What Does a Passive Aggressive Do When You Say…

What does a passive aggressive do when you say “I think we are headed in separate directions. We might want to start thinking about going our separate ways”.

Well, I’ll tell you, at least in my case they don’t do much. LOL. I don’t remember what it was that actually got me to that point a couple of weeks ago, but that is what I said. I had had it. I didn’t care what kind of position it put me in. I was done.

The next day things went sort of as usual. A little colder maybe, if that’s possible when you’re living with a passive aggressive, but things didn’t really change. The earth didn’t stop revolving on it’s axis because I had said this, and now 2 weeks later I can’t even remember what brought it about.

What’s funny is that was sort of like throwing “divorce” in someone’s face if you’re married, which we aren’t. I learned through the years that I don’t threaten lightly as it undermines the security of the relationship. When I say we might think about going different ways, and with all the reasons I have for saying that, I can’t believe today I cannot remember why I said it nor can I tell anything is different than it ever was. If you are wanting your passive aggressive to take you seriously, you need to do better than that! No wonder he never hears me!

On a different note, we all know how it is to go without sex when you’re involved with a passive aggressive. The other day on TV it hits the news about these two getting caught having sex at work. The passive aggressive BF says “At work?”

I made a crack about “Yeah, some people actually still enjoy sex, wherever they are”.

I could have bet money because I said that he would make an attempt that night. You know how some people are with their egos.

Sure enough, a little bit into the evening, he hugs me and tells me how ‘special’ I am, how he ‘loves’ me, and what a great person I am. I knew something was off track then. Later that night as he bends down to tell me he’s going to bed, he tells me he’s going to bed naked and I could join him there if I would like to.

OK, so let me get this straight. First I said something that damaged the male ego. Then you started drinking a little earlier than usual. And now by the time you stumble over to kiss me goodnight, I should be anxious to jump into bed with you. I don’t think so.

Needless to say, I stayed up and watched my TV program, which under normal circumstances I would say makes me a bad wife (watching the Good Wife, by the way). As I told him the next morning, had nothing to do with rejecting him. 1) Don’t wait for me to make a crack about sex before having sex with me ever crosses your mind 2) if you have to get that drunk to make love to me, don’t bother.

So, in the meantime, LOL, I like many of you, wait for the perfect time to get out. The time will come. I just don’t want to be like those women that say they have been here 20, 30 years, and hopefully this blog will help those that don’t want to wait as many years as I have.


20 Responses

  1. Ladybeams…hello my friend. You know full well that a PA doesn’t hear you when you are serious. You are usually left with thinking you did something wrong..I assure you, you didn’t.
    There is no “perfect” time to leave a PA. Once you start saying to him/her you think it is time to leave…it is! Don’t threaten, DO!
    Give him every chance to help the relationship, but be careful. They are masters at manipulating the whole situation: you , the counselor, the friends, your own family. They truly want you to feel they are the best thing for you since sliced bread. They want you to feel alone. And they want others to think of you as the one who has hurt them. Been there done that.
    I will be back..

    • jmarie- Awwww, jmarie, my old friend. Thank you. I miss you. You have been so helpful here. I hope things are going well for you. You haven’t said much since you left. I’m awaiting news of your new book. LOL. God Bless.

  2. It’s the passive-aggressive way. In my observation, a passive-aggressive will never take *anything* you say seriously, for two reasons. First, a passive-aggressive doesn’t even take his/her own words seriously, let alone anyone else’s. The idea of words representing any kind of objective reality (and not merely a passing mood) is a foreign concept. For most people, words are bridges–they connect to other people, ideas, objects, and so forth, right? Well, passive-aggressive speech can best be described as “words to nowhere.” Second, when does a passive-aggressive ever take *any* problem seriously, to the point of resolving it, unless it immediately and negatively affects him/her? A passive-aggressive, by nature, upholds the status quo, which s/he established in the first place because it was advantageous (to him/her, not to you). So it’s not what you said, but the fact that he’s a passive-aggressive. 😦

    • Well put! Couldn’t have said it better. Disheartening. Demoralizing. I’ve found that they cannot voluntarily do or say anything that is really positive, and even those things that look like change come with a hidden agenda.

      I’m so sorry for you Ladybeams. You seem like such a kind person. I do hope you find the strength to move on and find that it is an opportunity for soul gratifying happiness.

    • nmpa- Thank you, and you’re so right. If he doesn’t take his own self seriously, why should he take me seriously? Excellent. And I love your “words to nowhere”. Thanks so much for your input.

    • Never heard it put so well, and I’ve been looking for a long time. Thanks.

  3. I forgot to specify the biggest breach of all: Words do not connect to actions. They just don’t, which is why so many of us find ourselves bewildered in long relationships that are full of broken promises…

    • Words not connecting to actions is SO TRUE. Recently, my PA has (yet again) effectively proven his unreliability, his inconsistency and has flashed his trademark ‘oops, I forgot/messed up’ routine. Next step in that oh-so-predictable pattern is the ‘I’m sorry’ email. I have literally stopped responding to any and all of it. Empty words – completely empty words. I can be assured that sometime within the next month he will ‘forget’ a child support payment or be late to pick up his kid ‘despite best efforts’ or otherwise sabotage, undermine or ineffectively carry out some of the basic routines of co-parenting.

      Each time I see him now I imagine him in high waisted, high-water pants and giant eyeglasses proclaiming “Did IIII do that?” ala Urekel from the 80’s. The man is a giant sitcom caricature… only without the laugh track.

      It’s funny – one of his very sad emotional mind games when we were together was to proclaim ‘Everyone is replaceable / disposable’. It was always a horrible statement to hear and feel – and he was told it was horrible by a therapist. He’d say it towards others in relation to himself – that anyone in his life was disposable to him and could be replaced. Granted, it was a true statement of belief coming from him – he has and does dispose of and replace people. Ironically though, his choices and behaviors as co-parent have made that statement true about himself as a co-parent. I have had no choice to operate as a wholly solo co-parent – in order for me to maintain the stability and functional life that I’ve established for myself and my kid I’ve had to look at him as ‘extra’ instead of ‘necessary’.

      I understand and respect that my kid sees him as ‘necessary’ – at least for now- she’s still very young- and I honor that need on her part. He is her father, and their journey needs to be their journey. I will monitor it and support her through each stage as it occurs. My hope for her is that she too finds the best possible ‘landing’ for it.

      As for me, after years of not being able to rely on him to remain consistent or accountable, I’ve encapsulated him off to the side and operate as if he simply ‘won’t’. I don’t let him off the hook when his behaviors occur – I state the affect his behavior has, I state the consequence it causes, I state my expectations and I state my intentions for follow through on any action I choose (further court dates, etc). I also do not reward him with any perks. I share none of the great stuff that happens (and there is SO MUCH great stuff happening!) when she is with me this 95% of the time. If my kid asks to communicate or share something to him while with me I always respect and respond to it; I do not initiate it though. I don’t like that boundary – I wish it was different, but until he shows true shared responsibility that boundary has to remain. I love the Marilyn Monroe quote of “if you can’t handle me at my worst you don’t deserve me at my best”.

      Within the communications we have I deliberately express a willingness to modify my perception if he should ever show consistent behavior that promotes a change in my perception. I document every single communication. Every. single. one. That alone has been an immensely powerful tool.

      That strategy has been effective for ME. I loathe the ‘accept it’ statement – because on so many levels this is simply NOT acceptable. I do not ‘accept’ him – his actions and choices are harmful, hurtful and at times hateful – all unacceptable adjectives. I have, however, accepted that there is no hope of him changing. I continue to have expectations of him as a co-parent and I employ outside resources such as counselors and court personnel to guide me through the bigger decisions of ‘battle it or not battle it’. Those items which are rock solid expectations- such as financial support – have no wiggle room. I do, and have, established non-negotiable terms on some items; this does force his accountability and I’m fine with the fact that it is (it has to be; there is no other alternative) ‘forced’ accountability.

      I recognize now that what HE expects is to be able to have all the perks of a father/child relationship with little to NONE of the responsibilities. In the enabled world he lives in (a world I admittedly was a part of and helped create for nearly two decades) he has garnered no perception or skill set of true equal responsibility, and when opportunity has come his way to break free of that enabled environment he instead has chosen over and over again to instead seek out another rescuer/enabler instead of make the leap to independence. He cannot see how it has crippled his career and his life trajectory – the same way I suppose an alcoholic cannot see the deterioration of their life – they instead see how much fun they are having while partying their nights away.

      He has shown very little modification of his choices and behavior. He has embedded himself so deeply in people who enable him that he has no motivation to change. He honestly cannot see how stagnated he is. He makes choices over and over again that are more similar to a teenager than a middle aged man. Now that I can recognize the pattern, I can predict him (often times with an eerie correctness). Predicting him I have found is much more effective mindset than ‘changing him’ mindset.

      I don’t feel ‘sorry’ for him – that’s condescending. I’m quite sure he doesn’t feel sorry for himself either – for all intent and purposes he appears ‘fine’ with ‘now’.

      As for me – I’ve found my feet, my spine and my voice- and I’m finer than I’ve ever been. Untangling from a PA and insulating myself from his collateral damage the best I can is the hardest damn work I’ve ever done – and the best damn work I’ve ever done.

  4. Well… I finally walked out on my P/A boyfriend leaving behind his daughter (who is 7 and very pissed at him) and my house. I just couldn’t take the lies and emotionless behavior any longer. Since leaving 3 weeks ago it has been a massive roller-coaster of emotions. I am still stumped how someone can say how much they love you and 5 mins later walk away while your crying at the loss of what you worked hard for your whole life. 5 years ago when I met him he was full of promises and due to failed past relationships I thought perhaps it was me and I put up with a lot more than I should have in this one. I realize now I should have taken a stand for myself a long time ago before my world crashed in on me. Although I miss him and his daughter terribly I know I cannot go back, at least not right now. I want to believe he can change because I know there is a caring man inside there somewhere. I am hoping that living on his own and being forced to be responsible for himself and his daughter will help him see things differently.
    Meanwhile I sit here alone trying to remember the person I was before I met him. I was strong and independent; I always spoke my mind and was willing to give anyone a chance. I had returned to school where I maintained a 4.0 despite my busy life. I should have my degree now, but because of so many lies and inability to follow through or carry his own weight I wonder if that will ever be a possibility.
    I have a son with a disability and have always been focused on the fact that he needs stability if he is going to be successful in life. The past 2 years I have lost my focus. I fear I am starting to become just like him. Now that I have hit rock bottom and spend most of my evenings crying until I fall asleep I am curious if I should just simply walk away completely or continue to wait and see what happens. I know that so many say they stay because of money or family issues (usually created by the P/A), but if you had the chance to do what I am doing would you wait or run away as fast as you could? UGH…. why do I love/miss him so much????

  5. That first part sounds so familiar. I told my (soon to be ex!) husband that I wanted a divorce last June (after many bouts of counseling, so it wasn’t a big surprise). No reaction, not a flicker of emotion. He said nothing. I asked him if he had heard me. He answered, aggressively, “Yeah, I heard you”. Then proceeded to act as if he hadn’t for the next 8 months, which were hell. It’s only when I told him I’d been to see a lawyer and he’d be receiving formal notice of proceedings that he did something (and only then, it was to go see a rottweiler of a lawyer himself, since he has played the victim in the story, true to form). Never did he ask what the issues were, how we might address them. I didn’t even get the empty promises to change that everyone else seems to get from their PA! 😉

    As nmpa said, words (either his or yours) don’t seem to connect to actions.

    Having said all that, it’s been a long hard slog getting out of this relationship, but I can’t begin to tell you how good it feels! 🙂

  6. Ladybeams,
    My best friend is passive aggressive. For years, I kept banging my head against the wall, trying to figure out, how could someone just wake up in the morning, and decide, ‘I think I will intentionally hurt someone that is important to me today.’ Talking about it with him only exacerbated the situation via payback. Maybe it was me! So, I started keeping notes. It became a diary. O.K., a small book. LOL! It brought me solace. Once I saw a pattern, the behavior could almost be predicted. Then, I started researching and found the PA definition. I’m trying to get his photo linked to the definition, Webster Dictionary is going to get back to me on that. . . laughing. It was disappointing to learn that defining it, understanding it, and repeating the ‘his words are meaningless to him, make them meaningless to you,’ mantra doesn’t ‘cure’ him.
    I am fortunate in the respect that he is not a family member, nor a boyfriend or spouse. He is my best friend, or was, (?), which is why I found your blog. His birthday was last week, and because of my 2.5 month-long hurt feelings, I did nothing to acknowledge it. What has happened since is a long story, but it also includes finding you, and beginning my own blog.
    I wanted to comment on your blog, this post specifically, because something you wrote really hit home with me, “I was done.”
    Like you, we will see. In the meantime, I will be 1) using my blog to release my frustration, and 2) finding comfort in having ‘met’ you, telling myself, I’m not alone.
    I hope we talk again soon.

    • Lynn- Hi and Welcome!
      I too have a best friend that’s passive aggressive. There is a difference in having to contend with that relationship than one with a spouse or relative you have to live with, but it hurts just the same. The big difference is, in most cases, you can quite easily remove yourself from the situation. Like anyone else that would treat us with a lack of respect, or treat us poorly in any other way that is not uplifting and edifying, we don’t need them in our lives.

      Thank you for your kind words and leaving a link to your blog. I’ll go over and take a look after I get caught up here. (As you can see by the date of your comment, I’ve fallen a bit behind) LOL. Please, feel free to stop by again and share anytime.

  7. I have never written in a blog before and never thought I would but i find so much ringing through in your blog I felt compelled to just tell my story just so someone will understand and maybe I can find answers that I am looking for. I met my husband on line and we “clicked” we talked for hours and bared our souls. i have been shut off emotionally from the world for so long it felt amazing to have someone I felt that I could trust with all my fears, someone who I thought would be my rock and when he held me I felt safe and secure. It felt like I had finally found someone who would love me for who I am. After all we had shared I thought if I just showed him how much I loved him – he would be able to be the man that he wanted to be. I couldn’t have been more wrong. As you all have said you were independent strong self sufficient women as I was. It felt good to not have to be the “strong” one for a change. He put on sucha good front. I now have to more steeled than I ever was in order to protect myself and our son. He withholds sex, approval, compliments, everything that would do anything to bolster my ego. I try to diet and since he does the shopping he buys all the things that he knows I have little resistance for. Then proceeds to make comments on what I eat. It just goes on an on and I don’t know if there is any light at the end of the tunnel. I have been isolated from my friends and family for a lot of reasons but mainly his brooding personality. Does not socialize with anyone. I don’t know if there is any hope here but in our son’s eyes the sun rises and sets on his Dad, so I am really afraid to hurt our son and leave him but I am really afraid to stay and hurt who our son could become.

    • Torn- Hi and Welcome. I am so sorry you are going through this, as so many of us have done. This is one place misery “doesn’t” enjoy company.

      The fact that you have been isolated is not unusual. They can only conquer if you have no support.

      1) Start getting back in touch with family and friends without him. Call them when he’s not around. Go to lunch with them if he’s at work. Do what you can to get back in touch, not without him knowing, but without him being a part of it. I am not advocating “sneaking around”. I am advocating getting back in touch with your world.

      2) Stay close to your son. Talk to him often about what’s going on with him. Talk to him often about how he’s doing. Ask open ended questions, not just “yes or no”. Let him talk to you. You didn’t say how old he is, so I’m not sure how easy this is going to be for you. It’s a lot different when they are 5 yrs. old vs. being a teenager.

      3) If you’ve read through the comments here, you can see that a good majority of the women that stayed with their PA husbands ended up with children that hate them, or ridicule them just like the PA parent. You don’t really want that for your child do you? And if he grows up and your husband starts taking out his PA behavior on your son, how will you feel then? (they almost always do when the child is old enough to start making their own demands, or starts looking like an adult).

      I am not a doctor. I am not a psychiatrist or psychologist, but I will tell you this, between everything on this blog, and my own experience, the lesser of two evils is to get your son, and you, away from his father and let his father see him for regular visitation. You and your son can both learn what happiness is really about. You wouldn’t want your son to turn out like his father, and then destroy his own chance of happiness with someone he loves. Non of us would wish our misery onto our children.

      Good luck to you. Feel free to drop by anytime. We are here to support each other.

  8. Thank you for your sage advice – our son is 3 1/2 and I know sooner is better than later. I know that better women than I have tried to rehabilitate a PA however I feel like I need to try so that my son doesn’t end up like his father – trying to please a man that can never be pleased (my husband’s dad). I have checked the housing market and unfortunately I am not in a position to afford my house on my own nor can I sell it and get what I owe out of it so at this time I am stuck. I am going to try to get my PA aware of his behavior. He has already agreed to let me take over all of the finances which is another problem. I am hoping that I can at least get him (hubby) to learn how to interact with our son so he doesn’t repeat his fathers mistakes. So far, our son is happy and engaging and outgoing and sweet. I am the primary influence with respect to affection. I don’t believe that there is hope between my hubby and I for any sort of a “normal” relationship but I need to keep him on a short leash as far as his relationship with our son. In this case the old adage about keeping your enemies closer should be “keep your PA man closer”.
    I am trying to rekindle friendships as best I can so that when the time comes I have a safety net in place. But because of a lot of things I no longer have family around me, and the reasons are not all attributable to my PA man. So I will look to you all for support in trying to help this man become a father to his awesome son and late life gift. PS I am 48 and my husband is 47 – our son was a true gift and blessing. I hope that God had a plan in giving us our son and maybe that plan was to help this one PA guy to learn to live. Please pray and send good thoughts my way and thank you so much for listening.

    • Carla – I’m going to make a bold statement; one made based on experience. A LOT of experience. I have a challenge for you; change the focus of your change. Your comment above is full of plans and hopes of changing HIM and of changing HIS behavior. I challenge you to instead turn that motivation for change onto yourself; spend that energy aimed at getting yourself a good sounding board counselor, spend it on learning about finances or a new skill that creates a stronger YOU – instead of a ‘different him’.


      You don’t want to hear this and you most likely will not hear me now; HE WILL NOT CHANGE. You cannot, cannot, cannot change someone else. You don’t like me for saying that right now b/c you feel like I’m insulting you. You feel as though I’m saying you are not ‘special’ enough to him. You feel that your love, the fact that you share a son, the fact that you’ve ‘endured’ this long, the fact that you ‘understand him’ is powerful enough to make him want to change. You feel that you’ve invested this long and this much that there MUST be a ‘payoff’.

      Ladybeams- give her the slot machine post I posted ages ago.
      Carla- read about how I talk about a PA being like a slot machine. PA’s are painfully addictive relationships just like gambling; the thrill and lure is the HOPE of winning big. Statistics are not on our side. Personally, I’m finding more and more that the true winners in this game are those who walk away from a PA and spend their energies on themselves (thus the above challenges). Those of us who have unraveled as much as possible (you’ll always share a child) are rich. Ridiculously rich. Lifetime investment rich; not ‘slot machine’ winning rich.

      Carla, I completely and wholly understand you. I was you. I could have written your exact post four years ago. Once I really, really let the ‘HE WILL NOT CHANGE’ mentality sink in and started focusing on improving ME – and then making changes that allowed my child to grow and thrive too- that’s when my life opened up, settled down and happiness became a mainstay.

      I unraveled when my kid was four. I’m beyond grateful I did it then. I don’t envy those who try/do/have it with older kids.

      I wish you the best of luck.

      • Peggy- OMGosh, I can’t thank you enough, nor could I have said it better myself. You are so right. So many of us try and try to change them, when we cannot ever do that. It is us that needs to change our whole attitudes about ourselves, our lives, everything. We can only do that for ourselves. Sometimes it will bring about changes in others around us, but with a PA it’s usually when they start to get it that we are on to them and not going to look the other way anymore. They use different tactics, but the bottom line is always the same.

        You have a couple of analogies I should bring up for people to read. They were both excellent. I’ll find them and put you as a ‘guest blogger’ if that’s okay with you.

    • Carla- God Bless you and keep you.

      I totally understand about the financial situation. In this economy, so many people have lost so much value in their homes, they’re lucky to be able to sell, let alone split proceeds enough for 2 people to go set up 2 different households. You are lucky in the way that with your son being so young, you still have some time. The main thing is to keep interacting with him so you two always talk about things like, if Daddy has an outburst, how does it make him feel? Or if you get the sense at anytime he’s upset about something, talk to him and let him talk to you about how he’s feeling. It sounds like you have very good insight so I think that should be fairly easy for you.

      At 31/2 children aren’t really too demanding on a parent. There is that ‘unconditional love’ thing, like a puppy dog. While the child is small and doesn’t really understand a whole lot, usually the PA will be pretty good. It’s as the child grows older and starts to understand that it becomes a problem. The child out of pure innocence will start to confront the PA about broken promises, etc. That is when the problems start setting in. Or if you let your husband treat you poorly, and the child sees that your husband gets his way by doing that, then you can only expect the same kind of treatment from your child.

      You have some time. Start building now to get away. Even if you can only take $10 or $20 away from grocery money each week or 2 weeks, start putting something away for you and your son. And don’t let anyone know about it. At least that way you know you and your son have something if you ever have to get away in a hurry. If you don’t have to get away in a hurry, then someday you will have enough for you and your son to get away and have a decent life.

      Yes, I do know the old adage about “keeping your friends close”. LOL. You are very smart My Dear, and I enjoyed hearing from you. Keep it up. You still have a chance for a whole and happy life ahead of you. Feel free to stop by anytime. Love to hear how you’re doing.

  9. Peggy –
    I do know that I can’t change him – he will always be PA. I have come to the realization that all I can do is damage control. At his point in time I can’t sell my house and I can’t afford it on my own. I actually am in a good place surprisingly enough. I married my PA later in life so I was and am self sufficient with respect to being able to take care of myself and my son – this is simply financial at this point. I am living my life for myself and my son and will do what makes us happy virtually without regard to what he says. Although he really has no idea that I have made this decision (typical behavior, self centered) as far as he is concerned it is status quo. I have taken over our finances in order to be able to cut him loose but until then as I said I need to stay and do damage control. Thank you for your direct and bold statements – it just furthers my resolve to get into a financial position where I can get out of this.

  10. Maybe it’s because I live with one of those not-at-all-nice passive aggressive men, but I don’t get why anyone would want to have sex with someone who works so hard at making her so miserable. I suppose I could be accused of withholding sex – no doubt he’s accused me of exactly that – but is it withholding when I can’t stomach the idea of having sex with someone who’s so f*****g mean to me? I mean, it’s not as if I’d like to have sex with him but opt not to as a way of punishing him. Instead, having sex with him would be punishment to me. Call me crazy, but I prefer having sex with men who are nice to me – genuinely nice to me.

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