Stop Saying These 3 Passive-Aggressive Things to Your Partner

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I'm a certified coach and work with grumpy girlfriends who want to dump the grump and enjoy their good relationships.

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Passive-aggressive behavior is one of the pillars of being a grumpy girlfriend. The reason for this is that we often feel the need to punish our partners for how “they make us feel,” even though we’re the ones hurting our own feelings. If we are jealous, insecure, or upset, we want to (secretly) make them suffer.

Let’s go through some of the most common passive-aggressive phrases we use in our relationships. It’s important to start becoming aware of why you say the things you say and stop justifying them to yourself. They are only harmful, and disconnecting, and come from a place of defensiveness, judgment, and anger. So, not something we want to keep doing!

I never said that ____

There are many different versions of this one. “I never said that you’re not allowed to do that” and “When did I ever say that you’re not allowed to do that?” are two of them. I used to say this in the past and now whenever I hear people say it to each other I just cringe so hard.

It’s such a ridiculous thing to say, especially during a conversation where the other person is paraphrasing and explaining how they interpreted or felt about something that we did say. Instead of listening to them and actually hearing what they are telling us, we get so defensive and start attacking the specific wording.

“When did I ever say that???”

That’s not what’s important here. You are literally just in defense mode when you react this way. If you didn’t feel like you were being attacked by what your partner is telling you, perhaps you would be able to actually hear what they are saying.

When we focus on keeping score, making sure no one “misinterprets us”, and that everything is fair, we completely lose focus on working together to get to a solution.

You do ____ too

Has your partner ever brought up something you do that bothers them and you felt like it was an ideal moment to bring up something they do that bothers you? You’re not alone. Trying to even the score and protecting yourself by pointing out that your partner did that same thing last week or they do this other thing that you don’t like is common passive-aggressive behavior.

These behaviors stem from a feeling of danger, being attacked, and needing to defend yourself. When you are being passive-aggressive, there is not a drop of vulnerability in you and you are not open to hearing what the other person is saying nor figuring out some kind of compromise or solution. You are too busy keeping score and making sure your partner knows they’re equally shitty.

What would it be like for you if you just listened in that situation? Yes, your brain will play a highlight reel of all the things your partner does that you hate and want to change. But what if this is not the time or the place to bring those things up?

I think you can imagine what it would be like for you to be on the receiving end of this behavior, and it’s never a good time. You just feel like the person isn’t hearing you and is too busy being defensive.

Do whatever you want

Being judgmental or patronizing by saying “do whatever you want” or “do what you think is best” is also a common grumpy girlfriend behavior. You clearly have an opinion about what they should or shouldn’t do, and if they don’t agree with you, you shut down and tell them to do whatever they want. And most likely, if they ask if you’re upset or if everything is okay, you just say “it’s fine” and stay grumpy.

When you are being passive-aggressive, you are emotionally punishing your partner for something they did or for your thoughts/feelings about what they did. You say things are fine, but you withhold connection and affection, you might give them the silent treatment, and you’re just overall in a crappy mood towards them.

Instead of just throwing your hands in the air and saying “do whatever you want” and then being grumpy about it, hold space for the disagreement. Explain your preference, why you think and feel the way you do, and then understand that neither of you is right or wrong. It’s okay to disagree with or not like every single choice your partner makes. It doesn’t mean they are necessarily doing something wrong.

Awareness is always step 1. Sometimes, just becoming aware of how you speak to your partner and what emotions are fuelling that form of communication is enough for you to start making a change. Because intellectually, we don’t want to punish or hurt our partners!

In the heat of the moment, it will feel necessary or “right” to send an ironic 🙂 smiley or a thumbs up. It will feel important to write “whatever” or “k”. Why? Because there is a pressure building inside of you, probably frustration, anger, or annoyance, and you just want to take it out on your partner. But you don’t want it to be too obvious. You want to be able to explain it away as “that didn’t mean anything” or “no I’m not upset.” If you want to stop these passive-aggressive behaviors, you need to learn to process those emotions and deal with the pressure that is building inside of you.

Click the image below to read more about the How to Enjoy Your Relationship coaching program where you learn how to become aware of your grumpy behaviors, how to process the emotions that are fuelling them, and how to ultimately show up as the girlfriend you want to be.

xo Katrin

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