So you are wondering how you ended up getting involved with a man that you now discover to be passive aggressive... Why, if you loved and love yourself, if you had a strong self-esteem, did you wind up with a man who might claim that he loves you, but whose actions (or lack thereof!) state the contrary?
Just so that we understand each other better, let’s quickly review exactly what passive-aggression is: a behavior between couples involving resistance to do any shared projects, or one person doing exactly what he had in mind even if both might have decided that you were going to do something together. The end result when nothing happens because he "forgot" is utter frustration and loneliness for you.
So how come the men in your life seem to all have followed this pattern of behavior, where they constantly keep you wondering about their true intentions, and if they are going to keep their promises or not, and end up frustrating you in the end?
In most cases, it is actually safe to assume that a good part of the reason why women unconsciously end up dating men who are passive aggressive… is because they like it. Now, don’t scoff at this yet and keep reading. As humans, we tend to be drawn to things that are familiar, and therefore make us feel “safe” whether we realize it or not. Same as with things, we unconsciously look for behaviors that we “know” and towards which we already have the mechanics to react to; so we –although it might drive us crazy- are attracted towards those who exhibit them.
So, how come women like this “safe” and “familiar” behavior to the point that they end up actually looking for partners who exhibit it? Well, if this is your case, chances are that you come from a family where one or both parents controlled the relationship via passive aggression, and this got you used to interacting with the behavior since childhood. You probably felt helpless being caught up in this family dynamic because much like in your present, back then, one person was getting their own way by silently maneuvering around the other person whilst the recipient was no doubt pissed off and frustrated at their behavior and the results of it. You probably tried to help but were likely powerless, so in adulthood, it’s almost like righting the wrongs of your past by trying to be successful in surpassing this behavior. So you are possibly looking for a passive aggressive person to tame into a good husband.
Trouble is that by repeating the same interaction from your past, you are sure to be frustrated like your mother/father was because getting the same results, year after year, and once again, the more you push, the more the other person resists the pushing and withdraws into cold shoulder and other PA behaviors.
How did you entered into this cycle? Probably because you wanted to help him because by him looking helpless or feigning helplessness about his problems, he invited the “helper” in you to appear and intervene in his behalf.
It’s not clear that he has invited you to "reform" him; probably not, and his game consists on inviting people to help him only to withdraw and frustrate the helper’s intentions. You can consider this avoidance response and refusal to change as an attack on you… But because you’re so used to this type of interaction, you need his PA behavior to define your personal identity as being useful, thus you’ll get caught up in trying to manage him and manage yourself around his behaviors.
Now, his apparent ‘neediness’ will draw you into these situations, and then, as has become the norm, your own needs won’t be met, you will feel frustrated and follow one of two possible courses of action: either you’ll silently simmer and hope for things to change, or you will try to verbalize your anger in a way that will scare him and force him to promise to take action so that you get what you want… he will agree to it, only to have the opportunity to disappoint you again!
So what can you do?
It is difficult to change a situation that has remained the same through all of your life, yet it is not impossible. Before you can come to terms with the relationship you currently have, it would be ideal for you to come to terms with the reason for it: the type of interaction you had (or still have with) your parent (who is the likeliest source of passive aggressive behavior in your life).
You might feel the need to talk to a coach, a good friend, or a spiritual adviser to admit the reality of the situation and gather the strength to confront it. Only once you have solved the issues stemming from your past and to which you are unconsciously holding on to, will you be able to successfully take on your present challenges.