Dealing with a passive-aggressive person is difficult. When they’re an addict, it can be even more complicated. Especially if they’re family. You don’t want to make waves or start arguments but it probably seems like all you do is dodge bullets coming directly from this one person. They’re always pushing a button or playing the victim.
However, dealing with someone like this can be avoided altogether. Making sure your reaction is minimal is key. Being able to turn away from insults, button-pushing and indirect insults is the best way to get them off your back. Why? No reaction is too boring for them. It’s hard to play victim to someone who isn’t buying their story.
If you’re dealing with a passive-aggressive addict in the family, consider the following:
How do they interact with family?
How do family members react to them?
Are people constantly trying to keep the peace or always walking on eggshells?
Do you find yourself or other family members agreeing with them, just to make them happy?
When these things happen, it’s obvious that the addict is used to getting their way. They don’t have to worry about anyone stepping on their toes. Unfortunately, passive-aggressive people, in general have trouble being straightforward. They’ll often have an indirect way of creating drama or making you mad. It’s possible the addict declares to hate drama, yet is always creating it, wherever they go. It’s also probable that they blame the issues they create on others. Never will they take the blame for their own actions.
Even more, passive-aggressive people will always raise controversial topics up in the most inappropriate places. If you happen to disagree with their views, the reaction is often outrageous. PA people expect the following:
Everyone should agree with their views no matter what the circumstances or personal beliefs.
Expects all to confirm objections immediately.
Hears only what they want to hear.
Often walks out on those that try to stand up for themselves or beliefs.
Blanks out and plays “dumb” when the situation isn’t easy for them.
According to psychologytoday.com, the following also holds true for PA addicts:
The alcoholic/addict wants something that you have. They start out very nice almost sugary sweet to set the stage for what they are seeking.
You respond because maybe you are feeling generous even though you know in your heart and from past experience, you shouldn’t be engaging with this person as the outcome has always been so unsatisfactory.
All of a sudden the dialogue is going way off course from the initial intent and the good intentions and communication are out the window as the initial passivity of the alcoholic/addict (Dr. Jekyll) has now turned into an aggressive person (Mr. Hyde).
Dealing with a passive-aggressive addict is difficult. It’s not something that you’ll want to work on, but being a supportive family member means trying.
Below, you’ll find likely characteristics and behaviors of a PA addict, according to psychcentral.com. Learning how they might act is a great first step to dealing with them.
Behaviors and Actions
As you might expect, negotiating agreements, such as in a divorce or child visitation plan, is exasperating.
In addition to procrastinating, they avoid being pinned down. They may insist on “reasonable visitation,” and label your attempts to specify a predictable plan as controlling. Don’t be fooled. This only postpones negotiation when repetitive arguments can occur over every exchange of the children.
Alternatively, they might agree to terms but not abide by them. You can expect to be back in court.
At work, they make careless errors.
Chronic lateness is a half-hearted way of saying no. They agree to a time, but show up late.
If they make a repair, it might not last or you’ll have to clean the mess they made. If they’re helping with housecleaning, their inefficiency may drive you to do it yourself.
Like all codependents, they’re in denial of the impact of their behavior and addiction. This is why they blame others, unaware of the problems they’re causing.
Rather than say no or address their anger, they forget your birthday or the plans you’ve discussed, or forget to put gas in the car, pick up your prescription, or fix the leaky toilet. You end up feeling hurt and angry.
The problem is always someone else’s fault. Even their addiction.
Their behavior is designed to avoid responsibility for themselves and family, and sometimes they depend unfairly on their partner for support.
Their denial, shame, and lack of responsibility cause them to play the victim and blame others. You or their boss become the controlling, demanding one.
Their personality may include pouting or acting sullen, stubborn, or argumentative.
There are myriad other things they might do, like slamming doors, giving away something of yours, or offering you a dessert that you’re allergic to or when you’re dieting.
They always have an excuse for addiction, but it’s their own self-destructive behaviors that cause them problems and an inability to become sober.
They don’t express their anger openly. Their only outlet is passive-aggressive, alcohol-using oppositional behavior.
They don’t follow through on responsibilities, promises, or agreements. If they’re unemployed, they drag their feet looking for work. You may do more job-searching on their behalf than they do.
They don’t leave but withdraw or withhold intimacy instead. An autonomous person has healthy self-esteem, is assertive, and can take a stand and keep commitments.
They don’t say what they want or mean. However, their behavior tells the truth, which is usually “no.” This way they retain control and blame you for being controlling.
They feel misunderstood and unappreciated and scorn and criticize authority.
They frequently complain and envy and resent those more fortunate.
They hate to take a stand.
They may walk away, refuse to talk things over, or play the victim and say, “You’re always right,” shutting down the discussion.
They refuse to take responsibility for anything, and distort reality, rationalize, blame, make excuses, minimize, deny, or flat-out lie about their behavior or the promises or agreements they’ve made.
They’re avoidant and don’t like schedules or deadlines. It’s another form of rebellion, so they delay and delay with endless excuses.
They’re unable to articulate what they want, feel, or need. Instead, they retain their power using the silent treatment or withholding material or financial support, affection, or sex. This undermines intimacy as a way to fight against their dependency.
This is another nonverbal form of saying no.
When they do what you ask, you likely have to redo it.
When you try to decide on where or when to go on vacation, pick out an apartment, or make plans, they find fault with each suggestion and won’t offer any of their own.
While fearing domination, they’re dependent, nonassertive, indecisive, and unsure of themselves. They’re unaware of their dependency and fight it whenever they can. Their obstructionism is a pseudo-attempt at independence.
Withholding communication is another form of expressing anger and asserting power passively.
In our next blog post, we will offer several strategies that work well when dealing with this type of addict. Be sure to visit back with us, soon.
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