For some time, I’ve had a friend I no longer like. She is one of my oldest friends and it slowly turned sour. I feel fake. I can see the steam of judgement fuming from my skin. I notice those eye rolls I make, because they happen so often it hurts. The resentment and irritation get the best of me. I don’t even like who I am when I act this way. I don’t think she’s even that bad… She has a wonderful heart and many of my best times have been by her side. It’s my passive-aggressive nature that’s reached a point where there is no coming back. Marrium-Webster defines passive-aggression as:
“Being, marked by, or displaying behavior characterized by the expression of negative feelings, resentment, and aggression in an unassertive passive way (as through procrastination and stubbornness)”.
Here are various ways you can show your passive aggression:
- Pretend to like someone because you aren’t able to be honest with them
- Say you agree with something when you really don’t
- Tell people what they want to hear, even if you don’t agree
- Say one thing (to look like you are playing nice with the group) but do another
- Dislike or hate someone but don’t tell them because you are too scared
- Become angry but take it out quietly or in snarky ways
Now all stories are two-sided, so what really happened? I let little annoyances pile up. I bent over backwards for little to no recognition. Most of the time it’s because I take pride in helping others.
I don’t expect anything in return. But I can read when it has transitioned from acceptance to abuse of kindness. And that, my friend, infuriates me…not the first or second slip up, but after some time, I am thoroughly offended, but of course, too scared to speak up. My personal favorite tool is sarcasm. Pretending to listen or care while secretly thinking you are stupid is a close favorite. But it hurts me too, likely more than it hurts others.
It all snowballed because of an avoidance of conflict. A deep, rooted fear that the conflict would somehow soil the relationship. When in fact, speaking up was the only way to avoid my blow out. So before you let a bunch of little things pile up and you explode, here is what you (and I) can stop being so passive-aggressive:
Be more assertive– What is it that’s stopping you from engaging in direct communication? For me it’s part fear, and part anger. If the friendship is worth saving you should get over the anger and understand that you can’t grow from fake, indirect communication. If your friend is worth it, they will appreciate your thoughts. Give them the information they need to fix this and start that conversation before piling more “things that piss me off” to your list. Work up that courage to talk in a calm, collected, and authentic manner.
Stop being sarcastic– When it comes to dealing with conflict, sarcasm is not the way to go. When you catch yourself, stop; ask yourself, am I providing my friend with information to work on this? Or am I just pissing everyone off (myself included)?
Stop being so damn scared of conflict– This quote by Michael Batshaw, LCSW, a New York City-based psychologist who specializes in couples, sums it up well, “Engaging in conflict isn’t going to end the relationship, it’s avoiding the conflict [that might].” Amen to that. Conflict can often lead to closer relationships, mutual understanding, and higher levels of happiness. It won’t always work out perfectly but it is a damn better alternative to feeling angry, alone, and fake.
Talk when you are calm– Occasionally, I get easily flustered and I will need breather. That’s fine. Take a step back or a week off (I took two months off from this friend but hey, I was bitter). Then talk when you are ready to communicate assertively without being mean.
Apologize– This one isn’t always necessary but if you’ve been like me: bitchy, sarcastic, snide you may need to apologize before finally owning up to what’s truly eating at you. I’d like to think we passive-aggressive folks can be really good friends but sometimes we get really upset, explode, and make manageable fights, into huge, catastrophic events. Apologize for anything out of line and then explain where you are coming from and what you both can do to move past the storm.