Learn detachment from passive aggression

We have been talking about the difficult skills of “detaching” from the emotional impact caused by the passive aggression.

Detaching is observing the behavior of passive aggressiveness without showing a lot of emotion.  If you do not react strongly, you do not give the passive aggressive person the emotional control, nor do you give them the opportunity to turn the tides and focus on your anger rather than on what the passive aggressive person has or has not done himself.

This personality type relies on his partner’s sense of self-doubt so that he can force the conversation into dealing with her suppossed problems instead of reaching a decision about improving his behavior.

Also, learning about this behavior provides the basic self confidence you need to confront the behavior… it helps with the detaching when you know what can happen next, not to mention your self esteem.

 You can use the detaching also to re-direct the focus on yourself.  Once you know what you are dealing with, and become more confident  in your own capacity,  they are  less able to instill the doubt and make you the “bad person” and themselves the “injured” party…

 Detaching is also ignoring as many of the games as you possibly can.  You are going to be served with a variety of responses….it’s best to look at them as if you were at a theatre, and imagine that you are going to be surprised again and again….Remind yourself: “What next will he do?”

Whatever the reasons the passive aggressive person has to do his passive aggressiveness, like:  searching for  attention, deploying a sense of victimhood, following the inner need to exact revenge ( from a real or imagined slight from you). or just to show you that they do not have to do what you want them to do… and so be in the superior imaginary position, they want you to be aggravated by their resistance. If you show that it does not matter in such an important way, you are detaching.

If you do not react emotionally, then they do not get the reward they were seeking and this emptiness should eventually discourage their behavior.

Detaching means a consistent lack of emotional impact, regardless what they do. Is like you are blunting their ability to hurt you. This has to give you enough emotional freedom as to negotiate what you need from him from a more secure and powerful footing.

Finally: When you DO have to confront them, do it in a very calm manner.    If you stay in control,  they cannot only “hear” you better they realize that you are serious.

Also, make sure that you can and will follow through with whatever you say you will do…. They will call your bluff.   Let them know that it isn’t personal… That it isn’t a “payback” but that you cannot tolerate the offending behavior and  state the consequences if they do not stop doing exactly this kind of behavior.

Neil Warner

Neil Warner

I’m the “relationship guru,” and my main focus is to increase the quality of love-based relationship experiences. In this ground-breaking guide I offer useful strategies on healing a difficult angry relationship with love and compassion. You don’t have to stay in an unhealthy relationship one more minute. Let us share our tools with you today.

 

About Nora Femenia

Nora Femenia, Ph.D, is the CEO of Creative Conflict Resolutions and the author of the book: "The Art of Living with a Passive Aggressive Husband," a field guide for women that have to deal with passive aggression in their partners. Nora also posts regularly on her blog Creative Conflicts. Visit her blog and join the community to discuss issues related to Conflicts, Relationships and receive also Free her book “Breaking Free From The Silent Treatment.” You are warmly welcomed here, because we care for your happiness!

Comments

  1. How do you balance this sense of detachment w/o damaging your marriage? I used detachment as a method previously and found that I detached from my husband completely emotionally and it caused a lot of problems in our marriage. How do I detach from the hurt and not from the man if I want to save my marriage?

  2. Nora Femenia says:

    It's not easy. Detaching means being able to watch the behavior, watch it done with the intention to hurt you, and dodge the bullet. Think of: “I will ignore this negative comment, or put down, etc.” and see it as NOT touching you. It's a choice: convince yourself not to see the damaging attitude. If you can train yourself to be able to observe and recognize the minimal positive behavior, then you are on the right path. In short: ignore the bad; praise the good. If you detach from all, it's true that the emotional connection gets weakened. Try to keep the most positive image of him, while on purpose being blind to hurtful behavior. And remember to take care of yourself first!

  3. Nora Femenia says:

    Perhaps we could call it selective vision, instead of detachment?

  4. The best thing is not to waste any time wiht a passive aggressive personality type. I ruined 12 years of my life wiht a man with PA personality and everything that made me human was denied to me, he even used an extremely traumatic incident of my life to torture me mentally, by making cruel remarks and inviting to our home the person who caused the trauma (my sexually abusive sibling and parent). Like all abuse survivors, I was frightened of my abusers and needed to make my marital home a safe place where they could never come, but just to maintain his control, my husband would keep inviting them to our house, making a mockery of the many years of sexual abuse I suffered at these people's hands. Now I am divorced but I still find it extremely hard to forgive and extremely shocking that my husband treated my trauma as just another weapon to be used to terrorize me. How can a man be this cruel?

  5. Nora Femenia says:

    Sameena,
    so sorry to hear the depth of cruelty this person is showing to you! You gathered the courage to put a stop to this destructive behavior, and that is what counts; I really congratulate you in leaving him.
    I don't know why people can do so cruel things; what I know is that two episodes (first, the abuse by your family relatives; second the abuse by your husband) have made you stronger. Take special care of yourself and make a plan to make yourself happy no matter what….You don't need to forgive if you don't feel like doing it; what you need is some rationale for his extremely cruel behavior. I hope you can find in yourself some explanation.
    There is a book: “Why good people do bad things” by James Hollis, which I can recommend to understand his behavior.
    Wishing you well,

  6. The whole issue of “detaching” confuses me. When you are forced to detach from the very person, who you think you still love, is you are trying to change who you are. The problem w/a PA person is there the one who needs to change. I did detach; it was the best thing I ever did since I realized I was just wasting the rest of my life & if I was going to have any kind of life whatsoever, I had to detach from this person not only emotionally, but forever legally. Sometimes it just get's to that point.

  7. Nora Femenia says:

    Debra,
    you are right, it consists on changing your own reactions. The only person you can modify is yourself; no amount of begging or preaching will change your partner. The best way is to offer a different response, so the other person has to change himself! If you have your own interests and pursue them, his mood will not sabotage your own growth. Then, it's up to him: will he choose to follow you and grow also? or remain a moody child? In the first choice, you will have a partner, in the second, the need to find better company for your interests will be obvious. He is the only one who can decide and force himself to grow up to be with you!

  8. Isn't that brainwashing yourself? I agree that you can detach and it is a good thing to do in an abusive situation but its really important not to detach from the truth either, no matter how sad it is. Better to ditch this zero before you have wasted your life in a spiritless marriage.

    Pink

  9. Isn't that brainwashing yourself? I agree that you can detach and it is a good thing to do in an abusive situation but its really important not to detach from the truth either, no matter how sad it is. Better to ditch this zero before you have wasted your life in a spiritless marriage.

    Pink

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