Could Being Unconsciously Passive-Aggressive be Ruining Your Relationships?

23 March 2020 | 3 mins

As a matchmaker, I often meet people unable to identify if they’re acting in a passive-aggressive way. So what does passive-aggressive behavior look like?

Being “passive-aggressive” is a buzz phrase that’s grown in popularity over the past year or two. But is there more to it than a clenched jaw or unexpressed outburst?

The Oxford Dictionary defines passive-aggressive as “a type of behavior or personality characterized by indirect resistance to the demands of others and an avoidance of direct confrontation.”

“Avoidance of direct confrontation” doesn’t sound too bad, right? Many learn this behavior from well-meaning parents or guardians who wish to protect the young. Your resistance to feuds may come from a place of equally good intention, but does it serve to continue this habit?

As a matchmaker, I often meet people unable to identify whether they’re acting in a passive-aggressive way. Yet I always implore people to examine their attitudes as, if left unaddressed, passive-aggressive behavior can lead to acrimonious daily interactions and, eventually, the breakdown of a relationship.

What does passive-aggressive behavior look like?

If you’re regularly experiencing feelings of disappointment or frustration, this could signify unexpressed anger. But other less obvious behaviors may also indicate a dormant rage that would be worth addressing. Do you inwardly sigh when your partner asks you to do them a favor? Do you hold back words of praise? Do you find yourself relying on sarcasm or monosyllabic responses during meaningful chats? Do you withhold intimacy when you want to punish your partner? Do you sulk or pout when things don’t go your way?

Playing the victim

Letting yourself become a victim or a martyr is another passive-aggressive act. Granted, you might fear the collapse of a relationship if you start laying down the law, but saying ‘yes’ when you mean ‘no’ is disempowering. If you don’t set boundaries for yourself, how will your partner know where the line lies? Feeling like you’re being crossed creates negativity, and thus leads to further passive-aggressive action. Meanwhile, your partner has no idea what’s going on!

Make a change

There’s no shame in acknowledging that some of these actions may resonate with you. Often awareness is a major step toward healing. Once we become mindful of our processes, we can find more effective solutions to deal with our fury and work to overcome damaging behavior learnt in infancy. If we fail to address our anger, it will not leave the body, but will instead out itself as passive-aggressive conduct.

Honesty in relationships is vital. Set your boundaries without fear of the relationship imploding. Give yourself the positive self-talk to invoke the courage to do this, because you are worth a LOT. It’s far healthier to establish your ground than continue in a dishonest way which will lead to mounting passive-aggressive actions and potentially result in an implosion between you two regardless.

Be honest!

Anger is not wrong. Suppressing emotion is.

Granted, you may never have witnessed a person successfully modelling honest rage, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be the first. Examine the root cause of your behavior, and start saying no. Feel confident in your choices, knowing you’re acting within the boundaries that work for you. Continue to be mindful in the face of your reactions, take a moment to assess your honest desires – will saying yes make you feel resentful? – and then proceed.

Proceed with grace, increased self-worth,and respect. You are in charge of your life, so take charge and fall in love with yourself first. After all, that’s the most attractive version of you there is.

If you’d like to explore this topic further, why not spend time with one of our esteemed dating coaches? They will work one-on-one to comprehend any unconscious behavior, breaking down barriers to better prepare you for a successful future relationship.

Get in touch with Maclynn International, and take a positive step toward finding love today.


About the Author

Rachel Vida MacLynn

Founder & CEO

Rachel Vida MacLynn is reputed as being a world-leading matchmaking and dating expert. Registered as a Chartered Psychologist with the British Psychological Society, Rachel advocates a professional matchmaking approach based on psychological principles and professional consultation.

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