5 Warning Signs to Determine If You're Dating a Passive-Aggressive Guy
If you're dating a passive-aggressive guy, ladies, don't think you have the power to change him no matter how motivated and in love you are. It will only end with you feeling frustrated, confused, and shell-shocked. When it's over, you'll be left in shambles, mourning a relationship that you never truly understood. A worse fate befalls you if you wind up marrying the man and get stuck in a hellhole of silent hostility and hushed retaliation.
Communication is the basis for any solid relationship and the passive-aggressive dude just doesn't have the goods even if he's basically a "nice man." We women types need a steady flow of talk back and forth and the passive-aggressive dude withholds that, causing us enormous distress and discomfort. His refusal to speak can be far more abusive to us in the long haul than a push or shove. Remember, ladies, the passive-aggressive dude is far more hurtful in what he doesn't do than what he does do.
What Is Passive-Aggressive Behavior in Men?
When one thinks of passive-aggressive behavior in men, the image of a husband leaving the toilet seat up comes to mind. Yet, that innocuous example doesn't represent the deep psychological and emotional harm that many passive-aggressive behaviors cause. These behaviors express anger and retaliation in an “under the radar” manner. They include using sarcasm, procrastinating, complaining, playing the martyr, arriving late, sulking, and giving the silent treatment.
When it comes to the pitfalls of dating passive-aggressive men, I know of what I speak because I've watched my younger brother operate for over 50 years. He's the kind of guy casual observers dub laid back, easy-going, mellow, and chill. They describe him as going with the flow and wonder why he's never been married because he's "such as catch." Yet, for those of us who know him better, he's the perennial bachelor who's ambivalent about being in a relationship, doesn't want to be controlled, and whose life is greatly restricted by his unresolved childhood pain.
As his sister, I see a man who's incapable of forming a meaningful relationship because he doesn't really want to put in the time, energy, and communication it takes. He's too defensive and full of shame to appear vulnerable and show his feelings. As a member of the sisterhood of women, I wish I could get the name and number of every lady he's dated and let her know that it wasn't anything she did wrong; it was all him. Then I'd give her these five warning signs so she won't make the same foolish mistake again:
Watching Excessive Sports Can Be Passive-Aggressive When a Man Uses It to Tune Out His Girlfriend or Wife
1. He Doesn't Listen.
I've often sat on the sofa at my brother's home, looking on as he holds the phone to one ear “listening” to his girlfriend on the other end while simultaneously watching an NFL or NBA game. While making the obligatory yes, no, and uh-huh sounds, he barely takes in a thing she says. Hearing only a smidgen of this or that, his lack of listening sets the scene for future misunderstandings in their relationship.
A man who isn't passive-aggressive would deal with the situation in a direct way, asking his girlfriend not to call during sporting events. But a passive-aggressive dude such as my brother plays the part of “Mr. Nice Guy” by being on the phone while seething inside that his viewing time has been disrupted. He gets his revenge on his girlfriend by only pretending to listen. While my brother uses TV as his tool of avoidance, other passive-aggressive men use their cell phones, computers, and newspapers.
2. He Gives the Silent Treatment
I'll never forget the day of my son's baptism when we invited family and friends to the church followed by a reception at our home. My brother brought his girlfriend and, as I found out later, the two had been arguing about moving in together and now he was giving her the silent treatment. In addition to making it an awkward day for all of us, I realized how petty and childish my brother was—how totally unprepared he was for a mature relationship (fortunately, his girlfriend reached the same conclusion). According to psychology professor, Kip Williams, the effects of a man's silence can be devastating to his partner, making her feel alone and unworthy.
Having grown up in the same dysfunctional home as my brother where feelings got squelched, I feel tremendous compassion for him. Our mother gave our father the silent treatment on a regular basis when we were kids, sometimes even leaving the home for hours without saying where she was going and when she'd come back. We grew up thinking that's what adults do to express their displeasure. We didn't have role models who spoke about their feelings in a calm, productive manner.
Giving the Silent Treatment Is Classic Passive-Aggressive Behavior and Shows Great Immaturity
3. He's Always Late.
Some people think chronically tardy individuals such as my brother are flaunting their superiority. But psychotherapist, Michael Formica, believes the opposite is true. He writes: "The chronically tardy, in large measure, have a perception that others do not feel them to be important, so they operate in a way so as to impose themselves on a situation - exerting control to feel in control - while in reality they are silently validating their own sense of unworthiness, whether consciously or unconsciously."
These words certainly ring true true to me. My brother and I grew up in a home where we weren't made to feel special and valued and we often felt invisible at family gatherings. As adults, we struggle with low self-esteem and often avoid social occasions. When my brother arrives late for a date, it's not a reflection of his arrogance but of his apprehension.
4. He Thinks Passive-Aggressive Behavior Is Polite
If you're a young, straight-shooting woman, you probably can't appreciate that many of us were taught that directness was rude when we were kids. My brother and I grew up in the 1970's in a strict religious home. We were never encouraged to speak openly and honestly with our parents. My brother learned at a young age to hide his thoughts and feelings, protecting our mom and dad from anything they might find “distasteful.”
With his girlfriends, he duplicates the mother-son dynamic that began decades ago, withholding important information about who he is and how he feels. He'll never risk exposing his true self, fearing disapproval and rejection, no matter how many hours he spends with a woman. The more she pushes him to open up, the more he shuts down.
5. He Procrastinates.
If you were to visit the home my brother shares with his girlfriend, you'd see a large deck off their living room covered with yellow caution tape and a sign that reads: “Unsafe. Keep off!” It's been like that for almost four years with little hope repairs will happen any time soon. While it may be a difficult and expensive fix for many home owners, it isn't for my brother; he's an architect and structural engineer!
But, his expertise doesn't matter in this situation. He won't get around to fixing the deck because he's fuming inside about things his girlfriend did—bringing home a stray cat, buying an expensive piano, and inviting her girlfriend to stay with them for a month. He's been stockpiling these hurts for years and now he's quietly exacting his revenge. But his poor girlfriend doesn't even know why!
Being With Someone Who Procrastinates Drives You Nuts and Leads to Resentment
I love my brother and, in many ways, he's indeed the “good guy” that casual acquaintances see. But he's also heavily flawed. I'd never want to be married to him nor would I ever set up one of my friends with him. This is especially true of any pal of mine who hopes to have kids some day. My brother's inability to speak his mind would cause huge problems in any family.
While some view passive-aggressive types as vicious, I have a different perspective having grown up with one. I know my brother is a product of his environment—someone still battling internally with our overbearing mother. He had to give up a lot of control to her as a kid and he doesn't want to do that with another woman. He wants to avoid confrontation at any cost so cutting off communication has become his lifelong habit. So, ladies, don't think you can fix a passive-aggressive man and don't think you'll enjoy his "easy-going" ways. Run, don't walk, away!
If You Must Interact With a Passive-Aggressive Guy, This Book Gives Outstanding Advice on How to Do It Effectively
While we women have the power to not date and marry a passive-aggressive guy, we don't have the ability to avoid them all together. We might have one who's a brother like I do or a boss, a co-worker, a father-in-law, or a neighbor. In this thought-provoking book, clinical psychologist, Scott Wetzler, gives invaluable advice for dealing with a passive-aggressive man when you must. If you're like me, you'll be nodding your head in recognition and agreement on every page. If you have a friend who's dating a passive-aggressive guy, give her this book as a present. She may not thank you at first but will be eternally grateful in the future!
© 2017 McKenna Meyers