“Are You Too Passive Aggressive?”

I did NOT write this article.  It was written by Rhoberta Shaler and you can find the article here: Are You Too Passive Aggressive?  12 Telltale Signs.   While I agree with much of what she writes in this article, I have trouble with her premise that passive aggressive people will actually recognize themselves if their behavior is pointed out to them.

Are You Too Passive Aggressive?  12 Telltale Signs

Are you pushing people away with confusing and inconsiderate behavior?

How do you know if you are passive-aggressive? Aside from the obvious wake of people who won’t get close to you, there are certain things to think about to determine if your behavior is passive-aggressive according to a life coach.

Good news, people are not passive-aggressive by nature. It’s their communication and conflict management patterns that are, and these are learned. Luckily, those patterns can change with some insights, skills and relationship help. So, if this post helps you see your passive-aggressive behaviors, you will understand why others find it difficult to be around on you, trust you, and respect you as you would like to be trusted and respected. You confuse them. People move away from folks who purposefully confuse them — if they are smart.

In order to make passive-aggressive traits abundantly clear to you, I’m offering you a very straightforward list. You may find it harsh. I hope you find it home-hitting and immediately revealing. If these traits describe you as you usually are, I invite you to sit up and take notice. You likely do not even realize you are doing these things. Once you read them and ponder your own behavior, you may finally understand why you are having difficulties having the relationships you most want, at home and at work.

More good news, the more willing to work on yourself you are, the greater your chances of having the life with others that you crave. When you realize how you are pushing them away by your crazy-making behaviors, you can change things within yourself. When you a trustworthy within yourself, you will be perceived as trustworthy by others.

Although men and women express their passive-aggressive behaviors somewhat differently, generally, you are behaving in passive-aggressive ways if you are regularly:

  1. Unwilling to speak your truth openly, kindly and honestly when asked for your opinion or when asked to do something for someone. How this shows up in communication is being “assertively unassertive.” You say “Yes” (assertive) when you really mean “No way” (unassertive). Then, you let your behavior say “No way” for you. People become confused and mistrusting of you.
  2. Appearing sweet, compliant and agreeable, but are really resentful, angry, petty and envious underneath. You are living with pairs of opposites within, and that is making those around you crazy.
  3. Afraid of being alone and equally afraid of being dependent. This is the case of “I hate you. Don’t leave me.” You fear direct communication because they fear rejection. You then often push away the people you care about because you don’t want to seem in need of support. All the while, you are afraid of being alone and want to control those around you so they won’t leave you. Very confusing!
  4. Complaining that others treat you unfairly frequently. Rather than taking responsibility for stepping up and speaking your truth, you set yourself up as the (innocent) victim. You say others are hard on you, unfair, unreasonable and excessively demanding.
  5. Procrastinating frequently, especially on things you do for others. One way of controlling others is to make them wait. You have lots of excuses why you haven’t been able to get things done. You even blame others for why that is so. It’s amazingly unreasonable, but you do it even though it destroys relationship, damages careers, loses friendships and jobs. And, you tell others how justified you are in being angry because, once again, others treated you unfairly.
  6. Unwilling to give a straight answer. Another way of controlling others is to send mixed messages, ones that leave the other person completely unclear about your thoughts, plans or intentions. Then, you make them feel wrong when you tell them that what they took from your communication was not what you meant. Silly them!
  7. Sulking, withdrawing and pouting. You complain that others are unreasonable and lacking in empathy when they expect you to live up to your promises, obligations, or duties. Passive-aggressive women favor the silent treatment as an expression of their contempt. Passive-aggressive men prefer the deep sigh and shake of the head, while walking away.  Both expressions say “You poor confused person. You’re not worth talking to.” when the real reason for their behavior is that they have not, cannot, or will not take responsibility for their own behavior.
  8. Frequently feeling inadequate but covering it up with superiority, disdain or hostile passivity. Whether you set yourself up to be a self-sabotaging failure — “Why do you have such unrealistic expectations of me?” or a tyrant or goddess incapable of anything less than perfection, “To whom do you think you are speaking, peon?” you are shaking in your boots from fear of competition and being found out as less than perfect. (P.S. You likely picked this one up in childhood!)
  9. Often late and/or forgetful. One way of driving people away is to be thoughtless, inconsiderate and infuriating. And, then, to put the cherry on top, you suggest that it’s unrealistic to expect you to arrive on time, or, in your words, “think of everything.” Being chronically late is disrespectful of others. Supposedly forgetting to do what you have agreed to do is simply demonstrating your lack of trustworthiness. Who wants to be around that for long?
  10. Dragging your feet to frustrate others. Again, a control move somewhat like procrastinating, but the difference is you begin and appear as though you are doing what you said you would do. But, you always have an excuse why you cannot continue or complete the task. You won’t even say when it will be —or even might be — done.
  11. Making up stories, excuses and lies. You are the master of avoidance of the straight answer. You’ll go to great lengths to tell a story, withhold information, or even withhold love and affirmation in your primary relationships. It seems that if you let folks think you like them too much, that would be giving them power. You’d rather be in control by creating a story that seems plausible, gets them off your back, and makes reality look better from your viewpoint.
  12. Constantly protecting yourself so no one will know how afraid you are of being inadequate, imperfect, left, dependent or simply human.

Okay, so you’ve noticed a few things about yourself. What’s next? Get some relationship help — help with the relationship you have with yourself and with others. I’m happy to work with you to help you have the relationship you long for with others. Becoming conscious of your passive-aggressive behaviors is the first step. Changing them to positive-assertive ones is the second. The best way to do that is to work with an expert who can help you see and understand yourself, and your behaviors and how they affect others. Then, you can choose to respond and behave differently.

We all come by our passive-aggressive “stuff” honestly. There’s no blame here. If you read this and see yourself, you have two choices: recognize what’s not working for you and change it, or continue to blow it off as other people’s problems. Choose the first so you can feel more accepted, loved, wanted, appreciated and respected immediately. You cannot do it any younger!

This entry was posted in codependency, covert abuse, emotional abuse, marriage, passive aggressive, passive aggressive behavior, passive aggressive husband, relationships and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to “Are You Too Passive Aggressive?”

  1. WritesinPJ's says:

    Not sure anymore that I agree with this: “people are not passive-aggressive by nature. It’s their communication and conflict management patterns that are, and these are learned”.
    I wonder if the study of twins ever came across any passive aggressive traits coming up in identical twins raised in entirely different homes.

    I don’t agree with this either: “protecting yourself so no one will know how afraid you are ”
    I don’t experience a fear response when I call him out. I see him get irritated I tend to think there’s more arrogance or pride at work there.

    And this part? “Okay, so you’ve noticed a few things about yourself. What’s next?”
    My husband has read Scott Wetzler’s book. He’s read Inability to Apologize, Why Does He Do That, and various articles about passive aggressive dynamics. He’s openly admitted seeing this about himself. But when the rubber meets the road, right in the moment of the passive aggressive dynamic rearing itself in action, he resents being held accountable, and he seems as stuck as ever in reeling out his justifications for his thinking and behavior.

    Passive aggressive men can be functionally dysfunctional quite successfully with many people in many relationships, as long as it doesn’t require intimate connection and commitment.

  2. newshoes123 says:

    I remembered something last night and I thought I would share it with you all. When I first found online what the problem was with my marriage, I didn’t believe it but the more I read about passive aggressiveness and the ramifications and everything else that went along with it, I told my then husband. Once he digested this information, he was upset, he denied it, he felt defeated, he was remorseful, he was sad, he said he would try harder, promised to love me better, cried, apologized, etc…. I have to give it to him he did try. But it would only last so long. I truly believe that you cannot change the fundamental part of yourself that is so deep that nothing and I mean nothing, will ever make a difference. I know that you evolve, people make choices to be a certain way or another, but the changes unless it comes after something quite dramatic or traumatic are superficial in the case of a passive aggressive. From my experience, and it’s been a long time that I’ve been with this man, along with his family who I have come to realize all have the same long standing passive aggressiveness, there is no real change. They will subtly abuse you where you think to yourself “did that just happen” or “what just happened” and you feel awful, you can’t pinpoint why though.

    Even if they do want to change, they cannot truly commit, it’s too difficult, the things they must face (ie. their upbringing or abusive past) in order to change are not something that they can address without professional help. In the case of my ex pah, he got professional help several times, thought he had dealt with all the crap from his childhood but he carried a grudge in his heart so deep that nothing can take it away and he continues the abuse towards the ones he claims to love.

    Unfortunately for him, he’s lost me. I will never be able to forget what’s happened, how he was able to take a nice strong lady who loved him unconditionally and only wanted his happiness and used her to release his demons. I am no longer that nice strong lady, but I did turn out pretty good, I’m still nice, maybe too nice sometimes but I’m liking myself more now than I did when I married him :) and certainly I’m much more like the woman I used to be now that I’ve left and started to work on myself than I was married to my ex pah. I’m no longer the stressed out, sad, frustrated, screaming woman (although she comes out sometimes when the ex pah starts his shenanigans again) that I was married.

    Living with a pa person is like playing roulette, wherever the balls lands…. you never know what you’re gonna get. I’m no longer willing to bet my life and my kids lives on a pa person. No matter how much they are sorry or claim they will change.

    • wornout says:

      So well said newshoes! I completely agree. And how totally true and sad…especially the part about him taking someone who loved him unconditionally and only wanted his happiness and then using her to release his demons on. Hits the nail on the head. And I 100 percent agree with you, they don’t really change. It’s the core of who they are.:(

  3. pawife62 says:

    I am just so confused! Last Friday I told him I thought we needed to be apart for at least a time. I needed a break. The anger and the silent treatments are getting to me! So, he immediately was ready to find a place to live, but this is going to be challenging financially. Sunday we talked and he was promising me that we could make things work but in the end, he basically said that my negativity was what caused his. sigh. So, I have just been silent, waiting. Tonight, we took our daughters out for one of their birthdays and things went ok. When we got home, one of my daughters wanted her sister to read a story but my husband had music playing, so I said, I’m going to turn this down while she reads it..and he got mad. seriously?! it was part of the birthday celebration and he was already over it all. give me a break. I’m ready to be done with this…and yet feel so indecisive. What am I doing?! I had a rental very possibly lined up but couldn’t do anything with it until Monday…then I didn’t call the man back because I thought he really wanted to work on things. I keep asking myself what is really normal? how much can I really expect? Am I asking too much? seriously

    • Tish says:

      The circular logic of his mindfu*ckery will give you vertigo!

      If you have the means, leave. Trust me… It will hurt, but you will hurt 100-times less than staying with this madness…

      If you must remain, please take care of yourself, and your children.

      Best to you.

  4. Tish says:

    Clearly, this author has not met my exhusand.

    Here’s my conclusion of the behavior: It benefits him (and most PAs). So why change?
    The only thing that works for these people is to sit them on the curb for the trash pick-up.

    Mean? No, karma.

    But…then after you have the audacity to want a life free from crazy-making, expect them to also become the BIGGEST VICTIMS ever!!!!! I tend to have little sympathy for people who only feign “change” when someone who they professed to love, decides to leave them and not tolerate further abuse by them.

    Man, my exhusband could have won an academy award for his role as “divorced husband.” When it was done, it was all my fault, he was just a “hard-working” man trying to provide for his family, and his ungrateful wife just lost her mind one day, filed for divorce, and is now taking half of his paycheck for child support, while he survives on “Oodles of noodles…” (he conveniently neglected the years of passive-aggressive abuse, gaslighting, financial abuse, withholding intimacy, and just plan coo-coo-for-cocopuff behavior, which caused physical and psychological illness, exacerbated my PPD , leading to a suicide attempt!)

    But none of that was HIS fault…I was “just crazy…” (yet, never had a psychiatric diagnosis with my previous pregnancy nor at any other time in my life, until my MARRIED HIM..)

    Kiss my ass..

    Honestly, I. Dont. Care.

    So now, he’s crying (but not really…as he’s also badmouthing me to his friends, family and new gf…but not really, she’s just “the nanny” to kids he only sees 1 night a week…don’t overthink it, folks..), and continues to tell the world how much he loves me, yet, can’t stand me…

    Where was this concern when I informed, begged, pleaded with him for 10 years….to open up to me?

    Where was this concern when instead of acting like an adult, would hide, and tamper with my things (eg. steal my cellphone, turn the clock BACK to make be believe it was earlier than actual) as a means to hurt me?

    Where was this concern when instead of accepting that the divorce was in large, due to his maladjusted and abusive behavior, opted to cancel my debit card, and insurance (life, health and auto) WITHOUT INFORMING ME (and remained shocked that I would not want to remain married to him…)?

    Where was this concern when instead of interacting with me intimately and sexually, would withhold both of the aforementioned, and spend more time making up excuses for his withholding than addressing the issues?

    And I won’t even tell you his antics during the divorce, which actually resulted in his attny settling IN FAVOR OF ME, just to get rid of HIM!!!!

    Cliff notes: He never argued for custody and accepted visitation at the FIRST MEDIATION, all of our debt (major) was settled at first mediation, distribution of property was settled at first mediation…yet…He spent the next 9 months acting a complete ass, running up my legal fees and getting on everyone’s nerves… His lawyer spent more time sending him complaints from MY ATTNY. to stop acting like a 10 year old throwing a damn tantrum, than any actual legal defense.

    Sad, actually.

    I also find it ironic that many will neglect the myriad personality disorders intrinsic in passive aggression (BDP, NPD, et al). So you really think someone who benefits from the lack of empathy gives a flying crap about changing?


    It’s YOU who needs to change. And if you do not, then it is YOU who is the problem. And YOU really can’t change, because then it’s your CHANGING that’s the problem….

    *yet…they rarely end the relationship.

    My ex-husband when asked “If you’re so miserable, why am I DIVORCING YOU?” said,

    “Because I believe in marriage.”

    No…he believed that he needed a target for the misplaced anger towards his borderline, abusive mother.

    You can’t fix that…


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