Passive Aggressive Husband

In this dance of connection and isolation named marriage, it is possible to see that the two people have different models to get together...basically how near can you get to people without fearing to be swallowed by the relationship?

The national assumption about us being independent individuals crashes with the task of forming a new "WE" entity when we marry or establish a permanent relationship; both are antithetical.
And so, we find several degrees of permission to be near, and or permission to create distance from the other and be by yourself, depending of course on the attachment style we developed when children. If you have a secure attachment, you can go back and forth between your own needs for individuation and the merging with your loved one: neither will scare you either with abandonment or with engulfment. In the case of persons with insecure or anxious attachment who could express the following feelings:

  • I am somewhat uncomfortable being close to others;
  • I am nervous when anyone gets too close;
  • I often worry about someone getting too close to me;
  • I am not comfortable having other depend on me;

we can perceive that there is some insecurity there, either trying to get close or to accept the inevitable dependence  on each other generated by a "WE."

Where is this conversation going? Easy, the best way to keep a fixed distance with an intimate partner is using some of the techniques of passive aggression!

Let me explain: when you do the icy silence called "the cold shoulder" what you are really doing is regulating the distance....telling the other person:

"I'm not leaving you, but I'm in my cave, don't get near me so I don't get too scared of intimacy..., and the "WE" project goes into the fridge up until the moment I can reattach again"

When you do the nasty comments, and the put downs, and the inconsiderate critiques what you are doing is controlling the possibility of the other person getting dangerously near, by doing hurtful behaviors that will force her to withdraw in order to protect herself.

Having an insecure attachment marks a person for life, because he can't ever trust completely the other person when she gets too near: what if she finally leaves him? what is he feels too dependent of her and so has to be too worried about his own survival without her?   Better to detach constantly from the other with passive aggression, so nobody can be so near him as to make him feel dangerously intimate!

Now we understand better this dance: when he withdraws, she chases him with her love and so forces him to withdraw more....escalating the passive aggression attitudes so finally get her to reject him.

And all this in the name of love, would you say? Probably, yes. This is the relationship that lots of people call love...not knowing something better as how to generate a more secure attachment.


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. 

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non-BPD wife
Reply to  non-PA husband
12 years ago

So if you are the ‘non-PA husband’…. you are BPD and your wife the PA. I’m the PA wife of what I think is BPD husband. Our traits are exacerbated by each other…when I try and disengage, he comes at me ‘exponentially’. My disengagement is PA…but it is also a coping mechanism…we both have BAD HABITS that drive each other away..

non-PA husband
12 years ago

 Can you comment on the relationship between BPD and passive-aggressive behavior?  I’ve noticed some similar traits; anxiety, push-pull behavior, etc.

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