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Do You Have A Passive Aggressive Lover In Your Life?

Feeling punished. Strategic or convenient forgetting. Chronic lateness. Emotional withdraw. Pretending to be compliant. “If you love me, you would have ____.’

What do these ideas have in common?

Passive Aggression.

These are a few examples of the types of manipulation and self deprecation that can accompany Passive Aggressive behavior.

Passive Aggressive behavior is a deliberate, yet covert way of expressing internal anger, frustration, pain and suffering. It can be a learned behavior and stem from fear of being direct, fear of rejection or abandonment. A passive-aggressive person often seems like ‘the nicest to guys (or girls)’, but has a great deal of secret inner anger or pain.

When an interaction with a child, a parent, a teacher, a student, a spouse, a co-worker, a boss, or even an online acquaintance leave you feeling like have had the rug pulled out from underneath, confused and turned around, like something the was clearly the other person bad behavior is not your fault, or that you’ve been on an emotional roller coaster, perhaps a passive aggressive person has shown up on your life.

Some of the most common passive aggressive behaviors include:

  • Withdrawing or shutting down, rather than sharing his or her desires, wants opinions or needs

  • Saying things like ‘fine’, ‘you pick’, ‘I don’t care’, or ‘whatever; to stop a discussion

  • Procrastinating or completing tasks poorly or inefficiently

  • Placating or agreeing, while knowing they have no plan to change a behavior

  • Chronic lateness, especially to events that are important to loved ones

  • Blowing up over minor things

  • Lying about where they are

  • Lying in general

  • Giving the silent treatment

  • Low self esteem / low confidence

  • Very smart, but prone to underachieving

  • Often drink to excess

  • Incite eggshell walking in family members

  • Often pretend to be compliant

People who behave in passive aggressive have a very difficult time and even have a deep rooted fear of being vulnerable, open, honest, direct, clearly communicative, and decisive. Fortunately, these behaviors can be turned around but usually require a good coach or therapist to learn tools, understand the roots, and for unconditional support.

There are five typical levels of passive aggressive behavior, ranging from the everyday to the life crippling. Learning to recognize the behavior in yourself or a loved one is very important for the emotional health if all parties.

5 types of passive aggression are described as follows:


A passive aggressive person will often verbally agree to a request from a spouse, friend or boss, but will then avoid, procrastinate until there is a conflict, or will otherwise delay completion. There are usually patterns such as, endless excuses, convenient forgetfulness, chronic lateness, sloppy or careless work, turning things around onto another person, and blaming of others that serve as barriers and defense mechanisms.

The real danger of passive aggressive behavior is that it grows slowly into adulthood, while quietly accumulating many bad behaviors. A passive aggressive person can be difficult to help, simply because the live as though they are a ‘nice guy’ and their problems are because of ‘every body else’.


Feeling chronically unsure of one’s capabilities, life direction, or decision making skills; low level career achievement; unreasonable fear of embarrassment; or failure to start or even try things, for fear of failing, are trademarks of a passive aggressive person. These challenges can present as moderate to very severe. This is confusing and disheartening for this type of person, because his or her intelligence is typically quite high.

These qualities can lead to depression, anger, upset, emotional shutdown, blaming, and playing the victim role.


Seeking ways to ‘secretly’ punish others is a more advanced challenge of the passive aggressive person and very damaging emotional to a romantic partner, children or others who share close connections. This is often where chronic lying, withholding love, care or sex, making fun of a partner’s sexuality or other deep vulnerabilities and disguising it a ‘a joke’ comes into play. Subtle, but harsh criticizing, hiding important objects, conveniently ‘forgetting’ to complete commitments or honor promises are also performed as ways to punish and lead others to be as unhappy or angry as s/he.

A key note for adults who face Level 4 passive-aggressive behavior from children and students is to eliminate any gratification that a young person gets from his passive aggressive behavior and to establish logical consequences for their behavior. When these things can be done in a fair but firm way—where the adult conveys intolerance for the behavior while still showing acceptance and understanding of the young person’s emotional state, we start to see the beginnings of the end of the need for anger to be expressed in destructive, passive aggressive ways.


The passive-aggressive person can be very fixated on getting back at someone that s/he is willing to behave in self-destructive ways or talk about his or herself in destructive ways. This often leads to extreme pity, what only encourages additional anger and behaviors congruent with powerlessness or, rejection and alienation from others.

Most people who read articles about passive aggression, do so because they are on the receiving end and are often at their wits end. If you are in this boat, you will want to get some help and support. I rarely make this kind of blanket recommendations, because I believe there are so many ways to find healing. But, in the case of possibly being married to a passive aggressive, the mental and emotional damage can be quite extensive. SEEK support asap. Whether it is with our team or another professional.

Cheers, to liberated living

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