Men with debilitating passive aggression in their relationships usually find it’s because of their inability to accept responsibility. This makes healing that much more difficult. You can’t heal it if you think you’re not responsible for it.
The best thing I did to help me ‘get over’ my PA behaviour was to make a conscious decision to accept responsibility for every emotional incident I was involved in, even if it seemed obvious that I wasn’t and couldn’t be responsible for it. I had to accept that I WAS responsible for it, even if I didn’t know how.
You see, the most common trait of a PA is that they refuse to accept responsibility, always denying their responsibility and finding blame in everything but themselves.
It’s usually true that if someone gets angry at you, then something you’ve done has contributed to them getting angry.
People don’t just spontaneously get angry without cause, but those with passive aggression often think they do, because they can’t accept their own responsibility towards it. They don’t want to be responsible for someone else’s anger because that responsibility is what they were punished for when they were a child.
So they unconsciously do what they can to avoid responsibility, which makes the other person angry (girlfriend, wife, workmate, boss, etc). The anger they’re confronted with then creates more passive aggressive behaviour as gestures of resentment and revenge.
So I figured the best way to get past all of that was to accept responsibility and do whatever I could to ‘fix’ whatever failure I was responsible for.
It worked pretty well! Applying this to my relationship and to my career saw some significantly positive changes.
But it also meant that taking responsibility for myself meant that I had to own what was wrong in my relationship. After some serious consideration I ended up leaving my partner back in 2008, after we’d been together for three years.
The relationship wasn’t a good one for either of us. We were wrong for each other, but my passive aggressive nature meant that I was unable to take control of my life and was instead always resentful of the control she had of my life.
PAs (Passive Aggressives) often maintain a victim attitude, and they’ll stay in a toxic relationship because they don’t know how to take positive control of their life. I decided it was time to stop being a victim.
So I left her, spent three years alone, sorting out my crap, and then started looking for someone else again to be with. I was pretty confident by this time that I knew what I really wanted and needed in a partner.
Passive aggression is something everyone experiences, sometimes often. However, Passive Aggressive Personality Disorder (PAPD) is something a lot more insidious.
To be diagnosed with this disorder, individuals must meet the general criteria of a personality disorder and at least five of the following: procrastination and delay in completing essential tasks — particularly those that others seek to have completed; unjustified protests that others make unreasonable demands; sulkiness, irritability or argumentativeness when asked to do something that the individual does not want to do; unreasonable criticism or scorn for authority figures; deliberately slow or poor work on unwanted tasks; obstruction of the efforts of others even as these individuals fail to do their share of the work; and avoidance of obligations by claiming to have forgotten them. – The Passive-Aggressive (Negativistic) Personality Disorder (PAPD)
PAPD sufferers are often men, and they’re often with women that are somehow the same as their mother. In the process of resenting their mother’s controlling influence on their life, they end up being with women who somehow control them as well. Which is what inspires the PA behaviour in return.
Now, if you want to heal a burn on your hand, would you put your hand back in the fire? No, of course not.
So if you want to heal the issues resulting from controlling women in your life, why would you continue to be with women that try to control you? You wouldn’t, would you. If you were sensible about it.
So I realised I needed to be with a woman who was easy going, relaxed, calm, and whose personality was not a controlling or dominant one. I realised that my perfect match was someone completely different to the kinds of women I’d been choosing throughout my life.
But I also realised I needed to be in control of the relationship, in a dominant but loving and secure manner, so that my partner never felt the need to control me.
Women feel the need to control their partners because their partners have no concept of responsibility, or deny their responsibility, and the relationship is a mess that the woman tries to fix. But she’s angry that it’s a mess, and she knows her PA partner is responsible, but she’s angry at him because he refuses to accept his responsibility for the mess. And her anger at him just makes him more passive aggressive.
Notice how it comes back to responsibility?
If you want a great relationship with a woman that trusts you to do your part in the relationship, you HAVE to take responsibility for your part in the relationship. You HAVE to give her reason to trust you.
You have to man up and be a man, not some passive aggressive ‘teenager’ who resents being told what to do because they’re not doing it. If you did it (whatever it is) when you know it needs to be done (commonly called ‘taking responsibility’), then your partner doesn’t need to bitch and moan about how you don’t take responsibility, or you’re not doing what she expects of you in the relationship.
Taking ownership and responsibility for your life and your relationship just makes a lot of sense. But it requires you to be actively engaging in taking responsibility. And it requires communication with your partner.
You need to be open and honest with her about EVERYTHING! Tell her your feelings, your fears, your anger, your past, your sadness, and your pain. She’s in this relationship with you – stop isolating her.
Invite her in. Ask her to help you. Point out to her that you need a safe environment and a safe relationship to help you move past your issues, and if she can work with you on this, you’ll be able to give her the love and responsibility that she needs from you.
Let her read the same stuff you’re reading, and talk to her about the problems you’ve had in your past that have helped you feel passive aggression was your solution.
Passive aggression is a defensive mechanism that served you well during those years when you were punished. But you don’t have to hold on to it any more.
If your partner can’t help you, or is unwilling to help you, then you might have to make some very, very tough decisions. You can’t heal your PA behaviour (which is the result of controlling behaviour from your partner) if she’s not doing her part to help heal the relationship as well.
She also needs to take ownership of her own controlling behaviour that’s contributing to you feeling unsafe and resentful. You bounce off of each other.
She tries to control you because you don’t take responsibility. You don’t take responsibility because you’re resentful that she’s trying to control you.
Stop the cycle.
Start taking responsibility first, without waiting for her to stop trying to control you. Expect that she’ll still be pressing your emotional triggers, but do your very best to understand she loves you and only wants the best for you and from you. Not because she’s selfish or demanding, but because she knows you’re better than this.
The less you react with passive aggression and the more you take responsibility for your shit, the less she’ll be doing to press your buttons that result in your passive aggression. But you have to be consistent – not just for a week or two, but for the rest of your life.
You’re both going to have to heal your individual and unique emotional issues that result in the conflict between the two of you. You’re going to need to come up with loving and effective strategies that will help you love each other more, while healing your emotional issues that result in you sabotaging the relationship.
And if one or both of you can’t do this, then the relationship is unlikely to continue. There will just be too much pain and anger and unhappiness for it to continue.
Healing starts with a decision. You can make that decision today, or you can say “No, I’m not responsible for that!” and let things continue as normal.
But normal, in this case, is full of so much pain and anger and hopelessness. I know from my own personal experiences. Do you really want that to continue for you?
When you decide to heal, it will involve communicating your needs and desires to your partner. She’s the one who can help you – if she can overcome her own anger at your years of negative behaviour.
If she can’t – or is unwilling – to help you, then you’re going to have to help yourself, and that will require you to make some tough decisions about your role in the relationship and where it’s going. Can you find the healing within yourself, alone? If you can, that’s fantastic!
But if you can’t, because it’s impossible to heal the burn while you’re still in the fire, then I sympathise with you. But sometimes the best decision you can make for yourself is to move on from a relationship that isn’t working for you.
Even if there’s kids involved, they’re going to have a father who is able to love them the way they need to be loved, without there being anger and passive aggressive behaviour in the household. It’s not a good thing for them as they’re growing up, and it’s certainly not a good thing for you.
I wish you the best! It’s a tough road you’re on. I’m here for you to ask questions or get some feedback about whatever you might have on your mind.
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