The man with passive aggressive behavior needs someone to be the object of his hidden hostility. He needs an adversary whose expectations and demands he can resist as he plays out the dance he learned from his parents. He chooses a woman who will agree to be on the receiving end of his disowned anger. He resists her in small ways setting up a pattern of frustration so that she gets to express the anger that he cannot.
The biggest irritant in being with a passive aggressive man is that he doesn’t follow through on his agreements and promises. He dodges responsibility while insisting he’s pulling his weight. He procrastinates, takes on big projects but doesn’t finish them then feels put upon or hostile if someone else tries to finish it. He often ignores reality as to his irresponsibility and withdrawal. He denies evidence, distorts minimalizes or lies to make his version of reality seem logical.
He uses vague language to sandbag the partner. Inconsistency and ambiguity are his tools of choice. He often gives double messages and expects his partner to read his mind and meet his needs saying ‘She should have known how it is.’ He withholds information and has a hidden agenda. He can’t take criticism and makes excuses to get himself off the hook. He sulks and uses silence when confronted about his inability to live up to his promises, obligations or responsibilities. When he doesn’t follow through, he puts the blame on his partner so he doesn’t have to take it and accuses her of having the problem.
The man with this type of pattern shows little consideration of the time, feelings, standards or needs of others. He obstructs and block progress to others getting what they want and then ignores or minimalizes their dissatisfactions and anger. He is silent when confronted as he has never learned to compromise. He may be a workaholic, a womanizer, hooked on TV, caught in addictions or self-involved hobbies.
He may have multiple relationships with women as a way of keeping distant from one fully committed relationship. He is confused about which woman he wants and stays caught between the two women in his life not being able to commit fully to either. He is confused and can’t understand why the women get so angry with him. He feels others demand too much of him so resists in overt and subtle ways and feels deprived if must give in to others. The man who copes with conflict by not being there has strong conflict over dependency. He desperately wants attention but fears being swallowed up by the partner. He can’t be alone and live without a woman in his life, but can’t be with partner emotionally. He’s caught in a Catch 22–wanting affection but avoiding it because he fears it as his destruction. He resents feeling dependent on the woman so must keep her off guard. He makes his partner feel like a nothing through his neglect or irritability but he keeps her around because he needs her. His script is ‘Be here for me, but don’t come too close and don’t burden me with your needs or expectations.’