When it comes to romantic relationships, it is not always easy to express your feelings to your partner. It is difficult for some people to say that they are hurt or angry because they don’t want to show weakness. Instead, they choose the “easier” way and they resort to passive-aggressive behaviors.
But research done in this subject finds that this passive aggressive treatment is not only ineffective, but it can actually make the situation worse.
In a study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, the researchers behind the study interviewed 176 couples in order to measure their levels of self-confidence and their feelings of insecurity related to their relationship, as well as the feelings of intimacy and closeness they had with their romantic partners.
The participants were asked to name one thing about themselves that they would like to change and improve and share that thing with their significant other. The whole interaction was videotaped. Then, researchers have gone through all the tapes and analyzed the degree to which the person who shared the information seek support indirectly and what type of response they got from their partner.
They found that people with low self-esteem were more likely to use passive support-seeking styles than others who were sure of themselves. Also, their behavior elicited more negative responses from their partners, things like blame, criticism, and disapproval.
“People with low self-esteem tend to seek support in ways that actually hinder their partner’s ability to provide support, which in turn has detrimental consequences for how support seekers feel about the relationship,” Brian P. Don, one of the study’s authors, told PsyPost.
All in all, indirect seek of response and passive-aggressive behavior won’t lead you anywhere. They won’t give you the kind of support you so desire from your partner.
On the other hand, being open and directly talking with your partner about things will result in a more attentive and caring response from them.