I find myself in a pattern of getting into long-term relationships with people who end up displaying massive passive-aggressive tendancies and negativity. I always think I've found someone who is going to be a great, equal partner and I just end up in the same relationship again and again.
posted by aabbbiee to Human Relations (34 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a bi woman, age 33. Names have been changed here.
I have a pattern in my relationships. I am attracted to shy introverted people, people who seem to have lots of passions and interests when I'm getting to know them, and who turn out to be passive, negative people prone to passive-aggressive tendancies. I like making the first move in the beginning, but then I want it to turn into a relationship of equals in a team. Of course this doesn't happen. It turns into a situation where I look like I'm in the lead, in control, but really I'm the mind-reader for a 'partner' who sits in the back, not actually steering the car but bitching if it doesn't go the way s/he wants. I don't recognize this passive-aggressivity for months, usually, by which time I have convinced myself that it's a totally reasonable way to live. I'm a serial monogamist, and my adult relationships last awhile.
I know this will be long, and I'm sorry, but I feel like it's necessary to illustrate my points with this background info:
I dated Brian at the end of college and it was my first long-term relationship. He was extremely passive-aggressive and kind of an asshole about it, if that makes sense. We broke up and I met Megan, who I dated and eventually married for awhile. At first, she seemed totally different than Brian because she had all her shit together, was very passionate about different issues, etc. etc. But eventually it became insanely obvious that I was dating a female version of Brian. Okay, she was less of an asshole. The same negativity, the same avoidance of issues, the same guilt trips. No, I don't know why I married her. It ended a few years later, after lots of therapy (both individual and couples; my individual therapist advised me to end it).
After that, I started dating online for a bit. Nothing worked out, but I met a guy I liked a lot immediately. I had a huge crush, but we didn't end up dating because he started dating someone else at the exact same time that I met him. We became very close friends despite my crush/his relationship. A few months into our friendship, it suddenly clicked that he was a totally negative, passive-aggressive person. My crush ended immediately on this discovery. I now look back on that with some relief that he and I didn't start dating, because I would have been miserable. We remain close friends, but I am always happy that I can be objective about his issues as his friend, and not be invested in them as his partner. But why didn't I see the passivity at the beginning? I just don't know how I missed it.
I stayed single until fall 2010 when I fell for a new guy, Mike. We went hurtling into a relationship that had a great honeymoon period. We talked and joked a lot about our passive-aggressive exes, and I was just relieved at how easy it was to be with him. But the relationship clearly curdled for him after Christmas. He didn't tell me, though, even though I was sensing it and getting a little crazy. He flat-out denied that anything was wrong and I actually apologized for confronting him (!). Then, the other week, he abruptly ended it. The weeks between the confrontation and the breakup were filled with lots of negativity and passive-aggressive comments from him, and lots of mind-reading on my part while trying to make him happy. Now I'm just upset with myself for not trusting my gut and for being a general doormat.
I know that everyone is passive-aggressive at some point or another. I'm sure I am as well, but I do really try to subvert my tendancies because I hate it so much in others. I really try to identify what I want and ask for it clearly, and I would really like to be in a relationship with someone else who does this as well. I am not a perfect angel. I work on my control issues, though I feel like I am attributed a lot more control issues than I actually have since so many of my relationships were controlled by the passive other party sitting in the backseat. But as the more positive, optimistic partner with the plans and the action, I look like I do all the controlling. I hate that people might think this, and I think it makes me even more of a doormat in my relationships and even more susceptible to passive control by someone else.
I have seen therapists, and I do want to see one to talk through all of this stuff in the next few weeks. However, the cost is prohibitive even with my health insurance. I also think this is probably a problem that other people have faced, and I'd like some layperson advice, especially from those with experience. I'm up for book suggestions as well. I didn't see any other AskMeFi dealing specifically with passive-aggression.
Has anyone else found themselves in a pattern of attracting/being attracted to shy introverts that end up being passive aggressive, negative people? What did you do about it? How do I learn to be attracted to positive, active people?