Friday, September 10, 2010

Mr Duplicity....beware of passive aggression

Extract from Web of Lies - My Life with a Narcissist

"“We’ve been married three years today,” I said
“Yes, I know.”
“It’s been a hell of a three years, hasn’t it?”
“It sure has.” He wasn’t smiling. He looked almost bored.
“Ask me if I’m happy.”
“What?” He rolled his eyes to the ceiling in a ‘oh here we go again’ expression of
“Ask me if I’m happy Bill. Do you think I’m happy? Do I look happy to you?”
“I’m trying my hardest to make you happy, but it seems at the moment nothing is
good enough”
“Nothing’s good enough? How can you say that after I’ve put up with so much in
such a short space of time?”
“I know it’s been hard, but none of it is my fault. You wanted to come to France, I
didn’t force you!”
“I wanted to come to France because thanks to you we were no longer able to stay in
Switzerland full time. I wanted our family to be together, not thousands of miles apart. I had no choice but to come to France.
“But, Bill, it’s your apathy that I cannot stand. I’ve never seen you pursue anything with such rigour and determination as you pursued me in the early days. Since we’ve been married, all that drive and determination has dissolved away! You don’t look after yourself. You’ve gained weight. You don’t want to take part in family activities. You lock yourself in your office. You say you are chasing ‘big deals’ but what deals? When has any single one of them ever succeeded? You ignore your youngest daughter! You have two daughters you know.”
“I do not ignore Alice!”
“Yes you do! You don’t even know you’re doing it! It’s not just me who has noticed
it, my parents have noticed it too, they spoke to me about it when they were here,and again at Christmas.”
“That’s rubbish!” He said. “Listen, all you ever do is criticise me recently. You say
I’m apathetic, but to be honest it’s difficult to remain motivated when all you do is hound me. I need your support; I need you to believe in me! You say you want our relationship to work, yet how can it when we sleep in different rooms? We’re not having a normal relationship. If we were having a normal relationship, I would be happy and motivated.
As it is, you clearly don’t like to be around me, so I keep out of the way. But know this,Sarah: I love you and I adore my girls. You are my world and I will do everything I can to give you the life you want. You just have to really want it, and you have to get back to believing in me.”

As soon as I heard the phrase ‘passive aggression’ it struck an instant cord with me. I knew I’d been on the receiving end of it, even if I didn’t realise it at the time.

Of course, it’s easy for me to recognise and acknowledge this with the benefit of hindsight, but for those of you who are still dealing with the person who is being passively aggressive; it can be difficult to spot the signs.

Start here: If you’ve ever had a conversation like the one described above, if these conversations happen regularly, and you are left feeling guilty and apologetic in the aftermath, then you are involved with a passive aggressive partner.

You can tell yourself as many times as you like, that you’re ‘not being abused’ but you ARE! Abuse doesn’t have to be physical to be real. This form of abuse may be subtle, but it’s no less damaging. You feel angry and frustrated. You feel you are the one who is always ‘losing your cool’, when he appears to remain calm and even a little perplexed by your behaviour.

You are being manipulated!

Passive Aggressive abuse is defined as follows:

Passive Aggressive behaviour is a form of covert abuse. When someone hits you or yells at you, you know that you've been abused. It is obvious and easily identified. Covert abuse is subtle and veiled or disguised by actions that appear to be normal, at times loving and caring. The passive aggressive person is a master at covert abuse."

A passive aggressive male always needs an object upon which to focus his antagonism. This is more often that not going to be his partner or spouse, but it can also be his child, co-worker or sub-ordinates. He will appear to be outwardly loving, caring, and generous, whilst simultaneously exercising an uncanny ability to undermine your confidence, deliver veiled insults (disguised as jokes), and leave you believing YOU are the one who can’t contain your anger.

It’s an impossible situation to find yourself in, and nothing you can do is going to change his behaviour. The best thing you can do, as I’ve said many times before, is to try to arm yourself with as much knowledge about this type of behaviour as possible. Acknowledging it, learning about it, and (most importantly) accepting it, will ultimately set you free.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll need persuading that what you are experiencing is real (and tangible) abuse. Please be assured though. Just because you have experienced abuse of this kind, it does not make you a weak person. It can happen to anybody, and indeed it happens to people from all walks of life, and at all social and educational levels.

You are not the one with the problem! Keep reminding yourself of this, because when you are deeply entwined with a person like this, they will try every trick in the book to make you believe you are at fault for all that is happening.

If, however, you are able to understand it and accept it, then you are a truly strong person. As soon as you have recognised the abuse, you have turned a corner, and are no longer a victim.

Keep reading, keep sharing, keep learning……

"The man with this type of pattern shows little consideration of the time, feelings, standards or needs of others. He obstructs and blocks progress to others getting what they want and then ignores or minimalizes their dissatisfactions and anger. He is silent when confronted as he has never learned to compromise. He may be a workaholic, a womanizer, hooked on TV, caught in addictions or self-involved hobbies."
"The man with passive aggressive actions is a master in getting his partner to doubt herself and feel guilty for questioning or confronting him. He encourages her to fall for his apologies, accept his excuses and focus on his charm rather than deal with the issue directly. He blames her for creating the problem and keeps her focused on her anger rather than his own ineptitude. When backed into a corner, he may explode and switch to aggressive aggressive behavior then switch back to passivity. He keeps his partner held hostage by the hope that he will change. He may appease her and clean up his act after a blow up for several weeks, then it's back to business as usual."
"The passive aggressive man is the classic underachiever with a fear of competition in the work place. He cannot take constructive feedback from others. His fear of criticism, not following through and his inability to see his part in any conflict keeps him from advancing on the job."
From the fantastic Blog Mailman Delivers....a story of betrayal

"It makes you the bad guy. Passive-aggressive hostility is so subtle, the skilled practitioner is often in a good position to deny it’s even there – blaming you for the inevitable confrontation that results. You blow up; he remains calm. Suddenly you seem like the aggressor. Maybe even to yourself. The incredible final straw, is when you apologize to him. Because your inner voice is telling you that he’s not being open with you, you experience conflict and stress."
Passive Aggression

"Recognize that a passive aggressive person is not a victim. Interacting with a passive aggressive person is like a dance. He plays the victim, and it is your role to bend over backward to “protect” him from being victimized. This dynamic puts the passive aggressive person in control. He is anything but a “victim.”"
Passive Aggressive Behaviour

"Rather than have a confrontation, the passive aggressive person acts sneakily.They lie and deceive. They give their word but do not keep it. They mumble rather than speak clearly."
Passive Aggressive

"Yet, the result is the same. Things are sabotaged by the passive-aggressive and it somehow is never their fault. A really good passive aggressive is very slippery with excuses, justifications, or alternative reasons for why things go awry. Passive-Aggression may not be expressed directly in behavior-but in words or humor. Sarcasm which communicates hostility is often a tool of the passive-aggressive person, as are jokes made at your expense"
How to deal with difficult people


  1. Hugs to you Sarah.
    I ordered your book and read it in less than 24 hours...on my birthday. I was seeking healing, and your book opened my eyes to so much that I had been blocking from my own memory, keeping me from that healing I needed. It was the best gift I could have ever received.
    I was also married to a narcissist. Our stories are very different, but so much alike at the same time. I could easily feel how you felt as I read your words, because I felt and often still do feel, the same way.
    Keep getting it out. You're doing a great job, and helping people along the way.

  2. RenewD

    Thank you so much for your kind words. I'm honoured that my book helped you. Acceptance is the hardest part, but the only way. Hugs right back to you xx

  3. I think I will have to buy myself a copy of this book. So much of this sounds all too familiar.

  4. Hi Sarah,
    best of luck with your book

    If I may be so bold, some advice,
    Do what is best for your children,
    and you will find what is best for you.

    best wishes, Tim

  5. Thank you for your comment, Tim.
    You are right, it is by doing what's best for the kids that we find our own peace of mind. As parents, everything we do is driven by their needs, and our hopes for a better future for them. For me, it's the most rewarding job in the world.

    Best wishes