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In the Media – On passive-aggressive friendships (Elite Daily)

Published: March 10, 2016 | Last Updated: March 17, 2016 By | 8 Replies Continue Reading

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Elite Daily (screenshot) - On passive-aggressive friendships

Elite Daily (screenshot)

In Elite Daily, writer Talia Koren poses the question of why women tend to be passive-aggressive in their friendships. In the article entitled, “The Real Reason Passive Aggression Ruins Female Relationships,” she writes:

“Letting stuff slide with friends hurts everyone. Fact: Confrontation is scary.

By speaking from the heart, you risk hurting the other person, being shot down or losing that friend if they disagree.”

To frame the article, Koren interviewed Dr. Levine and asked some tough questions about why women tend to hide their feelings and have a hard time dealing with conflict in more positive ways. Dr. Levine noted how women are often raised to “play nice” and avoid confrontation. She writes:

“Saying no is never easy, but it’s important to learn how to do so,” Levine says. “If you continually say yes when you don’t want to, you aren’t likely to be a happy camper and your hostility is likely to eventually seep out.”

You’re not fooling anyone when you agree to go to a bar with a friend and aren’t into it. That’s true even if you think you’re doing right by saying yes when you want to say no. It’s almost like lying. By clearly expressing your feelings and needs, you strengthen trust in your relationship. Honest communication means showing others your soft, vulnerable underbelly — and that’s a good thing.

Click here to read the story in Elite Daily.

Have you had passive-aggressive friends? How have you dealt with the problem?

Category: How to break up, IN THE MEDIA

Comments (8)

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  1. Anna says:

    ” You’re not fooling anyone when you agree to go to a bar with a friend and aren’t into it. That’s true even if you think you’re doing right by saying yes when you want to say no. It’s almost like lying.”

    I HATE passive-aggressive people. They really provoque very strong feelings in me. I am a straightforward person and I always make sure to be in touch with my feelings, to be true to myself and above all, to know why I act and react in a certain way towards people and in situations. This also means that I pay attention to how I behave and I am perceived by people. So, if I have the feeling I might have hurt someone unintentionally, I’ll right away apologize and try to solve the issue. This doesn’t work with passive-aggressive people because they’ll flat out deny having been hurt or being angry. These are people who constantly lie to themselves about who they are and about their feelings. I’m also outspoken and vindictive so when someone hurts me, either I immediately retaliate or I let you know that I will. If it’s a friend, I’ll tell you that you hurt me and how I feel. If you don’t want to hash things out and apologize if you’re happened to be wrong, I’ll let you know that I can’t move past what happened and that there’ll be payback. I don’t lie to myself about who I am and I don’t pretend to be someone else to anyone around me. The passive-aggressive people in my life know who I am. Yet, all of them are insecure people who refuse to deal with issues that stem from their childhood. We’re all in our late 30s-early 40s and you’ve to put up with people who still resort to denial, instead of dealing with what’s wrong in their lives. At some point, people have to face their insecurities and question their defense mechanisms. Passive-aggressive people are unable or unwilling to do so. Well, I am unable or unwilling to have such people in my life. They’re toxic to me and I gain absolutely nothing from a human POV, to deal with people who refuse to grow up. Being a grown up means facing up unpleasant situations and these people are just children passing off as adults.

  2. Jared says:

    To be honest, I’ve never had a confrontation with a friend end well. I’ve had several friends do things to me in a PA manner. For example, one friend would agree to meet me somewhere and then not show up. The next day, he would shrug it off. When I told him that I didn’t appreciate it, he seemed to accept my words, but he did not change his ways the next time we made plans. In other words, I openly expressed what I needed (for him to keep his word) and on subsequent occasions he still failed to do the things he agreed to do. Other examples are too numerous to list.

    I’ve found that communicating what you need to people will probably not make them change their hurtful ways. Part of me wonders why bother communicating openly at all.

    • Ariane says:


      If people can’t respect your point of view or your time then they were never a friend in the first place.

      I don’t think that there is a problem with you communicating what you need; there is a problem with the people you are choosing to call friend.

      • Jared says:


        You make a good point. In my case, however, I used to keep the bar for friendship too high.

        I’ve found that asking someone to return my phone calls and reciprocate my invitations weeds out most potential friends.

        While I agree with your point, I also feel that demanding equal respect would keep my friendship level at zero. I usually feel like I have to be very (overly) forgiving to keep friends.

        It’s very hard to begin a new friendship as an adult. I can wait years without finding a new one. When someone steps up, I often feel like a hiring manager who’s waited too long to find a qualified applicant.

    • Kelly says:

      I had a friend that used to do this to me. She was a narcissist and when my mom got diagnosed with cancer she came over only to talk about her current boyfriend who was being a jerk to her. This same friend made plans with me for dinner at a restaurant then called me and said she was running 5 minutes late, when really she was running 30 minutes late. After that I did make plans with her one more time, and then later I declined and quite obviously blew her off, something she had done to me for years. It’s like she always thought she was better than me, and she couldn’t believe it when I just blew her off for once. But after I did that to her I never heard from her again.

      I agree with you when you say that you have to accept these types of situations to keep friends, but I just don’t have the patience anymore. Which is why I don’t have a lot of friends!

      For me it never works when I confront people, I end up looking like the bad guy because I have a temper and get too angry. I suppose I can be passive aggressive myself in that way. For me if I am really bothered about something I withdraw.

      I find people these days only want to be your friend if they can get something from you. When they realize you have nothing to offer them then they drop you. I can’t stand the who do you know/where do you live/ what car do you drive mentality.

  3. Amy F says:

    I’ve never met a person with good communication skills who acted in a passive-aggressive manner. When parents have communicate in a healthy manner, kids learn to do the same. Those with poor role models have a much harder time. I hate the word “confrontation” because it evokes thoughts of anger. I don’t see talking about something that’s bothering me as contrintation, but part of negotiating a relationship.

    • Sarah T says:

      Amy, you are absolutely correct. PA communication styles are my families “bread and butter.” I was brought up thinking it was normal. I realized subsequently that it is a sure fire way to destroy a relationship. Once I started learning what healthy communication actually looked like, I became a happier person. Sadly, my FOO still practices this type of communication and I am not willing to engage in dialogue of any sort that is passive aggressive. I don’t have the patience or time to play those games anymore.

      • Jared says:

        Sarah, I think PA style is common in my family as well. I realized this in an argument between two siblings today.

        In my family, if someone asks you to do something, and you decline, there is usually no forgiveness. Instead, the person who asked the favor waits for their turn to either demean you or decline your need for help, and then tell everyone why they declined it. It’s very unhealthy, but I don’t think my siblings will change their ways.

        They always feel hurt if someone tells them “no” so they wait to get back at the person.

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