Sonya Thomas lcsw

Passive Aggression in Relationships – Part 2

Passive aggressive behavior is a very difficult challenge for couples. If you are in a relationship with a passive aggressive partner, you are probably familiar with the propensity of situations going from neutral or trivial to emotionally combative, sometimes in the blink of an eye.

A passive aggressive person will break agreements without warning and have a quick supply of excuses as to why they did so, followed by whining or enraged protests that they can’t live up to the exacting standards of their partner.  They try to frame others’ requests of them as unreasonable, rather than their unreliability as being the problem.  Their partner is caught in a bind. If they bring up broken agreements, they are accused of being a nag. If they don’t address the broken promises, they are then colluding with or condoning irresponsibility. It’s a no-win dilemma for the partner.

A tricky part of living with a passive-aggressive person is their hypersensitivity to actual or perceived criticism, particularly when they don’t follow through on their intentions.  In different ways, this is a problem that affects both partners.  The passive aggressive person generally feels they are under attack and no matter what they do, they cannot please their partner.  Their partner believes they cannot depend on the passive-aggressive mate to reliably follow through.  Couples are a team, and when one partner is passive aggressive, the roles and responsibilities of team members are unclear and/or ineffectively executed.  This weakens the team and pollutes the emotional environment in the relationship.  Safety is undermined, and when this is the case, the relationship is fragile.

Stay tuned for our next post in this series.  Until then, peace.