5 Ways to Spot Passive-Aggressive Behavior & Do Something About It

Many couples engage in unfair fighting tactics during spats - you're mad and before you know it, you're yelling and name-calling, even though you know better than to act that way.

One of the hardest types of behavior to understand while arguing with your partner is "passive-aggressive" behavior, which is a way in which someone indirectly expresses their bad feelings rather than openly saying what's really bugging them. The reason that passive-aggressive behavior is really hard to pinpoint is because there's a difference in what the person says and what he or she does. For someone who engages in passive-aggressive fighting, the feelings they have are shown through actions (or inactions) rather than words.

This can make a simple argument even harder to get over. Here are some examples of passive-aggressive behavior and how to combat it.


1) Being resentful of your partner's needs. Rather than saying, "no, I can't do XYZ," your partner may instead huff and puff and roll his eyes when you ask him to do something for you.

What To Do: Ask your partner point-blank if what you requested is bothering him and why. It's best to get it out in the open whenever possible before resentments build.

2) Constant complaining about being taken for granted. Now in a relationship, there's a give and take. Sometimes, there's more give from one partner, but in a healthy relationship, it all balances out eventually.

What To Do: Ask your partner why he or she feels as though he or she is being taken for granted and how you can help with those feelings. Through open dialogue, you may see some errors you're both committing.

3) Procrastination. We all procrastinate sometimes, especially when it's a task we're not super-excited about. But when your partner procrastinates with the things YOU ask for (putting away the dishes, taking out the garbage) all the time, it's a sign that he is being passive-aggressive.

What To Do: Confront your significant other using "I feel" statements and ask why he is refusing to do a simple chore that means something to you.

4) Pouting. We've all had to say "yes" when we meant no - it's part of the give and take of a relationship. But when you say yes to a request from your partner, then begin to pout and get all crabby the minute he takes you up on it, that's a sign of passive-aggressive behavior.

What To Do: Rather than give into your partner's pouting and stop what you're doing to please him, say, "if you hadn't meant yes, you should have said so. Next time, speak up."

5) Forgetfulness. Memory lapses happen; we've all forgotten something important to our partner at one point or another. But when it's a pattern, and your partner can't seem to remember that your birthday actually does matter to you (or whatever it is) and never "remembers" to buy you a gift, he's acting passive-aggressively. No one is that forgetful.

What To Do: Confront the issue head-on and don't let any passive-aggressive sniping get in your way. Be calm and explain that "I feel XYZ when you forget my birthday every year. I make a big deal out of yours, I'd like you to at least buy me a card so that I can feel special."

What other signs of passive-aggressive behavior have you seen?

Image via deltaMike/Flickr

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