The Boomerang Relationship Part 1

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The Boomerang Relationship Part 1

Post  oldersister on Fri Feb 15, 2008 8:48 pm


Passivity, Irresponsibility and Resulting Partner Anger

Lynne Namka, Ed. D (c) 1998

One of the hardest patterns of behavior for all of us to deal with is
passive aggressive behavior. Passive aggressive behavior happens when
the person avoids responsibility and attempts to control others to
keep them away through his passivity and withdrawal. It is a dynamic
born of fear of being controlled, fear of confrontation, hidden anger
and an inability to deal straight with people.

Passive aggressive behavior is complex and takes many forms. We all
have passive behavior that comes up when we don't want to deal with
conflict directly or do a task. We all hedge, fudge and remain
noncommittal on issues some of the time. That's normal. It's only when
repeated passivity creates severe issues for others setting up
continual tension and anger in the household that it becomes a serious
problem that should be addressed. Common examples of this habitual,
passive retreat style of dealing with confrontation and stress

The person who says one thing but means the opposite.
The man who acts passive but aggressively gets his own way by not
doing what is wanted.
The boss who squelches his anger then strikes out indirectly. (Perhaps
by withdrawing.)
The woman who says yes when she means no; then gets cold feet and
refuses to follow through.
The teenager who agrees up front then doesn't do what he agreed to.
The client who schedules an appointment but does not show up.
The person who fears self assertion and confrontation, but says no by
sidestepping responsibility.
Anyone in the family who creatively gets out of doing his or her part
of the chores.
The Mr. Nice Guy who puts on the sweet face to agree, then does what
he darn well pleases.
The student who procrastinates with studying and does poorly in
The parent who refuses to discipline the children and insists on the
spouse being the 'heavy.'
The bored housewife who refuses to clean the house or cook for her
The person who refuses to hear criticism, discuss his problems or read
books about the issue.
The dad who pushes one child hard but allows the other child to get
out of responsibility.
The not ready to be committed man wanting someone there for him but
feels entitled to his freedom.
Any individual who spends his effort into under achieving in school,
in relationships and in life!
What all of these people have in common is that the significant people
in their life become very, very angry at their resistant behavior. The
negative energy in the relationship boomerangs from one partner to the
other resulting in an unhappy relationship.

While women can have passive aggressive behavior, this condition is
more typically found in men, therefore this article will focus on the
typical male version of this dynamic. The typical passive aggressive
man has not worked through his anger and power issues with his parents
so he replays them in current relationships. His anger comes out in
passive way of avoidance.

Psychologist, Scott Wetzler, in Living With the Passive Aggressive
Man: Coping with the Personality Syndrome of Hidden Aggression From
the Bedroom to the Boardroom, discusses the dynamic that sets up
passive behavior. There are many childhood set ups for this way of
coping but most often there is a domineering mother and a father who
is ineffectual. Or there may be a passive mother who gets out of
responsibility by her helplessness. There are power struggles in the
marriage with one parent backing off and withdrawing. The boy feels
trapped between choosing loyalties at home. He is afraid to compete
with his father who is absent either physically or emotionally or
perceived as being inadequate. In the typical mother dominant-father
passive relationship, the boy learns that the job of being a man in
relationship is to escape the woman's needs and subsequent demands.

The young boy is not allowed to express his feelings and develop a
sense of self. He wants his mother's attention and care yet he resents
her continual intrusion. His anger grows but he cannot express it so
it becomes submerged and is expressed in an unconscious 'You can't
tell me what to do.' He is not allowed to get his way by direct
confrontation and competition so he learns to displace his anger
through resistance. He learns to use charm, stubbornness, resistance
and withdrawal to protect himself in power struggles. He rebels by
becoming moody, being an underachiever or developing behavior
problems. His self protectiveness and duplicity from the squelched
anger and hostility becomes a habit that he plays out with other women
he meets. He desperately seeks a woman to meet his needs of being
accepted for who he is, but puts her off with small, continual acts of
rebellion. He replays the distancing drama of his original family In
the relationship.

Agreement, Resistance and Hidden Hostility as Major Characteristics

The man with passive aggressive behavior needs someone to be the
object of his hidden hostility. He needs an adversary whose
expectations and demands he can resist as he plays out the dance he
learned from his parents. He chooses a woman who will agree to be on
the receiving end of his disowned anger. He resists her in small ways
setting up a pattern of frustration so that she gets to express the
anger that he cannot.

The biggest irritant in being with a passive aggressive man is that he
doesn't follow through on his agreements and promises. He dodges
responsibility while insisting he's pulling his weight. He
procrastinates, takes on big projects but doesn't finish them then
feels put upon or hostile if someone else tries to finish it. He often
ignores reality as to his irresponsibility and withdrawal. He denies
evidence, distorts minimalizes or lies to make his version of reality
seem logical.

He uses vague language to sandbag the partner. Inconsistency and
ambiguity are his tools of choice. He often gives double messages and
expects his partner to read his mind and meet his needs saying 'She
should have known how it is.' He withholds information and has a
hidden agenda. He can't take criticism and makes excuses to get
himself off the hook. He sulks and uses silence when confronted about
his inability to live up to his promises, obligations or
responsibilities. When he doesn't follow through, he puts the blame on
his partner so he doesn't have to take it and accuses her of having
the problem.

The man with this type of pattern shows little consideration of the
time, feelings, standards or needs of others. He obstructs and block
progress to others getting what they want and then ignores or
minimalizes their dissatisfactions and anger. He is silent when
confronted as he has never learned to compromise. He may be a
workaholic, a womanizer, hooked on TV, caught in addictions or self-
involved hobbies.

He may have multiple relationships with women as a way of keeping
distant from one fully committed relationship. He is confused about
which woman he wants and stays caught between the two women in his
life not being able to commit fully to either. He is confused and
can't understand why the women get so angry with him. He feels others
demand too much of him so resists in overt and subtle ways and feels
deprived if must give in to others. The man who copes with conflict by
not being there has strong conflict over dependency. He desperately
wants attention but fears being swallowed up by the partner. He can't
be alone and live without a woman in his life, but can't be with
partner emotionally. He's caught in a Catch 22--wanting affection but
avoiding it because he fears it as his destruction. He resents feeling
dependent on the woman so must keep her off guard. He makes his
partner feel like a nothing through his neglect or irritability but he
keeps her around because he needs her. His script is 'Be here for me,
but don't come too close and don't burden me with your needs or

He has such strong fears of intimacy deep in his unconscious mind so
he must set barriers up to prevent a deep emotional connection. He is
clever at derailing intimacy when it comes up by tuning out his
partner and changing the subject. He must withhold part of himself to
feel safe and may withdraw sexually. Closeness and intimacy during sex
may make him feel vulnerable and panicked bringing forth his deepest
fears of dependency upon a woman. The passive aggressive man lives an
internal loneliness; he wants to be with the woman but stays confused
whether she is the right partner for him or not. He is scared and
insecure causing him to seek contact with a partner but scared and
insecure to fully commit.

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