Siobhan Harper-NunesBalance, Development, Relationships

We all joke about our friends, partners or kids who are “passive aggressive” but did you know that this behaviour is actually considered an egregious form of abuse?

Whist it takes many forms, typically it can be described as behaviours which lead others doubting their own abilities, dreams, or skills. It is a set of behaviours which will lead you to constantly question yourself. It destroys your confidence and can be soul-destroying but unlike physical or verbal abuse, it’s insipid, often undetectable, it’s a silent killer.

So How do you identify this silent abuser?

Some obvious things to watch out for include:

  • RUNNING AWAY: every time something important appears in your life, they are nowhere to be found.
  • CRITICISM: They constantly criticise you: it may not be verbal in fact often is not, it’s a look, eyes to the sky, huffing and puffing when you’re 30 seconds late. It might also be jokingly persistent reinforcement: “you’re awful at this, you’ve never been any good at that, you’re so forgetful, disorganised, basically a mess without me.”
  • THE SILENT TREATMENT: sullenly creating moods in the house or on a date or somewhere special. Just refusing to engage, especially when the event/situation is really important to you.
  • CAN’T DO WON’T DO: Unreasonable actions (not taking the bins out, not putting stuff away), but also blocking attempts to make the house/family/life improvements that you find important, but never actually contributing anything.
  • PROMISES AND LIES: Taking on chores or agreeing to “call the plumber” or to book that essential retreat or to attend a function when they actually have no intention of doing either.
  • HATRED or SARCASM: constantly ribbing people or groups you value “the gays” the “blacks” or even “women” and also refuses to watch your favourite movie or visit your favourite restaurant, just because, it’s your favourite or watches with silent criticism. It can also be seemingly jibbing, unhurt full dismissal of people or something you love (your family, your best friends, even you children or parents)
  • NO SEX OR INTAMACY: can’t do that cuddle when you most need it or make love to you when you are your most horney, it’s a just another manipulative ploy to attract negative attention and to undermine your basic human needs.
  • FUCKING UP: Deliberately doing a crap job at something that’s important to you so they can say they did it but you are left feeling like shit!
  • HOSTILITY or NEGLECT: being intentionally mean when you most need affection, buying gifts you actually don’t want, ignoring you to read a Facebook blog or watch football on TV when you’re having a nervous breakdown!

 So what is Passive Aggressive behaviour?

Basically, it’s a “passive” or rather “non-verbal” manifestation of a person’s inability to deal with their own emotions (anger, rage, resentment, rejection, fear, or even violations) so instead of recognising their own needs or repetitive actions which alienate or confuse others, or seeking help when they do, they typically respond by creating havoc, often silently, and always passively, in our lives.

They may be angry with you, angry at the world, angry at themselves but instead of dealing with that anger they express it by fucking up your world.

Get the picture?

That’s why its “passive”, they actually do nothing you can pin them down on, but “aggressive” because they actually create chaos and cause gigantic pain, through their emotional “unavailability” and their blatant unwillingness to take any kind of responsibility or to follow through.

So why do people become passively aggressive?

It’s complicated and as with any dysfunction, everyone has found their own path to hell. It might be that they were let down by a loved one, they may have been rejected, it might be a result of them being ridiculed when expressing honestly their opinions…

But let’s face it wherever it stems from, they need support, therapy, guidance, but what you need to do when faced with the passive aggressive is to RUN!

People in relationships with passive aggressives will react in different ways but some typical effects are:

  • Low self esteem
  • No confidence
  • Constant self-doubt or procrastination
  • Self-harming
  • Addictions
  • Self-criticism
  • Body dysmorphia
  • Suicide

So ultimately what can you do?

There are many places you can get help from is you are seeking to withdraw from an abuser, but the bad news is that like with any form of abuse, chances are you are now taking on their habits. People who have experienced violence, commit violence, people who have been abused, often commit abuse and if you’ve lived with a passive aggressive for a number of years, chances you’ve taken on their habits and behaviours so:

  1. do more research
  2. ask friends and family if you display any of the above traits
  3. sit in personal contemplation
  4. seek help from a recognised professional body

But ultimately work on loving yourself like crazy, because, where self love resides, there is no room for abuse.

Big Love. Siobhan x