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Acquaintance With Possible Passive-Aggressive Traits

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I’m acquainted with somebody and not sure what I’m dealing with. He never seems to express anger even when anger is appropriate, and he makes gender-oriented comments towards women that are superficially conversational but otherwise quite demeaning. For example, he’ll bring up a teacher he had in high school (17 yrs ago) and describe her as a “feminazi” because of a comment she made about a gym bag being brought to class being a “guy thing”. This isn’t the only time I’ve heard him use the term, either.

At the same time, I’ve seen him turn to a random woman he’d never met before and (in a conversational tone), explain that the women’s Olympic gold medal hockey team would be beaten by any midget boy’s hockey team (15-17 yr old boys).

He met his now ex-girlfriend when she was dating somebody else, and started what’s been referred to as an “emotional affair” with her before getting her to leave her boyfriend and get with him. Given other pieces of behavior it strikes me as a need for validation (ie: “she left him for me, so I have worth”) and some boundary issues.

All of this, the bizarre grudge over almost two decades, the covertly demeaning comments (always broadly gender-oriented and always delivered in a genial tone), the strange lack of anger even in situations warranting it, seriously raises the hairs on the back of my neck.

Is there any way I can get a better grip on what I’m dealing with, or anything else to look for? There are people in my life I care for that he seems to be zeroing in on, and I’m concerned I’m dealing with a covert emotional abuser.

Acquaintance With Possible Passive-Aggressive Traits

Answered by on -


There was once a mental health disorder called passive aggressive personality disorder contained in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). Individuals who had been diagnosed with this disorder complied with the desires of others but internally felt resentful. In the process of seeming compliant, they could covertly express their hostility or anger. It’s possible that he may be demonstrating some of those traits.

To be able to offer an opinion about what might be wrong with him, I would need more information about his personality and his behavior towards others. You have provided some examples, but it’s not enough for me to provide you with an informed opinion. What we do know about him is that he seems rude, insensitive, opinionated and, perhaps, chauvinistic and narcissistic.

You believe that he is an emotional abuser and you do not seem to like being around him. In that case, it may be best to keep your distance. Establish very clear boundaries and do not spend much time in his presence, if you can help it. It’s important to keep yourself and those around you safe.

If you like to write back and provide more details about this individual, I may be able to provide a more informed opinion on this matter. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

Acquaintance With Possible Passive-Aggressive Traits

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2018). Acquaintance With Possible Passive-Aggressive Traits. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 22 Apr 2014)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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