areas where they feel less-than.”
If you’re in the middle of an argument and you see passive-aggression rearing its ugly head, do this:
- Pause. When you see the conversation getting out of hand, just stop. Take a step back and wait until the passive-aggressive person can begin the dialogue again peacefully.
- Talk. Please, don’t assume how the other person is thinking. Do not tell them how they feel. Ask them!
Ending a relationship with a passive-aggressive partner should be your last resort, but sometimes you must. The ideal situation is you and your partner can be secure enough with each other and in the relationship where you can talk about anything calmly and without fear or ruining the relationship. Don’t rehash the past but focus on a happier, healthier marriage.