Are you able to directly express your anger? When your partner does something that hurts you, do you tell them directly? Or do you avoid the conflict but act sullen and withdrawn to communicate your displeasure?

Passive aggressive behavior is an attempt at conflict resolution that doesn’t effectively resolve the conflict. The term passive aggressive essentially means communicating dissatisfaction or unhappiness about something in an indirect way.

Although we’ve heard the term used on television or in films for years, few people truly understand what it means or the negative impact this behavior has on relationships.

Some people develop this ineffective style of problem solving behavior as a direct result of growing up in an environment where it wasn’t safe to speak truthfully. This could mean there might have been strict rules and harsh judgment and/or no healthy model of assertiveness (which is the ideal compromise between aggression and passivity). Children in these scenarios learn to stuff their anger down. It doesn’t mean they don’t get angry, it just means that they don’t directly express that anger. Without intervention most of them will carry these behaviors into adulthood. This can create toxic relationships because real communication is being blocked.

In this week’s Real Love Revolution video, How to Stop Being Passive Aggressive, I cover:

  • What Passive Aggressive Behavior Looks Like
  • Why People Become Passive Aggressive
  • The Cycle of Passive Aggressive Behavior
  • How to Stop the Cycle of Passive Aggressive Relationship Interaction

Passive aggressive expression of anger sets up a cycle of ineffective interaction. You don’t get the satisfaction of saying it directly and the person you’re in a relationship with doesn’t get valuable intel about how you feel or the opportunity to be a part of the solution. So after you read this week’s blog and watch the video, download the Cycle of Passive Aggression Cheat Sheet to better understand each stage and begin to express yourself more directly.


I hope that this was helpful in understanding passive aggression and stay tuned for next week when I’ll be doing a follow-up video on all of the ways that passive aggressive behavior might be negatively impacting your life.

Terri Cole is a licensed psychotherapist, transformation coach, and an expert at turning fear into freedom. Sign up for Terri’s weekly Newsletter, check out her blog and follow her on Twitter.