Friday, May 2, 2014
More Pain than Fun? Are You Dealing with a Passive Aggressive Partner?
How to Identify Passive Aggression in your Life
A Passive Aggressive Definition
Passive aggressive behavior is defined as the disguised aggression that results in negative behavior. It is a purposeful but sneaky way to express feelings of resistance and anger.
A passive aggressive person is unlikely to communicate displeasure openly, or say ‘No’ to a request outright. Instead, they may simply avoid more interaction with you, or try to evade the problem. They may ‘forget’ to complete a requested task, or deliberately stall or prevent something from happening, making excuses as to why it was not done.
They may also engage in behavior such as trying to turn the situation around to make them the ‘victim’, or blaming others for their own behavior. They may also stop doing positive behaviors they normally engage in, for example cleaning or making you a cup of coffee in the mornings.
Finally, if forced into the job or situation they do not wish to be in, a passive aggressive person may deliberately do a bad job, so as to frustrate so much the people who supervise him, and preventing them to give that task back to him.
Passive Aggressive Men
A relationship with a passive aggressive man can be very difficult to deal with.
He’s the type of guy who will avoid responsibility and conflict head on, choosing to withdraw or avoid or deny that there is a real conflict.
He may appear to go along with your plans, only to withhold something else later to ‘punish’ you for what you ‘made’ him do.
Passive aggressive men will usually do anything to avoid an argument. They may refuse to discuss an issue, or simply walk away.
Ever asked your husband or partner to do the washing, only to end up with a single red sock in with the whites? Perhaps he continually burns dinner, even though he knew how to cook when you were dating? This is classic behavior for a passive aggressive man, who will often continue to perform a task badly, rather than simply tell you they’d rather not be doing it in the first place.
Passive Aggressive Examples
It’s quite possible that you may be in a passive aggressive relationship, and not even realize it. You can identify it, by looking at the multiple indicators of passive aggression.
Ever found yourself on the receiving end of the silent treatment? Rather than speak up and express their feelings, a passive aggressive person will keep quiet and instead resent the other person. You will get avoidance and a complete lack of responses if you press for answers.
As mentioned, a passive aggressive person will do everything possible to put off a task they don’t wish to do. They may promise to get to it later, claim they didn’t know the task had a deadline, or express surprise that you ever asked them in the first place.
A hostile attitude is also common. Often, someone with a passive aggressive personality can assume that you know they’re not happy with you, for whatever reason. Then, if you unintentionally do the same thing again, they can become very grumpy or hostile, without ever explaining why.
The above behavior goes hand in hand with another classic behavior of a passive aggressive person, which is usually complaining of a lack of appreciation or making you responsible for how something impacts them. Often, everything you do is viewed as a sleight, even if you were not intending to hurt them at all consciously.
Finally, if forced into a confrontation, a passive aggressive person can be equally hard to deal with. Ever thought a discussion was over and resolved, only to have the other party throw in one last comeback? This is a common response from such personalities, when they are forced to communicate about the issue they’re trying to avoid. You have probably heard the infamous ‘Well, if you don’t know what you’ve done …’
Passive Aggressive Females
Many cultures have the belief that women should not be aggressive or direct. Many people view passive aggressive behavior as a woman’s domain only. In some cultures, a woman can even be seen as unfeminine if they are openly aggressive or forward.
Some researchers believe that the behavior of passive aggressive females stems right back to early humans. Where men would generally benefit from group efforts (such as hunting together), women would receive little help from unrelated females for their tasks. Females would therefore avoid direct conflict, and instead engage in ‘safer’, passive aggressive behavior. Nowadays, girls often learn this behavior very early, and end up being a passive aggressive wife.
Passive aggressive females will often use complex verbal and non-verbal cues to avoid conflict and disguise her true feelings. You’ve probably heard at least one of these before. This may be as simple as just a smile when asked a question, rather than a direct response. Common phrases used are also “Thank you, maybe …” or “I’ll probably have time”. They may also respond with phrases such as “Oh nothing” or “I’m fine”, when you inquire if they are upset.
Often, a passive aggressive woman will ask you questions that you know you can’t answer ‘correctly’, such as age-old question ‘Does this dress make my butt look fat?’
Passive Aggressive Test
So, what do you do if you’re in a relationship with a passive aggressive partner? Quite possibly, your partner will refuse to discuss this issue, and deny that there is even a problem. Maybe a passive aggressive test is your answer.
A quick search will give you many different versions of online tests designed for exactly this purpose. Although you may find it difficult to persuade your partner to take the test, the results from an impartial website may well help your cause.
You may like to suggest that undertaking the survey will help them know themselves more, and have a better understanding about why people can respond to them negatively. It may also give them new skills on how to deal with difficult interactions, and help them to relieve guilty feelings they find difficult to express.
It’s quite possible that your partner has no idea why people respond negatively to their behavior, or they are already burying the feeling that they may be doing something wrong. Remember, most passive aggressive people are that way through a result of life-long experiences.
Dealing with Passive Aggressive People
So, how can you deal with a passive aggressive partner? Whatever the reason for the behavior, even if you understand it, it’s not easy to be on the receiving end. Here are some tips for dealing with passive aggressive people.
Try not to overreact if they don’t complete a task as promised, or do something wrong, and don’t take the behavior personally. For example, what you may see as someone ignoring you may instead be the result of him or her not knowing how to say no or propose something different.
Try to avoid tit for tat. While it’s completely fine to be upset with your partner, try not to strike back with the same behavior, or even become more overt in your actions in response. This will likely just increase the passive aggressive response to the situation.
Where you can, set firm boundaries, and then reward behaviors that you like, ignoring those you don’t. Rather than asking can a passive aggressive person to change their behavior, model for them what you will and won’t accept. You can do this by rewarding behavior that you like, and simply ignore any situations where they do something you don’t like.
It’s a good idea to have a Plan B in mind for when the other person does not deliver. Then, you can proceed without any problems or confrontations. This takes away the passive aggressive person’s ability to control you or the situation, and invites them to interact more with you if they do want to participate.
How to Deal with Passive Aggressive
When the passive aggressive person is very close to you, the situation can be especially difficult. You may be wondering how to deal with a passive aggressive husband or wife.
As with all passive aggressive people, it’s important to remember not to take their behavior personally. Given the intimacy of the relationship, doing so could quickly become very hurtful. Instead, remember that this is a behavior that has become ingrained over years, and can often be a coping mechanism for your partner.
For example, they may have grown up in a family where expressing negative opinions or emotions were frowned upon. Perhaps someone important in their early life had these traits themselves and this was all they learnt on how to handle disagreements or conflicts.
If your partner is passive aggressive, there are a number of steps you can take to limit the effect. If they give you the silent treatment for example, don’t push the original point, but also don’t ignore them entirely in return.
When you are ignored or brushed aside, you may find yourself reacting more strongly and harshly the more the behavior happens, to the point you find yourself screaming at your partner. Unfortunately, all this will achieve is to make the passive aggressive person withdraw further, and perhaps even give them a justification in their mind for this behavior.
Instead, try reacting calmly. Hear them out on any concerns, but do not take on board things you know aren’t true. Remember to express your own concerns, but resist the urge you will likely feel to be defensive.
It’s important to realize that the only thing you can do is let them know what their behavior is doing to the relationship. You cannot change a passive aggressive partner yourself. They must learn to see beyond their learned responses and see how they are hurting the ones they love.
Of course, you can always get support for yourself, and learn ways of protecting and healing your self from this relationship's damages. Here is more info.
The Background History of "Passive Aggressive Personality Disorder"
In psychology, passive aggressive behavior can be termed passive aggressive personality disorder. The DSM-IV, a sort of manual of mental illness published by the American Psychiatric Association, defines passive aggressive personality disorder as a “pervasive pattern of negativistic attitudes and passive resistance to demands for adequate performance in social and occupational situations”. This means that the patterns of passive aggressive behaviors, such as the ones mentioned in this article and others, are wide-ranging and ongoing.
Colonel William Meninger first clinically defined passive aggressive behavior, during World War II. Today there is some controversy over the disorder and its diagnosis, and these changes are being considered for future versions of the DSM.
Treatment currently recommended include both cognitive and behavioral therapy in a supportive environment, where patients are encourage examining their behaviors in depth. These methods apply to both the passive aggressive person and people who interact with them and experience these behaviors.
Whatever the cause of passive aggressive behavior by your loved one or friend, it can be hurtful and frustrating to deal with on a daily basis. By using some of the techniques described here, you can encourage more positive interactions and responses and avoid situations that can be hurtful or harmful.