The Narcissist at Work

Passive Aggressives

This is how the passive aggressive responds to any attempt by others to point out the facts, the truth, or their feelings.

Passive Aggressives are narcissists. They’re just indecisive narcissists. They’re usually professional victims and insist that NOTHING they do is wrong, and that everyone is out to get them.

They have no charisma or personality. They just like to whine and complain and sabotage situations and people around them. They’re actually worse than outright narcissists in many ways.

How can you tell if someone is JUST passive aggressive, or if they’re an indecisive narcissist?
Does it matter really? The actions and reactions of both are so similar you’re just splitting hairs if you try to distinguish between the two! But, just so you know how Betsy and I determined this (as did the experts we consulted):

Both narcissists and passive aggressives:

  • Resort to denial and distortion of facts
  • Refuse to accept or even recognize their own feelings, actions or responsibilities in a relationship
  • Are negativistic
  • Blame others for anything wrong in their lives, including consequences of their own actions and decisions
  • Complain of not being appreciated, understood or valued
  • Exaggerate their misfortunes
  • Do not consider, take in account or care about other people’s feelings even though they profess to

If you’re in a relationship, friendship or in a family or work situation with a passive aggressive you will often feel like YOU are the one going crazy. People around you, (just like with a narcissist) who don’t interact with the passive aggressive like you do, will think you are the hostile one because THEY only see “poor, poor, poor me” and “I’m trying so hard to be nice,” and not the resentful, hostile, procrastinating, blaming, sabotaging behaviors you’re having to deal with!

As Dr. Shaler, the “relationship catalyst” says:

“A passive-aggressive person can make chaos out of thin air, and they are secretly delighted in their ability to do so. It feels like control to them, and that is what they long for. Because they cannot approach situations, feelings, relationships or communication directly, they do so indirectly. That causes the chaos.”

Amen Sister!!

By the way, if you want some awesome info from a Passive Aggressive expert, Dr. Schaler’s book, “Stop! That’s Crazy Making!”  is available on Smashwords for $4.95.

Signs you’re dealing with a passive aggressive person:

  • They don’t own their feelings. They’ll SAY they “LOVE” or care about people when they really hate them.
  • They procrastinate as a way of punishing those they resent, which is pretty much everyone in their lives
  • They’re ambiguous about everything – it’s a way of creating insecurity in others, or of hiding their own insecurities.
  • Are often intentionally late or forget things, even when asked or told (work) that their lateness is unacceptable. Being late is a way to (1) exert control and (2) punish others. For the narcissist it’s also a way of signaling their time is more important and valuable than the person(s) they’re keeping waiting on them.
  • They exaggerate their misfortune or problems.
  • They often complain of not being appreciated or valued.
  • No matter how good things are going for them, they’re negative and complain about how their life sucks.
  • Pessimistic about everything, and I do  mean everything.
  • Avoid work and social obligations, or may promise, then cancel or not show up as promised, then will blame everything from a spouse, family member, the weather, traffic, their health or the neighbors for why they had to cancel. They are UNABLE to say, “I changed my mind.”
  • They are reluctant to, or resent keeping promises to people, employers or family
  • They sabotage others, especially anyone who might be seen as competition for them
  • They deny having any anger or ill-will towards anyone, even if caught red-handedly sabotaging someone!
  • Fear competition, even a perception of competition.
  • Fear dependency, especially on people close to them  such as friends and spouse.
  • Create chaos or chaotic situations around them so the focus on their being jerks is temporarily suspended.
  • Fear of intimacy is how the passive aggressive acts out their anger. They deny anyone the chance to really get to know them even while professing to want to be friends. They guard themselves against any intimate attachment, usually by using people much like a narcissist would.
  • Conveniently forget the actual details of an event, or only remember the details that puts THEM in a good light.
  • They will not acknowledge or respect timelines or deadlines and think that the fact their boss actually requires a properly completed time sheet submitted on a given day so the business can meet payroll, is abusive and unreasonable!
  • Sulks. They (in their  mind anyway) never do anything wrong. Someone or something else is always to blame. They are professional victims. Instead of recognizing and admitting their weakness, failure or other problems they tend to blame others for their failures.

Maybe it’s more useful to have scenarios where passive aggressive behavior is at work:

You meet your friend for lunch and say, “What kind of food do you feel like today? Mexican, Italian, American or Chinese? I love them all, so it doesn’t matter to me. The friend says, “I don’t care.” So you go to the Mexican place where they order a plain salad and then tell you, “Well I don’t really like Mexican,” and claiming they never said they did. The passive aggressive person doesn’t own, communicate or express their feelings or preferences out of fear of being wrong (TIP: You can not be “wrong” about what you like or don’t like. Whatever you like or don’t like is personal preference.), but on the other hand they expect YOU to be a psychic and just somehow “KNOW” what they really want, need, think or feel and then accommodate them as they wish (but can’t express) to be accommodated.  Now you see why they create chaos are are crazy-makers?

What does the DSM (Diagnostic Manual for Psychiatrists) say?:

Passive–aggressive personality disorder was listed as an Axis II personality disorder in the DSM-III-R, but was moved in the DSM-IV to Appendix B (“Criteria Sets and Axes Provided for Further Study”) because of controversy and the need for further research on how to also categorize the behaviors in a future edition. As an alternative, the diagnosis personality disorder “not otherwise specified” may be used instead.

The DSM-IV Appendix B definition is as follows:

  • A pervasive pattern of negativistic attitudes and passive resistance to demands for adequate performance, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by four (or more) of the following:
    • passively resists fulfilling routine social and occupational tasks
    • complains of being misunderstood and unappreciated by others
    • is sullen and argumentative
    • unreasonably criticizes and scorns authority
    • expresses envy and resentment toward those apparently more fortunate
    • voices exaggerated and persistent complaints of personal misfortune
    • alternates between hostile defiance and contrition
    • Does not occur exclusively during major depressive episodes and is not better accounted for by dysthymic disorder.

Tips for dealing with the Passive Aggressive:

Don’t feel guilty.
You are not to blame for their miserable, sucky lives, no matter how much they may try to pin the blame on you.  Remember that you’re not to blame for someone else’s passive-aggressive behavior. Also remember that “Passive Aggressive” is a DIAGNOSIS…and, like stage 4 (terminal) cancer, it’s not going to go away by simply wishing it would.

RUN. Run far, far away.
If you’re in a relationship with a passive aggressive person and you truly want to be happy, leave. If you have an employee who is passive aggressive, fire them or lay them off, but get rid of them. If you are too soft-hearted or haven’t been through enough hell yet, then transfer them to a closet where no one has to deal with them. Some people think the relationship can be saved, but I’m not one of them. If you want to spend what few precious years you have on this earth feeling like crap and dealing with someone who will never, ever be able to relate to you, love you and respect you in the way you deserve, then that’s your choice of course. Most of us prefer to get on with our lives and find healthy people who can and will love and cherish us.

If you are a business person and have made the mistake of hiring a passive aggressive, then you know how disruptive they can be to your business. You’re probably losing GOOD employees who flee when they see what you expect them to deal with. Fortunately it’s not too hard to get a passive aggressive to QUIT their job. Just create and start enforcing rules – like showing up on time for work, completing a time card, finishing what you start etc. The Passive Aggressive will be unable and unwilling to comply and will quit the instant they find some other schumck to hire them, or when they violate your human resource’s contract/probation period and must be fired. Either way, you’re rid of them. Go you!

Refuse to play their game.
A passive-aggressive personality doesn’t know how to respond appropriately to conflict. When people don’t know what to do, how to act, what to say, or feel they will typically attempt to find out. NOT the passive aggressive. They will deny everything! If they stand you up for a date or meeting, or “forget” to pick up dinner when it’s their turn to cook, they will deny they agreed to it, or blame everyone or everything around them for their failure and refuse to own their actions.

Don’t let them get away with it. You can’t beat them over the head with a baseball bat even if that’s what you feel like doing. Express your concerns and anger in an appropriate and healthy way, but stick to the facts at hand and how his or her actions make you feel. Something like, “This is the third week in a row you have ‘forgotten’ to pick up dinner on the night you agreed to fix dinner. When you keep forgetting I feel disrespect and feeling disrespected makes me feel angry. I am feeling angry right now. I’m going to go out and get my own dinner. I do not want you to join me. If you forget dinner next week I will assume you no longer want to have dinner with me on your night to cook and I will go out with friends.”  Then do it.

Confront their dishonesty.
Don’t ignore their behavior in hopes it will “fix” itself. It won’t. It will actually get worse because not confronting it will only reinforce it. When your passive aggressive person is being a pain-in-the-ass, confront them immediately and them know you are confused, concerned or appalled by their behavior. Tell them if they value the relationship, they must stop the behavior. Unfortunately for you, this will relieve most passive aggressives, unless they are financially dependent on you, and they will make sure not to change because they really don’t want, nor are they capable of, any kind of intimacy, caring or relationship.

Don’t let them get away with bad behavior.
Instead of letting the person off the hook and allowing him or her to continue the behavior, you can try to create an atmosphere in which he or she might feel more comfortable sharing feelings of anger, resentment, fear, etc. but this is the long road to hell as opposed to the short road of leaving their negative, whiny, poor me, suffering self and finding a real relationship yourself. If you like pounding your head against a cement wall, sticking around trying to help or heal or reform a passive aggressive is tantamount to being a masochist. They DON’T change.

51 Comments to "Passive Aggressives"

  1. […] UsBlogFamous NarcissistsFAQPassive AggressivesResourcesLorraine EspositoStoreThe Narcissist at Work Home › Passive Aggressive › Are […]

  2. click here says:

    nice article.. Thanks for sharing

  3. Melissa says:

    I was in a relationship with a passive/aggressive man for 4 years. This article is excellent, and describes passive/aggressive personality disorder perfectly! I especially like the part where it says “run, run far, far away”. I tried all the suggestions, and just ended up losing my mind and acting like the crazy person, which is exactly what PAPD want! Thanks so much for this article, and I hope others who are dealing with read this and run!

  4. Teresa says:

    I am currently married to a man who acts JUST LIKE THIS and I did not put the pieces together until recently. We are currently separated and I initiated that. He all of a sudden turned on me after 13 years of marriage claiming I abuse/control him. What actually happened is that he lost his “control” over me when I started catching on to this. He used to hide behind “anxiety” but when that was taken care of…he had nothing to hide behind and passively control me anymore so he flipped and now he is not a passive aggressive narcissist but just an outright mean narcissist. The hard part is that even though I FINALLY see the real picture of what I’ve been dealing w/ all along and felt like *I* was crazy and loosing my mind…lol…I still love him. I’m grieveing over this marriage and it is very hard. For SO long I felt that it was my fault and tried so very hard to fix it. I look back over my journaling over the years and just NOW I can put it all together. And I see that I can’t fix it. Anyway, thank you for the article…it is helping me do what I know I need to do. Thank you.

    • admin says:

      You are not losing your mind! You know that. You obviously recognize what you need to do and you’re doing it! Bravo!!!

    • Melissa says:

      Hi Teresa, I still love my narcissistic P/A also, we have broken up, but I miss him, which I don’t really understand.

    • Peg says:

      Your story sounds like mine, after 25 years and my kids had enough, he was worse to them and they are emotionally damaged (we are all in therapy), he became outwardly mean and vindictive. He chased his only neighbor and well, that drove him to be meaner. I believe deep down inside he knows and can’t stand to look at me because he has to face he had something to do with it, but it’s easier to do from away. He has managed to convince a few therapists that there is nothing wrong with him. He is very, very good at manipulations and denial and blame. I grieved and will continue to grieve my marriage. I have spent 25 years managing him and I did more nurture to him than my kids, of course, I still love him. But, this person I don’t recognize and neither does the kids. He is a chameleon that has changed to mimic his next “victim”. And, I cried all summer because he disregarded his kids. I knew it was going to be bad but no one can prepare you for this. I hope this helps. I also work in the same company and building so I have to see him every day. We are involved in social things together, so I have to continue to put on a brave face and keep going. I have come to realize lately, he is more uncomfortable around me than him so it is a good feeling to know this and gives me great satisfaction these days. It has only been 4 months since he moved out and my boys have been happy and while I cried, they didn’t understand why? They would tell me, why are you crying? He was mean to you and we are glad he is out of the house. My oldest refuses to see him and my younger is hit and miss. Good luck to everyone in this. I used to say to his therapist, look hard, there is a paper here.

    • Pete says:

      Dear Teresa,

      I read your post and I know the agony you describe. I was married to a passive-aggressive for a mere 3 years. She would say all the right things, but her actions never followed what she said or proclaimed. They use you to the point of no return. All you can do in the end is bail, because they are never wrong and will actually accuse you of distorting what took place. It is mind boggling. Hang tough. It is hard, but life goes forward.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I have been in this kind of relationship with my mother for about fifty years. I am the contrary one, and I have paid a big price for it.

    The rest of the family has heard her bias about me, and they could probably give you a list of things “wrong” with me.

    I am the only one to go to professional counseling for family issues. I have gone for many years and have only been diagnosed with PTSD from dealing with the family system my mother set up to create a perfect little world for herself.

    Narcissists would never seek counseling to address their own issues. But my mother did go to my therapist one time and talked about what was wrong with me. He was stunned and said to forget about her changing. She had no intention of ever talking about her own issues.

    She is an expert at elaborately throwing things back on me. She and one sister have invalidated me so much to my family that they insist I shut up and go on medication. I have been told by them both that my counselors are quacks and to fire them because they can’t “fix” me. So now they have MD after their names. Must be nice to do that without any of those pesky college exams.

    My mom is old now and I occasionally help take care of her. I try to enjoy her company. But I still struggle with all the cold-hearted, backstabbing things she has done. I barely feel a mother/daughter connection any more. I just smile and play the game.

    Yesterday my brother and I were talking about the high school she went to. He said it looked a bit like an old castle. She said, “I’m special.” I totally cringed knowing what was coming.

    “Special in what way?” he asked. “I was a princess in the castle.” He said, “You were queen over something”.

    He likes to joke with her and I do not think he even sees what is behind her words.

    I piped up and said, “Yes, she was queen of Home Ec class.” They ignored me.

    Then she said, “You got that right. I am the queen. And don’t you forget it.” There was a silence. Then she poked him with her fingernail and said, “Don’t forget that.”

    I wanted throw up. When she wins and board games or cards she declares herself the “World Champion Everything” and acts insufferable. She must be perfect. The smartest. The best.

    I wanted to say, “You aren’t queen of anything. You are a woman with children, and that is what motherhood is about. We are all equally important!” But that would have gone against the rules.

    She doesn’t like anything to shatter her sense of safety. Telling the truth only makes her mad.

    • Nancy says:

      Got a mother like yours. It helps to tell myself she is SICK, very sick. I grieved the loss of a mother. Very sad. I can only have the type of relationship with her she is capable of which is very shallow. I prefer this to nothing. I don’t tell her about my therapy because she would only be negative and I don’t need that. It is about damage control.

  6. tyra says:

    i just ran with my four kids, 200 miles away from my passive-aggressive ex, after 13 years. I could’nt take no more. :)

  7. Marie says:

    Thanks for your great site. I’ve been reading a lot lately to try to understand my PA partner, admittedly because he himself put me on the right track. He uses obstructionism, victimization, sulking, but also, when I confront him, he explodes and goes on shouting sessions so intense I’ve come to fear his “blowing a gasket”. After these sessions, he sulks for days, behaving aggressively, both physically (dropping objects loudly, slamming doors) and psychologically with sarcasm and victimization (right, I’m an ASSHOLE, of course!) until he calms down, admits some vague responsibility (never admitting facts) and promises effort. After a few months of this abuse – we are together only a year – I’ve decided to leave.
    I do believe he has no idea how bad his behavior and abuse are. Which is no excuse, of course. I am leaving because I want the abuse to stop.
    On a final note: He knows I am leaving tomorrow and is laughing heartily at a comedy on television. This really puts into light the lack of empathy of PA personalities! Yikes. Time to run.

  8. I was in a relationship with a passive aggressive man for three years and they were the worst three years of my life. I felt like I was losing my mind and he managed to convince me that I was to blame for every single that ever went wrong in our relationship.

    He punished me by withholding intimacy, affection and silent treatments that lasted months… yes, months!

    Meanwhile I spent every moment I could thinking about how to help us, how to create a stronger relationship, how to communicate better. I wish someone would have taken me aside and told me it would never, ever happen.

    I agree with you, if you’re in a relationship with a passive aggressive man/woman, nothing will ever change! EVER! You will only make yourself go crazy and will end up sick with frustration, irritation, hurt and loneliness. Do yourself a favor and run as fast as you can.

    They are VERY toxic people.

  9. Rhiannon says:

    I sometimes wonder if it is not the person himself we miss, but the life we thought we had with him. I have questioned this after many failed relationships.

    • admin says:

      I think we grieve WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN. We grieve what we HOPED to have, WISHED we’d had and realize we’ll NEVER have. I’m sorry your relationships have failed. Don’t give up. Look at them, study, learn and maybe find a trusted friend, therapist or dating coach who can help too. Thank you for commenting. Good insight…it’s indeed the life we thought we had, not the reality!

      • James says:

        Love your last comment about grieving what could have been. I got involved with a passive aggressive lady after losing my wife. It delayed my grief and walking away from a relationship I so wanted to work has been the most painful 12 wks of my life. I though she would put up a fight owing to LOVE but she just walked away and has denied my existence. I see her in playground at school pick up and she looks away or through me. Not good.

    • Pete says:

      Excellent Point!!!!

  10. Sonia says:

    I’m in the process of dealing with a PA friend. I don’t know why but I think part of me liked being able to “help” her, it gave me something. I’ve done a ton of therapy and I’m like, why do I have this emotional vampire feeding off of me? I’m trying to end things respectfully but the abusive phrases, guilting and baiting have ramped up. I do feel like, it’s my fault somehow when everyone else around me is wondering why I put up with it. It’s a weird thing to be in. I know I’m not responsible for her life, and I should just tell her to get lost. I think they find the right people to prey upon. Thank you to the other people who have shared. It’s definitely helping me get this person out of my life.

  11. Julia says:

    My brother is passive aggressive. It’s hard when it’s your family and not someone you can “leave”. I try to not put myself in a position of needing to rely on him, but it occassionally still happens. I think he is trying to get a rise out of me by being late, so it seems the best practice is to not give him the satisfaction of me getting upset. I have in the past confronted him about being late, and he has lame answers…and continues to do it. I try to avoid him when I can, but with family get togethers, inevitably the cycle gets to continue.

  12. anonymous says:

    I work in an institute of research. I am a post doctoral researcher. Two years ago a new post doc joined in our team. Initially he was very friendly and doing a lot of work. He also promised that we would work together later. For establishing himself I helped him a lot. He always called me over the phone for any thing and everything. He discussed a lot and I gave him a lot of ideas. I shared with him a lot of friendly ribs and personal details. He used to dine with me in my place every night for at least two months. Later, suddenly one fine he involved a PhD student in to what was my project and his. I asked him and he disappeared that afternoon. So, i filed a complaint to my team leader. My team leader went to the PhD student and stopped her from working on that project. After he came back the next day, the PhD student and my friendly post doc took me to a secluded place for a discussion. The PhD student went ballistic on me saying all sorts of things that i never imagined i would hear from her. We had a decent working relationship before. Now everything went south with her. In the next few days, he convinced my team leader that i was not doing enough. So, my team leader asked me to give my long term project to him. I was left with nothing. I could not argue. If i did it sounded like i am being possessive and territorial. But actually i am not. I shared every detail of my project with him before, i trusted him. In the next 6 months to a year period what ever i was doing was booed down in lab meetings and I found it very difficult to work in the same lab. I requested that i be reassigned a new project and i proposed some thing new to my team leader. My team leader would never listen to me. He insisted that the new project be worked with this person as well. After few days of not talking to me he came back to me with a request to discuss a few things. He said what ever we work together he will become the primary author of the research. I felt intimidated. In science, this sounded unfair. How can you decide who will be the author of a research paper before anything is discovered. I reported again to my team leader but it went unheard. i did accept his terms finally so, that we could make some progress and find some thing interesting. He deliberately ignored working with me. I was going crazy that what went wrong and how did it all happen all of a sudden. He obtained some results that he never showed me, every time i went to his place, he would say that he is working on some old friend’s datasets that was mailed to him. One day when he was showing his results in a lab meeting i found some thing was amiss and after the meeting i went to his place and requested more details. He showed them to me and i figured what was wrong with his findings. I said these are not good numbers and the result cannot be true if you have them like this. He showed no anger, instead he thanked me with a heavy face for finding and reporting in person to him the wrong result. Later when he had more data, i insisted that he show me, after a bit of deliberation, he showed me a few data (not all), it was the same mistake that he made last time. This time i said, if you are going to present this data again in lab meetings i would ask questions, so please make sure you are making the right conclusions. Recently, he went back home for a vacation and came back after a month.
    After a regular lab meeting, my team leader requested to meet. So, i went in and found he was there as well. My team leader said, the post doc was receiving emails that are inflammatory and this cannot be accepted. Police action would be taken on those sending such emails. I was shocked to find out that others knew about this emails even before the meeting was conducted. I do not know how to react to such slander. It was not directed against me, nobody took my name that i was the one sending such emails. But, every body had the impression like that. I went to HR and requested early termination of my contract. This stuff is killing me. Why am i the one being punished for what is not my fault. Why am i the one who is being threatened with police action. Am i going crazy ? I seriously do not know. Mean while, whomever i talk to, have fun with, he would take them out without me and suddenly i started feeling very lonely. That was weird. I never had a falling out with people like this before.

    • admin says:

      You are not going crazy. You are involved with some toxic people. Set firm boundaries and enforce them. What you are experiencing is VERY VERY VERY common in research, especially the medical field. It is a crazy competitive world that attracts sociopaths in search of power, and narcissists in search of attention. Take care of yourself. Find a good therapist you can trust, and don’t stop believing in yourself!

  13. Glynn says:

    I have a question more so than a comment. My daughter’s mom and I share custody. I know that the mom takes abilify,effexor and Xanax for some type of anxiety. I also know that she is OBVIOUSLY passive/aggressive to the fullest!!! She isn’t a good mom, stays with her parents,34,no car and doesn’t work,etc.Basic things like returning clothes, making sure the child learns the routine of morning hygiene and a host of other things that any parent of any parenting style should do, isn’t being done. I can’t get her out of my life because I have a kid by this walking wreak. My questions are: How or what should I do, if they’re is anything to deal with her? How can I protect my child from being effected by her toxicity?

    • admin says:

      Set STRONG, CLEAR and FIRM boundaries. That’s the ONLY way to interact with a narcissist if you must. Dr. Henry Cloud’s book, “BOUNDARIES: HOW TO SAY YES, WHEN TO SAY NO,” is excellent! I highly recommend it!

  14. LaRue says:

    My first love as a teenager was just like this, it was hell & made what little of my youth that I had even less. I will never get that back either. I have recently run across him through old friends. A lot of anger has come back up. The hardest part was I left, I was angry and when I said something about it I looked crazy & like a bad person. For years after we split he was pretty hot & cold to me since we lived in a small city & it wasn’t that uncommon to run into someone like this. Only nice and interested in being “friends” when I was single, I was smart enough to not take the bait ever again. I moved out of state but now we live in a world that is much smaller due to social networking etc. I just want to scream at the top of my lungs how horrible he was & from what I am learning still is but when I tried that as a teenager it didn’t work. I think that is the hardest part of being with someone like that is they seem to only expose that side of themselves to you & you end up looking evil. I am sure that is something that a lot of people in situations like this deal with is wanting to expose that side of these people to the world but you never get that & you never get any real apology either. Don’t stay with people like this get as far away as you can from them. Sadly they are masters at being a victim and your warnings or exposing them for who they are will fall on deaf ears since everyone will know them as a the laid back, sweet guy or girl who is cool and fun & you will be the horrible person who treats them bad & is never happy. Realize you will be painted as a very bad person, even a monster. Accept it and get away.

  15. Enlightened says:

    This is the only blog about passive aggressive personality that made me laugh. I have just recently understood why I was so alone and so unhappy in my 36 years of married life. The “crazy maker” husband moved from being passive aggressive to being mean narcissistic when he threatened to punch me on the face for his own mistake. I have a thick folder of research on this disordered personality. Maybe I have accepted the fact that my marriage was really no marriage from the beginning. His mother told me at our wedding day that his son promised not to have any other woman in his life except her (sick) and until she died, my husband kept siding with her – an incorrigible liar and slanderer. There is a quote, “The only woman I ever love is married to another man, my mother.” I have always thought the mother should have married her son (very sick) but that’s how they behaved. I am taking no more blame for things I have nothing to do with. Running far, far away.

  16. KibblesIam says:

    Hello out there :-) I stumbled upon this article reading up on P/A bc I’m going through something similar with my gf (on a sidenote: I’ve noticed most of the respondents were female, so it’d be nice to get a female perspective on my situation…) I know I’m not perfect, so I won’t try to convince anyone that I’m a helpless victim- I’m an emotionally driven person and have the tendency to get overly excited in these situations which can come across as aggressive( I’m working on this). However, that’s not why I’m writing… it has to do with the sections: refuse to pay their game, confront them/ their dishonesty. How would any of you recommend dealing with someone that ‘shuts down’ when confronted? Or becomes self-loathsome when confronted with a wrongdoing( that NOTHING they do is right, they’re a horrible person etc.) Is it possible to be depressed(she is diagnosed as depressed) and an indecisive narcissist/passive aggressive? If so, how would you recommend dealings in the future? Now, don’t get me wrong- I’d say a majority of the time things are good and we get along fantastic- no manipulation, controlling, unrealistic demands… However, the issues arise if and when I try and tell her an action or behavior has upset me- that’s when the justifications and rationalizing of behavior comes in; that I was wrong for misinterpreting her, taking things too personally etc. When I do press the issues, that’s when the ‘shut downs’ occur. Anywho, thanks for letting me be able to rant!

  17. carla says:

    Can someone tell me if passive aggressives are the same as narcissist?

    • admin says:

      Carla, Passive Aggressive are the same as a narcissist, but they keep their anger and entitlement bottled up inside. They can’t attack others as a narcissist does, so they do so silently, with passive aggressive behavior. I think on many levels they’re actually the worst kind of narcissist out there!

  18. Kirsten says:

    I wish I could find information about how to deal with a passive aggressive ex. It’s not just over when you leave.
    I have two kids and I still have to deal with the ex with who I have shared care. We have had many nasty battles, largely over money. He changes the rules to suit himself, makes all kinds of crazy justifications as to why I should pay for this or that or why I should pay him child support for three years even though we have shared care (he decided he didn’t need to work as his girlfriend earnt enough) but appears so reasonable in emails & texts and when I am sent over the edge, it is I that appears the crazy one.

    • admin says:

      Read Dr. Henry Cloud’s book on Boundaries. It’s called “Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No.” Boundaries are the secret weapon to dealing with everyone in our lives, but especially when dealing with narcissists! You are not crazy, just involved with a narcissist!

  19. sickofit says:

    Thank you for your ‘real world’ description of my mother in law. I truly believe that my late father in law is the reason most of the adult kids are normal. His death and her advanced age has been a breeding ground for more of this behavior. She punishes doctors for not listening by not taking meds, stirs up old wounds with her innocent comments. Not all people can walk away (although great advice) but just knowing that it is their issue not ours makes it tolerable.

  20. Nia says:

    My children went to a religious school whose principal was passive-aggressive. I did not think of him as narcissistic because he managed to convince me that he was really a nice person in a difficult situation.

    However, interestingly, the main problem I had to deal with was a narcissistic teacher who was bullying my kids, one of whom was dyslexic. This crazy woman had apparently been in the school for decades and had authored books and was quite established in her community. However, trying to get anyone to discuss the issue was like trying to nail jello to the wall.

    One admin person sat with me for an hour trying to convince me that this teacher was a really good person. After I failed to agree, she finally began to tell me the real story as long as I didnt repeat what she said. I was apalled. This teacher had been terrorising the staff and students of this school for years, but for some reason nobody had the guts to confront her. Now when I, a paying parent tries to get some action, I get stonewalled, ridiculed, misdirected, minimised and every other form of avoidance they could think of.

    THe principal was in reality a pathetic lacky of the school board which was run by another narcissist. When we wrote the principal a letter outlining our grievances and finally telling them we would remove our children at the end of the year, they responded by telling us that because we didn’t ‘support’ them any more they had the right to kick our kids out with one term to go.

    When we went to the principal to complain, he stalled, managed to get us to wait for an hour and then ambushed us with four of the board members in a room. The chairman of the board was a nasty little man with a very bad temper who was just about controlling his fury. He kept telling my husband and I to shut up while he told us he didn’t want to talk about the situation. Then why in God’s name did he turn up at the school? THe principal was there the whole time looking like a schoolkid who had sucked up to the teacher and was now getting his payoff. After we left the school that day, he trailed after us telling us that our children were welcome to attend the end of year party. My husband was close to saying and doing something he would regret, but we managed to leave without any damage done.

    We truly were apalled at what this passive-aggressive person was capable of.

    I had never really thought of him as narcissistic before, but now I realise that he was just very good at hiding his narcissism. I guess covert narcissist is really a better description than passive aggressive.

  21. hamma says:

    I am embarrassed to admit I’ve endured 30 miserable years with a pa. The endless sulking and self pity due to my “stupidity” and lack of empathy for his innumerable misfortunes make me look forward to widowhood!
    I’ve known all along that there is no help for
    this cry baby because he lacks the insight and
    ability to work hard that any change requires.

  22. Marion Jones says:

    My Mum is very Passive Aggressive. She now has dementia, Alzheimer’s disease. It’s wearing away what bits of actual personality she had and just leaving the PA person. She’s also always been really anxious. Either real or faked as an excuse to be professionally useless, not sure. But I’ve been researching anxiety. One website I’ve been on is full of passive Aggressives! Are all anxious people passive Aggressives?

  23. DJ says:

    I have the misfortune of working with a PA coworker.
    Everytime we are given a task to perform and complete in a certain amount of time. He bails! Last time he said he girlfriend needed surgery and he would need time off. He procrastinates and digs his heels in, in order to not finish tasks and job responsibilities. What little he does finish is poorly done, many mistakes or half finished. Lately, others are from other departments we have to work with are noticing and making their knowledge known in group emails. My boss has been letting this or ignoring this behavior for years now. It frustrates me as I have a very good work ethic and refuse to bow down to his low work ethic, he makes comments that I am a brown noser because I value my work and am proud of the quality of my work. My boss is now delegating more to me. I refuse to do any of the PA’s work. I am noticing too that he seems to hide and ignore job tasks. I have mentioned this to the boss in the past, but to no avail, so now I just do my own work and keep my mouth shut. I am now wondering when the higher ups will start catching on, or if the ones from the group emails will start to ask the same thing?

  24. lipase says:

    Some people in our society are screwed up completely and it might be beneficial for them to be allowed a way to end their misery in a quick, painless and socially acceptable way…

    And by their death being beneficial I mean beneficial to them, society, and individuals they interact with.

    That’s the general jist I get from web discussions like this. That actually everyone wouldn’t mind if people with these personality disorders were dead.

    I might be one of these passive aggressives and I’d certainly like the opportunity to die a quick, painless death.

  25. Tania says:

    I have just discovered this past week my new husband is passive aggressive. We married 6 months ago and the man I married no longer exist! We went on a cruise for our honeymoon 2 weeks after the wedding and I noticed my husband wasn’t very affectionate,and not interested in intimacy or sex….Were on our honeymoon?? I thought maybe the new job promotion,tired,change,ect…but this behavoir continued and when I confronted him about it,he shut down,said he didn’t know there was a problem and he took some clothes and went back to his house in another state. I went to him and we reconciled but now he has done it again,after I questioned money issues and caught him throwing me under the bus to my son and telling him lies on me! I was shocked! He took almost everything this time and has been gone over 4 weeks and is using the silent treatment. This has made me very sick in every way then God told me to google passive aggressive and then the lights came on! Thank God for Google. :)He is now talking to his ex wife,who was a cheater? And I am a Christian woman who would have loved him,been loyal and faithful to the end. I dont get it! He was so sweet,compassionate,loving,romantic in the beginning and now he acts as if he hates me. He was abused as young boy through teenage years and in the military so I am finding these are the deep seeded roots. I feel he will probably divorce soon. It’s the what could have been that kills me. I thought we were perfect for one another,turns out I dont even know him. Scary stuff! I am in God’s waiting room to see what happens. I do hope he repents and changes,but I will not live in a relationship like this anymore. I love and respect me more than that.

    • admin says:

      Good for you for recognizing what is going on, and that it is his problem, not yours. You don’t deserve to be treated that way. IF you are a Christian, seek counseling from your pastor for what steps to take. So many people think the narcissist is “perfect” and then wake up in a relationship that can only be described as hell on earth. Pray and ask God to help you forgive him, then move on and see what else He has for you. God knows what is happening. Trust him.

  26. Marlene says:

    I was selected to be a jokers fool when I made myself available to a quick witted sick minded passive aggressive. Being young and naive I became a minute being who defended his chaotic manners and accepted his malice and contempt as a child would his parent. I spent 30 years and have lost much. Today this stage 5 passive aggressive narcissistic man is dead. While he claimed everything was my fault and taught our kids to disrespect their mother. Today this man’s mother continues her malice and has taken my adult children away from their mama. One by death and one by deception. I was a fool but I was not the liar. I know the nature of humans and never dreamed this would result from my own GOOD nature being used against me as a weapon. Emotionally I am present but messy and all because I loved my children.

  27. christy says:

    Hang on. I’m very confused. Or, maybe I need more coaching on calling a PAPD on their shit. Every time I try to present “truth” to my PAPD, it gets twisted. Even with paper evidence.

    Is this even a valuable task? Or, is truth completely irrelevant? Is the idea to focus on how they’re treating *me*? What are the boundaries of what I can impact?

    • admin says:

      Truth is irrelevant to a narcissist. They only care about getting attention, being right, being adored and being the center of everyone’s world. Facts, science, tape recordings, video and ANYTHING that “proves” they were wrong will be ignored. It’s maddening, but it’s true. The idea is to create strong boundaries for yourself, and then enforce them consistently every single time. If you lapse even ONCE that tells them you can be worn down or broken and it will become even harder to deal with them from then on. Best advice, get away from them. Don’t engage with them. Ignore them and pray they get tired of being ignored and move on and leave you alone.

  28. sue says:

    I’ve been dealing with a PA spouse for over 23 years. I didn’t realize what it was and why he didn’t care until I started to go to therapy recently. It has progressively gotten worse over time and substantially since our two children. He has no empathy, has had hard time forming bbonds with our children, currently I’m on week four of silent treatment and his upped the anti on this one because I had the audacity to tell him, “this is the reason I don’t like being around you.” Thus was said because he did something disrespectful while on the phone with his brother. He is now not coming home until the kids and i are in bed, keeps clothes in his car, etc, etc, etc. I have started the process of getting out, not so much for myself (I have been beaten down so much and made to believe I’m the problem that my self esteem is at an all time low- it’s very painful) but for my kids. He actually told me that I need help, and this is my fault. The venom and hatred that he was giving me was something I’ve never experienced. It was at this point I decided to move forward and end this sham of a marriage. I’m at the beginning stages and still working on picking myself back up so I can be strong enough to move on for my kids and I. Let me tell you, it will only get worse as time goes on and the price u pay is in your spirit and soul. Just not worth the cost.

    • admin says:

      Work on setting boundaries and enforcing them, and on being the best parent you can for your kids. Teach them it’s OKAY to say NO to the narcissist (or anyone else for that matter). Narcissists are experts at convincing others that they (the victims) are crazy and that the narcissist is the sane one. Just see it for what it is and don’t get sucked in.

  29. Cat says:

    OMG I wish I’d known was PA was so many years ago. I, like one of the other commenters was married to a PA for 13 years.

    He was everyone’s “nice guy”. BUT he’d SULK and do crazy sheet that I didn’t understand. I tried to wrap my head around it and still can’t after all these years.

    We hadn’t kissed for 10 years (and were in our 30’s and 40’s, not 60’s and 70’s) because he refused to brush his teeth or bathe…for WEEKS…seriously one time I counted three weeks. He’d do this because “no one was going to tell him what to do”.

    I got REAL fat and for so many years forgot who I was and drowned my sadness in other things, and always had a “project” (video editing, crafting, etc) to distract myself from my own reality.

    Finally after 13 years I wanted out. I told him the truth, that I was tired of not being able to do what normal couples do (dinner, dates, vacations etc) because of his smell. I also told him we shouldn’t be married because I was finding myself attracted to other people (well duh, of course I was). He sat me down and tried to convince me that I was “addicted to exercise” even though I’d only exercised twice in two weeks and that perhaps I was going through a midlife crisis.

    It was a long horrible road after that. He told our 9 year old daughter “mommy wants to sleep with other people”.

    It took months to get rid of him and he only finally moved out after having someone else to run to (an immigrant he met on the internet).

    He married her the day after the divorce was final and that should be the end of it.


    3 years later it’s gotten worse. I’d love to tell the rest of my story but I fear no one is reading this (old post) and so will only tell it if there’s anyone out there that cares.

    But what I find interesting is the article says to “RUN” and stay aware from passive aggressive people.

    So true, because of him I don’t want any of my 3 children to get married of have kids.

    18 years is too long.

  30. Blue says:

    How do you make a narcissist face the consequences of their actions?

    • admin says:

      You set strong boundaries and enforce them no matter what. When you are dealing with a narcissist you have to have very clear, very strong and very well communicated boundaries. Then you have to enforce them when they break them. This can be hard, because we’re always thinking they’ll “Get it” and understand, and develop empathy and CHANGE! They won’t. They’re selfish, self-centered and totally focused on themselves. The only thing you can do with “making them face the consequences of their actions” is to protect YOUR boundaries. You won’t change them. Focus instead on protecting yourself. Dr. Henry Cloud has an EXCELLENT book on setting boundaries. It’s called: “Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No.” I highly recommend it.

  31. Degint says:

    After 1-2 years of marriage figured out I was with a looney like this and on top of it he was stingy, selfish, lacked empathy, still wanted to fix him/us, finally for my own peace, happiness walked away and shouted with joy the whole way up the highway! When dating he was charming ,relaxed , weird no signs of these behaviors. Now deal with this looney daughter of mine with these traits and love her gladly from a many miles distance, when visit be sure to stay 1 night only 2 or more and your ready to scream or throw up,lol.

  32. RBK says:

    I recently took a chance with what I see as an incredible opportunity with this company/brand that can be so much larger and greater than anyone can currently see. It is so unfortunate that our owner and CEO truly has this disease of a passive aggressive/narcissist. Reading this is so incredibly eye opening, it is scary. He fits every single example listed out. This disease will not get out of his own way to allow this company to truly get over this tipping point. It is almost as if he is trying to run off his entire staff and sabatage his own companies existence.

    Trying to remain an eternal optomist and reassuring key people to hold on is starting to seem like a dying effort. It is almost as if there needs to be some sort of an intervention approach but after reading these character traits, I’m quite sure it would be nothing but a failed attempt.

    Has anyone ever dealt with this personality type as an owner of a company and do you have any suggestions as how to navigate through such difficult times to avoid a complete melt down with staff.

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An Awesome How-to Guide for Dealing with Toxic People