The passive, aggressive partner
*This newsletter is intended to offer information only and recognizes that individual issues may differ from those broad guidelines. Personal issues should be addressed within a therapeutic context with a professional familiar with the details of the problem. Copyright 2018 Simmonds Publications: 550 La Jolla Blvd., 306, La Jolla, CA 92037
Some people just can’t admit that they’re angry. Anger is one of the basic emotions which touches all of our lives to one degree or another. Indeed, a person who is incapable of experiencing anger, would certainly be at a disadvantage in trying to survive. Used constructively, anger helps to protect ourselves. It motivates us to solve problems and to resolve conflicts with other people. Anger is an emotion that tells us there’s something wrong out there and we want to make it better.
Anger can serve a positive function in our lives, but so many of us have heard just the opposite message. How many times have we heard don’t be angry or good people don’t get angry or healthy people don’t show their anger or love and anger are opposite emotions. Then there is the classic line: If you loved me, you wouldn’t be angry at me. None of these statements is compatible with emotional health. The clue is to accept your anger and learn how to express it constructively.
Passive aggression is certainly aggressive behavior, and it is laden with anger. It is a form of hostility, disguised as innocent impassivity. This type of hostility is found frequently in relationships, especially troubled relationships, because the passive aggressive individual finds a convenient and available target for his or her anger in a partner. Even though passive aggression is expressed most frequently and virulently in a relationship, this form of aggression is also seen in interactions between friends or on the job. The passive aggressive person usually will claim not to have any anger at all. But when anger is finally brought to the surface, it is usually blamed on the partner, (or a friend or a boss) who is accused of being controlling and demanding. Rather than acknowledging his or her behavior as angry, the passive aggressive individual plays on the excuse of being the misunderstood victim. The other person is always the prosecutor. Communication between partners in a passive aggressive relationship is usually blocked off, distorted, and ultimately very destructive to both people individually in the relationship itself.
Passive aggressive relationships are difficult to deal with, but help is available and change as possible. When you start to make the necessary changes in your relationship, the passive aggressive partner may fight you even more. But if you set firm limits and respect yourself, the situation is likely to change for the better. There may not be a complete transformation, but your relationship can be much better. You’re invited to make an appointment to start this process.