You Know You’re Being Passive-Aggressive When…

I don’t typically consider myself a passive-aggressive or manipulative person. If anything, I tend to just be passive. But sometimes, that doesn’t cut it and I find myself just wanting some revenge or satisfaction…read further for some personal and petty examples!

When some people feel powerless or lack the skills to assert themselves, passive aggressiveness can take over. Passive-aggressive interactions create a short-term feeling of satisfaction, usually lasting less than 5 minutes, but sometimes causing pervasive and long-lasting negative and destructive patterns in relationships. Over time, it erodes self-worth and creates ineffective problem solving. But worse yet, sometimes it just backfires and makes things worse for the passive aggressor.


1. You make your computer passwords mean and negative to get back at someone or something that makes you angry. The hilarious thing is, it doesn’t really matter and no one knows! But it does feel slightly satisfying to type in that phrase…for my Tarheel lovers think, “dookpuke23” or my mom friends, “imnotyourmaid” or maybe those that dislike the current president, “cheetoh45”.

    2. You are not a morning person and you have to wake up earlier than your spouse, so you blast the hairdryer, slam some drawers shut and open up the ironing board that desperately needs some oil….ummm, guilty.

    3. You don’t clean the toilet bowl….for weeks….and see how long it takes before someone in the family will actually clean it. Mine turned black and had fuzz growing on it.

    4. You leave your holiday wreath on the front door longer than is appropriate to drive the nosy neighbor/HOA peeps crazy. As much as it bothers you to see the wrong wreath, sometimes it just evokes a big smile when pulling in the driveway.

    5. Your mean neighbor is meticulous about mowing, edging and weed-eating. You are busy and perhaps have other more important things to do so you let the dandelion’s grow and grow and grow spreading their billowy little seeds. They are rather pretty. (ps, this is not a real story, I like my neighbors).

    I can think of many people who have ruined relationships or held others hostage by their passive aggressive tendencies. They lack skills to self-advocate, assert their needs or engage in direct communication. It would surely help ease frustration and drama for those that are passive aggressive to directly communicate what upsets them. When the situation is out of their control to change, expressing feelings of frustration directly or to a supportive person or forum can help. When an environment is not safe or open to honesty, this can prove challenging resulting in an attempt to deal by passive aggressiveness.

    Learning to let things simply go can work wonders. I remind myself at least 5 times a day the old cliché that “in the grand scheme of life”…it’s just not that important! If something or someone makes you unhappy, do something about it or find a way to accept it or let it go. Try finding a different perspective by focusing on the positives or comparing to worse situations, or notice what can be controlled in a healthy and non-manipulative way and do it! In the long run, passive aggressiveness just hurts you or destroys the relationship.

    I do have to admit, I really don’t like going to the bathroom in a moldy, fuzzy black toilet and once it is July 4th, an Easter egg wreath just loses it’s appeal. But I still make grumpy passwords…because I’m really not hurting anyone am I?

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