What do Passive Aggressive behavior and domestic abuse have in common? When someone hits you or yells at you, you know that you’ve been abused. It is obvious and easily identified. Covert abuse is subtle and veiled or disguised by actions that appear to be normal, at times loving and caring. The passive aggressive person is a master at covert abuse and, as a result, can be considered an abuser.
Passive aggressive behavior stems from an inability to express anger in a healthy way.
A person’s feelings may be so repressed that they don’t even realize they are angry or feeling resentment. A passive aggressive can drive people around them crazy and seem sincerely dismayed when confronted with their behavior. Due to their own lack of insight into their feelings, the passive aggressive often feels that others misunderstand them or, are holding them to unreasonable standards if they are confronted about their behavior.
Common Passive Aggressive Behaviors
Ambiguity: I think of the proverb, “Actions speak louder than words” when it comes to the passive aggressive and how ambiguous they can be. They rarely mean what they say or say what they mean. The best judge of how a passive aggressive feels about an issue is how they act. Normally they don’t act until after they’ve caused some kind of stress by their ambiguous way of communicating.
Forgetfulness: The passive aggressive avoids responsibility by “forgetting.” How convenient is that? There is no easier way to punish someone than forgetting that lunch date or your birthday or, better yet, an anniversary.
Blaming: They are never responsible for their actions. If you aren’t to blame then it is something that happened at work, the traffic on the way home or the slow clerk at the convenience store. The passive aggressive has no faults, it is everyone around them who has faults and that person must be punished for those faults.
Lack of Anger: The passive aggressive may never express healthy anger. There are some who are happy with whatever you want. On the outside anyway! The passive aggressive person may have been taught, as a child, that anger is unacceptable. Hence they go through life stuffing their anger, being accommodating and then sticking it to you in an under-handed way.
Fear of Dependency: From Scott Wetlzer, author of Living With The Passive Aggressive Man. “Unsure of his autonomy and afraid of being alone, he fights his dependency needs, usually by trying to control you. He wants you to think he doesn’t depend on you, but he binds himself closer than he cares to admit. Relationships can become battle grounds, where he can only claim victory if he denies his need for your support.”
Fear of Intimacy: The passive aggressive often can’t trust. Because of this, they guard themselves against becoming intimately attached to someone. A passive aggressive will have sex with you but they rarely make love to you. If they feel themselves becoming attached, they may punish you by withholding sex.
Obstructionism: Do you want something from your passive aggressive spouse? If so, get ready to wait for it or maybe even never get it. It is important to them that you don’t get your way. They will act as if giving you what you want is important to them but, rarely will they follow through with the giving. It is very confusing to have someone appear to want to give to you but never follow through. You can begin to feel as if you are asking too much which is exactly what they want to you to feel.
Victimization: The passive aggressive feels they are treated unfairly. If you get upset because he or she is constantly late, they take offense because; in their mind, it was someone else’s fault that they were late. He/she is always the innocent victim of your unreasonable expectations, an over-bearing boss or that slow clerk at the convenience store.
Procrastination: The passive aggressive person believes that deadlines are for everyone but them. They do things on their own time schedule and be damned anyone who expects differently from them.
The Passive Aggressive and You
The passive aggressive needs to have a relationship with someone who can be the object of his or her hostility. They need someone whose expectations and demands they can resist. The passive aggressive is usually attracted to co-dependents, people with low self-esteem and those who find it easy to make excuses for other people’s bad behaviors.
The biggest frustration in being in a relationship with a passive aggressive is that they never follow through on agreements and promises. They will dodge responsibility for anything in the relationship while at the same time making it look as if they are pulling their own weight and are a very loving partner. The sad thing is, you can be made to believe that you are loved and adored by a person who is completely unable to form an emotional connection with anyone.
The passive aggressive ignores problems in the relationship, sees things through their own skewed sense of reality and if forced to deal with the problems will completely withdraw from the relationship and you. They will deny all evidence of wrongdoing, distort what you know to be real to fit their own agenda, minimize or lie so that their version of what is real seems more logical. This is why divorcing a passive aggressive can and often does lead to a high conflict situation with long-term negative consequences for all involved.
The passive aggressive will say one thing, do another, and then deny ever saying the first thing. They don’t communicate their needs and wishes in a clear manner, expecting their spouse to read their mind and meet their needs. After all, if their spouse truly loved them he/she would just naturally know what they needed or wanted. The passive aggressive withholds information about how he/she feels, their ego is fragile and can’t take the slightest criticism so why let you know what they are thinking or feeling?
God forbid they disclose that information and you criticize them.
Confronting the Passive Aggressive
Beware, if you confront the passive aggressive they will most likely sulk, give you the silent treatment or completely walk away leaving you standing there to deal with the problem alone.
There are two reasons for confronting the passive aggressive. One, if done correctly you may be able to help them gain insight into the negative consequences of their behaviors. Two, even if that doesn’t happen, it will at least give you the opportunity to talk to him/her in a frank way about how his/her behavior affects you. If nothing else you can get a few things “off your chest.”
Below are 8 constructive ways to confront someone with passive aggressive behavior
- Make your feelings the subject of the conversation and not their bad behaviors. Use “I” statements and not “you” statements. More than likely you will get a more productive response from the passive aggressive spouse if you make the communication about the marriage and how you are feeling.
- Don’t attack their character. You may feel angry and want to strike out but, doing so will only cause the passive aggressive to withdraw and refuse to engage in communication.
- Make sure you have privacy. This is only common sense. Do not call out your passive aggressive spouse in front of others.
Shaming someone never gets positive results.
- Confront them about one behavior at a time, don’t bring up everything at once. You may have a laundry list of grievances but that doesn’t mean you have to communicate the entire list in one sitting. Remember, the passive aggressive fears conflict so, take it one grievance at a time to help them feel comfortable.
- If they need to retreat from the conversation allow them to do it with dignity. Tell them you understand their need to leave the conversation but, before they do you’d like to agree on another date and time to continue discussing the topic.
- Have a time limit, confrontation should not stretch on indefinitely.
- If they try to turn the table on you, do not defend your need to have an adult conversation about your feelings. Having dealt with the passive aggressive you know that one of their main tactics is to try and turn the tables. Be on the lookout for that to happen and instead of becoming defensive insist that they stay on topic.
- Be sure they understand that you care about what happens to them, that you love them and that you are not trying to control them. You are only trying to get to the bottom of your disagreements and make the relationship better.
Nothing is more important than helping the passive aggressive to feel safe in engaging in what they will view as a conflict.
Inside the Passive Aggressive’s Head
The passive aggressive has a real desire to connect with you emotionally but their fear of such a connection causes them to be obstructive and engage in self-destructive habits. They will be covert in their actions and it will only move them further from their desired relationship with you.
The passive aggressive never looks internally and examines their role in a relationship problem. They have to externalize it and blame others for having shortcomings. To accept that they have flaws would be tantamount to emotional self-destruction. They live in denial of their self-destructive behaviors, the consequences of those behaviors and the choices they make that causes others so much pain.
The passive aggressive objectifies the object of their desire. You are to be used as a means to an end. Your only value is to feed the passive aggressive’s emotional needs. You are not seen as a person with feelings and needs but as an extension of them. They care for you the way they care for a favorite chair. You are there for their comfort and pleasure and are of use as long as you fill their needs.
The passive aggressive wants the attention and attachment that comes with loving someone but fear losing their independence and sense of self to their spouse. They want love and attention but avoid it out of fear of it destroying them. You have to be kept at arm’s length and if there is an emotional attachment it is tenuous at best.
The only hope for change in the way they deal with relationship issues is if they are able to acknowledge their shortcomings and contributions to the marital problems. Facing childhood wounds, looking internally instead of externally to find the cause of problems in their life will help them form deeper emotional attachments with a higher sense of emotional safety.
By Cathy Meyer
- What Type of Woman Marries a Passive Aggressive Man?
- Is Your Husband or Wife a Passive Aggressive?
- Passive Aggressive Behaviors in Marriage
- Divorcing a Passive Aggressive? Beware His Aggression!
- What You Need to Know About Anger and Passive Aggressive Behavior
- Why Do Passive Aggressive People Usually Play the Victim Role?
- Wondering How Your Passive Aggressive Got That Way?
- Married to a Passive Aggressive: 4 Reasons You Feel So Lonely
- Is Your Passive Aggressive Husband Withholding Sex?
Theories abound offering explanations as to why many members of this younger generation seems less equipped to deal with conflict and are so easily “offended.” There is the coddling parents hypothesis. The social isolation hypothesis. The Machiavellian hypothesis. And the triumph of feelings hypothesis, to name a few.
In a recent op-ed for Detroit News, millennial Kaylee McGhee offered an insightful explanation of her own:
“Millennials are in a constant contest to one-up each other in showing tolerance, and when anyone or anything stands in their way, they collapse into temper tantrums.
And the truth is, none of us should be surprised. My generation is a symptom of the society past generations have built — one characterized by immediate gratification, the breakdown of a moral code and the victim mentality. It’s the wreckage of past generations’ experiments with post-modern liberalism, and millennials are trying to wade through it.
Millennials are desperately searching for answers to questions they’re afraid to ask. And because our predecessors failed to defend the moral code that once provided clarity, my generation replaced it with the morality of political correctness. The result is the snowflake-ification of a generation.” (emphasis mine)
This is a sophisticated response, and it relates to the thesis of Alasdair MacIntyre’s seminal philosophical work After Virtue. In the book, the Notre Dame professor posits the theory that the Aristotelian moral framework that had existed in the West for over two thousand years was essentially destroyed during the Enlightenment, and efforts to unify it with a coherent Enlightenment philosophy failed, though philosophers failed to realize this.
The result was that man still largely practiced and observed traditional moral values for generations, but did so largely lacking any understanding of the ideas that underpinned these values.
MacIntyre, whose book was published in 1981 (the dawn of the Millennial Generation), concluded with an argument suggesting that man, almost entirely unbeknownst to him, had entered a dark age in which moral clarity and consensus were virtually impossible:
“If my account of our moral condition is correct [one characterized by moral incoherence and unsettlable moral disputes in the modern world], we ought to conclude that for some time now we too [like Ancient Rome] have reached [a] turning point. What matters at this stage is the construction of local forms of community within which civility and the intellectual and moral life can be sustained through the new dark ages which are already upon us. And if the tradition of the virtues was able to survive the horrors of the last dark ages, we are not entirely without grounds for hope. This time however the barbarians are not waiting beyond the frontiers; they have already been governing us for quite some time. And it is our lack of consciousness of this that constitutes part of our predicament. We are waiting not for a Godot, but for another—doubtless very different—St. Benedict.”
Alas, St. Benedict has not yet appeared. The result is that possibly a majority of an entire generation, with the help of the state, is embracing a new system of values built on an entirely different, and very shaky, moral and philosophical foundation.
by Jon Miltimore
While most people imagine depression equals “really sad,” unless you’ve experienced depression yourself, you might not know it goes so much deeper than that. Depression expresses itself in many different ways, some more obvious than others. While some people have a hard time getting out of bed, others might get to work just fine — it’s different for everyone.
To find out how depression shows itself in ways other people can’t see, we asked our mental health community to share one thing people don’t realize they’re doing because they have depression.
Here’s what they had to say:
1. “In social situations, some people don’t realize I withdraw or don’t speak much because of depression. Instead, they think I’m being rude or purposefully antisocial.” — Laura B.
2. “I struggle to get out of bed, sometimes for hours. Then just the thought of taking a shower is exhausting. If I manage to do that, I am ready for a nap. People don’t understand, but anxiety and depression is exhausting, much like an actual physical fight with a professional boxer.” — Juli J.
3. “Agreeing to social plans but canceling last minute. Using an excuse but really you just chickened out. It makes you think your friends don’t actually want to see you, they just feel bad. Obligation.” — Brynne L.
4. “Hiding in my phone. Yes, I am addicted to it, but not like other people. I don’t socialize, I play games or browse online stores to distract myself from my negative thoughts. It’s my safe bubble.” — Eveline L.
5. “Going to bed at 9 p.m. and sleeping throughout the night until 10 or 11 a.m.” — Karissa D.
6. “Isolating myself, not living up to my potential at work due to lack of interest in anything, making self-deprecating jokes. I’ve said many times before, ‘I laugh, so that I don’t cry.’ Unfortunately, it’s all too true.” — Kelly K.
7. “When I reach out when I’m depressed it’s ’cause I am wanting to have someone to tell me I’m not alone. Not because I want attention.” — Tina B.
8. “I don’t like talking on the phone. I prefer to text. Less pressure there. Also being anti-social. Not because I don’t like being around people, but because I’m pretty sure everyone can’t stand me.” — Meghan B.
9. “I overcompensate in my work environment… and I work front line at a Fitness Centre, so I feel the need to portray an ‘extra happy, bubbly personality.’ As soon as I walk out the doors at the end of the day, I feel myself ‘fall.’ It’s exhausting… I am a professional at hiding it.” — Lynda H.
10. “The excessive drinking. Most people assume I’m trying to be the ‘life of the party’ or just like drinking in general. I often get praised for it. But my issues are much deeper than that.” — Teresa A.
11. “Hiding out in my room for hours at a time watching Netflix or Hulu to distract my mind or taking frequent trips to the bathroom or into another room at social gatherings because social situations sometimes get to me.” — Kelci F.
12. “Saying I’m tired or don’t feel good… they don’t realize how much depression can affect you physically as well as emotionally.” — Lauren G.
13. “Answering slowly. It makes my brain run slower, and I can’t think of the answers to the questions as quickly. Especially when someone is asking what I want to do – I don’t really want anything. I isolate myself so I don’t have to be forced into a situation where I have to respond because it’s exhausting.” — Erin W.
14. “Sometimes I’ll forget to eat all day. I can feel my stomach growling but don’t have the willpower to get up and make something to eat.” — Kenzi I.
15. “I don’t talk much in large groups of people, especially when I first meet them. I withdraw because of my anxiety and depression. People think I’m ‘stuck up.’ I’m actually scared out of my mind worrying they don’t like me, or that they think I’m ‘crazy’ by just looking at me…” — Hanni W.
16. “Not keeping in touch with anyone, bad personal hygiene and extremely bad reactions to seemingly trivial things.” — Jenny B.
17. “Being angry, mean or rude to people I love without realizing it in the moment. I realize my actions and words later and feel awful I had taken out my anger on people who don’t deserve it.” — Christie C.
18. “Purposely working on the holidays so I can avoid spending time with family. It’s overwhelming to be around them and to talk about the future and life so I avoid it.” — Aislinn G.
19. “My house is a huge mess.” — Cynthia H.
20. “I volunteer for everything, from going to PTO meetings to baby sitting to cleaning someone else’s house for them. I surround myself with situations and obligations that force me to get out of bed and get out of the house because if I’m not needed, I won’t be wanted.” — Carleigh W.
21. “Overthinking everything and over-planning. The need to make everything perfect and everyone happy, even if it’s taking all my energy. As if validation from someone else will make it all better. Sometimes I start out on high power, then just crash and don’t even enjoy what I’ve spent weeks/months planning. And no one will see me for months after, as I retreat into my safe bubble.” — Vicki G.
22. “I smile all the time even though I don’t really want to, but I do it because I don’t feel like I’m allowed to be sad when I’m with other people. I also do whatever it takes to make someone else happy because since I don’t feel happy most of the time, it just makes me feel a little better seeing someone else happy. I also isolate myself even though sometimes I really just want someone around.” — Wendy E.
23. “People don’t realize I say sorry before I even think about expressing any opinions because that’s how worthless I feel. I’m apologizing for feeling anything about anything because that’s how little I feel I matter. They don’t just know I feel like apologizing for even breathing in their general direction. I even say I’m sorry before asking to use the bathroom no matter how long I’ve held it. I feel like a burden for biological needs I have no control over.” — Amy Y.
24. “Neglecting to do basic things like laundry, not wanting to cook a meal or eat. They think I’m being lazy.” — Rebecca R.
25. “Sometimes I’ll go days without speaking to anybody. People tend to believe I’m ignoring them on purpose when really I am just lost within myself. I don’t mean to seem like I’m pushing people away. Some days it’s hard when my thoughts consume me and when I can’t find the motivation to do simple things that others do on a daily basis.” — Alyssa A.
26. “People don’t realize I can’t say no without feeling guilty. I have to have a good enough reason for everything I do. I guess it’s customary to try and convince someone to change their answer, but people have no idea how much it takes for me to say no in the first place. I feel worthless so much that I feel guilty for even thinking of putting my needs or wants first. Then I just feel like a doormat when I cave into the pressure. It’s a never-ending cycle.” — Amy Y.
27. “I push away/cut off everyone who I care about because I can’t bear to be hurt by them! Everyone just thinks I’m mean and anti-social.” — Tina R.
28. “Going for late night walks by myself. My depression keeps me awake at night and my thoughts can get so overwhelming I feel physically crowded inside. Late night walks help me quiet the screaming in my head.” — Lynnie L.
29. “I have often been accused of having ‘no sense of humor.’ So wrong. Before depression took over my life I smiled and laughed as much as the next person. Now, having lived with depression for over 15 years, the humor I find in a joke or situation is rarely visible on my face or heard in my laugh. I feel humor, but it’s just too much effort to express it. I don’t have the energy.” — Martha W.
30. “Keeping the house dark is a comfort thing for me. People always point it out, like, ‘No wonder you’re so depressed. You need to let some light in.’ Darkness in my living space makes me feel comfortable, almost like I’m not alone. Good days, I’m all about the sunshine!” — Michelle T.
by Sarah Schuster
Empaths are extremely powerful people, and I wouldn’t recommend that you mess with one. Empaths are excellent at reading body language and they are the best mind detectives!
Empaths are born with a gift; they have the ability to feel others feelings. Although this is handy when you need someone to talk to, this isn’t their primary gift. Empaths are experts on human psychology by second nature. This gives them to ability to be able to tell when someone is faking, lying, or simply not who they said they were. Some nice people have cruel intentions, let’s face it. Empaths just have the ability to recognize this.
This is a good article to help you evaluate if perhaps you should move on to greener pastures. We spend so much of our life at work, it can severely affect us if our workplace is an unhealthy atmosphere.
Problem is…the owners and managers that need to read this will never acknowledge that it applies to them. I would also have added “micro-managing employees” to this list.