We’ve all encountered Passive Aggressive Behaviors and most of us will engage in a bit of it ourselves at times–usually to avoid an uncomfortable argument. Whenever we say ‘Yes’ when we really want to say ‘No’ and then act in an angry manner we are using the avoidance technique that can be classified as passive/aggressive.

Dr. Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, M.D., a psychiatrist at the Mayo Clinic describes Passive Aggressive behavior as a pattern of expressing your negative feelings in an indirect way — instead of openly addressing them. People who are passive-aggressive appear to agree with the requests of others. They may even seem enthusiastic about them. But they don’t perform a requested action on time or in a useful way, and may even work against it. In other words, they use nonverbal behavior to express anger or resentment that they can’t express verbally. An example is showing up very late to a meeting that you didn’t really want to attend and then making up excuses for your lateness that deflect attention from the real reason you were late.

I like to think of Passive Aggressive behaviors as ‘polite hostility’. When a Passive Aggressive person engages in this behavior they say one thing while meaning another, and they ‘kind of’ want you to know what they really mean, but can’t face the potential conflict. So, they leave you there, scratching your head trying to figure out their mixed signals. It can really make you crazy!

As with all personality disorders, Passive Aggressive Behaviors are not black and white or all or nothing, but come in various shades of gray. And, while most people slip in a little avoidance now and then, the Sex Addict eats, lives and breathes avoidance of expressing their true feelings. It’s just a part of their alphabet soup of disorders. It’s sort of abuse on the sly.

Do you recognize any of these behaviors?

Memory Lapses: Sorry, I just forgot __________ (to tell you about the affair, to take out the trash, your birthday, our anniversary, that we planned to go out to dinner tonight–fill in the blank with your own scenario).

Playing The Victim: It’s never their fault. Sex Addicts manage to blame everyone (usually you) and everything for whatever they do. You, or something, caused them to act out because __________ (you don’t want sex often enough, you are a bitch, you don’t understand me, I had a bad childhood, work is too stressful–go ahead, fill in the blank).

Inappropriate Expression Of Anger: Sex Addicts will avoid expressing their anger when it’s appropriate and get angry without reason. Any honest expression of their feelings seems to elude them.

No Follow Through: Sex Addicts make lots of promises, but keep very few. And, if you call them on it, it will suddenly be all your fault. How often have you heard, ‘I never said that, I never agreed to that, You are twisting my words, Now you are putting words in my mouth, Are you trying to trap me?’–add a few of the excuses that you have heard.

Their Actions Speak Louder Than Their Words: This one will really make you crazy. ‘Honey, I really do love you’ (Two hours later he’s in the sack with a hooker) ‘You are so beautiful’ (You wait anxiously in the bedroom, dressed in nothing but a thong, while he desperately seeks the ‘Teen Has First Orgasm’ website that he erased from the computer history) Or, how about ‘I am working so many hours just for you and the kids, I really care about our future (As he slowly spends away all of your child’s college fund on lap dances and massages)

Along with all that, Passive Aggressive Behaviors also include resentment and opposition to the demands of others, feeling cheated or not appreciated, sullenness, irritability, procrastination and a cynical attitude.

Add the fact that many Sex Addicts exhibit anti social behaviors, are borderline or, in some cases downright flaming sociopaths, and you have the recipe for a very difficult relationship. Stopping the acting out behaviors is only the beginning of recovery. I believe that Sexual Addiction and compulsive sexual behaviors can only be controlled if the addict seeks, and continues over the long term, a variety of counseling modalities including psychoanalysis of their childhood issues.

As we progress through our initial discovery and then our own journey back to a healthy emotional and mental place we can often look back and laugh at some of the antics of our Sex Addict spouses and partners. Unfortunately, when we are in the midst of the crisis none of this is funny.

Here’s a few lines from one of my favorite songs by the Fine Young Cannibals:

I can’t stop the way I feel
Things you do don’t seem real

Tell me what you’ve got in mind
‘Cause we’re runnin’ out of time
Won’t you ever set me free
This waiting round is killing me

(S)he drives me crazy
Like no one else
(S)he drives me crazy
I can’t help myself

I can’t get any rest
People say I’m obsessed
Everything you say is lies
But to me there’s no surprise
What I had for you was true
Things go wrong, they always do

(S)he drives me crazy
Like no one else
(S)he drives me crazy
I can’t help myself

I won’t make it on my own
No one likes to be alone