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Passive aggressive behavior can come in many forms. It can be as subtle as an eye roll or as blatant as outright complaining about a situation. You may not be aware of them all, but one thing is for sure — living with someone who struggles to directly and appropriately convey messages can be exhausting.

What is passive aggressive

According to Mayo Clinic: “Passive-aggressive behavior is a pattern of indirectly expressing negative feelings instead of openly addressing them. There’s a disconnect between what a passive-aggressive person says and what he or she does.” A basic example of a passive aggression is you ask your significant other to take out the trash. They agree, maybe even with enthusiasm. However, rather than simply take the trash out they might express anger or resentment by taking their time to execute the chore or not taking the trash out at all.

As stated before, this behavior can come in many forms. Some other examples include indirect or unclear communication, avoiding problems, backhanded compliments, faulting others, wasting time, victimizing oneself, fear of intimacy, overwhelmed by competition, creating excuses, burying anger, and sarcasm.

What does passive aggressive behavior mean

Passive aggression is often linked to:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • ADHD
  • Family history
  • Depression
  • Substance abuse
  • Personality disorders

This behavior is either a learned behavior or correlated with someone’s mental health. Since it is not a disorder itself and presents in such a wide range of appearances, identifying the bigger cause and finding a solution may be difficult for someone to wrap their head around. Living with a passive aggressive person can be frustrating and toxic. The bottom line is that it’s out of our control if it isn’t an issue within us. However, we can change how we handle passive aggressive behavior around us.  

How to deal with passive aggressive people

It is important to remember that many people don’t realize they are being passive aggressive. In fact, the behavior is normal for them. Here are some tips to help you live with a passive aggressive person.

  1. Use “I” statements and communicate directly. Being assertive can sometimes show the other person how to behave appropriately.
  2. Repetition and patience are super important. You may need to keep telling the passive aggressive person your needs before you see any improvement in their behavior. Change doesn’t happen overnight. Be prepared to practice patience. If it doesn’t seem to improve, considering seeking professional help.
  3. Seek a professional to help you cope with your loved one’s behavior. This is a powerful solution. A therapist can help you be assertive and improve your relationships.
  4. Remove yourself from the situation as best as you can and practice self care. Decompress by binging on your favorite TV show or spend some time meditating to recharge you well-being.
  5. Recognize your own passive aggression. Once you start working through the frustrating obstacle of living with a passive aggressive, you’ll become more vigilant of your own behavior. Practice what you preach and take the opportunity for self growth.

As frustrating as they are, the passive aggressive people in our lives are just like everybody else. They just want to be loved and accepted. Sometimes they can make it really hard to do so, but with some simple tactics, you can help them act more appropriately around you.


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Alexandra Ashe
Alexandra is a sober woman who loves animals, writing, nature, horror movies, fitness, and self-improvement. After suffering a relapse in late 2016, she revamped her lifestyle and has been sober since March 2017. She is also the CEO and founder of Kinkatopia, which is the only kinkajou-specific organization in the world. Alexandra literally lives and breathes kinkajous — in addition to working a full-time career, taking care of her health, and giving back to the world in other ways. She is a woman on a mission ... the Mother of Kinkajous. Follow Alexandra’s articles to relish her experiences staying sober and running a kinkajou sanctuary. There is never a dull moment, that’s a promise. Kinkatopia.org

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