Are You Being Passive & Indirect?

Unhappy woman with relationship problems because she is passive and indirect

Passive and passive-aggressive behaviors in a relationship are crazy-making, and it often requires some relationship advice to see and solve the issues.

I just wanted to scream but, the office isn’t the place for that. Why did I want to scream? Because here’s the question I was just asked:

“And that file I need would be where?”

What am amazingly passive way to be! If you want me to get the file for you, ask me to get the file for you. If you want me to tell you where the file is–which he clearly didn’t because I told him and he didn’t move, ask me to get the file for you. This insipid, passive way of getting a need met is infuriating to me. How about to you?

It is possible to be kindly direct. It may take a little practice to be assertive, but there is no need to be passive.

It’s really not all that hard to be direct in a relationship. It simply means using the words, “please” and “thank you”, along with a direct request. State the request clearly stated so there is no ambiguity as to how to meet the need. It’s such a simple thing. If I had heard:

“Could you please get that file for me now?”

No problem. The answer I could give was “yes” or “no.” Simple. You know what you want. You ask me to give it to you. I agree or disagree.

You can be assertive. No need to be aggressive, either. But, there is no need to be passively indirect. It damages relationships.  Are you guilty? Does this remind you of someone?

© Rhoberta Shaler, PhD
The Relationship Help Doctor 

Want more insights? Read my ebook, Stop! That’s Crazy-makiing. How To Quit Playing The Passive-Aggressive Game HERE
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Disclaimer: All advice, insights and suggestions made here are not to be construed as psychological or legal advice. Any actions you undertake as a result of reading any article, book, video, ebook or blog post from Rhoberta Shaler, PhD, are entirely your own. Having worked with individuals and couples for more than twenty-five years, she offers her insights and opinions for your consideration only.

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  1. Candace -

    I have a question in regards to a man I’m dating who I believe is showing signs of passive aggressive behavior. He has withdrawn conversation significantly and expresses cold behavior but when asked if there is a reason he responds with “no, I don’t see that” but it is very obvious. How do I respond to this type of behavior?

    • Rhoberta Shaler, PhD -


      When in doubt, always believe behavior. When words are not forthcoming, or they don’t match the behavior, believe the behavior. That is who this man is.

      Isn’t it wonderful that he is demonstrating this in your dating life? You have the opportunity to ask yourself: would I want to have this kind of behavior in my life permanently? I hope the answer is “no.” It doesn’t matter how much you might enjoy this person’s company or companionship, living with this behavior is something you have the opportunity to avoid.

      If you really care about this guy, ask him if he will come with you to get the relationship insights and relationship help you need. Then, you can find out if he is willing to a) see the behaviors, and b) solve the issues. If not, he’s not likely the partner you want.

      I wish you well.
      Dr. Shaler

      Rhoberta Shaler, PhD
      The Relationship Help Doctor
      Creator of Coupleology

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