Does your partner say “Yes” to your requests, but when it comes down to it, her actions keep saying “No?” If this kind of behavior is persistent, you may be dealing with a passive-aggressive partner.
It can be tough to figure out if someone is truly being undermining, because the details are so small. How can you identify whether your partner has a passive-aggressive personality?
Decide whether undermining behavior is affecting your relationship by reading this information comes from the book Crazy Love Dealing with your Partner’s Problem Personality by Drs. W. Brad Johnson and Kelly Murray.
Ask yourself if your partner routinely does the following:
1. Passively refuses to fulfill routine job and social tasks.
2. Complains of being misunderstood and unappreciated by others.
3. Often sullen and argumentative.
4. Seems unreasonably angry and critical of authority figures.
5. Often envious and resentful toward those more fortunate or successful.
6. Exaggerates and complains about her own misfortune.
7. Alternates between passive compliance and hostile defiance.
8. Begins to undermine your happiness and success.
“If you find yourself getting more and more angry at someone you are dating even though she doesn’t ever do anything really aggressive, or if you find your own previously good self-esteem starting to decline as a result of a partner’s negative comments and subtle criticism,” you may be involved with an undermining partner.
“Be aware of toxic partnerships, they can slowly erode your confidence and happiness,” the doctors say, “Worst of all, you may end up feeling that all the problems with the relationship are yours.”
The undermining personality tends to hold strong negative attitudes about many things, especially authority figures. This person passively resists requests and demands and is rarely directly aggressive or hostile.
On the surface, the passive-aggressive type seems agreeable, but she obstructs success and constantly seems to forget or make mistakes that begin to reveal themselves as deliberate.
The undermining personality is “a genuine saboteur in relationships” that can disparage and devalue the success and achievements of everyone around her. Is your partner perpetually competitive and antagonistic toward others who do well? If so, more and more of your interactions with this personality type will be negative “and characterized by you yourself becoming quite angry,” according to Crazy Love.
It is possible for you to understand a passive-aggressive partner and stop vacillating between confusion, anger and self-doubt caused by interactions with this person. If it is not too late and you still have the motivation to change things for your relationship, you can learn to stop struggling with your sanity – and your partner’s problem, too.
You need to first see your partner’s behavior for what it is in order to have hope for success in your relationship. Recognize when your partner is becoming sullen or resists your requests through intentional failure, and view the resulting behaviors as you would a young child that is stomping their feet. “By using such a lens to view your partner’s shenanigans, they might appear ridiculous and sadly pathetic versus enraging or somehow designed just to make your life miserable,” Crazy Love says. This will help you to maintain emotional distance and avoid putting yourself down or taking the blame all the time.
Make your rock-bottom, nonnegotiable list of expectations clear and hold your partner accountable to honor them. Refuse to validate anger and resentment at authority figures, “Don’t concur that colleagues who are more fortunate or successful must have had special assistance or privilege. Keep in mind your partner will see others through a jaundiced lens of a child still seething at adults for squelching autonomy or making unreasonable demands.”
“By firmly, yet kindly, not feeding into your partner’s accusations and anger you will be modeling and setting appropriate and healthy limits,” according to the book.
And finally, you should know when it is time to leave your undermining partner, “Awareness that the time has come may arrive gradually, with increasing loneliness and declining self-esteem, or it may appear suddenly – such as when a partner says or does something especially demeaning or humiliating to you in public.”
Crazy Love depicts that this quietly and subtly undermining person will suck the happiness out of your relationship by sabotaging you at every turn and then adopting a wide-eyed victim stance anytime you try to confront the behavior. If you don’t have the thick skin and strong confidence it takes to be firm with this type of personality, you may want to seek something healthier, because “…living with a passive-aggressive personality can wreak havoc on your self-esteem; you can do better – much better.”