How can you recognize passive-aggressive behavior?

If you are the victim of emotional abuse in New Jersey, it can be hard to recognize. An emotional abuser will not become physically violent with you but rather hurt you with words and actions. One particular type of emotional abuse that can often fly under the radar is passive-aggressiveness. Your partner may not display any overt signs of hostility or anger. Rather, he or she will manipulate you covertly, frustrating you by preventing you from achieving your objectives. 

According to Psych Central, mental health professionals recognize a relationship between passive-aggressiveness and personality disorders such as narcissism. The American Psychiatric Association classified it as a personality disorder of its own until the release of the DSM-IV in 1994. It may also stem from substance abuse and/or negative childhood experiences. 

The signs of passive-aggressiveness can be subtle and difficult to recognize. Nevertheless, there are specific warning signs to watch for. 

Lack of visible anger

People who are passive-aggressive feel anger but rarely let it show. In many cases, this is because they grew up in an environment that discouraged or punished displays of anger. 


Despite rarely becoming visibly angry, passive-aggressive people tend to display a negative attitude much of the time. They feel resentment towards people who are better off than they are and frequently voice complaints. They may become argumentative, or they may display a sullen, sulky mood. 


People who are passive-aggressive rarely voice an opinion or take a stand on anything. However, they often have very strong opinions that they will convey through their actions. For example, imagine that you and your partner are attempting to decide on a restaurant to go to for dinner. Your passive-aggressive partner is unlikely to make any suggestions but will likely find fault with every suggestion that you make. 


When you make important plans or special occasions arise, your partner may make excuses to put it off or just not participate and claim forgetfulness. This way, they can appear to agree with what you want while frustrating your true intent.


Your partner will not take responsibility for his or her own problems. Instead, he or she may make excuses or blame his or her self-destructive behaviors on others, including you. 

This is not an exhaustive list of passive-aggressive behaviors. If you believe you are being abused by a passive-aggressive partner, it may be a good idea to seek help. 

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.



No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
Email Us For A Response

Set Up A Consultation, Email Our Firm Today

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

Office Location

200 Campus Drive, Suite 205
Florham Park, NJ 07932

Toll Free: 800-465-0163
Toll Free: 800-465-0163
Phone: 973-692-6317
Phone: 973-692-6500
Fax: 973-692-6377
Florham Park Law Office Map

Paramus Office
140 E. Ridgewood Avenue
South Tower, Suite 415
Paramus, NJ 07652

Phone: 201-597-6100
Map & Directions

Princeton Office
103 Carnegie Center
Suite 300
Princeton, NJ 08540-6235

Map & Directions

Phone Numbers