Dealing with a Passive Partner

Dealing with a Passive Partner

February 09 2024 TalktoAngel 0 comments 760 Views

A passive partner may be a lovely, interesting individual; however, the problem comes when you feel you're always taking on the burden when it comes to making decisions or initiating the discussion. It might feel like playing tug-of-war with the other person never giving up.

Passivity is situated at the "flight" part of the "fight or flight" stress-coping spectrum. And when stress levels rise typically, so does the sensitivity. As with other aspects of our personality, it all begins in our early years, which are centered on anxiety.

What is passivity in romantic relationships?

The word "passivity" means that you do not engage in relationships, leaving things to the person you are with. This could include making choices, plans, and ideas, as well as topics of conversation. You don't follow the leader, but you remain the one who follows.

When it comes to relationships, the act of avoiding intimacy is detrimental. If you're not stepping into the spotlight in relationships, you're not communicating who you are. You reflect that person. The other person is unable to communicate with you if your identity is so obscure that they're not aware of what it is. Passivity can result in some anger. Whatever nice and amiable you may appear, the reality is that you're merely not doing enough in your relationship, and leaving everything things to your partner and even the emotional part. It can begin to seem like a burden on them. As they get older, their anger will increase.

Underlying reasons for passivity in relationship

  • Generalized passivity. If you grew up in a turbulent, abusive environment, where other people had the upper hand on aggression and anger, "going along with" is logical and it is the main method to deal with anxiety and relationships. 
  • Problems with changes. Another method of dealing with the chaos of life is to be in control not of other people but rather of the routines, and running of your own life. For example: Sam has in his mind on Monday morning what he's planning to do on the weekend, and he won't tell his wife what he's planning to do. However, his wife tells him that this Friday she's thinking about inviting her mother to lunch on Saturday. He feels rattled. Although some people become angry and frustrated, Sam just collapses and adopts that "whatever" approach.
  • I'm not enough. This is primarily about self-esteem issues. I see myself as foolish, and think that others are more intelligent and superior. I am unable to trust my judgment and therefore look at bigger stronger, more powerful people. While I might be fine on my own in relationships, I'm hesitant, fearful, and just fall apart.
  • Perfectionism. Another variation of control that one learns to operate is through the black/white cycle and managing by doing what is right. When doing what is right is a good thing in good times, it can become too much under stress. As with the transitions people are prone to, they also get sucked into a state of being inactive.
  • Problems with emotions. Some people are comfortable being assertive and speaking up for what they want in the time they have to prepare and their stress levels are at a minimum. However, when they are confronted with intense emotions - a furious boss, or a tense partner - they aren't able to handle or be assertive, whether because of fear of confrontation or just feeling overwhelmed emotionally. As with the other types that collapse, they surrender.

What can I do to deal with passivity in my relationships?

  • Send a heads-up. For those who are easily upset by sudden changes and transitions, give them a heads-up. For example: Sam's wife should inform him on Tuesday that she might be thinking about her mom attending dinner with her on the weekend. Although it's not entirely pleasant it gives Sam the chance to reflect and adjust to think about what he would like instead of collapsing. It's not about mothers, it's about adapting to the changing world.

 

  • Make your partner the boss. Rewiring the brain and developing skills can be achieved by being active rather than passively reactive. One method to achieve it is by asking your spouse to take charge of something -- a forthcoming holiday, or a meal for your friends. Make sure you give them enough notice. Let them know they are free to do what they like. Be relaxed and low-key. Try to make it an invitation that is un-pressured, not a demand.

 

  • Talk about apathy. If you've been carrying the burden of decisions and getting frustrated, bring it out on the table. It's not about you having to carry the burden and being angry, but rather about your partner's complacency, instead, it's about the passiveness of your partner's apparent inability to express their opinions and to say what they would like to hear. Consider appreciating each other's suggestions, insights, and inputs. Discuss if you can develop a strategy to alter the dynamics.

 

  • Seek help from a couple of counselling sessions. For some dealing with passivity can be a waste of time. Instead, you can try Couple Counselling so that you are on a level playing field around who is having the problem and work as a group to resolve them.

The relationship that is characterized by passiveness has deep roots. It could result from parental figures who are too strict or who adored you but did not allow you to make mistakes. A parent who loved you when you did a good job instilled in you the idea that you're only valuable if you're pleasing others, which is also known as co-dependency. Therefore, just deciding to become more involved in your relationships will not work. For real change, you must have assistance. A Couple Counsellor, life coach, psychologist, or Online Counsellor can provide a secure place for us to take an honest look at our own lives. They can help you to see different perspectives and develop new ways of living that strengthen your relationships.

Contribution by: Dr (Prof) R K SuriBest Clinical Psychologist & Life Coach & Mr. Utkarsh YadavCounselling Psychologist



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