Passive-Aggressive Relationships

Passive-aggressive behavior can be so frustrating to the one on the receiving end.  How do you handle it in a relationship?

Passive-aggressive individuals avoid addressing their true feelings (such as hurt, fear, sadness).  

Rather than saying how they truly feel- they may

  1. Push buttons intentionally to get a response
  2. Play the victim- always blaming everyone else
  3. Start power struggles- they always have to win the argument
  4. Procrastinate- always making excuses
  5. Make you feel bad about something they did wrong
  6. Give the “silent treatment”
  7. Withhold affection because they are upset
  8. Say “I was just kidding” or “it was only a joke” when you both know that is not true- it was intentionally meant to upset you

Ex:  So you’re going out with friends tonight.  Nothing big- just hanging out for a few hours.

You get-

“Oh, so you’re going out with your friends again… I’m OK… just go be with them…”

Instead of-

“It hurts when it feels like you are choosing them over spending time with me.  I miss you… Can we spend time together soon?”


  1. Recognize the signs
  2. Keep your anger in check
  3. Don’t fall into the pattern of behavior
  4. Get the book “Codependent No More” by Melody Beattie 
  5. Go to therapy for additional support