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Getting back together with a passive-aggressive man


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I need some clear minds on this one.


I've posted on this board several times about my (ex-)boyfriend in the last year. We've known each other for two years, and dated for the first year. We've been in contact for the entire time since the breakup except maybe a month or so, and in a variety of ways. We were friends very briefly, tried getting back together in a relationship a few times, and slept together for several months. At the beginning of September, for the first time in a year, we discussed being in a relationship again, and decided to give it a try.


Note - I don't need a lecture on the rollercoaster, getting back together thing. It sucks. I know. It's stupid and bad. But circumstances have kind of changed.


This time, perhaps as usual, things began to flame out almost instantly. I constantly felt anxious, worried, scared, angry, and confused. He would seem very excited about being back together at one moment, fawning all over me and giving me tons of attention, and then would pull away quickly. After 2 years of being with this man, I knew that he had some issues in his past, but I was beginning to feel like there had to be more to this story.


Yesterday I went to the library and got out books on passive-aggressive men. This used to be considered a personality disorder, but was recently taken off of that list. Still, we're not talking passive-aggressive in the "everyone is a little passive-aggressive sometimes" way. This is ingrained behavior. Every word of this book sounded like my boyfriend.


Basically, he had a major childhood trauma (his father left when he was an infant, but came around every so often as he was growing up) that has led to him having tremendous dependency issues. He longs to be cared for and to be dependent on someone to meet all the needs that his father never met, but he also is so petrified that that person is going to go away just like his dad did that he pulls away constantly. Passive-aggressives (including him) also have a tendency to agree to something and then just not do it, as an act of defiance. They really do act like little children, because they never made it past childhood psychologically due to all of the emotional damage.


As I was pondering all of this and wondering if knowing what I know now would make a difference, he texted me to say that maybe we shouldn't be trying this anymore. I got him to agree to at least meet me in person to discuss this, saying that I've done some reading - of course, I can't tell him, "gee, I finally figured out what's wrong with you!" - and I think I have some ideas as to how to make things better. I'm trying to encourage him as you are supposed to do with P-As, telling him that he can do this and he is capable of making a choice here. Ultimately, if this were to become serious again, I would encourage him to go to therapy. He is not going to get better without it. Even with what I know now, I cannot make him better; I can only change my reactions to him and try to understand him better.


I loved this man with all my heart, and I want to again. Part of me is so angry that he's this way, and petrified that I will not and cannot deal with him the way that I need to. I'm glad that I finally have validation that I am not crazy of my own accord, and I am not sabotaging the relationship as he often seems to imply - of course, I have contributed negatively just as he has, but the big problem here is his behavior, and the fact that it is so infuriating.


I have such an emotional attachment to him at this point. But part of me fantasizes about a fresh, new relationship with someone who is emotionally capable of so much more.


I don't know what I'm asking. I just needed to vent. Does anyone have experience with P-A men?

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Does he recognize his issues? If not, you've got a long road ahead of you.


It is important to enter into this understanding that people are very difficult to change. It can be done, but a vast majority of the time, the person attempting to exact change will find themselves running in place. If I had to guess, whatever might happen on this front will come from his own desire to better himself and not from anything you do.


As an aside, I've read quite a few of your posts with re: to this fellow. I truly think that you're better off without him. A lot of young, attractive and intelligent women have wasted many years trying to 'fix' the man they love. Many men can make the same claim. There are many fine, upstanding gentlemen in this world - people without problems. Why not try dating one of them?


I expect that his passive-aggressive tendencies are just one of a laundry list of problems...

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Check out this website link removed for more information. If you are reading Scott Wetzler's book on PA men I would also suggest you go to the link removed site and read the reviewers comments....not for the reviews of the book which were very good, but for what they had to say about their own relationship with a PA man. From what I have read these men rarely acknowledge that they have a problem and thereforee rarely fix it. Many women spent years and years with a PA man and nothing ever changed.

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I got out of a relationship with a PA man last Feb. It's funny that I didn't even know of the term "passive aggressive" until perhaps a month ago when I tried to find something online that would explain my hurt, and there went the aha! moment.


It was frustrating to be with someone like this. I often blamed myself for making such a fuss while he was the all-loving partner who's so perfect and nice in everyone's eyes. I was the partner who "didn't understand him enough". And when I got upset with certain things that he did, such as making me wait in the cold in front of his door for 10 minutes before he woke up to get the door, he pulled away. (I did believe he really fell asleep though, to be fair). He left me feeling upset when I confronted him, and *I* was the person who went back to him to apologize for being so "unreasonable"! Oh my! What was I thinking at the time?!


Other instances include him forgetting my birthday, our anniversary. Or one time he said he wanted to throw a party for me, he only did half of what was necessary and at the end, it was *I* who had to make phone calls/e-mails to my friends to ask them to come.


And one time he got completely wasted the night when we were suppose to spend a quiet time together as I was going away to another country and he was to take me to the airport next day.... he got drink at a get-together that we went to, and freaked out when he realized that i was upset (i said i was going home on my own) and decided to leave the party. Then he collapsed on the street with vomits all around him. I had to call my friend to pick him up with him, and of course, he couldn't make it to the airport with me, leaving me crying for his stupid behaviours on the way to the airport.... and later he told me he didn't understand why he was doing it.


In fact, his favourite lines are "I don't care" and "I don't know"... when confronted about why he behaves in a certain way (like, why he acted so cold towards me), he always said he didn't know and he had no control over how he felt, and the worst part of his argument was, whatever he felt, "it's just the way it is". Just by saying so he completely denied responsibilities! And *I* thought I was the one who didn't love him enough for "who he was" to be upset.


And he's always so stubborn about unnecessary things such as not wanting to use discount cards because he didn't want his consumer choice to be "imposed on", and of course, he never likes to impose on others so he just likes to stay silent and submit to peer pressure... and then he made me suffer by being stubborn with me! He always tried to be the good guy by buying me lots of material things, but he didn't want to know me (I felt) and he felt threatened when I talked about my views, because he thought I was more intelligent than he was (it was his words).


After we broke up, I felt so angry and upset, not because we broke up, but all the anger that I felt started to make sense and I wonder how I could have tolerated such behaviors. He was the immature one who left me alone at a party. He dumped me after making me fly all the way from another continent just the day after I arrived and I still had to stay with him for another month. And the annoying part is that he would act all nice such as waiting for me to have dinner after he said he didn't want to be with me. (Confusing mixed messages, another PA signal). He didn't pick me up at the airport but made me dragged my luggage on my own all the way to his place, but of course, being such a "nice" guy, he actually did give me the code to the gate so I could get in.


So why was I attracted to someone like this in the first place.


The shocking bit is, perhaps that says something about who I was back then.


I was ignorant, but I did allow it to happen.


Did I feel loved when I was with him? To be honest, I always felt he cared about protecting himself more than he cared about anyone else.


It's not a matter of him loving you or not, but his heart is so closed to have room for anyone else.


Now I just want my space to heal. I still care for him, but I can't afford to deal with him. I have no obligations to be kind to him, even though he perhaps secretly still seeks my attention (by "checking on" me by nicely crafted email once in awhile). I've learned my lessons and grown too tired to humour his stubbornness and insensitivity. I explicitly told him not to contact me anymore. I still care about him, but then, it's life.


Good luck with whatever decision you'll make eventually. Remember you are the one who live with it and there's no right or wrong.

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Thank you for your post, desiree.


I think my decision is to end the relationship (or any attempt thereof). This has gone on for too long, but honestly, if I had not come accross this information about P-A men and realized that it fit him to a T, I might be going through this same cycle for another year.


My father is passive-aggressive. In fact, the boyfriend has stated several times how much he admires my dad and likes him, probably because they're so similar. I realize now that I ended up in this relationship because I know what to expect, however atrocious and damning it will be. Women pick men like their fathers, and they enter situations that could be awful for them just because they're used to them. I fell right into that trap.


I had a long conversation with my mom about her marriage with my dad (they've been divorced for over 10 years now), and she talked about how miserable she was, how awful she felt, how put down she was after all those years. I went online and read the comments of all these women my mother's age, talking about how they've wasted years of their lives with men who will never give them what they want or need, but they can't leave because they have children with them.


I know that my boyfriend will never change unless he truly wants to. And I don't think he's ready to do that yet. I think someday he'll get there, but he isn't there now. I feel very bad for him. I know what his childhood was like and what he's suffered through, but he hasn't realized yet that he's just perpetuating the suffering with this behavior.


I still want to sit down and talk with him this week to see if I can reach him on some level about his behavior. But I seriously doubt that anything short of a full commital to therapy on his part would make me want to be with him. I cannot do this anymore. I've already wasted 2 years being put down and made to feel like my needs were stupid and I was crazy. I'm not going to let that happen any longer.

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I'm truly sorry that you're still going through this. It's not easy as women like us who're attracted to PA men for whatever reasons (having a PA father can be a possibility) have the tendency to be loving and caring. We care so much that we tend to think we can do "better" to improve the relationship, while the guy refuses to even admit there's a problem... Anyway, am still frustrated now because of my ex's recent contact that I just have to vent.


You've already made a good first time realizing what's been going on and attempt to do something about it. What I think might be good for you now, is really to focus on yourself first. PA men get the satisfaction to see that someone who they think are strong - their "rescuer" partners - to become vulnerable. By no means they must be consciously manipulative, but sometimes they don't even know they do it. You really can't demand someone to be more than who they are. On a positive note, I do believe change invites change. So if you spend more time to improve other areas of your life (e.g. career, social life, spirituality, health, you name it), and figure out who you are, what your core values are, what you love doing, etc. in time you'll become a better person, and that will encourage him to better himself. No one can change another person but himself. You can only gingerly encourage him and inspire him (if you have that much patience in the next few years) by being happy with yourself.


So if you really love your bf that much, love yourself first! Or if you don't love your bf that much, still love yourself first! Life is too short to chain yourself to all these emotional BS. What's the point of being a doormat to one person when you use the same energy to be an angel to so many others? (friends, family, community, charity work, etc.)


Again, hope all turns out well!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Ok I just want to tell you that ending the relationship may be the best thing you can do to save your sanity!! I've been with my boyfriend (now ex since last week) for 11 years. We own a house together but have never married (due to his saying he would saying he wouldn't crap). But maybe I've finally realized after feeling like number 10 and him always being late and making me feel like a lunatic. The final straw is I became very suspiocious of him (we were fighting a * * * * load) I found texts back and forth between him and a co-worker (he is her boss) and she is going through a * * * * ty divorce. I ended up talking to her for 3 hours and realizing that he was lying to her about everything putting on his "nice guy" act. I think they may have slept together but they've been having an emotional and physical affair for at least 3 months. The final straw was I confronted him and was actually willing to forgive him!! We had two beautiful days of him applogizing and begging for my forgiveness, while he told me he loved me with all of his heart and he was so so sorry for what he did ( he was actually taking responsiblity for once!!!) Well the next day he started acting colder to me and saying * * * * like he had to deal with what he did to me (he was throwing up and not eating) but the way he was all of a sudden dealing was pushing me away and making me feel like * * * * about myself, until he literally turned it on me!!! I finally just broke up with him (it was terrifying to me!! but I do feel some relief, no more waiting up for him to come home, hoping he will spend just a few extra minutes with me, feeling pathetic, etc.) I was never like this before!! I was a confident, screw this type of girl. It all changed when I got diagnosed with cancer 6 years ago at the age of 23. He was there for me during that time, so I've refused to see alot of the * * * * that's been hitting the fan for years!! and before my cancer he was nasty too but we were in college so I thought he'd grow out of it. He hung a wedding ring in front of my nose like a carrot and made me feel like a fool (I'd cry, we'd take a "break", I'd fall apart etc.) It was so hard but I finally feel like I may have just reached my breaking point!! The lies, the cheating, the coldness, the constant feeling like I was the "freak" or bad person. It's not right!!! I shouldn't feel this way and neither should you!! It's taken me years to wake up and luckily we don't have children!! It takes alot for me to not go back if he started with his charm (he's handsome and boyish). But he also needs help!! I'm actually getting help for me, my low self esteem and my "anger management" huh, funny how I've never been "angry" with anyone else!! Good luck!! I wish you the best!!

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All I Ever Wanted Was to Love You
All I Ever Wanted Was to Love You


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