What to Do about Passive Aggressive Women

The woman whom you had such a great connection with yesterday, but all of a sudden, won’t even look you in the eye if your face is half a centimeter away from hers.

The woman who is giving off the impression that something is wrong through her body language, but isn’t telling you what it is, and isn’t even giving you an opportunity to do something about it.

The woman who won’t even talk to you or acknowledge you. (Click here to take the quiz on “How High Value High Status Am I on Facebook?”)

The woman who has her back to you when you’re talking to her.

The silent treatment.

The rolling of the eyes.

The hostile body language.

The woman who just doesn’t seem to care about you or the friendship you had with her anymore (because dealing with the problem that has arisen is 1,000 times harder than it is to just not care about you anymore).

The bitch face her and her friends pull when you walk in to the room.

The woman who slams doors to get some power.

The woman who gives ambiguous instructions, requests, statements or answers.

The woman who clearly doesn’t understand you, what you do, or why you do it, but couldn’t give a rat’s butt about asking you about it and trying to understand. Judgement is much safer.

The woman who moves things, says things, and organizes things in a way that seems to give off the impression that you or something you are doing is bothering her, but when you ask her about it, you get a curt and reluctant “no! Nothing is wrong!” and then she either walks off or tries her hardest not to talk to you again.

(An extreme example): the woman who threatens to hurt herself or somebody else when you confront her about something.

“What. the. hell.” Seems to be the only possible answer when you’re faced with a situation like this, since you feel so trapped and dishonored as a person.

It’s much easier to make you wrong

One of the most painful things about being in this situation is that usually, women who act this way are making you wrong, and making you out to be a villain, without even considering that they themselves, have been far from perfect in their actions towards you. Even if they do acknowledge they could have been better in their actions – they nonetheless repetitively act from a place that makes you bad and them perfect.

It’s much easier to outsource blame for their own shortcomings and ill intentions.

Often, you know, they could just “not like what you wear” (which is just an surface justification for their own insecurities), perhaps they don’t like that you don’t value the same things that they do in life (ie: maybe, they like bitching a lot of the time and you don’t), perhaps their guy friends go on about how gorgeous you are when you’re not around and it makes them feel bad. Perhaps you just trigger them to feel bad about themselves, for whatever reason.

Usually, these women tend to surround themselves with women who are equally insecure and ill-meaning, and so the influence of their “friends” make it much harder for you to get through or solve a problem with them.

However, to be fair, I have to say that all of us have been passive-aggressive at certain times in our lives. It’s just that some women act from that state continuously and out of habit, out of ease and out of fear.

It’s hard because you probably feel like they have bad intentions (though I could debate the theory of bad intention and whether it truly exists, but that’s for another time). They give off a vibe that makes you feel excluded.

Two words to describe these situations:

Draining; and Frustrating.

Just to be sure, passive-aggressive is defined as: being, marked by, or displaying behavior characterized by the expression of negative feelings, resentment and aggression in an unassertive, passive way (as through procrastination, sullenness or intentional inefficiency and stubbornness).

Getting the truth out of people is a difficult task

If you are anything like me, you prefer people to just come up to you, and tell you what is going on, or just for them to tell you what the problem is, or you prefer to actually be in the know, so that you can move forward, reconnect the friendship/relationship, grow and learn something.

Here’s the problem: it’s going to be hard to get this (the truth, or their feelings) out of many women, especially if you are not very close to them. Many women won’t throw their fears to the curb in order to deal with a problem related to another woman whom they “don’t like”, don’t have a lot in common with, or feel threatened by.

It’s much easier to just make you wrong. Prepare for this to happen. This doesn’t mean you should expect it from every woman, it just means that you aren’t going to be able to solve this problem in every woman in the world.

My feeling is that many women are going to be way too scared to confront their fears and actually deal with it, because it’s just ‘too hard’!

And it’s worse when these women get in to a group, because as I’ve established before, we become who we spend our time with.

It’s very easy to do the following things when you’re confronted with a woman (or two) who are being passive aggressive:

1) try to get power and significance by controlling something that’s related to them and getting revenge.

2) yell at them.

3) blame them.

4) Confront them in aggression

5) Make them wrong.

6) be passive-aggressive, too.

7) Blame yourself, and think you are the bad person.

8 ) get all hoity toity.

The Solution

Here are the steps to take…

1) Understanding. Ask yourself what is missing in their life for them to continually act passive-aggressive towards you. Usually, they want to feel important and certain about themselves. And usually, they don’t feel particularly important or certain about their worth. (Click here to take the quiz on “How Naturally Feminine Am I”)

And sometimes, they’re just plain scared. Once you have understanding, you can act from a place of compassion, and actually do something about the situation, rather than just letting it rot. Even if it doesn’t work out – you become a better woman through your efforts.

2) Give them what they need, not what they want. They may say they need such-and-such, and it’s easy for you to just take what they say literally and withdraw and then do nothing about it (which could lead to passive-aggressive behavior on your part, too). However, what they really need is to feel important, significant, and to have their identity re-affirmed. Hard to do, I know.

Sometimes they just need to be appreciated for what they do or what they have already contributed, to know that you care,  and to be made to feel safe around you.

3) Do not make them wrong. This will perpetuate their pattern. So, focus more on your feelings and the situation than blaming them.


But here’s the bottom line: What you decide to do is nowhere near as important as the meaning you choose to place on the events and the person you become as a result of the events – you always must take the high-road. There is absolutely no benefit in hiding from problems, or from confrontations, like they are.

So when do you drop out, give up, and stop trying to influence them? This is entirely up to you. How long you decide to put yourself in to being the leader and initiating a better relationship between you and them is your personal choice.

A story of a house mate…

I want to leave you with one (of many) examples in my life, where I had to deal with this.

I once had a female house-mate who I had moved in with. I didn’t know her prior to moving in. We interviewed each other, and she was in a hurry to get a house mate in, and I was also in a hurry to find a suitable place. Before I moved in, it was clear that we were opposites, however, we seemed to manage to get along well – enough to make the decision to be housemates.

At the beginning, we had great conversations, and some talks about very personal things. However, over time, we began to not talk to each other very much, and we were both busy so we also didnt see each other much – despite living in the same house.

Things were fine for the first 3 weeks. And then I attended a birthday gathering of hers. There were, of course, other women at the gathering. I didn’t get the best vibe from some of them. And it seemed, to me, that after that day, my house mate was suddenly more cold to me. Things went downhill from there.

We both did continue, at times, to make an effort to talk to each other, but when I am in my own home, I tend to be quite reserved and quiet. It became more of a business relationship over time, and our differences were clear:

I have extremely anal standards for myself when it comes to health, fitness and cleanliness.

She: wouldn’t always clean up properly after herself, spent most of her spare time watching television and making excuses as to why she couldn’t go for a run or do the cleaning or get off the couch. At night time, she would have long and loud phone conversations, complaining about how terrible the quality of men are, that there are no good men, and just generally having a complaint session about other people and calling them names.

She would often be really depressed and not even look at me to say hi, and then when she was in a great mood, she would then talk to me. When she was depressed I would pick up on her mood and just want to get out of her way.

Her lack of cleaning did bother me, but not too much. After all, when it got too messy it only took me 10-20 minutes to clean up after her.

As time went by, as it became clear that we were very much opposites, the tension got to a point where it was too much (as it always happens). We had a heated misunderstanding when talking about kitchen utensils and cleaning utensils.

I proceeded to tell her that if she had a problem with something I was doing, that she could just tell me, since I would sometimes find my stuff moved, or I would pick up on her trying not to talk to me, and even trying to ignore me at times. I had felt for months that she had concerns but wouldn’t tell me anything. She denied she had anything to tell me.

Yet at the same time, when I was talking to her, she would have her back to me, and wouldn’t say much and definitely didn’t look like she wanted to say much.

And that same day, about half an hour after that misunderstanding, while she was on the phone to a friend, I hear the front door slam loudly, while I’m crying in my room, thinking about what I could have done wrong, and getting very stressed over the tension.

Of course, seeing me this way, David (my man) immediately proceeded to look for a new place for me to stay. I was too upset to even think about finding a place, because I wanted to fix the situation I was already in with my house mate.

Anyway, a few hours later in the day, I received a call from David, telling me that he had happened across an ad on the internet – my room had been listed for rent on the internet that very day, stating that it would be available for a move in two weeks from that date.

I was floored. My house mate had not told me about it, but I thought that perhaps, given some time she would tell me about it. So I waited a few days, to see if she would approach me about it. She didn’t, so I confronted her on the 3rd day.

Before I even said anything, she launched in to a few minute-long justification of why it had been put up. Saying she had not gone behind my back. (??) And that she was ‘just looking’ to ‘see what’s out there’, and that her friend told her to put it up.

The (almost) resolution

After talking it through, we came to the conclusion that she thought I was the perfect house-mate – always paid on time, always cleaned, respected the house, was quiet and observed all the requirements we had talked about when I moved in. However – she wanted somebody more ‘like-minded’. She said, like-minded was that we would do some things together, like have a meal or go for a walk along the beach. Fair enough.

She also proceeded to mention that she needs to be told what to do by people, and it took her a week to work herself up to talking to me about something. From this conversation, we decided that we would be more open to each other and make a point to connect with each other. (read my article about the best revenge to bad girlfriends)

So I thought, OK, great, we have made a little bit of progress. She also promised to take the ad for my room off, of her own accord.

That was a Tuesday. By Monday afternoon the next week, the ad was still up. She again had not approached me about it. On top of that, in the preceding days I had made a point to talk to her and initiate conversation, but her response was disappointing to say the least. She just wasn’t bouncing back at me with any more conversation. She was keeping it very business-like.

When I asked her about why the ad hadn’t been taken down, she told me she had asked her friend to take it down for her because she didn’t know how to.

The point is: if it was important enough to her, she would have found a way to talk to me about our problems. And if she really wanted to take the ad off, she would have.

She was indicating, through her actions, that she didn’t value fixing the problem over being comfortable. And she made it harder for me by continuously denying things. It became obvious that she simply did not want to deal with the problem, rather, she would prefer to get somebody else in to the house than deal with our issue (which she hadn’t even brought up in the first place, before she placed the ad up without notifying me about it).

Here’s what I learned from the experience:

1) In order to help the process of her feeling comfortable around me, like her, I was going to have to accept (rather than reject) my own lazy side, and accept the part of me who likes to feel bad about myself (a massive challenge for me). This was really seeing the situation for the gifts it brought to the table. I believe this experience was put in front of me for a reason.

2) I had, at times, been too busy judging her for her laziness, the way she talked about (and treated) men, and her passive-aggressive behavior to actually form a deeper connection with her, which contributed to the whole problem.

3) That my resistance to connecting with her because of our differences, and because I felt like I didn’t want to be ‘brought down to her level’ by associating with her most likely made her feel like she wasn’t enough, which made the situation worse. Her passive-aggressive behavior was already a result of feeling diminished and scared.

4) Going by ‘rules’ – ie: paying all my rent early, religiously cleaning up after myself, keeping to all the house requirements, and being quiet, really isn’t what she wanted or needed. In fact, that kind of thing really isn’t what people perceive value in, even though it may be important to them that you pay your rent on time. What she wanted, since I was living in, and renting a room in her house, was a friend.

5) Either I expend lots of energy influencing her, and myself, to form a good connection with me so that we can live amicably (which was hardly worth it since she had so many other women in her life feeding her ‘reasons’ for her actions, her judgments of me, and influencing her to make the decisions she was making already – why would she sacrifice the love of a number of existing friends who were meeting her needs over forming a connection with a person she hardly knew?) OR

I was going to have to decide to leave the house and in the meantime, take leadership and form common ground and a connection with her.

6) Confronting her with the intensity that I did about the ad being placed on the internet may have been justified, but it was not necessarily helpful in preserving a relationship.

7) Ultimately, since I was living in her house, I felt I was working with a situation where her power was greater than mine, so whilst I would continue to form the connection, I didn’t really want to LIVE within her proximity.

Given the situation, (we were talking about somebody who had placed my room up for rent without telling me, it was not worth my energy. I have a bigger mission to work on than to chase her for not taking the ad down.

That is just one example from my own life of dealing with passive-aggressive women.

Take your time to read more information about our 17 Attraction Triggers eBook. Click this link to read more information. 

Do you have any experiences to share with us? Please share in the comments section below your ways of dealing with passive aggressive women. Looking forward to hearing from you. 🙂


  • The Dude

    Great article…

  • Goodall Lesley

    I have tried in the past to sort things out only to be told ‘I had a chip on my shoulder’ or I was’ suspicious.’ Don’t try just treat them formally and KEEP AWAY.! You wouldn’t drink poison.!!!

  • S Gaia

    Also possible the housemate may have had a form of depression, your response falling hence within the bullying spectrum. Given you have no mental health qualifications or clinical experience – say in psychiatry, psychology, or cortical chakra crystal cupping – it would be unreasonable to expect you to discern a subtler presentation, especially in the years before proactive public awareness.
    …and yes, I am being ironically horribly passive aggressive on this old post I stumbled across. 😉 Clearly a bright insight lies beneath the clickbait (oops, sorry!). Tack a few twinkles of research via your online audience onto your next book and suddenly you have a PhD thesis, Dr Renee! (Dre to your friends) xo Sally

  • FrancesJohn

    Just get away from anybody who tries to suck you into their games. They don’t want to change.

  • Bill

    I have been married to a passive aggressive woman since 1978. That’s 38 years of my nearly 68 years here on earth. For most of that time I wasn’t aware of my situation. I was only aware that something was seriously wrong with our marriage. Actually coming to terms with the reality didn’t come until May of 2014 when I had a serious physical and emotional breakdown that I am convinced nearly cost me my life.
    I can, I suppose, be “passive” about this and think, “this breakdown is something that happened to me” but I doubt that there’s much truth in that. I put myself in this situation by marrying a passive aggressive person. Why I did that even now isn’t clear other than that I was easy prey for her, but if I say that, then again I am being passive, not accepting what I did, blaming her instead.
    In the two and a half years since my breakdown I have had a chance to do some reading on the topic. Two marriage counselors refused to allow discussion of passive aggression – not too sure exactly why that was but I am inclined to believe both counselors felt that my wife was nearly perfect.
    My wife grew up in a verbally abusive family environment. My first clue to the problems ahead should have come when I first met her mother, the most hurtful person I have ever met, not just to me but to her entire family, to her daughter (my wife), to her two sons (my wife’s two siblings), and to her own husband, a man’s man if there ever was one but also a well-educated professional, a good provider for the family, strong-willed and stubborn but determined to keep his family together. My mother-in-law’s behavior even to this day has been a well-kept family secret. Even her closest friends were unaware of her verbal abuse to her family.
    In one of the books I read in the past two and a half years about passive aggression and narcissism, the author made it a point to stress that the term “passive” doesn’t really do justice to this behavior pattern. He preferred the term “covert” which basically means the persons who use this behavior know what they are doing and knowingly do it in secret. Any good relationship avoids secrecy, but a covert abuser relies on it, fosters it, nurtures the secrecy. They know full well the advantage secrecy brings over their trusting partner.
    Any reading I have done on this subject points out how the recipient of passive (covert) aggression is driven into a state of serious confusion and usually unresolvable anxiety for reasons they don’t even begin to understand. Having a passive aggressive partner is enough to drive anybody crazy and the more skilled the covert abuser is, the crazier the recipient feels. Trusting people can’t begin to bring themselves to realize or believe how corrupt their covert abuser partner actually is so until they do come to understand the behavior and admit its existence in their own dysfunctional relationship, they question their own abilities, even their own sanity. They often blame themselves for the failure.
    I am inclined to think that passive aggressive behavior is learned in childhood, probably by nearly all if not actually all children. If you stop and watch how children coerce their guardians, all the recognized aspects of passive aggression are there, to the extent that when a parent becomes aware of the behavior, if they are wise, they point out to the child how “childish” and “selfish” their behavior is. As a result, most children learn to outgrow that kind of behavior. But some children never learn to overcome their selfish, controlling, manipulative ways and grow up to be masters of covert manipulative behavior.
    My wife grew up believing that this kind of behavior was the normal way women exert control within the family. To this day she has her mother’s behavior as the model for getting your way within your own family. She is well aware of the need to keep this side of her personality hidden and is highly talented in accomplishing that goal. None of her friends and acquaintances are aware of her covert abusive side. The same holds true for my wife’s mother. None of her acquaintances that I have spoken to about this ever knew she treated her family the way she did.
    But why do covert abusers choose to live this way? Why do they undermine love this way? What is their gain?
    There’s only one answer to these questions that I have been able to convince myself of. Yes other “reasons” are commonly offered. Passive aggressive people feel insecure about themselves? That is a common excuse but they are no less secure than the people under their control. Again, covert abusers are in control. The ones they control are in the dark, have no real idea that they are even being manipulated, but they are. A pouty teenager who won’t willingly do anything her parents ask of her unless she has things her way displays this behavior for one reason alone, to control her parents, to teach her parents that they have a price to pay if they ever attempt to exert a parent’s rightful dominance.
    And there lies the key…
    The petulant uncooperative teen seeks dominance, not equality, not good common sense, not peace, dominance.
    The covert abuser, the passive aggressive partner, does not seek equality. She seeks dominance.
    One last thing before I stop…
    I have come to realize that the passive aggressive person knows and frequently uses a defense mechanism. When recipients of passive aggression realizes they are being manipulated, especially if the manipulation is covert, they fight back. How they fight isn’t even relevant. From the covert abuser’s perspective, any resistance at all, any blowback, is abuse. The covert abuser sees herself as the victim and sees the one resisting her as the abuser.
    The cure for all this?
    You tell me.

    • The Dude

      The cure? The only mechanism that I know to work, is to show up, bring a mirror, and continually point out the other person’s behavior, while recognizing your own might be triggering them. If they care enough to stay engaged, they’ll still deal you dirt, but you don’t have to let that hurt you. Embrace it…and keep showing up and keep bringing them a mirror to look into. Model your own behavior better, not differently, but within boundaries that are acceptable to both of you.

  • brenda

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  • Cles51

    My younger sister is a passive aggressive and I just don’t know how to deal with it. She is 11 years younger than me and I raised her the first 2 years of her life due to my mother’s incompetence. I love her dearly but she has been very hurtful to me for many years. We live in separate states. She never calls me on her own volition. When I call she will not answer her phone. I leave a message and I don’t hear back. I text her and she takes days to respond if she does respond. Her reply is very terse. For example, I called her Sat morning and she didn’t answer so left mssg. She did not call back. I texted her that I posted 2 picks of her as a toddler on her FB timeline and wondered if she saw it. She replied just like this “Yes. I did. Thanks.” I thought what’s with the periods and no elaboration? I texted back “what are you doing?”. Four hours later I get the reply “Shopping” with no other comment. I haven’t talked to her in almost 6 months and she treats me like crap when we do talk. She is very passive-aggressive and she is much worse than she used to be. A few years ago my siblings and I pooled our money for a birthday present for my Dad. My sister was in charge of getting the gift certificate for dinner at this nice restaurant. Months go by and my Dad asks “Hey, when am I going to get my gift certificate?”. My darn sister never got it and has our money. I called her and asked when she was going to get the gift certificate. Her answer was “one of these days”. She didn’t give the certificate to my Dad until 6 months after his birthday. I was confused and fuming. Of course, she blamed me for being too pushy. Her answer for not doing what she says she’ll do is “I’m busy” although she may volunteer for it. One time when we were living together years ago my cat was very sick and needed to be put down. I had an appmt on a Sat morning to do it but I just couldn’t go. I loved this cat so much and was so distraught. I asked my Dad and sister if they could take the cat to the vet for me and they said they would. I specifically told my sister that since she was going out to party the Fri nite before that I did not want anyone sleeping over or have guests. I was crying so much knowing my cat will be gone the next morning. The next morning I wake up and go to my sister’s room and a naked man was sleeping with her. Then I walk downstairs to see many people sleeping on the couch, chair and floor. I lost it and burst out crying. I called up to my sister to come down and that everyone had to leave. I kept saying you promised you wouldn’t bring anyone over. Her answer was so unempathetic and says “Calm down and chill out”. She is very manipulative and must have control of the situation. I have been diagnosed with a brain injury due to multiple concussions and when it happened she acted like nothing happened and never called to see how I am doing. That is because she doesn’t care. She just cares about herself. She has gotten worse since she married an extreme narcissist. Now she’s condescending as well. The times she did call me back I would pick up the phone and would get a sigh of exasperation before I could say hello. She acts like she hates me but I don’t know why because she can’t be honest and truthful. I have asked her many times why she acts that way to me. What did I do? A couple of years ago she said she has “nothing in common with me”. Now I am really confused because we never talk so how would she know? And she is my sister so how can we have nothing in common? She drains my life energy out of me. Please help me to learn how to deal with her. I am about to cut ties all together.

  • Globalman

    Well I am dealing with someone who is a half sister. We only met 6 years ago. She cajoled me in every way to leave Europe and return to the states and live with her. Because of a crisis I was living through and my age old vulnerability to belong and have family I took the risk. It has been a disaster and I am now homeless being given shelter by a stranger in a totally strange town where I am totally an alien and without mobility.
    I am an expert communicator and was always honest, open and self revealling during the few months living with this half sister who is over 50 and 19 years younger than I am.
    I have had too much to cope with in recent years so am totally not able or interested in compensating for her emotional and psychological damage. She speaks from a place that she is not. And experience has taught me that you cannot get someone to see that are not walking the way they talk. They must come to this on their own.
    I don’t know if this is an american malady but she seems only able to send me telephone text messages or IM texts. My many and detailed emails went unanswered or with a brief response totally disconnected from what I had written.
    Yesterday I received an IM ………

    “Hope you are well. So sad that we don’t even talk any more. :-(”

    That is what led me to search passive abuse and passive aggressive behaviour. Because I did not initiate the estrangement or silence. I am simply out of words and energy to deal with a toxic relationship.
    Her sentence suddenly made me aware of her trying to make me responsible when I had nothing to do with the distance between us. Plus it felt like throwing the ball into my court to do something.
    The article encourages positive and healthy action for such situations but I simply no longer have the energy. I’ve been strong for people all of my life and am out of steam. And most sadly now, I simply don’t care. I deceived myself about feelings for the 3 daughters and their offspring of my father who presented themselves late in my life. In fact they are strangers to me and I have no frame of reference where family is concerned.
    I regret that I ever felt I was missing something having no family. I did myself an injustice. In truth I find family more trouble than it is worth. I certainly did not experience that feeling of love, loyalty and blood being thicker than water. I am the most loyal, loving and honest person I know. I don’t expect it in equal measure to be returned but in truth any family I ever had never exhibited a fourth of what I have received from total strangers and friends along the way in my life.
    At this point of my life I feel if people are too damaged to meet you half way then move on and make room for the possibility of encountering those who truly value others and are worth knowing. Otherwise there is peace and contentment in solitude.

  • Michaela

    Wow, I’m living with a woman like that at the moment. We’ve been friends for years but it has taken me this long to see just how passive-aggressive and destructive her behaviour is. The sad part about this kind of behaviour is that it only serves to confuse me and push me away from our friendship; it doesn’t make me change my behaviour and love for my life, and it doesn’t make me feel ‘less than’ in any way. I think it’s sad that women feel the need to behave in such counter-productive ways because they don’t have the tools to really do the inner work with themselves. Thanks for the wonderful article, it’s really helpful!

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