Passive-aggressive personality and how to handle it

“I didn’t know that you wanted now.” “I’m just joking!” “It doesn’t matter, it’s up to you!” “Of course, of course however…!” Door slamming and sulking?

Life with a passive-aggressive person is very difficult, full with fury, anger and hot temper and pain. The problem with this partner is that always does things differently and it’s said and almost impossible to talk honestly with. How is this person exactly? This person is a stubborn saboteur who rarely expresses his/her hostile resistance face to face. Twists the truth and always comes up with counter-arguments and doesn’t want to work for the same goal as we would like to, doesn’t matter if it’s in work or private life. Malicious news-monger, with a style of sarcasm, always tease others and always criticizes those ideas which are not his/her own. Generally this person makes uncomfortable demands on others, often doesn’t deign to attention others, most of the times denies own responsibility. At work often holds back important information and blames others if something goes wrong. Often willing to be seemed as a victim, likes to seem being weak to get care and attention. Actually this person inside is distrustful and irresolute in his/her own suitability and initiative ability. Not easy to cope with a person who is ambivalent and has these characteristics. Roots of this kind of personality dates back into childhood.

If this problem is familiar to you let’s see what you can do if you face with passive-aggressive strategy. I’m giving you some tips how you can “handle” it.

Recognize what you are facing with – the sooner the better!

Easy to leave the passive-aggressive behaviour warning signs out of consideration when our relationship just has started. We are willing to acquit the passive-aggressive person especially in the beginning, and we hope that “inconvenient accident” happened but won’t again.

Certain passive-aggressive types incite conflicts preferably home and others rather at work. Some of them uses this behaviour pattern with everybody, some of them just with the opposite sex or with those who with he/she feels can or must compete. Think of it! What kind of patterns could you recognize? Which are those situations where you push his/her buttons?


The key to all of given advises, is to have, already has set up own stable boundaries which are comfortable for you. Don’t be afraid of offending the passive-aggressive person by refusal.

Understand the motivation of the passive-aggressive strategy!

It’s not your job to change this person, also not being his/her advisor or therapist. But if you step back a bit and understand the hidden motivation of his/her behaviour, you will be able to deal with it easier, without letting be undermined your self-confidence. The passive-aggressive strategy comes to the front when this person is feeling powerless and not being important (or don’t feel being important) to fill up expectations. The fear of being defeated and fail again when his/her self-esteem can be damaged, wakes up his/her survival instinct of passive-aggressive behaviour. This subconscious strategy is the only one tool which helps this person to deal with anxiety to avoid becoming a victim again.

Avoid to give reason to the passive-aggressive behaviour!

Of course you don’t need to feel like walking on eggshells. That’s impossible and unacceptable to live like that without serious personality damages. People with passive-aggressive behavior chose partner subconsciously who with they can relive their power fights what were significant in their family in the past. If you could recognize that your conflict-partner tries to win on own losses what he/she experienced in the past, change your previous communication mode and make yourself understand what kind of behaviour or communication forms provoke passive-aggressive reactions. Is it possible that you don’t enforce or provoke the other’s passive-aggressive behaviour? Think through what kind of role you have in this particular relationship! The passive-aggressive person is very unreliable in himself/herself actually. If you see it like that, you might feel handle the situation with more empathy and will be able to handle his/her frustration easier.

Are you the passive sufferer whom is the rescuer and the only one who really understanding him/her? Better you to know that you actually spoil the other’s passive-aggressive tendencies if you didn’t express your own needs and didn’t set up boundaries in this relationship. If you gave free play to the passive-aggressive behaviour reaching its goal, your conflict-partner will get with what he/she wants or needs by using destructive behaviour. Don’t let it! I know it’s hard to resist, easier to give in to him/her, to avoid conflicts but in a long-term, it’s more harmful than you think. Why would he/she change if you always find excuses for him/her? If you do, you just re-make a kind of parent-child roles in your relationship.

Choose the happy medium!

Pay attention also if you get into a judge or critical role, if you tell to your conflict-partner that he/she should change or disparagingly cast that should be more responsible for own behaviour in his/her face, this can re-make the same situation and emotion (recall) for him/her what he/she went through in the past. In those particular situations he/she was surrounded by high expectations, dominant opinions and behaviour in what his/her passive-aggressive behaviour was established and got stronger and stronger. Easier in those situation if we use a harmless humor, which is able to highlight the truth but also disarm the inconvenient behaviour and helps you to stay calm and conscious simultaneously sending a message of acceptance.

People with passive-aggressive behaviour don’t believe in they can get attention. Ask him/her how he/she would handle the situation, ask his/her opinion. If you get just complaints or critics don’t be defy him/her but also. Express that you keep in mind what he/she said and make an effort to build up cooperation but without getting the upper hand of him/her – in the same time also set up your own necessary boundaries. Hold out the prospect of outcome of his/her behaviour to him/her if he/she doesn’t cooperate. Give positive feedbacks as much as possible especially if your conflict-partner is expressing his/her own need openly instead or force or manipulation. You must have a confident attitude, ability to set up your boundaries and acceptance can give you constructive opportunities for cooperation. Build new basis into your wrong-working relationship. Never late to start!

Living with a passive-aggressive person is very exhausting. Their behaviour completely can undermine your self-esteem and forcing you to be 100% tolerant and acceptable all the time simultaneously overshadowing you. Without a convenient protective behaviour you just burn out after a while. Before it happens ask yourself, does it worth? Why do I stay in a relationship like this?

If you believe your relationship (or you) worth to be saved I can guide you how to get back your self-confidence and setting up healthy boundaries.


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