Sanctuary for the Abused

Friday, March 09, 2018

Passive-Aggressive Behavior

Passive-Aggressive Behavior
Passive-aggressive behavior is the expression of anger indirectly. This happens because we got the message one way or another in childhood that it was not OK to express anger. Since anger is energy that can not be completely repressed it gets expressed in indirect ways. This takes the form one way or another, overtly or subtly, of us acting out the battle cry "I'll show you till you get me.": As a kid I was very angry at my mother for not protecting me or herself from my father - but it was not ok to be angry at my mother so I was passive-aggressive in various ways. One was to not show any feelings.

By the time I was 7 or 8 I was being cool in a passive-aggressive response to her attempts to be close to me I would not let her touch me, I would not show happiness if something good happened or pain if something bad happened. I would just say "it's ok" no matter how much it wasn't. I also "showed" her and my dad by not getting the type of grades as I was capable of getting in school. I have spent much of my life sabotaging myself to get back at them.

Passive-aggressive behavior can take the form of sarcasm, procrastination, chronic lateness, being a party pooper, constantly complaining, being negative, offering opinions and advice that is not asked for, being the martyr, slinging arrows ("whatever have you done to your hair", "gained a little weight haven't we?"), etc. If we don't know how to set boundaries or will go along with anything to avoid conflict, then we often will agree to doing things we don't want to do - and as a result we will not be happy doing them and will get back at the other person somehow, someway because we are angry at them for "making" us do something we don't want to do. A classic scenario is being asked where you want to eat and saying "oh, I don't care, wherever you want to" and then being angry because they take us somewhere we don't like. We think they should be able to read our mind and know we don't want to do whatever. Typically, in relationships, one partner will ask the other to do something and the person who can't say "I don't want to do that" - will agree to do it and then not do it. This will result in nagging and scolding which will cause more anger and passive-aggressive behavior.

The way to stop being passive-aggressive is to start being honest (first of all with ourselves), having boundaries (the more we get in touch with our inner children the more we can have boundaries with the angry ones that are causing us to be passive-aggressive), saying no when we don't want to do something. It is easier said than done. On one level what we are doing is recreating our childhood dynamics of being criticized by our parents.

It is because at our core we feel unworthy and unlovable that we have relationships - romantic, friendship, work - where we will be criticized and given the message that we are bad or wrong. Because we don't Love our self we need to manifest people outside of ourselves that will be our critical parent - then we can resent them, feel victimized, and be passive-aggressive. They are in fact just a reflection of how we treat ourselves internally. The more we can learn to defend ourselves internally from the critical parent voice the more we will find that we don't want critical people in our lives."


Passive Aggressive Personality Disorder was folded into Narcissistic Personality Disorder in the DSM. It is no longer a separate disorder from Narcissism.

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shared by Barbara at 12:08 AM



I am living with a passive agressive partner and am looking for ways to deal with this confusing behavior. Does anyone have any advice or suggestions?

11:46 PM  

P-A is usually a symptom of Destructive Narcissism.

There really is NO WAY to "deal" with it because it's abuse. Get counseling for yourself ASAP.

7:46 AM  

This is the first time I have started to look for answers. I hope I am on the right page. My father beat my Mother two weeks before my youngest sister was born.This continued till later years till I was about 12 when once I pushed him for being vulgar and the fact that I had enough. He was intoxicated at the time and did not react drastically. I then same year left for high school living with a Grand Aunt. I am assuming the abuse in one way or another continued. Then in '94 he called my mother a B**ch and when I confronted him, he lashed out thinking I was passive to cry or not being able to defend myself. It was nasty. I hit him defending myself and he slumped. To my surprise, my mother consoled him only to be told months later that it was her fault for his broken nose. Now, what I am surprised and cannot get my head around is WHY she could not simply say: ``no-- it was because of you and your foul ways''. I am confused. She got beaten and yet she continues to ignore his deceitful ways and the blame he continued to give her. How can I get out of this rut? I feel it's like she wants to be nice to him as well as us kids. I feel used and taken advantage of. Is it that she fears that her forthright attitude would encourage me to be disrespectful? I would appreciate some suggestions. Thanks.

10:26 AM  

Can anyone help me at all. I'm at my witts end and don't know where to turn. Have been with a PA for 14 years and unfortunatley he is on the mortgage so i can't throw him out. Recently (4months ago)found out his secretive life which include much sex with both sexes and cross dressing. Although our sex life was pretty boring. also found out about other children and
how he has never taken responsibilty for any of his relationships or people in his life. I have tried several options to get him out of the house but he on the mortgage. One day he considers my fair offer and the next he wants supprt. He's made everyone in my family and circle of friends irate with all his actions but doesn't understand why they don't want anything to do with him. he tries to worm his way back into my life with lies and sympathy and has even accomplished this a few times only later to find him talking to his next craigs list victom. does any one have any idea or thoughts on how to get him to accept an offer and move away. I have lived a lot and experience a lot in my life but this is the worst. if any one has any ideas, please i'm desperate

desperate and waiting and hoping

11:42 PM  

On the mortgage or not you CAN throw him out.

Divorce attorneys often give a free consult. Go see 3 or 4 and get a variety of opinions. Hire one if you can or then go to legal aid or a Domestic Violence Crisis Center. will help give you some information.

You have to ASK FOR HELP in your area. Don't give up until you get it. And get rid of him.

P/A is a part of Destructive Narcissism.

5:17 PM  

Maybe because I'm a lot older and wiser (in my early seventies but appear younger)I dated someone for approx. 2 months I recognized the all too familiar traits of P-A behavior.The subtle sulking because I had 2 phone calls I could not refuse to take .Each one lasting just a few minutes.Then arriving one hour late for lunch the next day.I am proud of having the the smarts to not sit home waiting.I got in my car and took off for an afternoon at the beach!There are better things to do than be his door mat for his disguised sarcasm and criticism.You beat him at his own game by being prepared and give him a taste of his own tactics then you dump him BIG TIME!.

10:51 PM  

I need help with my ex-step father.

He was diagnosed with passive-aggressive narcissism.

I'm currently blogging all my memories of our abuse to help cope, but my mom is still suffering.

He's still ruining our lives and breaking laws. We don't have the money to go back to court, and even if we did, he's charmed the entire town into thinking he's Mr. Wonderful. The courts gave away our house to him even though he already had one. They gave him everything. He's got everyone on his side because of his lies, and we're all alone.

If anyone can help, please contact me. I'm begging.

2:52 PM  

I am sorry you and your Mom are suffering, to above person, I would call the attorney general and tell them you are dealing with a closed down town facing injustice, due to the prestige of your abuser. Contacting out of town Congressman too. is possible.

In my case I am dealing with the passive aggressive crap. He is always mad, even if I put foot down about physical abuse, its bad. Its lethargy, putting things off, ignoring me, the silent treatment, not wanting to deal with anything.

11:42 AM  

We have discovered the literature on the condition Passive Aggression and have concluded that the condition is more or less another form of abuse, though a covert form. But isn't the covert and subtle forms of abuse perhaps more damaging? May may agree,others may disagree. This month the Woman to Woman site dedicated most of it's posts/articles to Domestic Violence Awareness Month, though we do normally focus on abuse and violence in general. Please visit and read some of the posts including today's post of the destruction of emotional and psychological abuse. Link is

Woman to Woman

8:06 AM  

I have been dumped for the second time by passive-aggessive significant other. I did not understand what what was happening--even after 13 years together. We were so happy--or so I thought. He had stories about his previous 2 wives. I would have to say that we had a great life together 95% of the time Now, I realize that I was not asking for much. He had ways of letting me know that I was being punished--Not showing up for theater tickets, telling me he would pick me up--and then not showing up. Forgetting my birthday! I just thought it was being a guy. Wrong. Twice he totally surprised me by disappearing--literally! Both times I thought we were good together. I feel like an idiot. Ultimately, he said we should live together in my house. I bought it and remodeled our dream house. He even helped. When I moved in, he suddenly disappeared--no conversation--nothing--this is the second time. I was shattered both times. This time I cannot go back. He tells me the reason is that "I hate my house." Are you kidding? He tells my friends he cannot have a confrontation--that is why he cannot talk to me. He probably would like for me to "fix it" again. As much as I miss our life, I just cannot be abandoned by him again. He thinks he is the victim. He is a serial abandoner. I am close to his mother. I never realized that she is the source of the passive model. By all appearances, she seems tough, but it is an amazing revelation that she is the passive model. I am so confused. I feel terribly abused by a person who appeared to be my life partner, and who evidently had so much anger against me, or women in general, that he cannot express, except to treat you like you are an old pair of shoes.

10:08 PM  

Please read up on Destructive Narcissism (but stay away from Sam Vaknin's books, writings and board including his stuff)... your guy is more than P-A.

Change the locks, go NO CONTACT and get therapy.

You may want to join the support forum at

11:23 PM  

Again, all this confusion and fear. It's all only the same thing, PSYCHOPATHY. It can be identified on an MRI. LET'S INSIST ON THIS AS A MEANS OF EVERYTHING. Dating, hiring etc. It is not going away, will not go away, and it is genetic so is easily passed on. People, COME ON!

12:23 PM  

After dating my husband for two years (not living together during that time) and now being married almost 4 years, I FINAlLY have the answers I've been looking for. He's classic P/A.

We are still living in the same house, but are not going to stay married. I told him I was done after almost two years of marriage counseling (me going 100% of the time to the appointments; him 10% with nothing changing).

We have no children together(thank goodness) and other than the house, no real shared assets. I'm biding my time until I can get another job OUT OF STATE and away from all the insanity. I already started packing my things up. Not one word from him, "Please stay" "Lets work on this" NOTHING.

I told the counselor during one of the first few sessions that if we weren't making progress over time, I wasn't going to do "this" for 20 years (treading water). She said, "No. You can't. It'll make you sick."

Mad props to everyone here for identifying P/A in their homes and relationships. I hope to never deal with again and/or hopefully, be able to identify it going forward in other people and STAY AWAY.

12:29 PM  

I really learned something when I saw your comment about the passive aggressive person choosing to be criticized - Wow - I am the spouse and I am extremely critical.We have been married for 40 years - He is classic passive aggressive and I am always criticizing him. I understand a lot better now. We have separated several times, but I guess we miss the dance - I blame it on our external situation - but know it is the reason I am so unhappy.

I think I deserve to be unhappy and he thinks he deserves to be criticized. These dysfunctional situations do feel so comfortable. Now I have to rethink

RE: the last comment- I have been sick for the last twenty years - Thank you.

1:13 PM  

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