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What does Passive Aggressive Mean?

Let's Find Out What Does Passive Aggressive Exactly Mean

Have you come across the term "passive aggressive behavior" and wanted to know what it means? This article will answer all your questions and will also discuss how to recognize such behavior.
PsycholoGenie Staff
Last Updated: Nov 16, 2018
Passive aggressive is a kind of personality trait that is seen in some people. To understand it better, let's first study the two words of this trait, passive and aggressive, separately. A passive person is someone who is patient and peaceful, and avoids confrontation, while an aggressive person is strong-willed and will get his/her way at any cost.
When we combine the two words together, we have the word passive aggressive which means that a person who will show passivity, but will try to change a situation/circumstance by manipulation, stubbornness, procrastination, or sulkiness.
You must have come across the signs of this kind of behavior displayed by some children, co-workers, family members, and/or friends. This personality disorder is seen in both genders, although women seem to be suffering more from it. Here we are going to discuss how you can identify this personality trait and how to deal with it.
Signs to Watch Out For
Couple arguing husband is pointing and accusing and the wife
The first step in recognizing passive aggression is to know what it means. A person who has this type of personality seems outwardly calm and patient, and actively complies with the needs and desires of others, but in reality, he passively resists them.
Such people are actually insecure and manipulative, and have difficulty in saying 'no' to anyone. They want to be perceived as 'sweet' and 'nice' and will therefore rarely disagree with anyone. Because of this, they become negative, resentful, angry, and hostile.
You must have noticed this kind of behavioral trait in co-workers who accept their mistakes, but will not change them. They are outwardly nice and passive, but resist any criticism or change by simply ignoring them, procrastinating, or sulking.
This behavior becomes very problematic if you encounter it in your partner or spouse. Such a husband or wife needs counseling, and the relationship might crumble if it is not resolved. The most challenging thing about such a person is that it is very difficult to recognize such traits in him/her.
Here are some typical remarks generally made by these people. These examples will help you to identify this personality trait:
"It's your decision. I can't stop you."
"I don't dislike it. But I don't like it either."
"It's your life. Do what you like."
"I am not angry. Just disappointed."
"Who am I to tell you anything."
"I said I will do it."
Of course, not all these statements reveal that a person is passive aggressive. Other clues that will help recognize the traits are victimizing himself or herself, ridiculing loved ones in front of people, making sarcastic comments, blaming others for his/her misery, and complaining about everything that goes wrong.
These people resent any kind of extra work or responsibility and show their displeasure by their behavior rather than words. Men tend to humiliate and mock their partner in front of people to make themselves look good. Non-compliance and passive non-cooperation are often masked as forgetfulness by these people.
This type of behavior is seen mostly in females. This is because many women find it hard to say no to family and friends, and end up doing things that they do not like. This makes them resentful and hostile. Children sometimes display traits of this disorder, which can cause a lot of problem later in life if not corrected immediately.
How to Handle It
Young couple consults at the psychologist
If you are living with a passive aggressive partner, then the best solution is to go for therapy. If therapy is not an option, then express your displeasure when you encounter such behavior. When the person knows that you are aware of his/her tactics, he/she will stop it.
It is important to identify such behavior and know that this stems from deep-rooted insecurities and fear. The best way to go about it is to confront such behavior with authority and in a non-judgmental way.