If He Says These 8 Things, He's Toxically Passive-Aggressive

This is subtle emotional abuse.

Last updated on Feb 23, 2024

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What is passive-aggressive behavior, and how can you spot the signs of a toxic relationship filled with passive aggression? Passive aggressive behavior is "characterized by indirect resistance to the demands of others and an avoidance of confrontation." To figure out if you're a victim of passive aggression, ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you on an emotional roller coaster ride with someone in your life?
  • Do you know a person who is friendly one day but withdraws the next?
  • Does this person consistently avoid any emotionally intense conversations?
  • Are you sometimes that person?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, chances are, you may be dealing with a passive-aggressive person or even showing signs of passive-aggressive behavior yourself. Passive-aggressive behavior does not support healthy connections, so it's crucial to know how to recognize passive-aggressive traits — both in yourself and others. Do you notice yourself displaying these behaviors? Don't beat yourself up about it because it's not your fault. These behaviors have been passed down from generation to generation.


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If he says these 8 things, he's toxically passive-aggressive:

1. "I'm not mad."

Denying feelings of anger is classic passive-aggressive behavior. Rather than being upfront and honest when questioned about their feelings, the passive-aggressive person insists, "I'm not mad," even when they are seething on the inside.

2. "Fine" or "Whatever."

Pouting and withdrawing from arguments are common strategies of the passive-aggressive person. Passive aggressive behavior comes from a person's belief that expressing anger directly will only make things worse. The passive-aggressive person uses phrases like "fine" and "whatever" to express anger indirectly instead of communicating in a direct and emotionally honest way.




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3. "I'll do that later today."

Passive aggressive people are known for verbally complying with a request, but behaviorally delaying its completion or not doing it at all. Their actions speak louder than their words.

4. "I didn't know you meant now."

Passive aggressive people are master procrastinators. It's normal to put off unpleasant tasks but people with passive-aggressive personalities rely on procrastination as a way of frustrating others or getting out of certain commitments without having to directly refuse them.


5. "You just want everything to be perfect."

Another passive-aggressive strategy is to carry out tasks in a timely, but unacceptable manner. For example, a child who is asked to make their bed and does it halfway. Or a husband who usually doesn't help with housework and when he does he doesn't do it, thoroughly. The passive-aggressive person complies with a particular request but intentionally is inefficient. When confronted, they defend the work and accuse the other of being a perfectionist.

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6. "I thought you knew."

Passive-aggressive people may express their anger covertly by choosing not to share information when it could prevent a problem. By claiming ignorance, the person defends inaction, while taking pleasure in seeing another's plight.

7. "I was only joking."

Like backhanded compliments, sarcasm is a common tool of a passive-aggressive person who expresses hostility aloud, but in socially acceptable, indirect ways. If you show that you are offended by the sarcasm, the hostile joke teller plays up their role as victim, asking, "Can't you take a joke?"




8. "Why are you getting so upset?"

The passive-aggressive person is a master at maintaining calm and showing surprise when others, worn down by their indirect hostility, blow up in anger. The person gets pleasure from setting others up to lose their cool and then questioning their "overreactions." Hopefully, this was eye-opening for you, and it helps you to know how to recognize passive-aggressive behavior when it shows up in your life. Learning how to communicate with direct clear communication instead of unhealthy behaviors will enhance your relationships.

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Anna-Thea is an author and certified divine Feminine educator who educates people on how to claim their power lovingly.