8 signs a passive-aggressive person secretly resents you

We sometimes include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate disclosure.

Have you ever felt like someone was taking subtle digs at you from the shadows? Or lathering you with praise and flattery, yet secretly harboring a sea of resentment towards you? 

I’m talking about the seemingly close friend who “accidentally” forgets your birthday every year, or the colleague whose “helpful suggestions” always seem to undermine your ideas…

These sorts may be passive-aggressive individuals – people who express resentment indirectly and sugarcoat it, rather than through straightforward and clear communication. 

But how do you identify these subtle saboteurs before they wreak havoc on your peace of mind?

Here are 8 signs that someone might be harboring a grudge and using passive-aggressive tactics to express it:

1) Sabotage under a guise of helpfulness

Imagine this: you’re swamped with a project deadline looming, and are trying your utmost to keep your wits about you. 

Suddenly, a colleague “helpfully” points out a minor detail you might have missed. 

However, their delivery lacks genuine concern and often focuses on a point so pointless that there’s no point in fretting over it.

But still, their voice might be oozing with feigned sympathy, or their eyes might hold a glint of smug satisfaction in seeing you teeter into breakdown territory at the thought of having to fix something minuscule.

Chances are, you were more than ready to submit the project or do the deed. They just want to see you crumbling at the very last and most important minute, so interject with a needless suggestion whilst secretly plotting your downfall.

2) Cryptic texts that leave you guessing

As their unpleasant communication extends beyond verbal speech, passive-aggressive individuals love cryptic texts that leave you wondering what you did wrong

They might send messages with emojis that seem vaguely accusatory, or one-sentence statements that lack context and leave you scrambling to decipher their hidden meaning.

Expect a litany of ‘K’ replies, a paltry thumbs up, or even worse – no response at all!

3) “Oops! I totally forgot to invite you!”

These individuals have a knack for accidentally excluding you from important events or information. If caught or called out, they’ll heave on excuses as to why they ‘accidentally’ excluded you, and try to evade any blame falling on their shoulders.

You might find out about a team meeting through the office gossip or be left out of a group chat for planning a summer vacation. 

Their “forgetfulness” is a way of subtly conveying your lack of importance (or at least a lack of importance in their eyes.)

Try and ask why you weren’t invited or what you’ve done wrong, and you’ll receive a bucketload of feigned surprise and excuses like “I thought you already knew” or “I just assumed you wouldn’t like it – I’m really doing you a favor!”

4) Nasty social media jabs

Social media becomes a passive-aggressive playground. 

They might post thinly veiled digs disguised as inspirational quotes or share memes that seem to coincidentally reflect a situation you’re facing. 

These carefully curated posts are a way for them to express their resentment publicly while maintaining a facade of positivity.

So no, those sassy Taylor Swift lyrics they posted weren’t just for giggles but rather a wiley dig at your recent dating history.

5) Prone to sudden disappearing acts

Passive-aggressive folks excel at the vanishing act, particularly when it comes to commitments. 

With a tendency to be all talk and no walk, they might readily agree to help with a task. Often, they might even jump at the opportunity to dole out their services and promise to be on standby, ready to leap in and help.

Yet, they’ll often promise the world, only to mysteriously disappear when it’s time to deliver. 

This unreliability is a way of winning others over, exerting control, and subtly sabotaging your efforts.

6) Guilt-trip coinesseurs

In addition to spoiling your hard work by promising to help and never turning up, these individuals are experts at making you feel responsible for their problems. And your own. And everyone else’s, too.

They might drop hints about their overwhelming workload and tell tall tales about their harrowing personal struggles.

With such rich and elaborate tales of pity and suffering, they hope to elicit sympathy from everyone in the vicinity while deflecting attention from their passive-aggressive behavior.

Good luck giving them any feedback or constructive criticism; you’ll be met with excuse after excuse as to why they behave the way they do, and leave feeling guilty for having even brought anything up.

7) Loves to borrow but never returns

Passive-aggressive folks have a strange affinity for borrowing things – and then conveniently “forgetting” to return them. 

Like magpies, they love all things bright and shiny. Their eyes tend to light up and glisten when they spot your new clothes and gadgets, and they begin immediately planning how they can get their own sticky fingers on these items.

Anyone kind enough to lend out their possessions will often find them going amiss.

That nice cardigan you let them borrow for a weekend? It disappeared, as if by magic! And using those excellent guilt-tripping methods, they’ll manage to escape any blame for losing other people’s belongings, too.

By repeatedly disrespecting other people’s belongings (and their boundaries), passive-aggressive and spiteful people subtly establish dominance and create a sense of obligation.

8) Masters at making out that everything is a misunderstanding

Masters of twisting words and feigning misunderstandings, passive-aggressive individuals tend to excel at slipping away from any blame.

As we’ve covered above, they evade the responsibility of caring for items lovingly lent to them and cunningly pull wool over anyone’s eyes should they try to call them out for their wiley behavior.

Should anyone call them out or try to encourage them to explain certain actions, they’ll instantly come up with a plausible reason for doing what they did.

This allows them to deflect blame for their mistakes while making you feel like you’re the unreasonable one.

Final thoughts

Remember, passive-aggressive behavior is a covert way of expressing resentment. It’s designed to frustrate and make you question your own perceptions. 

Recognizing these signs is the first step to understanding these tactics and protecting your sanity. If you find yourself consistently on the receiving end of these behaviors, it may be time to re-evaluate the relationship or set clear boundaries.

It’s also important to remember that sometimes people make genuine mistakes or have a bad day. If the behavior is infrequent or isolated, consider giving the person the benefit of the doubt. 

However, if these signs happen frequently, it’s important to step up, assert your boundaries, and take steps to protect your own well-being.

9 things in life a high-quality woman will never put up with, according to psychology

10 signs a woman has a genuinely good heart, according to psychology