Passive. Aggressive.

A personality trait that is really hard to get rid of - is passive aggressiveness. It is one of those aspects of character that will interfere with relationships, and send most of the real intimacy and connection you have with someone - into a colder place.

For me, passive aggressive behavior is a form of defense. I will usually slip into passive aggressive when I feel attacked, but on a level where the action to defend myself has to be sublimated. Case in point - when I was a teenager, I used passive aggressive behavior to survive my parents. One of the places where we all had to lay down our weapons was the dinner table - and so I lapsed into a kind of non-talkative - noncommittal state where I would share as little of my day as I possibly could. I suppose your parents always love you - but when you're a teenager - you really want to go your own way. It's a shame, really - because one of the best memories I had of my childhood was breakfast conversation overheard at my grandmother's home - I and my parents have never really had good dinner conversation since.



In adult life, I find that passive aggressive behavior tends to come up when I find some aspect of a situation impossible. Say, for example - I am attracted to a woman - but I know I cannot be with her because she is in another state or another country. I won't criticize the situation, but I will find ways to distance myself from it. Such distance relationships depend almost entirely upon communication - and so the passive aggressive behavior will come out as a form of jealousy when communication lapses. It comes from a funny place - a sort of sense of insecurity and aggression all at once. You start to question why a person falls out of communication. You begin to wonder if there's a reason. Snarky responses come into play. And it's a real turn off for the other person.


In the local or family sphere - passive aggressiveness tends to arise when I am frustrated or if I feel that I am being ignored. All passive aggressive behaviors are a form of attack - but they are set up in such a way that the attack is not outright - and the damage is obscured. A good example there, is deliberate or repeated failure to accomplish things I would be explicitly responsible for - because you just don't feel good doing the work.

It really is a waste of time.

The best way to get rid of it, I've found - is to just tell the person directly how you feel. Most of the time they've done something to hurt you. If you choose to paper over that transgression - and then come across with passive aggressive - you've not forgiven them and they are not likely to feel comfortable. Not everyone picks up on passive aggressive behavior - which is why it has its use. It can be a bit like putting a "Kick Me , I'm Stupid!" sign on someone ... they might not know it at first, and so its funny to you. But eventually most people understand they're being cut down. Alot of times you can do this and still feel like you're blameless. You're not.

So, just tell them how you feel. Be direct. It may take you deeper into conflict - it may also help you resolve it.
If in the end, the person you're feeling uncomfortable with - is someone that can't resolve the sharper conflict points or you feel you don't want to deal with them - you're better off being free of them - than being trapped in a colder life.





Comments