Sometimes, questions can be answered simply with a "yes" or a "no." But sometimes nothing is quite plain when it comes to deciphering what your girlfriend really means.
Welcome to the mysterious world of passive-aggressive behaviors.
"They are subtle actions of opposition or hostility,” explains Bianca Isabel Locsin, MA RP, founding partner of and consultant at Better Steps Psychology, Inc. "They are indirect expressions of irritation, anger, or hatred towards another person that are mostly not harmful."
Locsin adds, "One reason for adopting a passive-aggressive behavior toward others is when a person feels they need to be understood without having to be verbally direct. This, of course, requires a degree of closeness or intimacy between two people for one or both to expect that they can be understood without needing to say everything out loud. That's why this behavior is common in one or both romantic partners."
Want to know if your girlfriend is the passive-aggressive type? Watch out for reactions like changing the subject, agreeing but showing a facial expression that says otherwise, or total silence during conversations, particularly involving a subject she doesn't like or something she expects you know the answer to already (and you usually don’t have a clue).
"Other common ways are rolling one's eyes, pagpaparinig, giving vague answers or questions that leave a lot of room for making mistakes, using sarcastic language, [and] deliberately opening a message and not replying aka being seenzoned," Bianca adds.
Some women would even go as far as shopping or withholding sexual intimacy as a form of revenge when you did something she didn’t like.
Of course, it’s important to note that being passive-aggressive doesn't make your girlfriend mentally ill. Rather, it’s just a behavior some people may exhibit as a result of their lack of self-confidence and their pessimistic views about the future.
Now, there are ways to single out a passive-aggressive behavior and effectively deal with it. Here are a few common scenarios that you could encounter every day (especially during that time of the month), the probable reason behind your girlfriend’s reaction in each one, and what you can do about it:
Scenario #1: You mentioned an ex-girlfriend.
Passive-Aggressive GF Reaction: *changes the subject*
Meaning: Your current beautiful girlfriend who is much prettier and hotter than your ex-girlfriend does not have the time to talk about the past. She has gotten over her insecurities, and she doesn't care about what was anymore. How dare you bring up old wounds? Do good by her and never repeat the same mistake again.
Scenario #2: You're going out with your friends; alcohol consumption is 100 percent likely.
Passive-Aggressive GF Reaction: 'Ikaw bahala.'
Meaning: Either your girlfriend knows that one (or a few) of your friends is up to no good whenever drinking is involved, or she was expecting you to spend time with her during the supposed date of your lakad. Reassure her that you'll be on your best behavior, or find some way to make it up to her soon (read: AS SOON AS POSSIBLE).
Scenario #3: You ask her where or what she wants to eat.
Passive-Aggressive GF Reaction: 'Ewan—kahit ano.'
Meaning: Her hormones might be acting up and confusing the part of the brain that controls her cravings once again. Step one, be patient—your hotheadedness will make her explode. Step two, present her with foolproof choices, such as her comfort food or her faves. "Gusto mo ba Chicken Joy with spaghetti or bibimbap at ice cream sandwich" If she's PMS-ing, you might have to come up with a dozen choices—trust us, she'll eventually pick one (or three). If all else fails, go back to step one.
Scenario #4: You insist you're right.
Passive-Aggressive GF Reaction: *sighs* 'OK.'
Meaning: You are wrong. There's a 50-50 chance you're being stupid and arrogant (or she's being defiant and bratty). There's also a chance she just wanted to end the argument. Call for a ceasefire, and calmly resume your discussions after a break (maybe grab a bite 'cause you might just be hangry). Think things through before saying anything you'll regret.
Scenario #5: You made an unimaginably stupid purchase or decision.
Passive-Aggressive GF Reaction: *eye roll*
Meaning: "You really should've known better. What in the world were you thinking?!? I thought we were saving up for that trip, huh? I thought you knew better than this. HAY NAKO." Say sorry, and repent.
Scenario #6: You accidentally called her fat.
Passive-Aggressive GF Reaction: (silence)
Meaning: In her head, she's going from ghetto mad ("Oh. No. You. Didn't!!") to teenage girl weepy (thinking about all the boys and titas who called her chubby and made her insecure about her body). She is beyond words. When she calms down (aka when she isn't ice-cold ignoring you anymore), beg for forgiveness, and prepare to pull out all the stops to make up for the major boo-boo. Wish for luck (you’re going to need it.)
And here's some last very important piece of advice for men who have passive-aggressive girlfriends from Locsin: "Be a better listener. It's not all in the words. It's how they're being said. It can also be the use of certain words that you know she doesn't use regularly when she's in a positive mood [and] certain non-verbal sounds that will clue you in [on] her current state of mind. So pay more attention—both when she's happy or content and when she's obviously angry or argumentative. Learn to read body language." We all know how important that life skill is.
Bianca Isabel Locsin, MA RP is the Founding Partner of and a Consultant at Better Steps Psychology, Inc. Their office is located in Unit 305 Fortune Building, 144 Pasig Blvd, Pasig City. Reach them via Facebook for inquiries.