Years Spent Trying To Understand The Passive Aggressive

Even though I have been with my passive aggressive BF for 10 years now, I still don’t quite understand why he does some of the things he does and I never stop researching the subject.

This morning while reading different things about personality disorders (which I understand they have “de-classified the passive aggressive personality as a personality disorder) I ran across a blog titled “Lovefraud“. In essence that is what happens when you fall for a passive aggressive. It’s a type of “love fraud”.  You go through the dating period, you’re the best person they ever met, they shower you with love and affection, then once they have you, they turn it all off, and the real “them” comes out. I thought this was a very interesting label as it’s one I had not heard before, nor ever really thought of it that way.

The blog is written by Liane Leedman, MD and she tends to lump several personalities into one large group of “sociopaths”. I thought this too was an interesting view of things. While reading her post on “The Nature of The Abusive Personality” she explains her idea of 4 characteristics that interfere with us recognizing a sociopath and then 4 questions and answers to explain herself.

In my opinion, there are four other characteristics of men and women who perpetrate partner/family abuse that have interfered with our understanding that these abusers are psychopathic and are truly sociopaths. These are:

1. The degree to which they cling to those whom they abuse.
2. Their high level of anxiety and other negative emotions.
3. Lack of abuse of strangers and non-family members.
4. Lack of criminal arrest for other offenses.

I want to address each of these characteristics by asking then answering the related questions people have asked me over the years.

Question #1 Does the fact that my ______________ keeps calling and doesn’t want to lose me mean that deep down he/she really loves me?

Answer#1 NO! Although sociopaths are not capable of love they are very social and most often want to count themselves in as part of a family, extended family and friendship network. If they are alone how will they be able to do what they do best which is abuse and control people? Also if they are alone, how can they use people to get the other things they want. Especially as sociopaths get older and their ability to charm others declines they tend to want to stick with those they have taken advantage of in the past.

Question #2 My poor _________ is just depressed/anxious/angry about being mistreated and abused as a child. Won’t my love and reassurance help him/her get over it?

Answer #2 NO! If your______ has a long standing pattern of abusing you and/or other family members it means something very important so listen. It means he or she equates abuse with being in a relationship, just like you equate love and caring with being in a relationship. Since that is true, your love will only make the person more abusive.

Question#3 My ___________ only abuses me and no one else so it must be my fault. Right?

Answer #3 NO! Your __________ would abuse others if he/she thought he/she could get away with it and will abuse anyone else he/she feels close ties with. An intimate relationship brings out abusive behavior in people who have a borderline personality organization.

Question#4 My _____________ has never been arrested can he/she still be a sociopath?

Answer #4 YES! Antisocial behavior is behavior that hurts other people. When this hurtful behavior is perpetrated by someone who lacks empathy or remorse it reflects psychopathy/sociopathy.

Do these sound familiar to anyone else but me? Even though she is not speaking about passive aggressives directly, I have to say between my experience and those of others I have read, these seem very appropriate.

This article led me to a few books I hadn’t heard of because everything I had looked for had “passive aggressive” either in the title or the subtitle. One of the books that seems to have very good reviews and I thought was appropriate for us here is Emotional Unavailability : Recognizing It, Understanding It, and Avoiding Its Trap

I hope you find it helpful.

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2 Responses

  1. I have noticed two other behaviors that I don’t see lumped under PA behaviors but I’m wondering if they might also be something others have observed. I have been involved with a PA for fourteen months now. I am just beginning to see the withdrawal and the “I need to be more self-sufficient” talk and the signs that he must be terribly threatened by what he’s feeling. He still refers to me as his S/O, even to his employer, but I’m wondering how much longer that will last…anyway the two behaviors I’ve noticed are that he will never compliment me, has never said “I love you”, that I’m pretty…he has said that he sees us as being on the same intelligence level, that I’m a great smoozer, guy type stuff, not the stuff a woman wants to hear. That he seems instinctively to hold back but he will compliment other women saying things like “she’s wonderful in her own way” this about a woman boss who almost totally emasculated him, or “she’s a saint to put up with stuff like that from him” or “she’s a blessing”. He never says stuff like that to me or about me as far as I know. It hurts and I think he does it intentionally to hurt. And then there’s the way he tries to use other women to make me jealous. This I have forced myself to ignore or, more accurately, pretend I don’t notice. As soon as he thinks I’ve not paying any attention, that behavior stops. I’ve also tried turning the tables on him when he tries that. I will find another man to converse with, smile real big , or flirt with a bit. That brings the jealousy provoking behavior to a screeching halt. I don’t like doing that because I truly love this man. I don’t want to add any more to his lack of self esteem but dammit, that hurts too.There are a couple of other things I’ve wondered about. Is this behavior more prevalent among males who are often definded as”nerds” or had been in high school maybe? My guy has said that he’s sure that I wouldn’t have given him the time of day if we’d have met in high school because I ran with the “in crowd “and he was the nerdy type. This, by the way, is not true and I resent that assumption. I have always been drawn to the intellectual type even though I got paired up often with jocks and BMOC types. I usually discovered that they were quite shallow and egotistical and lost interest quickly. I am at that point of crazyness that a PA can cause. I don’t want to give up but I don’t like the emotional drain either. I have decided to seek a therapist who might be able to guide me through this mine field but there isn’t much encouragement around so I guess I’m looking for a “life raft”. Any advice is sincerely appreciated. Thanks. Marilyn

    • Dear Marilyn- Welcome and thanks for stopping by. I hope you find a lot of useful information here and the comments and answers left by others also give you some light on your situation.

      It’s not surprising your PA husband doesn’t “whisper sweet nothings in your ear”. They generally don’t after they’ve got you. When you confront them about the no “I love you” or no compliments, they usually respond with an act of surprise, like it wasn’t done concously. They will usually also tell you that they think you look pretty all the time no matter what you where, and you should know they love you. What it truly and more likely is, is that they cannot really emotionally connect so they may not love you the way we think of a husband loving us, so they don’t say it. They also don’t trust us enough to let any part of themselves seem vulnerable, which if they confess to loving you they confess that you may be able to hurt them.

      I think as far as the “jealousy” game I don’t think I would play. I like it. LOL. It makes me feel good, and makes me feel desirable, neither of which I get from my passive aggressive BF, but that can be a dangerous game in the way that it undermines the relationship and also just gives him ammunition. I think if just ignoring his behavior puts a stop to it, I would just stick to that, especially if you’re not really enjoying the flirting, etc. As far as what he says in complementing other women I think I would draw the conversation out a little. He’ll soon tire of that little tactic also. If the woman is someone you know also, try just agreeing with him. If it’s someone like his boss I would just say something like “I’m surprised you feel that way after what she did.” As I’ve said many times on this blog, if you have a sense of humor and treat dealing with a PA sort of like playing a game, it’ll go a long way in helping to save your sanity.

      I haven’t necessarily noticed passive aggressiveness being more prevalent in “nerdy” types, but I guess that would kind of depend on why they were nerdy. If it came from a super strict up-bringing or something like that, it very well could be. What I have noticed is it does seem to be a bit prevalent in males that were a little socially backward as adolescents, whether nerdy or not. My passive aggressive basically grew up on a farm. Their life was much different than the kids that grew up in town.

      Seeking a therapist is the best idea you can have. If you’ve tried talking to your husband to no avail, you really need a therapist for support more than anything. It would be nice if your husband would agree to couples counseling, but that’s rare and a lot of times it’s a waste of money on a passive aggressive unless they admit that they have something to do with what’s wrong in the relationship. Also something you may find helpful is be sure to read my post on “Building a Self-Esteem file”. The sooner you get started the better. Talk about a life raft. That can really give you a leg up as you start building, remembering good things about yourself, and have a place to go back to to remember just how good you are.

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