Andrea Harrn Counselling Services

7 ways to recognise passive aggressive behaviour

The silent Treatment

The silent Treatment – passive aggressive

The term passive aggressive is widely used these days.  I overheard a conversation the other day in a restaurant when a customer accused the waitress of being passive aggressive because she didn’t smile and the food order was wrong.  Sure, PA behaviour can happen in all sorts of settings but when it happens between two people in a relationship it can be devastating.

So how do you recognise the signs.  Below are 7 behaviours significant to the psychological pattern of PA behaviour.

Fear of confrontation with your partner

One moment everything appears fine but then you decide after some consideration that you need to say something to your partner which has been bothering you for a while.   Its a sticky point and one you know they are not going to like.  However what’s a real relationship if you can’t be real.  So you begin to drop casual comments, hoping your message will be picked up.  When it isn’t you just come right out and say it.   WHOOOOAAAAA.  stand back for the aggressive force field that is about to attack you.

Inability to communicate in a reasonable way on important matters

There will be lots of waffling about the inane matters of life.  The day to day, the shopping, the price of bread or milk.  Any conversation that involves more serious discussion is just not possible.  PA’s find it very hard to engage on an emotional level and especially when they feel they are under attack.  It all goes fine as long as you stroke their egos.

You become the bad one

So you asked the question, you stopped stroking their ego and it all turns on you.  Blame, attack, confusion, aggression v. the silent treatment, withholding behaviours, manipulation of the facts.  You start to question yourself and even blame yourself for starting this.  If only I had kept quiet we would be fine.  Sound familiar?

You don’t feel loved 

You probably do not often hear the words “I love you”.  Its not that words are always necessary but you just don’t feel loved.  When you ask the question you are laughed at, or given a quick hug. “of course I love you” you may hear.  It doesn’t feel that way.  Giving eye contact is a good way to make a loving connection.  How often does that happen?

Lack of Emotion

PAs find it hard to engage with their feelings which often get bottled up and come right back at YOU.  Rather than taking responsibility for their emotions they are bottled up and tend to explode from time to time in completely confusing and dysfunctional ways.  If you try to find out what’s going on you will be told “nothing wrong with me” or such like.

Fear of Intimacy

He may come on strong and sexy in the beginning.  You fall for his charms, if not his bedroom skills.  His emotional unavailability makes him even more desirable.  Scroll forward a few months or years and things change.  Sex triggers all sorts of underlying fears of intimacy, connection, dependency and competition in the PA man which sets up obstacles to mutual satisfaction.


Over a period of time you have come to realise that you swing between despair and confusion to a kind of honeymoon period where you feel secure, loved and loving.   Behind this false security lies a wariness, a guarded you that knows things can change very quickly and quite dramatically.

Without you the PA has nowhere to go with their repeated psychological dysfunction.

Over the next few weeks I will be exploring more on this subject so if you want to learn more then stay with me, sign up for my emails or just keep a look out on social media.

In the meantime check out The Mood Cards to help you understand your own emotional reactions and how to move forward

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