Passive aggressive/conflict dodger


 

I like to think I know myself fairly well now.  I’m naturally more of a thinker than a doer, and thinking leaves plenty of time to contemplate one’s positive and negative qualities.  I should add the caveat that this self-awareness is not to be trusted in any of the extreme mood states.  Whatever you think about yourself in an extreme mood is likely to be, at best, a caricature of a personality trait, blown up out of proportion, like

Jessica Rabbit’s tits.

That may have been a little distracting, but if we can move away from Jess’s boobs, I was just going to say something about passive aggressiveness.

I’m passive aggressive sometimes.  I veer that way on the scale anyway.  It depends on the person, the situation and all that hula, but, in general, I have to admit I don’t take the bull by the horns if someone has upset me.

I’m annoyed/upset/hurt by a friend at the moment.  I am feeling quite irritated by him because he’s one of those people who will give you a big speech about how they’ll always be there for you if you ever need them, how they consider you one of their best friends and stuff like that.

Anyway, that’s only tangentially connected to why I’m upset with my friend.  It’s mainly that he has been out of contact, I’ve done all the running lately in terms of sending texts etc.  He just hasn’t been a very good friend lately, in my opinion. 

I could have used a chat the other day and tried to let him know that I wasn’t doing so good and he was more interested in watching the sport.  He’s been really good in the past, and it’s a two-way street, because I’ve also gone out of my way to help him when he’s not been on top form.  Lately, he’s just been a bit of a crap mate really.  That’s how I’m feeling.  I think it’s exacerbated by the previous declarations of unstinting support “whenever you need a friend”, and it’s all such bullshit in the cold light of lack of follow through.

The passive aggressiveness comes in because I haven’t had this out with him.  I’ve just seethed quietly.  I have now started a text-silence (I know, so mature), where before I was trying to keep the communication up. 

I had a scenario a few years ago with a female friend, which highlighted again my dislike for confrontations.  I felt she’d behaved disrespectfully to some of my friends on a night out – not a huge deal, but enough for me to be annoyed.  At the time I was trying out some assertiveness that I’d learned in an assertiveness group.  I tried, as diplomatically as I knew how, to express my disappointment and it kind of blew up in my face. 

Her response was really defensive.  I’d hoped I hadn’t sounded attacking, and I don’t think I did, but I learned a couple of things. 

1.) Never use the text format to have a serious conversation.

2.) I’m awful with conflict.  I hate the whole thing – the initial “I’m not happy with…” convo and the ramifications (in this case a cooling off of our friendship that lasted several months).

I also realise that I was in my rights to complain about the way she had behaved, which is all the rage in assertiveness training.  The thing is though, I hurt myself more in the long run.  I was anxious as hell over it all for weeks and I lost a friendship I couldn’t really afford to lose at the time.

Now we’re still good friends: after drifting apart we drifted back together over time.  I do understand the need to get grievances in the open and I would prefer to be the sort of person who does that.  My take on it is, it depends on my life situation.  If I am feeling good in myself, and not reliant on one or two individuals for my social life, then the risk in asserting myself is worth it.  If not, well, it’s a risky strategy.

Right now, I’m a conflict dodger.

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