PASSIVE aggressive behaviour can be incredibly destructive in a relationship, but it’s often difficult to pinpoint and deal with effectively.

So we spoke to narcissistic abuse expert and founder of My Trauma Therapy, Emma Davey, to find out the red flags to watch out for and tips for how to respond to a passive aggressive partner.

The first thing to know is what this behaviour looks and sounds like.

Emma says one of the most common signs are snide comments: “They will say things like, ‘that’s a nice dress but you look fat in it’.

“If you react, they will focus on the nice part of the comment and make out like you’re starting the argument.

“In the end, you simply stop reacting.”

Other examples of passive aggressive behaviour include bringing up old situations you thought were resolved and brushing off nasty comments by making you feel like you’re overreacting. 

People who remain in a relationship with someone like this will ultimately feel silenced, dodge conversations, feel like they’re walking on eggshells, and make excuses for their other half’s abusive behaviour.

In extreme cases, the recipient may even suffer from short-term memory loss and question their own sanity.

If any of this sounds familiar, there are steps you can take to better cope with your partner and their damaging behaviour…

Learn the red flags

Emma says: “It’s the red flags you see at the beginning that you end up leaving them for months or years later.

“By learning what they are, you have a chance to say ‘no thank you’.”

Keep a journal

Keeping a journal can help you to understand and recognise the patterns of passive aggressive behaviour and how it makes you feel.

Emma says: “Once it’s on paper, you see how it’s adding up and how it’s affecting you.”

Set healthy boundaries

“You can change the way you accept the behaviour,” Emma says.

This could be not responding to their mean comments and simply walking away.

You might also consider saying something like: ‘If this continues, I am not going to continue to be with you’.

But Emma has a word of warning: “If they don’t want to change, they will not change and the situation will not change.”

It then becomes a question of what you’re prepared to put up with, which brings us neatly onto Emma’s last piece of advice…

Know your worth

“You weren’t put on this earth to be abused by somebody else,” says Emma.

“You have to love yourself enough so that the next person adds to your happiness but isn’t your happiness.”

To explore Emma’s resources and therapy options, visit My Trauma Therapy.

Meanwhile, an expert shares six signs which could mean you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship.

Plus, a doctor reveals the warning signs you’re dating a narcissist, from telling lots of stories to showing off

And one relationship coach reveals how an ‘imaginary person’ helps save their marriage – and others agree it works.


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