It took me a while to understand what was happening.
His words had nothing to do with his tone. There would be this underlying current of negativity or blame, even when his words were saying “it’s fine, it’s okay”, “there’s not a problem” or (my favourite) “why are you getting upset?”
And, at first, I didn’t understand why I was getting so upset. If anyone else heard his words, or read his text messages, they’d call me crazy for feeling the way I did – there was nothing in them to complain about.
But that’s the point. There was nothing in them. Nothing real at least.
Instead of telling me straight up that he didn’t like something, or that he didn’t want to do something. He would tell me “it’s fine” and then fail to show up for a lunch date with friends we had arranged.
Or he would do the opposite behind my back.
Or be secretly brewing a storm of blame, irritation, anger, frustration in his head that I knew was there but couldn’t access past the “I’m not mad” denial, or the compliments-disguised-as-insults… Or those fucking simple smile emojis at the end of a friendly-though-threatening text message.
“It’s okay, I’m not mad, I just wasn’t expecting that from you. Have a great weekend and I’ll see you next week sometime. :)”
NO, IT’S NOT ALL GOOD. DON’T TELL ME MY BEHAVIOUR WAS “UNEXPECTED” AND THAT YOU’LL SEE ME NEXT WEEK… AND THEN SMILE AT ME !
Why don’t we have an actual conversation, that talks about actual feelings, that skips the BS and feels real? Like real adults?
Maybe we can do that when we see each other next week.
This example is testament to exactly how tough, unfair and absolutely mind-warping passive-aggressive behaviour can be.
If you're in a relationship - whether it's a romance, friendship, boss-employee relationship - with someone who's passive aggressive, it's likely they'll drive you crazy pretty quickly.
But, in a culture where manners are taught to be the pinnacle of politeness, it's seemingly unavoidable.
It is easier to apologise for moving your room-mate's laptop every single day and sticking it on the shelf under the TV because you don't like it on the kitchen bench, then it is to tell them directly to "stop leaving their laptop on the bench, because the kitchen is small and I need space, and how hard is it to moved the damn thing yourself?"