Passive Aggressives And The Holidays

If you’re in a relationship with a passive aggressive, whether it be a spouse, partner, your mother, etc. being fore-warned is being fore-armed. If you want to spend this or any holiday pleasantly, without upset, here are some steps you must take and some things you must first understand.

The first thing when spending the holidays with a passive aggressive is to always have a “plan B”. Your whole life more likely than not, is made up of small sabotages. Why do we allow ourselves to think because it’s a special day that things will be different? If you think this even for a second, you are already setting yourself up to be disappointed and upset.

The second tip: Never leave anything really important up to the passive aggressive. If it means you have to do everything yourself in order to preserve the day, then that’s the way it will have to be. Whatever you do leave up to them, see tip 1 above. If you’re going to a passive aggressive’s house for dinner, say your mother or sister, etc. and there is a part of the meal that’s very important to you, tell them you’ll bring it. I have a friend allergic to peanuts and every time she goes to dinner she can’t eat dessert, even though the whole family knows of her allergies. Now she takes a dessert herself so that she can be indulging after dinner with everyone else. There are some things all the fake apologies in the world just won’t fix.

Tip 3: If your passive aggressive is always late, waits until the last minute to get dressed, drags their feet you have two choices instead of getting upset. 1) tell them you have to leave a half hour earlier than you really do, or 2) if you have 2 cars be prepared to leave when you’re ready to leave and let them meet you there. If you’re having people to your house, once again tell the passive aggressive guests will be arriving about a half hour earlier than when you really expect them 2) don’t count on your passive aggressive to do anything helpful to get ready for them, unless he/she really likes having guests over and entertaining.

If you’re dating a passive aggressive, expect them to be late if they show up at all. I had a husband once that stayed in the bar and bragged about how I had a big Thanksgiving dinner at home waiting for him. By the time he wondered home we had all eaten and I had everything cleaned up and put away. I didn’t make excuses for why he wasn’t there. It was the way it was. Our trying to excuse their behavior is part of how they keep getting away with it.

Now for one of the hardest tips of all. If you have a passive aggressive spouse or partner, etc. that you are spending the holidays with and they are the type that makes rude comments or snide remarks in front of other people, you are not going to retrain them today. If you haven’t stopped this behavior already, you’re too late to not have it continue in front of family and friends for the holidays. The most important thing you can do is not react to whatever is said. Now you know why I said it’s the hardest.

You can 1)snipe back in humor which may shut them up. It’s worked quite well for me in the past, but then you can’t be surprised if they spend the rest of the time sulking like a small child. 2) If you just ignore it and go past it, odds are he/she will either prove what an ass they are by steadily getting worse on the comments, or they will get bored and go on to something else. If what they are doing/saying doesn’t get to you, they aren’t getting the reaction they want which is for you to “lose it”, odds are they will stop.

If you’ve spent more than one holiday with this person or these people (in case it’s your whole family) and they are passive aggressive, you know what to expect. This year do something different. Expect it to be the same as it has been. It is insane to think that by some miracle these people are going to change, but we can change how we react to them.

5 Responses

  1. Happy Thanksgiving! I will keep my fingers crossed that you are able to manage all the PAs at your dinner table today.. I really appreciate your kind words. Four out of the five kids are home for the holidays. My married daughter and her husband switch off each year with his family for each holiday. I get Christmas with them this year. My PA son came home. And I was really surprised. In the past his intentions to come home never seemed to materialize, kind of like “he forgot”. But in the time we had apart and the time it took me to understand him, the communications are improving. I know it’s because I am not trying to plan his life for him. In my own defense, if my kids had goals and ambitions I just supported them, But number 4 was a mystery, no ambition, but a hard worker. Well I guess my approach was if you don’t have a plan, I’ll give you a plan for progressing in life. Well as previously discussed, my plan didn’t go over so well. He is still working, is still living with my husband, but fairly overwhelmed with the all that has been hoarded away. I told him that every time he comes to my home,he should bring boxes of things that I could go through and get rid of or give to someone who could use them. He has brought a few boxes, but he forgot to bring anything the past week. Two weeks ago we went shopping and bought the clothes that he liked and picked out, not the ones I would have picked for him but oddly enough he picked several things that I thought were very attractive. He came home last night and we watched a movie together. He is very interested in art and brought some of the the things he is working on. We had a pretty good conversation about the economy, politics, and movies. He should be here the entire weekend. And for Thanksgiving I am so thankful I have my son back in my life. Thank you for your insights.

    • Hi PA’s Mom- I’m so happy for you! Happy Thanksgiving at your house. LOL. And you were so worried about being alone. LOL.
      Have an absolutely wonderful day.

  2. This will be the first holiday season with my passive aggressive, soon-to-be-ex…I think. I’ve been in the process of trying to leave him for about 2 years and the feelings finally bubbled up and spilled out and over and I spit out the words “I’m done.” on Sunday, right after he made our pancake breakfast, pretending that everything was super fine. That had been his plan for the weekend; let’s just pretend everything is fine.
    Hopefully, when I go home this afternoon, he will be gone. It sounds tragic to say that I hope he is gone, but I believe it’s how I really feel this time; as terrifying as it will be to be alone, most of the time I felt alone when I was with him, alone or just covered in a smothering, heavy, suffocating cloud. Isn’t that awful?
    I was grateful to find this site because it speaks directly to those of us affected by passive aggressive and in this case, it really does take those who are in it or been there, to understand.
    I simply could no longer imagine my life becoming incrementally smaller as I cut out needs, wants, hopes, dreams and expectations to work around his behaviors. How much less is a healthy individual expected to ‘settle for’ before they can no longer consider themselves healthy? How do you stop the resentment from building up? How long do you wait for someone who chooses paralysis and always looks to you to carry the torch and gives nothing in return (that one slow dance in Mexico on your anniversary-one slow dance in 11 years that didn’t come with weeks of arguments before and after about he just isn’t “that kind of guy”, and the song that you danced to, well he reminds you of it every time he hears it which is always, convientely right around the same times you happen to be thinking of leaving him, again.)
    In our final conversations yesterday he said “I’ve ruined you. What I do is emotional abuse and if I were you I wouldn’t want to stay either, who would?” There were no apologies or actions suggested, of course, simply an acknowledgement of what I’ve been avoiding knowing for years; being married was all too much work “I should’ve never gotten married. It’s too much responsibility, for me, I guess.” Really? But in the past year of complete disintegration he’s left me to do the asking, directing, and suggesting every time.
    It’s sort of like being invited to stand on hot coals and as you’re hopping around saying “ow! ow! this hurts!” they stand there in utter silence and calm asking what our problem is and when we jump off the coals, they continue to stand there smolerding, but with no emotion, or just standing there, crying helplessly. You wave your arms, you create a calm, rational plan, you try to physically pick them up and remove them from their bed of fire, but they won’t move. “I don’t know how to change so I guess I’ll just stand here and do nothing cause I suck. WAAAAAaaaaaa.” Eventually you realize how completely insane the whole thing is, and you ask them to leave.
    Thanks for the breathing room.

    • Hi Sunny Florida- Welcome. So glad you decided to share with us. It sounds like you’ve been going through this long enough that if you feel you have tried long enough, you probably have. The one bright thing to come out of all this is that he admits what he’s doing, so he knows it. At least he didn’t lie to you saying he’ll change and all the other tricks they normally use to stop you.

      It is scary to strike out on your own after you’ve been with someone for so long, but it’s also scary to think of another what, 11 years?, of going through the same as you’ve been going through. At least on your own, you still have a chance at happiness for yourself no matter what he does or how miserable his life turns out.

      I hope you’re getting support around you whether it be a therapist, a support group, or even a couple of girlfriends. Whether you stay or go, you need to have support to help hold you up as you go through the range of emotions that being involved with a passive aggressive brings.

      There’s a free ebook that I posted for my readers at Leaving A Passive Aggressive Relationship. Feel free to go there and download a copy for yourself. The author gave me permission to give it away. You may find it helpful.

      Good luck to you and please stop in anytime. Let us know how you’re doing or what your plan is, or even just for “breathing room”. LOL.

  3. “most of the time I felt alone when I was with him, alone or just covered in a smothering, heavy, suffocating cloud. Isn’t that awful?”

    Amen, and yeah, it’s awful!

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