8 passive aggressive things men do in relationships

Ever felt irked by little things in your relationship that just seem… off? You’re probably spotting passive-aggressive behaviors.

These aren’t huge acts of defiance but subtle actions that show something’s up without directly saying it. When men aren’t clear about their feelings, they might act out in these sneaky ways.

Let’s shine a light on the 8 common passive-aggressive things men do in relationships.

1. The silent treatment

We’ve all been there. Everything seems fine until suddenly… it’s radio silence.

Instead of talking about what’s bothering them, some men retreat into themselves and give the silent treatment. It’s like trying to decode a mystery without any clues.

The silent treatment can feel hurtful and confusing.

On the surface, everything seems calm, but there’s an undercurrent of tension. Sometimes it’s used as a way to gain control or as a response to feelings of insecurity.

It can be easier for some men to shut down than to open up about what’s really going on.

2. “Forgetfulness” on repeat

Ever been told, “Oh, I forgot!” once too often? I’ve been there.

Sometimes, forgetting is genuine. We all have those moments. But when “I forgot” starts sounding like a broken record, especially around certain tasks or topics, it might be a hint of passive-aggressiveness.

For instance, if he keeps missing dates or constantly forgets to do specific chores, it’s not just about memory lapses. There might be more brewing beneath the surface.

This kind of repeated “forgetfulness” can be a sneaky way to express unhappiness or avoid certain responsibilities without outright saying so.

3. Over-complimenting

Yep, you read that right. While compliments are generally signs of affection and appreciation, there’s a thin line where they might turn passive-aggressive.

It sounds counter-intuitive, I know. But have you ever been drowned in compliments that just don’t feel… genuine?

For instance, he might say, “You’re so smart! I could never have thought of that!” after you suggest something pretty basic. Or, “You’re always so good at handling things!” when you’ve just done a simple task.

These over-the-top compliments can sometimes be a subtle way of mocking or undermining without being openly confrontational.

The key here is to spot the disparity between the compliment and the context. When praise doesn’t match the situation or feels out of place, it might be hiding a passive-aggressive undertone.

Remember, genuine compliments feel good and right, while these feel a bit off-kilter.

4. Being “fine” all the time

The “I’m fine” has almost become a meme at this point, right?

We all know that often, when someone says they’re “fine,” they’re anything but. Yet, it remains a go-to answer for many men when they’re clearly upset or bothered.

Imagine you sense something is off, and when you ask, he quickly brushes it off with a breezy “I’m fine” or “It’s nothing.”

But the mood in the room? It’s colder than the Arctic.

His body language, the short answers, or the tense atmosphere might scream that he’s not okay, but verbally, it’s always the same dismissive response.

This tactic is a hallmark of passive-aggressiveness. It’s a way of expressing discontent without actually addressing the issue. The underlying message? “There’s a problem, but I won’t tell you what it is. Try figuring it out.”

It turns simple communication into a guessing game, making the issue even murkier.

5. Backhanded compliments

Ever received a compliment that also felt like a jab? That’s a backhanded compliment for you.

It’s when he says something like, “You look great today, much better than usual!” or “You’re surprisingly good at this.” The praise is there, but it’s wrapped up in a subtle criticism.

Instead of feeling uplifted, you’re left questioning the actual intent behind the words. It’s a classic passive-aggressive move.

6. Sudden interest in hobbies

Out of the blue, he’s suddenly into activities or hobbies he previously showed zero interest in—or ones he knows you’re passionate about but has always been indifferent to.

This isn’t about genuine personal growth or discovery. Instead, it might be about creating distance, asserting independence in a passive-aggressive manner, or subtly trying to make a point about personal space and interests in the relationship.

The unsaid message?

“I have my things too,” or “Look, I can enjoy this without you.” It’s a tactic that fosters competition rather than connection.

7. Over-enthusiastic agreement

It might sound strange at first, but always saying “Yes!” with excessive enthusiasm can sometimes be a sign of passive-aggressiveness.

Think about those times when you’re in a discussion, and before you’ve even finished your point, he’s already chiming in with an over-the-top “Absolutely! You’re so right!”

While it seems like agreement, the haste and exaggeration might indicate he’s not genuinely engaging with what you’re saying. It’s as if he’s trying to end the conversation quickly or brush off the topic without giving it real consideration.

The hidden message here?

“I’ll agree overtly, but I don’t truly value or want to delve into this discussion.”

Counter-intuitive, yes, but it’s another method of avoiding genuine communication without appearing to do so.

8. Excessive sarcasm

Sarcasm can be witty and funny, but when overused, it becomes a shield for underlying feelings.

If he’s constantly replying with sarcastic remarks, especially in situations that call for sincerity, it might be more than just his sense of humor at play.

For instance, when discussing future plans or sharing personal feelings, a sarcastic comment like “Oh, because that worked out so well last time!” can be a veiled way of expressing doubt or criticism without saying it outright.

It’s passive-aggressive because the real sentiment is masked behind a facade of humor.


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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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