About a month ago, I had a conversation with a young woman who shared with me that she was frustrated. Well, not JUST frustrated…But frustrated ENOUGH to clear up some confusion and mixed signals she had been receiving from a young man whom she had consistently been spending time with. He disappeared on her for about a month, no conversation took place unless she initiated, and his responses were dry. She had reached the conclusion that he just wasn't interested. However, after she followed through on the decision to ask him about it and provide her assessment of the situation, he told her a different story: One about being busy...but interested. Although she decided to give him the benefit of the doubt as well as another opportunity to prove that he was interested, she also let him know that she wouldn’t be made a fool of. He apologized for disappearing and they turned a new leaf/everything went back to the way it was before the disappearance… Or did it?
The topic of this blog post is passive aggressiveness. Review the options below to explore responses that could have passive aggressiveness at its core:
-The young man starts to come around again but is standoffish
-The young man brings up the conversation again in order to actively mock the young woman and make fun of her attempt to bring clarity to the situation (while trying to make it seem like he isn’t doing so)
-The young woman ignores the young man’s attempts to re-engage and stops responding using their main communication channels
-The young woman is standoffish in her in-person interactions with the young man
-Both individuals are walking on egg shells in the relationship, but no one will say why
-Angry outbursts and disrespectful remarks are communicated in an underhanded way and are spread throughout the relationship
Why is this considered passive aggressiveness? Because both individuals agreed to move on and make amends, however, the actions above show that the words exchanged earlier were inconsistent with how they truly felt/they were not ready to move forward.
Questions to ponder:
1. Can you identify any relationships in your life (i.e. with friends, family, colleagues, etc.) where someone that you interact closely with behaves as if things are fine between the two of you, however, you can tell that this isn't true.
2. Do you behave as if everything is fine (when they are definitely not) in your relationships? There is usually a specific event or series of events that preceded the unsettling turn of the relationship. A relationship that appears to be on the decline or is currently stagnant may be a good example of this.
3. How comfortable do you feel giving and receiving feedback on issues that are causing strain on your relationships? Are you confident that voicing your concerns will lead to reconciliation or are you certain that the relationship will begin to decline?
4. How do you respond when given constructive feedback in your relationships?
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