Passive-Aggressiveness is a Trait, not a Disorder
The passive aggressive becomes passive aggressive because he/she is taught in early childhood to not express their feelings or needs, in fact, they are taught to hide their true feelings and that is the crux of the issue…figuring out what your passive aggressive really feels and really wants and needs from you.
If you indulge in passive aggressive behavior, know that you are not bad. You are just afraid.
Afraid of having your feelings hurt even more. Articulating them, facing them, taking the risk of being blamed back, or of being proven wrong. You know you should not feel this way. But they are feelings right?
An easier alternative is to ‘pass the suffering’ but not ‘face it’. To just let ‘things take their own course’. And sometimes they do!
Here are seven reasons why people use Passive Aggressive behaviour, according to Signe Whitson:
1. Anger is socially unacceptable
2. Sugarcoated hostility is socially acceptable
3. Passive aggression is easier than assertiveness, and a sign of immaturity
4. Passive aggression is easily rationalized
5. Revenge is sweet: “Because it can be difficult to ‘catch in the act’ and often impossible to discipline according to standard HR protocols, passive aggressive behavior often exists as the perfect office crime.”
6. PA behavior is convenient, allows one to avoid an actual fight
7. PA behavior can be powerful, allowing the perpetrator to channel their own anger and frustrations through the reactions of their target
Fear of Anger
Most of us learn that it is bad to express anger inappropriately. The passive aggressive learns that expressing anger in any way is bad and that he/she is bad for feeling anger.
There was no anger or conflict allowed in my ex’s childhood home. Her childhood was void of any kind of emotion but especially anger or expressions of anger. The only person allowed to be angry was her father. And from what I understand he could get angry with a capital A.
As a result, he/she was taught:
1. Anger is an unnatural emotion, one to keep under wraps.
2. To stuff his/her anger, and anger that is stuffed has to come out in some way, normally covert, passive aggressive ways.
3. To never consciously express anger because to do so makes him/her a bad person.
4. To not trust a wife/husband who expresses anger.
5. To resent authority and this is understandable if you are raised by an affection-withholding, angry mother or father.
We all learn how to express our feelings from our family of origin. The amount of loving security we are given and how anger is dealt with in our childhood will determine how we deal with those issues as adults.
My Suggestion – Keep Your Distance Whenever Possible
In some ways, passive-aggressives are more difficult to deal with than those who are openly hostile. An openly aggressive person is direct in words and action, which makes him or her more predictable. A passive-aggressive, on the other hand, hides a knife behind a smile. He or she operates on a hidden script, and you never know when you might be disenfranchised by his or her covert machinations. When confronted, the passive-aggressive will almost always deny responsibility. For these reasons, when you need to deal with someone who’s chronically passive-aggressive, be diplomatic and keep a healthy distance.
Just Walk Away
If you’re married to a passive-aggressive, seek help from a third party as soon as possible. A PA’s goal is not to destroy you, but their behavioural traits over time will leave you feeling alone, detached, and unwanted.