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Living with the Passive-Aggressive Man [Anglais] [Broché]

Scott Wetzler
5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)
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Description de l'ouvrage

16 juin 2008
Living with a man's passive aggression can be an emotional seesaw ride. But armed with this book, you can avoid the bumpy landings.

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Chapter 1


When the King of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland tries to calm the Mad Hatter's hysteria by saying, "don't be nervous or I'll have you executed on the spot," the warning could easily have emerged from the lips of a passive-aggressive man. "Yes, no!" "Stop, go!" "I never lie, I was just protecting you from the truth!" What does he mean? The King of Hearts and most passive-aggressive men share the maddening characteristic of never saying exactly what they mean.

He may be a legal wizard, a computer genius, a brilliant analytical scientist or a guy who runs a newsstand, but when it comes to relating to others, the passive-aggressive man has just learned to read. He's as unclear about why he does what he does as you are about his behavior.

When patients describe his psychological abuse, they often begin the same way: "This guy is impossible." "This guy is difficult." "Every meal, every conversation and everything we decide to do is handled like we' re two warring nations negotiating a pact, not two people who care about each other," one woman told me. She could be talking for other women about their husbands, fathers, bosses, the shoemaker.

What's the appeal of a guy who says in one breath, "I love you/I hate you," or, "I promise.../Why should I do anything for you?" If you have any emotional investment in a passive-aggressive man, it's because you've probably fallen for his salesmanship. He's brilliantly persuasive at selling himself -- whether it's his brooding stoicism, his understated charm, his boyishness or irresistible seductiveness. You buy into his elusiveness; but you also buy into his neediness. You feel for him and want to be the one who breaks through, who tears the walls down and gets him to shape up. In many cases, it is a thankless mission.

Problems arise with the passive-aggressive man because of his fatal flaw: an indirect and inappropriate way of expressing hostility hidden under the guise of innocence, generosity or passivity. If what he says or does confuses you, or, more likely, angers you, this is why. You're not the only one to react this way. It's what passive-aggression is all about.


A seemingly paradoxical term, passive-aggression asks the question, How can a person be passive and aggressive, rather than one way or the other? It's a common misconception about passive-aggression that its perpetrators swing alternately between the two behaviors -- either willfully with premeditation to control others (aggression) or in a self-effacing manner (passivity).

The truth is that the passive-aggressive man doesn't ride an emotional seesaw (although he may put you on one); he's not passive today and aggressive tomorrow, depending on the circumstances. Rather, the passive-aggressive man is simultaneously passive and aggressive. The paradox reigns because he renounces his aggression as it is happening.

Since passivity and aggression are contradictory by origin and act, you can see that we are dealing with a complex and fundamentally ambivalent creature.

Passive-aggressive tactics aren't that easily read at first; it takes a while to figure out what this guy is getting at: the blur of meaning lies in his genius for creating discrepancies between how he pretends to be and how he acts, which is a better indicator of his true intentions and feelings. You're always receiving mixed messages because he wants you to guess what he wants almost as much as he wants to fool you or string you along. This is what his double-speak can sound like:

-- "I can't live without you," a passive-aggressive boyfriend says as he kisses you and leaves the room. Or, when the two of you are alone, he asks "Why are you around all the time?" when he means, I'm terrified that you'll leave me.

-- "Are you interested...?" a passive-aggressive husband may whisper to a wife who makes an affectionate advance toward him, while what he is really thinking is, Why am I asking her when I'm not that turned on? Or he says, contrarily, "Sometimes sex is overrated," when he means, I want you, all the while expecting his wife to know that he wants to be seduced.

-- "We've noticed your administrative skills and would like to discuss a special project that's coming up," a passive-aggressive boss says flatteringly, hinting at a promotion, but then you never hear from him again. What he really meant was: What makes you think I'd even consider you for that secret project, and how'd you find out about it anyway?

Or, he might try a version of this empty promise:

-- "Okay, I know I promised to pick up your kitchen stuff at Sue's place, but my car broke down. Maybe tomorrow..." a passive-aggressive brother assures you, but he's thinking, Why do you keep asking me to do anything involving Sue when you know I can't stand the sight of her, and besides, I hate hauling freight in my new car.

-- Or, a passive-aggressive friend says, "I wanted to be the first one to buy you a disk for your new CD player...something really great, something you'll love -- eighteenth-century harpsichord favorites that took me a week to find for you," but what he thinks is, This should let you know how low-brow your taste in music is. Your idea of culture is the Miami Sound Machine.

The man in each of these examples isn't playing diplomat; his baiting behavior isn't inadvertent, though he hopes you'll think it is. This is a man who's driven to appear above suspicion, guiltless and guileless. That's why you find that most passive-aggressive men negotiate the world as "nice guys" denying even the slightest hint of hostility or conflict.

As with a brother who'll easily break a promise five or ten times rather than just say, "No, sorry, I can't," this man will lie to keep you on a string until the game reaches its limit and he's finally forced -- by you -- to confess that he can't come through. If he's someone who's been in your life a long time, you may find you're always arguing about the same thing, year after year. Most of all, you wonder why you still jump through the same flaming hoops he holds up, how he can still get a rise out of you.

If you're typical, and at the end of your rope with him, you may fantasize about ending your relationship -- and this includes abandoning relationships with "impossible" relatives, like fathers and brothers. But you don't act on it. Or, if he's a key player sorely affecting your job, you might just give up and quit, but the passive-aggressive colleague you leave behind won't believe he's done anything to obstruct your career. More likely, he expects a huge pat on the back for doing everything to boost your efforts and calls you ungrateful, to boot.

Whoever he is, your relationship with a passive-aggressive man probably leaves you feeling unsettled and insecure, wondering why you're always at an emotional crossroad. Most of all, you wonder how to make your life with him a better place to be. Before I get to the latter, I'll take you through what makes him tick and keeps him running. The passive-aggressive man's modus operandi has two primary component parts: passivity and aggression. Let's begin there.


When it's used as a power play against you, passivity can rouse you to anger just as much as an active display of hostility. But why does someone's inaction so anger you?

The answer lies in the qualities that make up "passivity." Traditionally, a passive person shows little initiative in getting what he wants; assertion is a labor and comes about hesitantly, if at all. Male passivity covers a wide range of behavior, from the classic "loser" -- the weak, inept type who has a hard time keeping a job -- to the "conformist" -- the man who rolls with the current, buoyed by approval seeking, not making waves, changing his opinions in order to be liked and rarely stating what he feels and thinks at any moment.

In certain corporate or bureaucratic circles, he's the yesman. On occasion, his quick-change sentiments delivered to the right person at the right time may serve to get him what he wants. As a guy who just wants to fit in, he may reach some level of success, but he's a poor leader and decision maker; he avoids big responsibilities, and he'll stop short of a top spot. As he sees it, others are better able to make the right decisions.

"This man's a baby. He's sharp, he's charming, but emotionally, he's about four years old!" women say, and they're right. Passive people -- and here I include women, too -- all suffer because they haven't quite grown up. They're childlike and continue to rely on others.

Larry is a good example of passive dependency. An engineer in the construction business, he can never remember to bring cash, check, or credit card when he goes out to dinner. It isn't that Larry is cheap; rather, he has a compulsion to get others to pay for his meal -- he needs you to feed him. His excuses take the same unrealistic and juvenile line of thinking as, "The dog ate my term paper." You don't believe Larry's story, but it is that boyish, ingratiating look -- that need to be loved and forgiven -- that suckers certain of us who take to babying him.

That Larry needs to be "nurtured" by someone with money -- that is, an adult with power -- makes him passive; that he has to trick you into doing it makes him passive-aggressive.

You'll find that passive men and the more complicated passive-aggressive men have a trait in common: both are reluctant to assert themselves directly, in a firm but tactful way. They shun and fear self-assertion, mistaking it for unleashed aggression. The consequences of assertion scare them. Their internal line of thinking goes something like this: "If I do this, straight out and simply, I'm telling you what I think, what I'm going to do or what I feel. This leaves me open to a possible ch...

Revue de presse

Alexandra Penney Author of How to Make Love to a Man Every woman should read this astute analysis of the passive-aggressive male.

Gregory M. Asnis, M.D., Professor of psychiatry at Albert Einstein College of Medicine Gives the reader the necessary tool to identify this syndrome and advice on how to respond to his frustrating ploys....A must-read for anyone who lives with a passive-aggressive man or, for that matter, for such a person himself.

Détails sur le produit

  • Broché: 208 pages
  • Editeur : S & S International; Édition : Reprinted edition (16 juin 2008)
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 0671870742
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671870744
  • Dimensions du produit: 21,4 x 13,9 x 1,3 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: 18.883 en Livres anglais et étrangers (Voir les 100 premiers en Livres anglais et étrangers)
  • Table des matières complète
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Dans ce livre (En savoir plus)
Première phrase
WHEN THE KING of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland tries to calm the Mad Hatter's hysteria by saying, "don't be nervous or I'll have you executed on the spot," the warning could easily have emerged from the lips of a passive-aggressive man. Lire la première page
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Couverture | Copyright | Table des matières | Extrait | Index | Quatrième de couverture
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Commentaires client les plus utiles
5.0 étoiles sur 5 M'a beaucoup aider 20 juin 2011
J'ai acheté ce livre car je me suis découvert a affronter un comportement, dans mon cas d'une femme, qui m'était incomprehensible.
Ce livre m'a permis de comprendre les motivations et logiques sous jacentes, ainsi que le peu de probabilité de changement de la part de qui adopte ce genre d'attitude.
Je le recomande vivement pour tous ceux qui ont un proche qui se comporte de cette façon, afin de nous avertir à quoi on doit s'attendre.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.2 étoiles sur 5  147 commentaires
519 internautes sur 531 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Restore your sanity! 8 février 2005
Par RFN - Publié sur
"Living With a Passive Agressive Man" states that dealing with a passive-aggressive person as a spouse can drive even the most even tempered, rational, and reasonable person to huge levels of uncontrolled anger. P-As are masters at deliberately goading people. Within my marriage, I was unable to obtain the desired level of intimacy due to my partner's resistance. My needs weren't met and yet I continued to try to find a way to meet my partner's needs despite years of frustration and a lack of progress. My ex-husband controlled the dynamics of our marriage with his passive-aggressive behavior. Directly asking for what I wanted was a guarantee it would never happen. A lot was demanded of me but very little was willingly given back--not because he couldn't, I realized at the very end, but because he wouldn't. I'm generally not easily angered, but his behavior could drive me to uncontrolled rage--and then he'd calmly inform me I should seek counseling. Any conversation I tried to initiate about improving our relationship quickly turned to a list of his complaints about what was wrong with me. Finally I gave up any hope of improvement due to his extreme resistence. This book made me realize that I had a very typical relationship with a very passive-aggressive man, but the marital interchange was completely abnormal.

There are eleven hallmarks that identify the Passive-Aggressive personality disorder.

1. Fear of Dependency

2. Fear of Intimacy

3. Fear of Competition

4. Obstructionism

5. Fostering Chaos

6. Feeling Victimized

7. Making Excuses and Lying

8. Procrastination

9. Chronic lateness & Forgetfulness

10. Ambiguity

11. Sulking

My ex-husband regularly displayed every single one.

There is no way to please these people. Although the implication is always that your inadequacies are the reason for their discontent, their problem is so complex and ingrained it is virtually impossible to eradicate. Nothing anyone provides for them is ever enough to calm their fears, self doubt, and bolster their low self esteem. The 'cure' is a constantly moving target, partially because they often ask for the opposite of what they really want, if they bother to ask at all. Usually it's a guessing game: they let you know they're displeased in a covert and passive way, but you have to try to figure out why. They will deny their anger if directly confronted. Nothing anyone does for them is ever good enough. It is almost universal within a marriage to a passive-aggressive person for them to continually withhold sex. That and deliberate action, or inaction, that denies pleasure to their partner when they do engage in intercourse is their ultimate expression of hostility and control.

Does any of this sound familiar? If so, this is the book to read to help restore some of your sanity. For years I refered to my then husband as 'Passive Agressive' without really understanding the disorder. The basis of all this dysfunctional and self-destructive behavior is rage.

Interestingly, what drives the P-A's anger is low self esteem and extreme dependency. Passive-aggressive people try to mask this by continually rejecting the very person they are dependent upon. They attempt to deny their feelings of insecurity and worthlessness by attacking in underhanded ways that make the object of this type of aggression feel confused, helpless, and demeaned. Typically, Passive-Aggressive people tend to choose one of three types of partners: Controllers, Nurturers, or Rescuers. Or someone that has a combination of those

characteristics. Hence, P-As are continually rejecting their partners for the very qualities that attracted them in the first place. They undermine the people they so desperately need in an attempt to prove to themselves they don't need them. It is a personality disorder that is highly resistant to change even with intense therapy and motivation on the part of the patient. P-As are completely convinced there is nothing wrong with them or their behavior; it is everyone else.

A complete loss of confidence and self esteem that living with such a person induces in the unfortunate person who married them is not uncommon, either. Because, of course, everything is always someone else's fault, not theirs. It is usually the spouse, significant other, etc. of these people who end up in therapy because dealing with P-As is so difficult since they are constantly manipulating the environment to make themselves the victim and the person with whom they're interacting the bad guy. It is a very difficult disorder for people who are straightforward and psychologically sound to deal with or recognize. The tendency is, since you are being held responsible by the other person for problems in the relationship, to hold yourself responsible as well.

The book was mainly about how to set boundaries and cope if you are involved with these types of people. The main advise given was if you can't cope with the reality that changed or even improved behavior is probably not an option, (and most people can't!) your only recourse is to leave. Which is exactly what I waited way too long to do. I was married for 27 years to an extremely passive-agressive man. If I had read this book earlier, I may have stopped accepting responsiblility for the problems in our marriage, making excuses for his bad behavior and escaped earlier, saving myself and my son years of grief.
139 internautes sur 140 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Comprehensive and useful information. Could not put it down. 16 août 1998
Par - Publié sur
I am married to and have two children with a passive aggressive man. I have searched local bookstores for a book on the topic for 2 years. One night, in desperation, I searched Amazon for a book on the subject and thankfully, I found this book by Scott Wetzeler.
Scott Wetzler clearly outlines the personality of a passive aggressive and concise terms and offers comprehensive solutions in how to deal with this personality.
What I loved most about the book were the validating stories told by other women that have experienced the, frustration, humiliation and emotional abuse, while involved with a "PA". I read their words over and over again in partial disbeleif, that my exact feelings and discription of the behavior, were staring back at me in black and white.
I urge anyone (male or female) who is in a relationship with someone who sulks, does not respond to a direct question or insists they are not angry even though their actions tell you otherwise, to read this book. It will save your life, as it has mine.
379 internautes sur 394 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Walking on Eggshells 101, but great description of PA males. 17 janvier 2003
Par Groovy Vegan - Publié sur
"Living With The Passive Aggressive Man" is a significantly flawed book, but one that has helped me tremendously in my post-breakup healing process with a passive-aggressive (PA) man. The book's greatest strength is describing what the PA man is like. I had many "aha" moments as clinical psychologist Scott Wetzler described the multitude of mind games PA people play including excuse making, obstructionism, and an old favorite: the PA person intentionally pushes your buttons, but if you get angry, they claim you're the one with a problem. This last example is of projected anger, which Wetzler explains quite well.
Wetzler's discussions of arguments and apologies also ring true for me. He explains that a fair fight is not in the repertoire of a PA partner. He'll be sarcastic or sulk or bring up distracters, but will not tell you what's bothering him. Furthermore, in many cases, they won't apologize at all, or will quickly issue an insincere apologize to change the subject. Wetzler asks you to gauge whether your partner actually changed their post-apology behavior. The section on parenting also was tremendously helpful. Wetzler states the biggest parenting problem for the PA parent is difficulty disciplining their child, which was certainly true in my relationship.
Other parts of the book did not ring true for me, although they certainly might for another reader. For example, he talked about the childhood experiences typical to PA people that helped make them that way, but my partner had generally positive things to say about his childhood. An alternative explanation could be that some people may consider themselves "too spiritual" to get angry, so they vent their anger passive-aggressively. Wetzler discussed "Who falls for the passive-aggressive man?" but this section did not help me at all, as I did not identify with his descriptions of "victim", "rescuer" or "manager." An alternate possibility is that many PA people present themselves as calm, likeable people, but after you fall in love with them, they slide into PA behavior rather insidiously.
My biggest problem with the book is the premise suggested by the title, "Living With The Passive Aggressive Man." The PA person often has a significant personality problem and is emotionally abusing you with his mind games, yet the concept of getting him or both of you into counseling is not even mentioned until the epilogue. This strikes me as odd, considering Wetzler is a clinical psychologist. Instead, much of the book is dedicated to teaching you, the non-PA partner, how to jump through hoops and walk on eggshells, so you can live with these mind games and hopefully gradually get your partner to change. Too much of this tip toeing is yielding to the PA partner's needs at the expense of your needs, and possibly sanity. For example, give the guy all the space he wants sounds like great advice, but what about women in relationships where the guy is around in body only watching TV, or avoids her for weeks at a time but has time for his buddies? Wetzler says, if he says something rude to you that angers you, YOU have to not get angry and prove to him that you're on his side. In a nutshell, to make this work, you the reader are expected to do considerably more than your fair share of the relationship work and keep your cool while he irritates you to his heart's content. Often times, that's what women are already trying to do in relationships. Instead of all this "do it yourself" while you cater to his needs while yours go unmet, all this time having the patience of a saint, why not go into counseling? There's a real danger that the woman attempting Wetzler's approach without couple's therapy would eventually explode due of frustration and exacerbate the problems. Wetzler says if you're spending years (!) using his approach, but you find it to be ineffective, your only option might be to leave.
My other problems with the book are:
1. The book is not backed up with research, as all information is derived from his patient's experiences in his clinical practice.
2. About half of it did not ring true to me, but that of course would vary with different readers.
Bottom line - I highly recommend the book for the incredible insight into what PA behavior is, how it operates in a relationship, and how it makes you feel. But Wetzler's approach to dealing with this is a long hard road, and likely not the best path.
104 internautes sur 109 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Like reading a biography of my ex-husband... 2 septembre 1998
Par Un client - Publié sur
I am so grateful to Scott Wetzler for writing this book. It has allowed me to forgive myself for taking the final step and getting a divorce, de-coupling from a situation which only someone with iron-clad self-esteem and unswerving vigilance could survive.
"He doesn't hit you, he doesn't drink, he doesn't run around, and he likes to cook. What more could you want in a husband?" That's what my ex's late mother used to say. But something was definitely wrong with this picture. He wouldn't work. He wouldn't talk. He wouldn't acknowledge responsibility for anything. But he loved therapy. Years and years of couples counseling didn't help. I found it hard to get a handle on what was wrong until reading this book.
Wetzler successfully calls attention to the "sins of omission" as opposed to the "sins of commission" and that truly is the crux of the problem. Also, the slippery logic, the convoluted rationalizations, the comfort of paralysis, the narcissistic view of the universe. I was trying to engage in give-and-take with a passive aggressive man, and that is plain impossible. My hands just kept sticking to the tar baby.
My ex was good-looking, intelligent, and charming. But the solitude, the procrastination, the silent treatment, the inability to hold a job, the supreme sense of entitlement, the refusal to argue or engage in any discussion of issues, blaming me for his failures, using abstinence as a weapon... In ten years of marriage, my husband never uttered my name.
I kept waiting for the waves of remorse to flow over me after I'd made the decision to separate. After all, I was 36 when I married him. Although I should have been wise then, I let me desire for a family and my desire to "help" him blind me to the obvious.
Now I feel as if an albatross has been removed from my neck. I have renewed strength. My self-esteem is returning. I am vigilant as a bulldog because we have two small children. PAs are basically scofflaws who discount all negotiated agreements, don't feel rules apply to them (taxes? child support? are you kidding?), and will manipulate even little children to get their way. I am now prepared, thanks to Dr. Wetzler, to stand my ground.
42 internautes sur 42 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 A true revelation for me... 17 mars 2006
Par C. Steele - Publié sur
This book explained the elements of my 33-year marriage, the heart of our struggles and subsequent divorce. It touched on details of interactions that I did not realize were related. I wish I had read it decades ago. My only criticism is that the examples are mostly from couples who are dating or other short term relationships. I would like to see Mr. Wetzler do a second book dealing with the dynamics of a long term marriage, layered with the stresses of raising children and the family dynamic that results. It would deal with deeper and more complex issues. Still, the concepts presented in this book were so right on, that I was very surprised. It has helped me redefine a lot of elements of my life -- past, present, and future. I have given copies to my adult children and they are appreciating the explanations of mom and dad, as well as cautions for their own lives.
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