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How to deal with passive aggressive face pulling/sighing

(21 Posts)
mermaid101 Mon 01-Dec-14 12:01:08

I'm trying to put up some boundaries to help me deal with my mother, who I find difficult. One of my problems with her is that she does a lot of face pulling if she disapproves of something ( which is a lot). She also heaves very loud sighs.

I find this very upsetting. She did this too me a lot as a child and teenager and it left me feeling inadequate and angry.

I need help with how to deal with it. When I feel able, I say " I notice you have pulled a face. Is there a problem?" But this often leads to a big row as she denies it and accuses me of being aggressive and speaking to her disrespectfully.

Any ideas how to deal with this firmly and in a way which will minimise conflict?

SunnyBaudelaire Mon 01-Dec-14 12:05:00

you could try mirroring her - see if she notices?

Mintyy Mon 01-Dec-14 12:09:14

Next time she does it you could say "Right, I'm not going to let you get away with all the grimacing and sighing any more, and denying that you do it. It's a terrible habit of yours which I just can't tolerate any longer. Get in touch when you are prepared to make an effort to stop it" and leave.

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 01-Dec-14 12:10:23

Why have you continued a relationship with your mother at all given her behaviours when you were younger?. Is it because a small but significant part of you thinks that she will somehow still change and say sorry?. Emotionally disordered people like your mother never say sorry nor accept any responsibility for their actions. She has done this because it works, that is what she learnt herself perhaps from her own parents who may well have been emotionally abusive themselves. Such people always also want the last word and are actively looking for a fight.

You need to stop being a part of her game and detach completely; this is all a power playing game to her.

Reject this behaviour out of hand; if she cannot or will not behave decently then she does not get to see you. You would not have tolerated any of this from a friend, your mother is truly no different.

Your mother may well enlist the use of "winged monkeys" i.e. well meaning but ignorant relatives who take her side on such matters. Ignore these people too.

WillkommenBienvenue Mon 01-Dec-14 12:13:24

I agree with Mintyy it's time to make some new rules and assert yourself.

Don't let it turn into a row though, just make yourself very very clear and let her make the first move. It's the kind of thing you will need to give her time for so she can have a good look in the mirror.

You might be opening a can of worms, but it might just be that she's got away with it all these years because nobody's ever challenged her properly.

Miggsie Mon 01-Dec-14 12:22:01

Your mother obviously has a pattern:
Pull a face and sign - this works a lot of the time?
If someone complains about the face she denies it and escalates the situation to make you feel bad that you even mentioned the sigh.
I suspect she has a third line of attack but she doesn't have to use it as one and two get her what she wants?

It's called emotional invalidation. She is denying you the ability to have a response to her, and if you do, you are wrong. (There is a lady on another thread who talks about this - you may want to search on emotional invalidation on recent threads)

As you can't change your mother you can only change your reaction to her actions.
Learn to ignore them and not get upset - this is hard but you can concentrate on controlling your feelings on a physical level and then slowly move to finding her actions amusing, and ultimately, to be able to ignore them.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 01-Dec-14 12:44:54

It's the toddler thing isn't it? You either ignore the face-pulling or say something like 'little children who pull faces get no treats'. Wouldn't enter into a discussion why the face is being pulled... that's just giving the other person a green light to piss all over your bonfire. smile

Madamecastafiore Mon 01-Dec-14 12:45:51

Raise eyebrow, give pointed look and ignore.

Mintyy Mon 01-Dec-14 13:13:01

"Oooh that was a big sigh Mum! What now ... ?"

Heels99 Mon 01-Dec-14 13:18:51

Mu mum does this with eye rolling etc. we are nc for a variety of reasons. One of the family has just had her to stay but said in advance, I would love to have you to stay if you can refrain from xyz behaviour otherwise I would rather you didn't come. Which I was very impressed with as the family member in question is only 19! Not yet had an update as to how it went.

Could you try that? Love to meet up with you my if you can avoid doing the faces and sighing. If she still does it, pick up your bag and leave.

Heels99 Mon 01-Dec-14 13:20:19

Just had another thought, if she denies it, start filming her on your mobile when she does it.

FunkyBoldRibena Mon 01-Dec-14 15:29:12

Are you alright mother, you look like you need a poo?

mermaid101 Mon 01-Dec-14 19:29:28

Thanks very much for all these suggestions. I think I'll try to go for a sort of brisk approach, like you would a toddler. I would prefer/ feel less anxious about doing a look, but she tends to do the face pulling/sighing will turning away or ad she is walking into another room, so it might not work as well.
Attila, I think I am perhaps on the road to going non contact with her, but I don't feel that I am at that stage quite yet. For some reason, the idea scares me, although logically I can tell it might be for the best. I seem to be seeing her a lot more now I have children. Before, Iived abroad for several years and very much enjoyed the distance between us. On a slightly related note, since looking into what "winged monkeys" are, I have realised that my mum has used me like this before. Now I can see what she did, I feel very angry about it. She was so manipulative and put me in a horribly akward situation.

Joysmum Mon 01-Dec-14 20:33:18

Just laugh at her grin

RaRaSkirtsForever Mon 01-Dec-14 21:58:35

I think you are being baited for a reaction personally, my own Narc Mother used this tactic for years.

scarletforya Mon 01-Dec-14 22:27:49

I'd ignore her. She's looking for attention.

holdyourown Mon 01-Dec-14 22:32:43

No audience, no show. Ignore her, she'll hate it wink

WineWineWine Mon 01-Dec-14 22:41:05

I would smile and say, I'm glad you agree/approve.

lilacunicorn Mon 01-Dec-14 22:50:14

I could have written your post myself (mine adds a healthy dose of tutting to her huffing, sighing & eye-rolling) & after trying several things what works best for me is to ignore, ignore, ignore.

She is baiting you to respond & the best 'revenge' is to not respond, pretend she hasn't done it & if necessary change the subject.

I found it very, very difficult at first but it's got easier over time to the point now that she does it about 90% less because it doesn't get her the reaction she wanted.

When I'm finding it difficult to ignore I pretend its a battle of wills between us & when she's REALLY pissing me off I delight in not responding knowing it's the thing that irks her most- childish?? Oh yes wink

tulip82 Mon 01-Dec-14 23:43:07

A big smile when she does it , she's not getting the reaction she wants then . It works.

something2say Mon 01-Dec-14 23:49:03

Call her on it. Don't brook ant argument and then walk off. Let her mouth hang open behind you. It's not you, it's her and its alright to say that x

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