How to spot a passive aggressive man

Written by faith mcgee
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How to spot a passive aggressive man
Passive-aggressive men are hard to read. (man image by Mat Hayward from

Passive-aggressive people tend to fear intimacy and dependence, foster chaos, feel victimised and make excuses. Much of their behaviour is fuelled by their insecurities and anger. Almost everyone has passive-aggressive tendencies; however, the passive-aggressive man cloaks his anger with passive behaviour. You can learn how to spot a passive-aggressive man before you spend your time and energy trying to change him.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Notice signs of chronic lateness. Passive-aggressive men set their own time lines and terms for relationships.

  2. 2

    Recognise lies and excuses. The passive-aggressive man uses these as a way of withholding information to have more power and control over you. Watch out for convoluted answers to simple questions.

  3. 3

    Watch for procrastination. Passive-aggressive men exhibit self-defeating behaviour that affects not only them but also you.

  4. 4

    Note ambiguity. For example, you ask him about going out on Friday night and he says "maybe" and doesn't finish the conversation. The passive-aggressive man wants to control the relationship. Leaving you to wonder what he means may make him consciously or unconsciously feel a sense of power over you.

  5. 5

    Observe his competitive nature. He feels inadequate, so his mental mind games serve him by having one over on someone else. Ask yourself if he always needs to have the last say in an argument or tries to one-up you.

  6. 6

    Review the relationship. Relationships with passive-aggressive men quickly turn into battlegrounds. He is typically guarded, distrustful, out of touch with his feelings and unable to display consistent intimacy.

Tips and warnings

  • Check out books about dealing with passive-aggressive behaviour, such as "Living with the Passive-Aggressive Man," by Scott Wetzler.
  • Avoid dating passive-aggressive men. Their behaviour is often too hard to change and can leave you in an unhealthy relationship.

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