Shine light on passive aggressive behavior. #relationships #family

I want eternity. I was born for greater things.  ~ Stanislaus Kostka #quote

I want eternity. I was born for greater things. ~ Stanislaus Kostka #quote

This past week, three women told me they feel crazy.  Listening to their stories, I’m struck by their clarity, kindness, and generosity.  Yet, they feel crazy in connection to a relationship with someone they love.  When I encounter this combination, I suspect passive aggressive behavior is in the mix.  Passive aggressive behavior is a:

pervasive pattern of negativistic attitudes and passive resistance to demands for adequate performance in social and occupational situations…

often overtly ambivalent, wavering indecisively from one course of action to its opposite. They may follow an erratic path that causes endless wrangles with others and disappointment for themselves.

Here’s a typical and mild example:

Whenever Joe’s wife, Marge, asks him to do something around the house, he always seems to go along and agree to do it. But the task rarely gets done. He either conveniently “forgets” about it, or he does a little bit of it, but doesn’t finish the job. Sometimes he does the job but in a way that isn’t really what she wanted. In all instances, Marge is left feeling frustrated with Joe.

Joe appears to feel vaguely guilty about this, but it keeps happening; and Marge is getting increasingly angry. She begins to wonder: “Does Joe really care for me? Because I feel like I can’t trust him anymore.” Marge has a vague feeling that he is getting back at her, but she can’t figure out exactly why.

Joe keeps saying, “Hey, I’m only human. I just forget sometimes.” He claims he would really like to give her all the things she wants.

Passive aggressive behaviors are sneaky and slippery like a snake. And like a snake, these behaviors hide in the shadows and under rocks.  When looking for how to deal with a loved one who exhibits passive aggressive behaviors, “help” is often discouraging and hopeless. Passive aggressive behaviors can be linked to personality disorders, depression, and other big challenges. It is seen as tenacious to the point of not being worth the effort to tackle.  The loved one won’t let go of the snake, even though they are being bit. You also risk being labeled as a co-dependent in this unhappy situation. But there is hope. There is always hope in love and the desire for another’s happiness.

The most practical and helpful article on this topic that I have found is Eliminating Passive Aggressiveness.  It is written for the passive aggressive person and their loved one, succinctly answering questions and offering a positive course of action:

What is passive aggressiveness?
What are the typical reactions to my passive aggressiveness?
What irrational thinking keeps me being passive aggressive when I disagree with others?
How can I recognize when someone is being passive aggressive with me?
How can I confront a passive aggressive person?
If I find myself being passive aggressive, how can I correct this?
Why is it useful to eliminate my acting passive aggressive?
Steps to eliminating being passive aggressive

Take a deep breath. Find good information, support, and encouragement. And get your flashlight ready.  In the picture included with this post, there are pretty flowers and warm sunshine that represent all the good around you.  Claim it!  And there is also a shadowy rock where a snake may be hiding, ready to bite.  Shine your light on destructive behaviors and reclaim your sanity.

Are you familiar with passive aggressive behaviors?  How do deal with them?

Sending special love to all who are feeling crazy; may these feelings pass swiftly and your peace be secured ~~~~~~~~ Angie Mc

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28 thoughts on “Shine light on passive aggressive behavior. #relationships #family

    • Oh, Jenn, please do comment back on your insights as well. You and I are so *not* passive aggressive that it can be very hard for those like us to wrap our head around it. Thanks!

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  1. Yes, I know that guy, I appreciate the information and the words of support to those dealing with that guy. I pray those traveling on this path may get the help and support they need. These men don’t receive this information very well so the path can be rocky and dark for all involved, I encourage all to smile, stay strong and be hopeful.

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    • And to be fair, that guy is often that gal. While this week, the men have been my examples, some of the most fierce examples I’ve experienced first hand have been women. One of the ways I pick up this behavior among women is the tenacity and many ways they will push to get what they want. And to confuse matters, some of these ladies have been very verbal which gives an appearance of directness, but take a closer look and there is manipulation.

      Thanks for chiming in here. I always appreciate your feedback!

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    • Why thank you, Jovina! You made my day 🙂 This is a pretty big topic so I may expand on it in future posts. Let me know if there is a point that you think would be helpful to clarify. Happy weekend ❤

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    • Luckily, the article I linked isn’t a book! No need to wade through a ton of information, the authors have already done that for us 🙂

      And, yes, some seasons of life lend themselves toward passive aggressive behaviors. Teens come to mind 🙂

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  2. Good information that’s always helpful to have, Angie, thank you. 🙂 I used to feel like my ex was gaslighting me because he was so P/A, so I’m more than familiar with that feeling of questioning one’s sanity. It’s not fun, and I’ll be adding these women to my prayers, who feel like they’re going crazy. *hugs* ❤

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    • Thank you for the prayers, Ness! As someone who has been there, I know your prayers will be powerful. And I appreciate your feedback, that passive aggressive behaviors are real and that there is hope for all who face such pain to find peace and sanity. I really am sorry that you went through this and appreciate that you trusted me with this part of yourself. You are a strong and wise woman. So glad to know you 🙂

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    • Forgot to add, I wasn’t familiar with the term “gaslighting” so I looked it up. I’ve pondered how much “intent” plays a role in passive aggressive behavior. While some people who behave in a passive aggressive manner fully intend to do so (gaslighting) others seem genuinely unaware. There in lies much of the relationship challenge.

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      • I think some people are careless and perhaps a bit clueless, and I know others are just plain mean and spiteful for the thrill of it. I don’t understand them, God forbid I ever do, but they are out there just the same and need to be guarded against. Not everyone has good intentions and that’s a hard pill to swallow sometimes. Sadly, it makes you kind of paranoid, too. That whole “once burned” thing.

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      • You are absolutely right, Ness. There are enemies in this world, which is a hard truth to swallow. But part of being a responsible adult is understanding this truth, as sad as it is. That’s why having loving people in our lives is so important. They build us up instead of tear us down ❤

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    • I remember seeing a movie set I. England, seemed like a Victorian period , where the H was gaslighting his wife, has anyone seen that movie? I thought it was a good example of this behavior.

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  3. Terrific article, Angie. Oh, to have the ability for clarity in the moment of these situations and not be ruled by emotion. It’s a skill to step back just enough to recognize patterns in ourselves and others and catch them before they negatively impact our relationships. Works in progress we are, and I thank you for the extra resource to deepen our knowledge.
    Cheers!

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  4. Hi dear Angie…

    It has been a while since I last visited you and when I did today I found a great new layout… Your blog looks really wonderful and very well organized…

    As to this post itself I found it really interesting…
    “Passive aggressive behaviors are sneaky and slippery like a snake”: you are right!… I can recognize this kind of people and patterns even among very close friends.

    Good to know more so that way we can be also aware of their behaviour!.

    Best wishes to you and yours, always, Aquileana 😀

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