Passive Aggressive And Hostile

man screaming

A Little Hostile?

I’ve noticed my passive aggressive BF is getting a little hostile lately. I don’t know if he’s spending too much time sitting across the table from my passive aggressive mother or what, but he seems to be a little on the verge. On the verge of blowing up.

Anyone who has been with me very long knows I usually write about how passive a passive aggressive he is, but I can’t help noticing a change lately. He’s the kind of passive aggressive partner that everyone wonders how you got so lucky to have him. Even my kids stick up for him when I get on his case about being passive aggressive. He’s a “man’s man”, a woman’s dream, or so she thinks. Of course as is typical with a passive aggressive, the stuff I see at home they don’t know about. He’s so sweet, and I’m the one who’s out of control. That’s ok. I’m used to playing that part.

The other night in bed (that we only use for sleeping) I evidently rolled too far to his side and instead of just nudging me to get me over or waking me up a little and asking me to move over, he gave me quite the shove. I was so startled, I got out of bed immediately and just figured I would take a nap after he got up. I guess this is the new way of handling me taking up too much room since the last time I woke up to him having a swearing tyrade while sitting on the side of the bed, I confronted him. That had happened a few times. For one that usually is fairly good about his language, do you know how disconcerting it is to wake up to someone swearing their brains out in the middle of the night? LOL. I’ve told him for 10 years, all he has to do is nudge me a little and I’ll move. For 10 years he’s tried everything but that. I’ve been thinking of getting a hide-a-bed for the living room.

At times, in the typical passive aggressive fashion, the PA boyfriend can be very thoughtful. When I get a phone call, he automatically turns down the TV for me if we happen to be in the same room. The only problem is he never remembers to turn it back up when I’m done. I don’t usually sit in front of the TV as I never have the time. The other day I did it while having a quick lunch, got a call, he turned it down, went back to his crossword, and you would have thought I asked him if he could build the Taj Mahall when I asked him to turn it back up. He proceeds to tell me how he turned it down for me, I acknowledge how thoughtful that was and how good he always is about that, “but you don’t remember to turn it back up”. It ended up with me storming out of the room and telling him “now you can just mute the damn thing”.

He’s still not working. He does crosswords and soduko most of the day and usually cooks dinner (which that part is a good thing). You would not think someone would get so upset about turning the TV up. Yes People, for all my experience and words of wisdom on how to cop with the passive aggressiveand not let them get to you, I have my moments of letting my guard down, and that passive aggressive behavior just sneaks right in there and gets to me too. LOL.


8 Responses

  1. PA is the strangest thing ever. After a BIG blowup, my PA has shown no signs of PA behavior in the last 5 months. Oh yes, I’m waiting for the big one. LOL Oh yes, I too, have the ‘perfect’ man… kind, considerate, helpful, caring, generous. But holy cow, if he thinks I’m getting my way he is all over it like white on rice. That’s the worst thing ever. Maybe you might have said “Could you turn the volume up now?” it might have made a difference. Haha… I just realized I’m giving advice to a woman who is married to a PA! Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit… we all have our moments! LOL Care for yourselves, people… don’t let the PA’s bring you down!

    • Karen- Thanks. I actually asked him nicely. It was his reaction that got me. I almost said “You know those silly crossword puzzles aren’t rocket science. It’s not like I interrupted you in the middle of coming up with some new “green” energy that’s going to save the planet” but I didn’t. LOL.

      Congrats on your PA. Whatever you said to him must have made a terrific impression if he’s been good for 5 months. Therapists can’t even get a PA to behave that long. Maybe you have a new side line. LOL. Care to share your secret?

      Always so happy to hear from you. Thanks again for sharing.

  2. Hi Ladybeams
    Having studied PA for a decade now and having nearly 40 years experience with this disorder, I’m slowly coming to the following conclusion. We all have our ways of dealing with what is way ” too much on our plate”. Some people cry, others scream, drink, gamble etc. PA’s start to protect themselves by becoming very PA. In fact, I now believe these people cannot handle stress well at all. They need a relatively simple, easy going, calm and pleasant lifestyle, especially at home. They need to be looked after, cared for, supported to cope with all the sresses of the outside world. If that support is not enough for them, then it starts. PA is avoiding duties, avoiding responsibilites, tasks – anything so (including sex) that takes energy out of them which they simply don’t have but are probably not even aware of it. Rather than honestly say: I’m not up to this – they try to avoid whatever they want in a sickening way. I now believe that being happy with a PA is quite possible, but require little mental or physical energy from them because they need all they have to cope in the big wide world – like many of us really. Yes, I now realise I have asked too much and it has become our downfall – even though I felt I asked so little…. for him it was beyond what he could handle, simple as that I think. He is now leading a very basic simple life again and his PA is slowly but surely disappearing again. I make no demands, he is starting to come a little closer and helps me voluntary when he feels I really need it – which better be not too much because then he willdiwthdraw again and wants me to get help elsewhere, To say it in one sentence: PA is a way of saying:” I’m not coping, it is too much for me to handle, you do it somehow.
    What do you think about this analysis?
    Kind regards. Tessa

    • Hi Tessa- Welcome.

      It’s very interesting reading your comment. Thank you for your input. It sounds like you are still very much in love and have a lot of compassion for your PA. Many of us look at it after awhile like having another child to look after. For many of us that was not what we were “buying into” when we chose our partner/spouse. It’s nice to see that you have a very different and probably very helpful to your partner/spouse, point of view. I think many of us start out wanting to make things pleasant and less stressful at home, but after awhile get tired of carrying the burdens by ourselves when we thought we were getting someone to carry some of the load.

      You are also very fortunate if your PA’s passive aggressive behavior seems to disappear with less stress. For most PAs they are passive aggressive no matter the circumstances and due to some childhood lack of love and nurturing, end up taking out their PA behavior on who ever is closest to them (or their boss).

      When it comes to “no sex” it is usually a power play of sorts and stops for reasons unbeknown to their partners. Unfortunately they seem to put their spouse or partner in the same category as the parent that wronged them, and the sex comes to a halt. It’s one thing they feel they have control over, withholding as a form of “punishment” knowing that the other person needs the love and the intimacy to thrive. In their minds they’re “getting even” with an authority figure. They also cannot handle the emotional connection that comes with intimacy. They are afraid of being too vulnerable, too dependent, because when they did that as a child they were hurt, and they cannot allow themselves to get in that position again.

      It is good for you that you have found a way of coping with your PA’s behavior. You obviously plan on making your marriage work and still have a lot of love for this person versus the resentments so many have built up after going through it for so many years. As you said, you felt you asked so little yet even that seemed to be too much. After a while it just gets very tiresome having to always be the responsible one. Sometimes it’s nice to have them take care of us or at least hold up their half.

      I think that you did a good analysis, as they don’t handle stress well, and they consider anything to do with someone else’s wishes, stress. If you can go through life always having someone else responsible for everything and not have a worry in the world, then why not? It just usually doesn’t happen that way. At some point, everyone needs to suck it up and be the adult.

      Good luck to you, and thank you so much for sharing. I would love to know how long you two have been together, and you say you’ve got 40 yrs. experience with passive aggressive behavior. Was there someone before your partner/spouse? And if that’s the case, why do you think you didn’t recognize it in your partner/spouse in the beginning? Always love to hear people’s different perspectives and coping skills. I too am learning along with everyone else here. LOL.

  3. Hi Ladybeam
    Thanks you so much for your response. It is absolutely correct. They are like a child needing to be looked after – but let’s be honest, most men love this, really. Do most men (and nowadays women too) not need a lot of support to cope well in their often stressful careers? Do many marriages nowadays not break down because wives are working, forcing the husbands (and nowadays wives) to do stuff they actually have no energy for?? With disastrous consequences, one way or the other….

    I can assure you my son had no lack of love, just about a perfect childhood, yet is as PA as can be. You see, my mother-in-law was PA, one of 7 children. Not all her siblings were PA – how come? Can we really blame the parents?? My husband and my son also PA…. . I have little doubt that there is a genetic inclination which I hope the experts will prove one day. And I am also asking the experts – could bloodtype have something to do with this? All three have bloodtype O – I am an A and believe me not a spec of PA in me (other forms of coping with anger though…).

    Being so aware of PA, I have tried for many years to make my now 17 y.o son aware of his PA. After a lot of observing and studying, it seemed to me like a switch in his brain which he can turn on and off. After all, he could also often be this absolutely wonderful boy. Trying to make him aware when I think it is on – Yes, he is actually starting to turn it off more and more, sometimes on the spot!! Mind you, this has cost me a lot of dediciation, effort, patience and reading. Being a teenager does not help, but he is now definately becoming more aware when his switch is ON .

    A lot of thinking and studying has lead me to believe that stress, anger about something they find hard to express, or exhaustion is a major trigger. Turns on the switch so to speak. Yet, people who indeed have unresolved childhood anger issues will – I think – vent this anger in a PA way whenever they can. But let’s not forget that this happens unconsciously most of the time. Are PA’s aware of their subconscious pain(!) expressed as anger?? I really doubt it. That is why I am so reluctant to talk derogatively aboutt hese people. Dont they have a disposition to a major mental problem – inherited…. – and need help??

    In the beginning I did not see the PA in my husband because he was studying in the evenings for his career – he went to evening school 3 nights a week for many years straight. So I was only too willing to do all the rest…… and support him in a way PA’s just love. No lack of praise for his hard work and how proud I was and how happy he was when he had finished. He was almost a perfect husband – at least on the loving, charming, attractive, financial side giving me a free hand to run the household – and my life – as I pleased. This freedom I just loved, needed and cherished with a passion.

    We came to Australia and he had to study again to get Austrlaian papers. Did that for 6 years – part-time. Again I did the lot – working only part-time to be able to do so.

    Then….. after nearly 20 years of marriage my son was born. And then I said: I have supported you for 20 years, now you have to support me. Oops. Did PA raise its ugly head…..

    In hindsight I want so say this: He tried to support . I honestly think he tried, But as I said before, he just did not have the skills, the energy, the stamina. Only then things started to break down and the rest soon followed. He became very depressed indeed (which a psychologist only picked up after I rang her to beg her to give him anti depressants – after all, he is so charming and can hide any feelings so well….!!) He went on them and coped a lot better.

    However, to punish me for being so happy with my son, he still managed to give me the blow which he knew would hurt me so much that I would throw him out.

    I could see he was disturbed, mentally ill, not coping. A completely diffrent man than the one I had married say 27 years earlier. Thank God in the middle of this hell I learned about PA (in 2000, when much less information was available!!) and yes, the shells fell off my eyes.

    We separated in 2002, the relationship went on and off – accompanied with tons of stress of course. He is now living on his own, very nice, quiet, peaceful, little to do, back in the saddle careerwise and recovering. Needless to say I have tried to make him aware of his PA. At first no response, but now he is starting to read about it himself – also because he can quite clearly see it in his own son as I am pointing it out to him at every opportunity…..

    The other day he showed me an article about Post Natal depression also affecting many men….. Yes, he had suffered from it, I have no doubt now. But no one, just no one had picked it up. This really makes me feel so sad sometimes.

    Talking to him about this switch in his brain, I think…. I can see him switch it off more and more. My goal is to try and find a way for these people to deal with their “disorder” in the best possible way. After all, when PA is not there – on their good days – they can be the loveliest people to have around.

    • Tessa- Thank you so much for sharing more about what you have gone through. Wow, you have been at it awhile. LOL. And you’re still so loving and considerate of it being a mental illness, that’s incredible. I hope your husband realizes how lucky he is to have you in his life. You are also very fortunate that slowly but surely you are not only able to help him see the passive aggressiveness in himself, but in your son. Most PA’s will never even admit there is a problem, let alone see the problem could be them.

      I don’t know about being passive aggressive being genetically predisposed, but I do know if one parent is a PA that’s all it takes for at least one child to pick up the behavior. It’s very fortunate for your son that you can speak to him about it and help him break the habit, as I’m sure you would agree if left to their own devices, a PA will ruin any close relationship they have. Hopefully your involvement in his well being will help him sidestep some of the problems his father went through.

      It is funny how out of a family of 7 only one child may turn out passive aggressive, but I think that may have to do with where they are in the birth chain, just like “middle child syndrome”. I think many times in a situation like that, the one that comes out passive aggressive is quite often either the youngest, or close to the youngest. They feel they have no control over anything and are victims of their older siblings. Powerless. A prime example is when the youngest little darling tells on an older sibling “by accident” and claims they didn’t know they were saying anything wrong. Definitely a way of coping without getting beaten up or whatever by the older sibling.

      Good luck to you, Tessa. We would all love to know your secret for getting your husband and your son to at least acknowledge the problem. Maybe it’s the way that you have not allowed yourself to become bitter and resentful the way so many of us do. I think a lot of us don’t find help and support until it’s gone too far. Then we don’t care why they behave the way they do, we just know we’re tired of it being directed toward us. LOL.

      Please feel free to comment anytime and let us know how you’re doing. Does it look like you and your husband may reconcile? Do you want that? It sounds like you have been able to maintain some type of amicable relationship.
      Thanks again for stopping by.

  4. I have been reading your site for a couple of weeks now, and am so thankful that I found it. Married for 10 years, we have 4 children and I am finally beginning to realize that maybe my husband is PA. Maybe I’m not an angry control-freak that he wants me to be.

    He certainly seems to fit most of the description of what I’ve read about PA behavior. I’ve been compiling specifics for my own sanity so I can wrap my brain around the whole deal…this might ramble, but I have to get this out of my brain!

    Chronic forgetfulness/lateness — he forgets EVERYTHING that I ask him to do. I used to think it was because he was just scatterbrained, but then I realized he only forgot things that I asked him to do. Or that his boss asked him to complete. Which leads to…

    Making excuses for non-performance — It’s never his fault…he always has an excuse, which is usually that someone else prevented him from completing something. If he works late and doesn’t call to tell me he won’t be home for dinner, it’s because someone was “breathing down his neck” at work and he didn’t have a chance. If he forgets to go pay a speeding ticket, it’s because I didn’t remind him it was due. If he forgets to buy me a Christmas /Anniversary/ Mother’s Day/any gift, it’s because I or the kids didn’t tell him what he should get, or tell him what day to do it, or he didn’t know I wanted a gift (yes, this happens on most special occasions involving a gift for ME). Nevermind the fact that he now sets calendar reminders on his phone/email – he just dismisses the appointment over and over and over again and then has a reason why he didn’t have a chance to do X,Y, or Z. He’s spent many family vacations tied to his laptop to finish a report that his boss expected to be done before he left for his vacation, and then told me how he hates that his boss tried to sabotage our vacation AGAIN. This is also probably described as the victimization response (instead of admitting that he’s a lousy manager of his time, he blames everyone else for his own failures).

    Fear of Competition — when I tell him I am going to start a diet, he tells me not to get too skinny because he doesn’t want other men to notice me. Or when we have a repairman come out to the house, he hangs around them while they do their job and lets them know that he KNOWS how to do what they are doing, but that he’s just too busy to do it. Or they attempt to explain what is wrong with your car/air conditioning/household appliance, etc., and he tells them he knows all about what they are telling him. Let’s just say he’s a Jack of all trades, and a master of NONE. Annoying the hell out of them, I know.

    As always, after an overdose of his PA behaviors (some things seem to come and go, mostly it’s the daily lies by omission, deliberate ineptitude) I finally get angry and upset, and he gets what he’s been after the whole time. I’m expressing anger, so he then becomes cool, aloof, and overly calm, and tells me he doesn’t understand why I’m so angry…it was no big deal, I’m making it into something that it isn’t, etc. I’m never happy, he can never do anything right, etc. He’s just not good enough…that’s always his reaction to my voicing of my anger with him. So he sulks and sighs and gives me the silent treatment for the rest of the day. And then I apologize to him for flying off the handle, and he doesn’t actually say anything else about it except for “I don’t do anything deliberately to piss you off. Everything I do is for you and the kids!” Which makes me feel guilty for being angry. Of course, I also feel like I’m a raging crazy control-freak now, because he “didn’t intend for his actions to upset me” and “he’s sorry he’s such a disappointment to me!” — I feel badly for being angry at him, and yet I’m pissed at how detached and dismissive he becomes when I finally get angry. It’s as if he’s smiling the whole time I’m letting my anger and frustrations out…like it amuses him.

    Sex is infrequent – I have to initiate it always. Early in our relationship it was obvious that I wanted sex more than he seemed to, and he even told me that he could go without it a long time when I told him I wasn’t going to initiate anymore. I’ve waited him out before and gone as long as 2 months without, before I finally give in and initiate. And then I am usually rejected because he’s too tired, only to be flirted with the next day and told he’s thinking we should plan for it that night…and what happens that night? He starts drifting off to sleep sitting on the couch, I try to keep him awake, he denies that he was drifting…he falls asleep on the couch after the kids go to bed, so I get angry and go to bed, he wakes up at midnight, comes upstairs and wakes me up wondering why I went to bed without him…then wants to have sex when I’m half asleep, angry, and feeling rejected. It’s a game to him, I see now. I think I read in Scott Wetzler’s book that sex with a PA consists of “woman on top”…that’s how it is, always.

    Parenting is a nightmare…it has gotten much worse the older our kids have gotten. He leaves me to be the “heavy”…to discipline, to mediate sibling arguments, hell – he can be sitting in the same room with our kids and I’m upstairs taking a shower, and he’s conditioned them to come ask ME for something that he could have done for them. If I don’t TELL him that our kids need baths/bedtime, he “didn’t know how late it was getting.” It’s exhausting. If I ever go out with friends and leave him with the kids, it’s like WW3 when I get home between him and our daughters – mostly because he acts unsure of routines that he’s been a part of for 10 years and when our girls try to be helpful because mom’s not home to do it all, he lashes out at them for trying to “make him look bad.”

    My 8 yr old son and my husband are constantly in a battle with each other…I try to stay out of it until I hear my husband tell our son “Boy, don’t show you’re angry with ME!” I lose it…I don’t want my son to turn out this way – because now I know this is exactly what my husband learned from his father…don’t show your anger, ever. Not realizing that the anger has to come out somehow, and so it comes out under the guise of cooperation and stifled resentment.

    Thank you for letting me vent…I think I have become depressed, feel like I have no way out. I have 4 children, am a stay at home mom, and I feel like I’m drowning in chaos. How much more am I willing to take? I’m already feeling myself detaching from him…and the more I detach, the more he tries to be affectionate and do all the things I’ve tried to get him to do for the last 10 years. The worst part is that it seems that everyone else is convinced he’s Mr. Wonderful!

    • Hi Julie- First of all Welcome! and second, please forgive me for not getting back to you sooner. I don’t know how I missed you but I did. I try to respond fairly quickly as so many times by the time someone finds the blog, they’ve just about had it.

      Thanks for sharing so much of your story. It makes it so easy to get a clear picture of what you are going through. Let me say, if you are starting to detach from him that’s the first important step in the right direction. Once you are able to detach and not be quite so emotionally involved, the harder it will be for him to get the reaction he’s looking for when he pulls a lot of his crap because you are exactly right. The calmness, etc. you see in him after you get angry is the look of self satisfaction.

      I’m amazed he’s been able to keep his job with pulling so much of this stuff on his boss. It’s either just too hard because of company policy to get rid of him, or his boss must really like him. It also amazes me how we can ask these guys to do something around the house and it never gets done, but bring someone else into do it… I was going to paint the outside trim on the house once and got a bid from a painter. The BF didn’t want the painter to do it and said he would do it instead. We went and bought the paint and it sat in the hall for years. When he finally started it, due to code enforcement saying we were going to be fined if we didn’t do it, I still ended up having to finish it. I have another girlfriend involved with a PA who was supposed to do some work on her house. She had actually hired someone he knew to do it, but he ended up in the middle of it and now it’s been sitting there waiting to get done for months.

      You are not alone My Dear. Most of their traits are exactly the same from PA to PA. When it comes to intimacy or sex, it is not unusual at all for a passive aggressive to turn it off completely. This too is another form of punishment, something they figure they can control without showing anger. They’re also afraid if they participate in sex it will make them too vulnerable and they don’t trust any one enough for that. I too told my BF I wasn’t initiating any longer, and we go years in between. I really do believe also they see us as a “surrogate” parent, and who wants to have sex with their parent. (See my blog post “A Different Concept On Why Passive Aggressives Withhold Sex”

      If you can’t get him to couples therapy, you may want to get into some kind of therapy or support group for yourself. It helps when you have someone to validate your feelings and that you are not crazy. Also try to stay in touch with friends. I know you said it’s a problem for you to go out at all, but maybe you can think of a way to counteract some of the chaos before you go. You could even just decide that they are going to just have to get along without you and what ever happens happens. Most of what goes on is his way of trying to get you not to go anywhere. Once he finds out that isn’t working or upsetting you, he’ll quit doing it. Of course they just try another tactic, but at least your girls may get a break from what he’s doing now.

      It’s very good that you realize the effect his behavior can have on your children and that you are close enough to them to counter act some of it, just like you said that about your son. They need to learn there are constructive ways to cope with angry feelings. It’s a skill just like anything else. Hopefully you’re able to discuss things with your older ones also, as none of us want our children going through a lifetime of ruined relationships due to mimicking PA behavior.

      Well My Dear, feel free to come and vent anytime. Sometimes we get a heck of discussion going. I’ll try not to let it go so long without a response next time. We’re under a new schedule arrangement here that I’m still getting used to, but I think I’m about squared away. We’re all here to help each other. You are definitely not alone.

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