How to Handle Passive-Aggressiveness in a Relationship

How to Handle Passive-Aggressiveness in a Relationship

How to Handle Passive-Aggressiveness in a Relationship

Passive-aggressive behavior can be difficult to handle, especially when it's present in a close relationship. Whether it’s a partner, family member, or friend, someone who is passive-aggressive can be frustrating and even hurtful. If you're dealing with passive-aggressiveness in your relationship, this blog is for you. In this post, we'll give you some tips for handling passive-aggressiveness in a way that's healthy and helpful. Additionally, if you're seeking in-home marriage therapy in Orlando, we recommend checking out Orlando Thrive Therapy for more information.

Understand What Passive-Aggressiveness Looks Like

Passive-aggressive behavior can manifest in many ways, including avoiding communication, procrastinating, sarcastic comments, and sabotaging someone else's plans. It's important to understand what passive-aggressive behavior looks like so that you can recognize it when it occurs in your relationship.

Communicate Clearly and Directly

When dealing with passive-aggressive behavior, it's essential to communicate clearly and directly. Avoiding confrontation or emotional outbursts is important, but that doesn’t mean ignoring the behavior. When you confront passive-aggressiveness, do so in a way that's calm, clear, and doesn't assign blame. Use neutral language, such as “I noticed you did this, and it made me feel upset. Can we discuss why you did that?”

Practice Active Listening

When confronting passive-aggressiveness, actively listening is vital. Being well-versed in active listening means paying attention to what the other person is saying, without interrupting. Ensure that you seek clarification for any unclear statements and be compassionate in your responses. Active listeners try to put themselves in the other person’s shoes and understand their perspective. When you’re listening actively, pause and question anything you label as passive-aggressive.

Set Clear Boundaries

Another way to handle passive-aggressiveness is to set clear and reasonable boundaries. This may require you to set specific expectations for behavior and consequences if those expectations aren't met. Setting boundaries can help you feel more in control of the situation and gives you permission to walk away from conversations that turn destructive.

Encourage Vulnerability and Honesty

Lastly, it's significant to cultivate a culture of vulnerability and honesty in your relationship. This means creating an environment where everyone feels safe to share their thoughts and emotions. Encouraging vulnerability and honesty can help reduce the likelihood of passive-aggressive behavior because people can feel comfortable sharing how they feel without fear of judgment.


Passive-aggressive behavior can be difficult to handle but confronting it with healthy communication techniques can help. It's imperative to recognize the behavior and set clear boundaries. By practicing active listening and cultivating an environment of honesty and vulnerability, you can reduce the likelihood of passive-aggressive behavior. If you're seeking in-home marriage therapy in Orlando, don't hesitate to contact Orlando Thrive Therapy. They specialize in helping people improve their relationships and communication skills.

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Heather Oller

Heather Oller is the owner and founder of Orlando Thrive Therapy, Coaching, and Counseling. She is a licensed counselor and a family mediator who has over 23 years of dedicated work as a professional in the mental health field. Through her company's mission, she continues to pave the way for future therapists, and their clients, who want a higher quality of life....and who want to thrive, rather than just survive. You can contact Orlando Thrive Therapy at (407) 592-8997 for more information.