11 Characteristics of Passive Aggressive Behavior

passive aggressive behavior

“Passive-aggressive behavior is often seen in the people who have not learned how to express their feelings, needs, and desires to others.” – Unknown

Passive aggressiveness is passive anger.

One of my followers has asked me about this recently:

(My partner) was never aggressive, violent, or angry but after doing some research I do believe he was passive-aggressive. So what I am wanting to know is: is passive aggression a form of emotional abuse? 

Yes, it is.

Passive aggressiveness is confusing as someone who behaves as this acts passively. But they are covertly aggressive and hostile.

Passive aggressiveness is a sign of insecurity. It belies a deep sense of shame and low self-esteem.

Want to know more about passive aggressive behavior? Check this video out below!

Passive Aggressive Behavior

A person who is passive aggressive needs to feel dominant and in control. They also need to make others feel inadequate to relieve a feeling of deficiency within themselves.

They can be unreasonable, uncomfortable to be around. They express hostility covertly and use manipulative subterfuge over time. All designed to make you feel insecure, walk on eggshells, and at times, to punish you.

They do this in a number of ways:

11 Characteristics of passive aggressive behavior:

1) Sarcasm and Teasing

Sarcasm can be humor used as a weapon to hurt you.

Hostile humor that can be disguised as teasing you about your appearance, gender, cultural status or whatever personal to you.

If you get hurt or angry, they’ll say:

I was just kidding.

And gaslight you by telling you:

You’re too sensitive.

Related: 12 Characteristics of Passive Aggression and How To Deal With A Passive-Aggressive Partner

2) Picking Fights

This is where they’ll pick a fight out of thin air. But it will be because of something you’ve said or done they blame as causing them to do this. You’re responsible for their anger.

Or, they’ll be resentful and occasionally let nasty comments slip out.

3) The Silent Treatment

This is a form of punishment aimed at creating insecurity within you. It may be sullen resentment. Social exclusion or neglect.

Not speaking to you for days, as punishment for their behavior you may have questioned. So you become the problem, not them. And they avoid accountability for it.

4) Negative Criticism

Negative criticism of anything from your appearance to how you talk.

Telling you your friends or family are no good for you.

5) Passive Aggressive Comments

But, then they’ll say:

I’m only trying to help you. Who else will tell you if I don’t?

They may say negative things to others about you. Or, address you like a child.

This is all aimed at making you feel inadequate to relieve their own sense of deficiency. For them to feel superior and in control.

6) Psychological Manipulation

Using tactics like gaslighting. Blaming you for their abusive behavior.

Lying to you, then telling you – you’re the one making things up.

Making excuses for their behavior to avoid responsibility for it.

Throwing unexpected things your way to always keep you on eggshells.

Making you feel guilty for their behavior

Holding you responsible for their moods and behavior. Their unhappiness and lack of success.

Expecting you to change your behavior so they don’t have to be accountable for theirs.

7) Stonewalling

This is where they don’t say no. But do everything to block things. There’ll be broken agreements, endless red tape and a lack of follow-through.

They’ll keep you thinking progress will be made, but covertly they’ll be stonewalling you.

Related: Covert Verbal Abuse: Passive Aggressive Behavior That Aims to Control You

8) Stubbornness

Where they passively appear to be going along with you, but constantly come up with excuses or reasons why you can’t.

Which stalls progress or inhibits you coming to a decision.

9) Secret Subterfuge

This is where they undermine you in any way they can. They’ll ignore deadlines, sabotage projects.

Make you look like you’ve failed and you get the blame for it.

Again, this is about making themselves feel good, by crushing your self-esteem encouraging your insecurity.

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Vivian McGrath

Vivian McGrath is a TV Exec Producer making documentaries for US/UK and Australian television networks. She’s a survivor of domestic violence, motivational speaker and empowerment coach. It’s her mission to help women recover from abusive relationships, fall back in love with themselves and never settle for anything less than they deserve again! Watch her free Masterclass here: https://joinnow.live/s/xMOdfNView Author posts