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10 Passive Aggressive Things You're Doing And Don't Even Know It

Updated: Nov 3, 2022

(originally published September 26, 2016 on

It takes courage to be an asshole sometimes. Whether saying yes when you mean no, or telling someone they’re a friend when you really mean frenemy, passive aggression is everywhere, and it’s up to us to stop it! Uncomfortable conversations are way better than everyone around you thinking you’re a passive aggressive assbowl.

1. Being Late

Tardy to the party indicates that there is something you could, should or would rather be doing. It tells those who are made to wait that their time is less valuable than yours. Excuses, even legit ones, only make it work. If I’m savvy enough to know that the N train goes local late nights and Wilshire is a nightmare no matter what (NYC and LA, represent!) than you should be, too. Change your watch. Lie to yourself. There is no such thing as “fashionably late.”

2. Insincere Compliments

Friends don’t let friends walk around with food in their teeth, and they don’t say “you look great!” when they don’t mean it. One, it is a form of distancing yourself from your friends by withholding information that might be useful to them. Two, if you go too far, it backfires, as in backhanded compliments, which haven’t been cool since Alicia Silverstone was in high school.

3. Not Admitting When You’re Hungry

If you sprain your ankle on the field, you’re not helping your team by failing to ask for a sub. If there’s something you can do to make yourself more helpful or productive, not doing it is disrespectful to those who are depending on you. “Suffering through it” is more often a way to feel good about yourself while implying that you are better, stronger, braver, bolder than those around you. In other words, hungry, why wait?

4. Hanging Out With People You Don’t Genuinely Like

You’re not doing anyone a favor by gracing them with your presence if you don’t feel genuinely graced by theirs. Sad and selfish people hang out with people they consider their inferiors so they feel more justified about their feelings of being selfish and sad.

5. Not Hanging Out With People Who You Do Genuinely Like

Passive aggressive behavior often stems from a fear of rejection by the ones you love, so why not reject those people first! That way, if someone leaves you, it’s totally cool because you didn’t really like them anyway.

6. Being a Yes Man And Taking Your Sweet Ass Time

Especially when it comes to doing things for others. If you don’t have time to do someone a favor, then do them a favor and don’t tell them that you will. Saying yes and then putting it off doesn’t help either of you.

7. Complaining In General As Opposed to In Specific

I don’t get how some people can log on to social media and make VERY PUBLIC GENERAL COMPLAINTS about people behind their backs in a way that makes it SO CLEAR TO EVERYONE what/who you are actually talking about without having the COURAGE to talk to that person or address that issue directly. We all need to focus on POSITIVITY!!!! right now, not people who use computer to shirk accountability for their feelings and thoughts. Lol Grow up!

8. Forgetting On Purpose

This goes for “getting caught up,” “not seeing this email in my inbox,” and “accidentally double-booking.” We all make mistakes, and we all have to cancel coffee when someone we’d rather spend time with asks us out to lunch. It sucks, but it sucks way less than making the person you’re bailing on have to wait to the last minute to troubleshoot. You don’t have to say why, you just have to say when you’re not going to show up.

9. Messing Up On Purpose

Scenario: you don’t want to do the dishes at home, so you let them pile up, then make an open comment about them in front of your significant other. “Oh my gosh, I just realized how many dishes we have made! Yikes!” Then, if said significant other doesn’t immediately act, you jump in and start to do the job… poorly. Your scrubbing is lackluster, you don’t wash the soap off on purpose, maybe you even break something to get their attention. Then, feeling bad for you, your significant other volunteers to finish the job. If you don’t want to do something, just ask. It’s way less of an asshole move than trying to get them to bail you out.

10. Learned Helplessness

Learned helplessness is the bane of my existence. It is the belief that you are somehow unable to do something and an insistence that you you have no control over the events in your life. These people seek out negative situations, or when they are in them, intentionally make them worse. Guys, if you don’t actively and intentionally change the oil on your car, it is eventually going to break down “for no reason.” There’s a reason.

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