What Is Passive Aggressive Behavior?

Passive Aggressive Behavior – what is it?

Is it hard to just “talk” in a relationship?

Know what to look for when you feel that you can’t have a straight-forward, natural conversation with someone with whom you have a long-term, or day-to-day relationship.
There are many potential reasons for that, but, today I was thinking about passive aggressive (P-A) people. (Some of them are Hijackals* – keep an eye out for those!)

That’s because I was working with a client yesterday who lives with someone like that.  It’s a sneaky, slippery, and somewhat slimy thing to grab hold of in a relationship. And, of course, the P-A person does not recognize the behavior at all. Usually they aren’t even doing it on purpose. It’s a part of some personality disorders. It’s ingrained and, if you describe the behavior that is driving you nuts to them, they deny it. Because they don’t see it!

Is any of this sounding familiar?  Since you’re reading this, my guess is that it is.  Most of us have run into this behavior and found it difficult to work with. That’s why I decided to offer a few insights into how to recognize the behavior. Next post, I’ll give you hints on handling relationships with P-A folks, too.

Now, how do I know so much about this, you might ask?  My Mom was P-A and I was previously–note: previously–married to the poster child for P-A, so, I’ve seen and felt it from many vantage points. The only advantage there was in that history was to be able to recognize the behavior very early on and that’s a big help.  So, I’ll share it with you.


First of all, the name gives you the same feeling as being in relationship with them does, it’s totally contradictory.

  • They pretend they don’t care or don’t have an opinion, then they aggressively make you wrong for not addressing their feelings or opinions.
    “I don’t care where we eat.” Then, “You know I don’t like Mexican food but you chose it anyway.” Gotcha!!
  • They promise to do something for you, and then they “forget”…repeatedly!  If you ask them why they promised and didn’t follow through, you hear something like “I have better things to do than do errands for you, you know.”   Beginning to sound familiar at all?
  • They often do not express anger, so, it comes out in under-handed ways.  Such as point above, conveniently and consistently “forgetting!”
  • They are never the ones who are responsible for their actions. They truly believe they have no faults!   There is always a nebulous “they” involved, such as “I would not have been late except that the stupid cashier at the grocery store was chatting with every single person in line.” Plausible? Yes, but absolutely failing to take note of the fact that s/he left work far too late to accomplish things in a timely manner.
  • They are so frightened of being dependent on you  that they try very hard to control you. Then, they believe that you will think that they are not dependent on you.
    I don’t care if you help me or not. I’m very used to doing everything around here.”
  • They work very hard at making sure you don’t get your way…no matter how small the request, need or desire may be.  They may even give you the impression that giving you what you want is important to them, but, they just won’t/don’t do it.  And, then, it makes you second guess yourself that maybe you are asking too much of them.  That’s TOO much!
  • They will not acknowledge timelines or deadlines. “I’m not here to do your bidding, or meet your requirements. You just don’t understand me.

So, a few insights into how to recognize a passive aggressive person.  P-A is abuse hidden under seeming acceptable words, but completely unacceptable behaviors. AND, IT’S CRAZY-MAKING!!! If you don’t get a handle on it, it may become passive aggressive abuse.

My suggestion for today: look at your own behavior with them first. If there is something to remedy, do it. If that does not make the relationship equitable and collaborative, you just may be dealing with a P-A person. You can learn more about passive aggressive behavior, Hijackals, and more relationship advice on my YouTube channel, The Relationship Help Doctor.

*Hijackal: a person who hijacks relationships for their own purposes while scavenging them for power, status and control.

What folks have said…
You have no idea how much that helped – thank you so much – I wish you love., peace and a night filled with stars and sweet dreams xx Thank you for this excellent video. It was so helpful. Hard subject matter that you explained clearly and truthfully. I appreciate you and the knowledge that you are sharing.
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