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Centerpointe Research

Passive–aggressive behavior

Active, Passive

Passive Me, Aggressive You

Passive Me, Aggressive You (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Which would you rather be active or passive?  Passive lets other people determine things for them.  Active initiates projects.  Often in marriages, one person is active and the other person is passive.  This can work successfully for a time.  Then the active partner gets tired of making all the decisions and taking all the responsibility and the passive partner begins to resent being left out of decisions that affect him or her and having no say in his or her life.  What is very scarey is that when this situation gets out of hand it can lead to murder.  Now who do you think is the murderer and who do you think is the victim when this happens?   You did not guess wrong if you selected the active or passive partner for either role!

When things become one-sided, anger builds up and the passive partner decides to take action or the active partner decides that they are tried of taking care of their partner all the time.  The active partner feels that he or she has been doing all the work.  The passive partner feels that he or she never gets to do what he or she wants to do.  The active partner gets tired of providing for the passive partner and the passive partner feels that have to take what they get from the active partner and have no choice in the matter. Who’s in control? The active person or the passive person. Neither one. One has someone dependent on him or her which to some extent controls their life and one lets someone control their life. Also partners in different relationships can take different roles: passive in one and active in another.

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Making Judgments

There are some things worth making judgments about and there other things not worth making judgments about.   When life or death decisions are to be made, it is important to use good judgment.  When personal taste is involved, it sometimes makes no sense to always inflict our opinions on others.  Not everyone has the same standard of beauty or shares the same taste in food.  Newlyweds or those couples living together for the first time often find this out rather quickly.  I was in a grocery store once and a young couple were making their first shopping trip together.  They couldn’t seem to agree on anything.  My husband and I both cook, but I am more likely to add salt to things and he is more likely to add sugar.  I mistakenly believed too that who one thought was a beautiful woman or a handsome man was shared by others.  One of the females in my family and I were talking about actresses and I found that certain actresses that I thought were not beautiful were found to be very attractive to her.

Gossip 0ften mostly involves making judgments about others’ “bad” qualities or behaviors.  Usually when such comparisons are made,  we feel better about ourselves by comparison.  Rather than making judgments, perhaps we should practice making and giving complements.  In psychology it has been found that giving rewards such as praise for “good” or desired behaviors is more effective in changing behavior than punishing or criticizing undesirable behaviors.  I have found that rather than joining in when someone is making negative comments about someone or their behavior, if I point out some good qualities of the person and/or my more positive personal experiences with that person, it changes the tone of the conversation and makes it more productive  “Bad” reputations never did anybody any good..  .  .

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Assertiveness versus Aggressiveness

How can you get a point across and not attack the person to whom you are directing the statement?  If you believe that a person has a right to their own opinion (at least in most cases especially the ones that don’t involve life or death issues), you can accept what they say and their right to say it and then give your point of view on the subject.  For example, I might say, ” I can see how you might feel that what I did was unfair but I felt….”  Most arguments are an attempt to “win” over another person to your point of view or your way of doing things.    You usually can’t change another person’s mind by threatening them.  If it is a “winner – loser” type of argument and only one person holds the power to decide the outcome, the other person may concede but they often won’t be convinced.  It can lead to passive aggression.  See previous post, “Got Ya.”  For example, when I am discussing differences of opinion with another person, I only hope that they will listen to me and I will listen to them with an open mind and each of us will learn something new whether it changes either of our minds or not.

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Got Ya!

Have you ever felt that there was something slightly wrong with something someone did for you?  It could be a form of passive aggression which is a way of indirectly expressing something or doing something the other person wouldn’t like without being held accountable.  They might even say about the behavior that they were only trying to help you.  Yet you sense that their motives are less than pure.  You wind up unhappy in the relationship and when you call them on it, they act misunderstood and sometimes even offended.

Once when I was in a relationship that was falling apart, my partner was still handling the bill payments for both of us and obligated me for a repair contract on an appliance that I was taking with me, but which I felt that I didn’t need and which would cost money that I couldn’t afford to spare when paying my bills on my own without my partner’s income  He didn’t ask me what I wanted in this situation and I found out about it indirectly when I was looking at some paperwork.  I confronted him about this. Of course, he felt that he was only doing me a favor.  What I found overall in the relationship was that his tendency to frequently resort to passive aggressive behavior was one of the reasons I left the relationship.  There are other forms of passive aggressive behavior and the one most given as an example is agreeing to do something and then messing it up,  My partner agreed to do the bill paying; but I was not happy with the way he was doing it.


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