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Passive aggressive behaviour

(18 Posts)
Oldladypillow Wed 05-Dec-12 09:59:28

So....wink
Being late, refusing to commit to things (reasonable things) to the point where I never knew if x event would occur until after the last minute...
Actually the result is more important -using this kind of behaviour with the aim that I was constantly stressed about getting somewhere/things happening/embarrassed in front of friends then if I dared to complain or god forbid, ask him to hurry up then I'd score an own goal because he could then accuse me of starting an argument. - is this passive aggressive?
I keep thinking of the unhelpful fixing stuff behaviour - I see this a lot on ea threads-when they allegedly fix something for you (break it a bit more) then you get accused if bring ungrateful if you complain?

Anniegetyourgun Wed 05-Dec-12 09:08:37

Bah, after much reviewing and editing, I missed how I described both books as "excellent". They both are, of course, but shame on my limited wordpower.

CuttedUpPear Wed 05-Dec-12 09:06:30

Starting every statement with the word 'So' as if his point of view was a foregone conclusion and no other pov is necessary.

Anniegetyourgun Wed 05-Dec-12 09:05:51

Wonderful work, Prof Wobbly. I hope you will be publishing a treatise soon. Alas that your insight was so hard won by experience.

On a slight tangent, the excellent George Simon draws a distinction between passive-aggressive and covert-aggressive behaviour. I hope he won't mind me quoting here (especially as I would encourage you to buy the book!):

"Examples of passive-aggression are playing the game of emotional 'get-back' with someone by resisting co-operation with them, giving them the 'silent treatment', pouting or whining, not so accidentally 'forgetting' something they wanted you to do because you're angry and didn't really feel like obliging them, etc. In contrast, covert aggression is very active, albeit veiled, aggression. When someone is being covertly aggressive, they're using calculated, underhanded means to get what they want or manipulate the response of others while keeping their aggressive intentions under cover."

He also acknowledges, as ClippedPhoenix says, that most of us have engaged in this sort of behaviour from time to time - I know I have! - but that isn't the same as it being the way we habitually act towards others. We may have particular ways we adopt to get what we want, but that doesn't mean we are necessarily manipulative characters. Hence, HappyAsASandboy is clearly not a manipulative character as she tries to address that learned tendency in herself.

XH was the master of passive aggression, so I bought the book when I was trying to make sense of our relationship in retrospect. I was quite surprised not to find him particularly clearly described in it (unlike the excellent Why Does He Do That? by Saint Lundy of Bancroft, now that one was an eye-opener!). Instead, I found an almost exact description of a former manager who had done me an extreme disservice. Some of the conversations Simon reproduces read as though he had been a fly on the wall at our meetings. I so wish I had read that book a year or two earlier; it might have helped me at least understand what was happening, even if I couldn't have prevented the outcome. There are sadly quite a lot of people like that around, and unfortunately their techniques all too often lead them into positions of power.

ZigZagWanderer Wed 05-Dec-12 09:01:55

Oh and then when I seem upset and go quiet, he says I'm sulking. But it doesn't occur to him that I feel hurt and just don't want to talk to him (out of fear that it will happen again).

ZigZagWanderer Wed 05-Dec-12 08:58:30

Abitwobbly I was lurking and read your post, thats interesting because my Dp does this to me.
Apparently I never admit when I'm wrong and when he argues he grinds me down and backs me into a corner until I explode ( not usual for me) then I'm getting angry for "no reason".
I have started to question our future because it is getting progressively worse.

HappyAsASandboy Wed 05-Dec-12 08:06:25

Wobbly that was a really helpful post.

I am passive aggressive. I know it and I do my best to squash it - often by saying PA stuff then retracting it and having another go! My husband is wonderful at pulling me up on it by reproaching anything PA I say into a less infuriating phrasing.

I learned to be this way from my mum. She is a chronic PA person and has no idea she does it. If you pull her up on it with phrases like your suggested 'you seem a little angry ....' she gets upset (to the point of pouting) and starts the 'everybody shouts at me' routine. One brave day I even tried to point out that if everybody shouts at her but they don't shout at each other, there might be something she could change about how she deals with people, but she didn't get it at all.

I hadn't really thought about agreeing to do something then not as PA. I do this all the time and feel dreadful afterwards, but it doesn't stop me doing it again. I'll try thinking of this as a PA problem and if night help me improve.

Thank you :-)

ninjasquirrel Wed 05-Dec-12 07:39:44

I always think of it as refusal to state wants or needs openly but making life difficult for the other person if they don't do what you want.

Abitwobblynow Wed 05-Dec-12 07:27:58

Sorry, totally miswrote the last bit: make CLEAR that his behaviour is a choice - 'if you want to take a bath now with the truck in the next street, then you will be choosing to take the rubbish to recycling'...

Abitwobblynow Wed 05-Dec-12 07:25:53

Ahem... [Prof. Wobbly puts her mitre on]: the PA dynamic.

Passive aggressive behaviour happens when a child has been taught in FOO that the expression of anger is absolutely pathological, vicious and dangerous.

They then filter all their experiences though that distortion (why do all bad things happen to me/don't express anger it is dangerous/once I start I can't stop), and project their hidden anger on to their victim. THEY KNOW EXACTLY WHAT THEY ARE DOING. This is the drip, drip, drip of Chinese Water torture (countless little PA acts) until the person unconsciously holding the anger gets one drop/act too many and explodes in rage and a temper tantrum.

The PA person has then achieved his goal: 1. he has had his hidden anger expressed. 2. he is in control. 3. he is in the victim mode with the other person as the unreasonable aggressor ('I said I was going to do it after my bath. I didn't know you wanted it done now, whats your problem?). and unfortunately 4. he has had his belief that the viciousness of anger confirmed, and 'thankfuly I can stay calm and not lose control like that crazy person' so his PA beliefs are confirmed.

The targetted victim is shaken by the extent of their rage and loss of control over such a little thing (because they are completely unaware of the PA dynamic that has been happening for days/months), feels ashamed, apologises profusely and tries to become a better human being - until the next time.

Passive aggressive acts follow a continuum, from mild (agreeing to do something - and then not doing it, being late, being slow) to pathological. They want to hurt the other person so bad they hurt themselves to (eating disorders, affairs).

How to stop the PA cycle: recognise the hidden anger and self-talk/self-soothe to not to take it on board. Benignly confront the PA person 'you seem a little angry in your being asked to take the rubbish out and maybe we can talk about this when you are ready', then set consequences 'the truck is in the next street, so if you want a bath now, then you will have to take the rubbish to recycling later'.
You have to work really hard at not rewarding the PA behaviour which is getting angry or doing the job yourself.

In all of this I get an F -.

ClippedPhoenix Tue 04-Dec-12 23:51:42

I'm sure we have all been passive aggressive now and again, as I'm sure we have all gaslighted etc. (these are umbrella terms for behaviours) but when a person uses them either in a combination or alone to a certain degree then it becomes abusive behaviour.

EdithWeston Tue 04-Dec-12 23:27:36

Not sure why you want to know, but you might find this article interesting. It's all about control.

peppapigpants Tue 04-Dec-12 23:24:43

I don't think you can be passive aggressive without being emotionally abusive. I hadn't heard the term 'passive aggressive' until we went to counselling and the counsellor used it to describe my ex's behaviour, and he freely admitted it. When I researched it, it was a real 'lightbulb' moment.

Oldladypillow Tue 04-Dec-12 22:20:06

Yeh that's how I understood it peppa. So the being obstructive cones under the term too?

I have seen it mentioned on here something like women being more likely to be passive aggressive and men just aggressive. So I looked up the term and the list of symptoms reads like a list of EA behaviours - which on here are all men exps.

ClippedPhoenix Tue 04-Dec-12 22:18:46

putting someone down in a "jokey" manner knowing full well it's not a joke.

peppapigpants Tue 04-Dec-12 22:15:36

From my own experience:
agreeing to do something then failing to do it
being obstructive eg parking across the driveway on purpose when he knew I had to go out in my own car as soon as he got back
phrasing questions in such a way that it is impossible to answer...damned if you do and damned if you don't

There are loads more, hence he's now my ex.

ClippedPhoenix Tue 04-Dec-12 22:12:10

Umm, passive aggressive is a term for a very wide medium of behaviour, could you give a few for instances?

Oldladypillow Tue 04-Dec-12 22:09:14

Can you give me examples within relationships?

I need to know for my own sanity wink

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