Evolution of the Self

On the paradoxes of personality

Afraid to Rage: The Origins of Passive-Aggressive Behavior

At one pole of communication stands passivity: not speaking out for fear of adverse consequences. At the other end stands aggressiveness: voicing negative sentiments without restraint or regard for their effect on others. The combination of passivity and aggressiveness in a sense gives us the worst of both worlds, Let me explain how. Read More

Thank you for this excellent

Thank you for this excellent blog Dr. Seltzer. I was dealing with passive aggressiveness just before the weekend and, fortunately for me, this blog is here today to inform me about it! I actually wrote about the topic, from a recent experience, on my homepage (of course, citing you as a reference).

I do, however, have a question. Identifying and understanding passive-aggression in ourselves, what I would say is the thesis of this blog, is very useful; but how does one deal with another whom you have identified as being passive-aggressive with you?

Responding to Passive Aggressive Behavior

Check out The Angry Smile: The Psychology of Passive Aggressive Behavior in Families, Schools and Workplaces, 2nd edition, published in December 2008 by Pro-Ed. Gives eight skills for responding to passive aggression as well as step-by-step instruction for how to effectively and "benignly" confront passive aggressive behavior. www.lsci.org

Dealing with Another's Passive-Aggression

Good question. The short answer is "gingerly."

A somewhat longer answer is to deal with the person in a straightforward but non-attacking, non-accusing fashion. P-A's are likely to get very defensive very quickly, and then they won't be listening to you at all but preparing their rebuttal and defending their innocence.

You need to describe to them your own frustrations without also communicating that you see them as intending to hurt you or take advantage of you. Offer feedback, not criticism. And try, even as you're pointing out to them what in their behavior troubles you, to be as empathic toward them as possible (not an easy task). If you try to see things sympathetically from their viewpoint, then (unless they're too "far gone") they may be willing to listen to your own and begin to confront themselves (rather than you).

But try not to set your expectations too high . . . and let me know what happens.

Aggressive Passivity

I think you have just described my life for me. I'm a 53-year-old man who is so "nice" and passive that I feel like the Boy Scout in the Gary Larsen cartoon trying to help an elderly woman across the street against her will. My parents were masters of aggressive behavior thinly veiled behind their own overwhelming need to present a "normal" front to the world. This resulted in their becoming masterful manipulators, always ready to pull the rug out from beneath those close to them at the first opportunity.

Thanks to insightful friends, therapists, and family I've been able to catch myself replaying these manipulative schemes, as well as to observe my brother behaving in exactly the same way.

Thanks for a fine overview.

PA

Yeah, when I read this entry, I felt like you knew me personally too. So how does one go about getting rid of the anxiety and angst associated with requesting personal needs and wants after a childhood steeped in silencing and corporal punishment for voicing dissent? I feel that I've forgiven my mother her abusive and neglectful treatement of me--though she was fundamental harder on me than any of my sibling to the point of quite obvious differential treatment. However, my work life is hampered by an inability to do anything other than be a peopel pleaser. I hope I don't manipulate others, and I think my main outlet of my frustration is creative writing, painting, and songwriting. It helps to personally vent, but it also limits me because I only acknowledge my anger and frustration to myself. Further angering and frustating myself with my inability to express my needs to others. Until recently, I felt that I had effectively managed my passive-aggressive coping mechanism into a more healthy response to problems. But I've begun to notice that the slightest crisis of need--be it in romantic relationships or job related incidences--I revert back to my passivity and ignore my desires for the good of others.

Remember, whenever you

Remember, whenever you ignore or deny your own needs in the service of others, you're giving yourself the message that you are less important or worthy than they are. This can only contribute to a sense of self as inferior and somehow less worthwhile others. Can you respect your own needs and respectfully let others whom you trust know of them--making sure that you speak in terms of requests (rather than demands)? They, then, are free to respond positively to your needs, or not--just as you may need to learn how more freely to deny their needs if that means somehow compromising yourself (in your own eyes). Your parents--or mother--must have done some real damage to your self-esteem. Now it's up to you to repair it by honoring yourself in a way that she (or they) were not capable of. And this has nothing to do with cultivating narcissism and everything to do with learning self-nurturance (to refer to my earlier posting).

Is there some version of

Is there some version of passive-aggressive without the aggressive? I used to be clearly passive aggressive, finally realized that taking my anger out on other people in covert ways was pretty foul, and stopped doing that. But an awful lot of the feelings, anxiety, repressed anger and repressed needs you talk about fit me very well.

Passive - ?

Passive-Aggressive without the Aggressive would simply equal passivity--but that's not what you're describing. If there's still anxiety that you're harboring, or repressed anger, then it seems fairly clear that what needs to happen is that you find a self- and other-respecting way of communicating (unashamedly) your needs, realizing that the other person has the right to choose whether or not they wish to respond positively to your requests. (This is certainly a way of learning who your true friends are.)

If you find that communicating your needs straightforwardly is just too anxiety-inducing, or that anger leaks out every time you try to do so, I'd suggest that you consider some counseling that might help you with this. Being assertive can be forbiddingly difficult if it wasn't rewarded, or was even punished, when you tried doing this as a child.

Thanks for replying. To be

Thanks for replying. To be honest, the idea of even admitting that I have needs, freaks me out, let along examining what they are, let alone expressing them to someone else. I did start seeing a therapist recently, this might help me with ideas on where to take it.

Your article is excellent.

Your article is excellent. Thank you for getting in touch with me. I'm off for a run at the beach next. I will reply to your email today, since I have just come back from a trip to Switzerland!

I wasn't sure.

As a writer, I on a whim, looked up passive-aggressive as part of my research on a character I have been developing. Imagine my surprise when the description seemed to fit my father like an old glove. I had realized years ago that he was abusive, but people look at you like you are insane if you say he was verbally and emotionally abusive because he did not have the guts to be physically abusive.

I also realize that due to a lot of random events in my youth (including being the "forgotten" child for a brother with cancer and living with my father's parents - his mother literally did not allow any emotion other than happiness to be expressed in her presence) that made me very self-reliant at a young age, I have never exactly "fit-in". I have always felt excluded and known people did not like me, even though I have always been super sensitive and wanted nothing more than to make the people around me happy. As I continued to read, I began to wonder if I was simply imagining that the symptoms of passive-aggression completely fit me as well, even though I was the person who forced my father to back off his abusiveness when I was around through confrontation and straight-forward aggression (which almost came to blows shortly before I moved from my parents' home).

Reading your article has shown me that I only stand-up and assert myself in the most dire of sitations. To show anger is a sin - which is exactly what I was told as a child - so if you're going to say something, you might as well be fully aggressive about it. The rest of the time, I am quite simply passive-aggressive. I detest confrontation, have very low self-esteem and I seem to undermine my every move. Now that I have figured out exactly what topics to start with, I feel much more comfortable seeking professional help in learning to break this cycle. Thank you so much for the everyday lay-out of this personality that makes life difficult for everyone around it. Maybe now, with help, I can learn to have a meaningful relationship and one day possibly raise children who will not have to suffer or repeat the cycle.

Thanks so much for your

Thanks so much for your response. And I'm glad that you were able to apply some of my ideas on passive-aggressive behavior to yourself. It sounds as though to adapt to your family you felt obliged to constrain your expression, which of course would eventuate in holding in strong feelings--which themselves would leak out in passive-aggressive ways. I think it's great that you can look at yourself head-on and realize that coping techniques that worked for you in the past don't really fit your situation as an adult. And, yes, in most cases getting the right sort of professional assistance can be invaluable in changing old patterns. It also sounds as though you're beginning to accept your anger in a way that your family simply didn't allow. Now it's mostly a matter of learning how to resolve this past anger so it doesn't end up harming present-day relationships.

Is there hope?

My wonderful boyfriend and I are both in our 60s. I was NEVER allowed to express anger as a child and sometimes have trouble even recognizing it in myself or in others. My boyfriend was neglected as a child. Somehow, we've both managed to achieve quite a bit in life, but enduring intimate relationships have eluded both of us.

I believe that both of us have a great deal of difficulty expressing anger and accepting it when it is directed at us. This state of affairs threatens our otherwise strong, affectionate, companionable relationship. We seem to "melt down" if one of us criticizes (i.e., mentions being hurt by) the other -- something I see as an inevitable aspect of a close relationship. (Our meltdowns are quiet and verbal, but emotionally very taxing to both of us.)

I am in therapy. My boyfriend dropped out of therapy when we got together. Realistically, do you think there's hope for a couple like us?

I would be glib to try to

I would be glib to try to answer your question without a lot more information than what you could provide. But I will say that the chances for the two of you would definitely be improved if he were willing to undergo some joint counseling with you. With the right sort of professional intervention, the two of you might be able to deal much better with feelings of vulnerability (that can result from being criticized)than appears to be the case right now.

Your reply

Thanks so much for your prompt and sensible reply.

Great post, very nicely

Great post, very nicely worded! I'm curious about a few things; how does this idea fit in with recent research which suggests that our parents really don't have a huge influence on personality? I suppose I could be wrong about this, because perhaps this does not count as a personality trait. If that's the case, I apologize.

Sometimes I think, geez do we ever blame our childhood experiences for a lot of things! I'm completely ignorant about the field of psychology, but I always thought that through good role models and friend's influences, we could break those patterns in our late teens and twenties when we become independent adults. Even without psychotherapy. I thought that's what being a responsible adult was all about. Am I wrong?

I don't think the question

I don't think the question is really whether our parents have that much influence on us but whether other influences finally did more than they to shape the person we became. Many times a good support system can counterbalance the deficiencies in our parents' ability to adequately nurture us (but vice versa, as well). Also, it's not really a matter of blaming our childhood experiences as such but recognizing that our personalities get "formed" while we're still quite young, such that things that happen to us early on can have a major impact on how we develop. But, as you perceptively suggest, childhood patterns can in fact be broken under the right circumstances. Thank you for your thoughtful comments.

Oh that is so well said

I have read this with a pounding heart. It comes so close to the reality I live with daily. I am married to this person you describe but didnt realise for 15yrs that it was PA that was behind my frustration, sadness and rage at what was happening in my life; at the disappointments, lack of emotional attachment and insidious instability, inconsistencies and downright cruelty. I have swayed back and forth for years over, "Is it me or is it him?" Am I such a bad person with hopeless coping mechanisms and zero tolerance? And then I found something on PA and like this article It was a big "Aha" moment.This disorder has almost completely destroyed any peace that could have been had in a family as it undermined all trust because of the lying, excuses, irresponsibilty and sabotage. For many years I have tried and tried to solve our problem but the nature of the disorder makes it impossible to fix from my end. Or so it seems.
He has relied on my energy to keep the relationship together while simultaneously sabotageing it and then accusing me of being the problem. I am connected to him for along time because of our children but i feel I just cant cope any more with the pain of it. It literally drives me mad and I have engaged in so many coping methods but I am to the point now that i believe it is impossible to live with.
Have you got suggestions for people in my situation on how to get someone like this to see what they are doing. A method that is humanly possible for a non cousellor/psychologist who is closely realted(as in spouse or family member.
One thing that real bothers me with what you have written is that it is basically caused by parental neglect (esp in his case)and I dont want to feel sympathy or compassion for this. He has done too much damage.

Hard to describe all that

Hard to describe all that you might do in a short reply. But if he's a "tough sell" and you can't begin to get beyond your anger (and maybe even bitterness about the whole protracted situation), then it may not even be possible to productively approach all this with him. He might just be too defensive--and you too burned-out on his p-a behaviors over the years. Besides recommending that you study a book like Living with the P-A Man, I'd suggest you consider whether you can--despite his having so badly hurt you--identify with what it was like for him to grow up neglected (the worst form of abandonment, really). Consider how he developed these p-a defenses in the first place 'cause he couldn't find a better way to protect himself and fend off feelings of (intolerable) vulnerability. If you can compassionately "get"--and communicate to him--why you think he must have felt compelled to behave this way (and that, also, you can understand that his behavior was never consciously intended to make others feel terrrible, just to safeguard his vulnerability), then at least you could help neutralize his defenses and explain to him, as caringly as possible, the exorbitant price of his p-a behaviors to his family. Somehow, you'd need to motivate him to do the deep work necessary to alter these behaviors--but, from the way you speak, it may be too late for you to give him another chance (?)Have you crossed the line, in terms of your being able to forgive (tho' not forget) past hurts--if, that is, he's willing to take ownership for the relational damage he's done? In talking with him, it will be almost impossible for you not to get into blaming him. But if you can stretch your empathy so he can begin to feel his own feelings, then and only then is it possible, I think, that he could perhaps hear you as he never has before. (But, frankly, without therapeutic intervention, i'm not sure there's much reason to be very optimistic here. A lot of this depends on how emotionally committed he is to you.)

I'm in AWE

My jaw is still dropped as I am writing this to you on your post. If I wasn't sane I would have thought I had already posted my feelings on what I am dealing with with my husband. As I was reading I felt everything you were saying. It feels as if you were a fly on the wall in my life. I can't even believe that I have also finally found out what I have been dealing with for all these years with my husband. I feel this PA has really exhausted everything I have in me. I have always been a strong person and never thought I could ever be worn down by something like this. I don't even know where to begin with all of this information flooding into my brain. You are completely right when you say it is an AHA moment. There is so much more I could say but for now I feel like we are on the same page anyway. Good luck in any future decisions... I feel for you from the bottom of my heart.

I hear you

I am in the middle of a divorce from a man who is everything you and the good doctor have described and more. I have learned the hard way that you can't fix your spouse. The endless frustration of trying to get someone to change when they are totally buried in their coping mechanisms does just about make you lose your mind. The person you can change is YOU! If being emotionally attached to your husband to the extent that you are now is eating you alive, then let go a little and back off. If your energy is focused elsewhere and not available to him, he might have to deal with himself instead of siphoning off your tank. Live your own life or make one for yourself as much as you can. I understand- it's like trying to fix a damaged plane while you're in the air. It's too draining. I learned that I was over-functioning which let him underfunction which he really liked because it meant that he didn't need to feel anything for himself. Unless he is violent and might hurt you if you back off and take time to rest from all this, take time to work on being your own friend. I hope things improve for you and your family. I'm sad that my marriage is over. I wish I had made better choices about who I let into my life.

P-A

Thank you for your article. I found it because it seems that everyone around me is expressing rage which they blame on everyone else including me. Closest to me though is my daughter who is now a mother of teens and in her thirties. Both she and I were constant victims of my ex-husband's anger and abuse. When we divorced (when she was 10) her defenses were built towards anyone in authority and me. It manifested itself in behaviors such as bed-wetting, stealing, lying and blatant rebelion in school and at home. I handled her agressiveness the only ways I knew - spankings, taking away privileges, extra chores and not giving attention to her unacceptable behavior hoping to defuse it. This was viewed by her as mistreatment and obvious favoritism towards her siblings. This has carried over into adulthood. Until her recent job, she has not been able to keep a job because of insubordination. I know that she realizes her self-sabotage but does not seem to know how to stop it.

I understand the hardships of raising children alone so I have tried to assist her with some of the children's activities. I can never do enough to please her even though most of her hardships were caused by her refusal to adhere to counsel. She now demonstrates to her children that they are deprived of some things because others won't pay for it.

Her siblings and I have for years tried to handle this situation gingerly, understanding some of the causes of her discontentment, until recently. Family gatherings have become anxious times for me because I don't know when something is going to break out. I know she loves me but at the same time I believe that she hates me. The suggestion of professional help only invokes more anger. What do I do?

No simple answer to what

No simple answer to what you're describing. But your comment has a very blaming tone to it, which makes me think that over the years your daughter's behavior has seemed so exaggerated or offensive that whatever compassion you might otherwise have had for her and her situation has pretty much burned out. Any attempt to repair your relationship with her--or her relationship with her sibs--would necessitate your suspending all judgment of her and eliciting (not to judge but to understand) her chronic resentments about her experience growing up with (presumably) a violent, abusive father. If you and your other children are able to elicit from her, and listen to, her expression of anger, injustice, indignity, or whatever--and listen not with the motive to judge or correct her (even though you may perceive her as distorting the way things really were),and if also, you can VALIDATE her experience as it was for HER--then just maybe she can begin to let go of some of her longstanding animosities (and you can all have a "good cry" together). After all, almost all anger is a defense against underlying hurts. If, as I suspect may be the case, her anger (and emotional volatility?) are now deeply embedded in her personality, then the family's collective empathy finally won't have much impact on her. But at least you'll all know that you gave it your best shot. And at this point, all you can do is cultivate greater emotional distance from her, so that her outbursts don't continue to throw everything into disarray. Finally, you might just want to look up Borderline Personality Disorder and see whether it in any way describes the behavior that is so disturbing to you.

Romantic Relationship w/Passive Aggressive Man

I recently ended a relationship with someone I now believe is passive aggressive. His parents were a major factor in our relationship. They disapproved of me because I am black (they are white). Though my boyfriend told me that he didn’t need his parents’ approval, he behaved as if he did. He talked about the issue constantly and seemed to resent me for placing strain on his relationship with his parents. The other day he finally admitted that he did need his parents’ approval but denied that he was resentful of me for creating strain. Anyway, I am very hurt, as I could have ended the relationship several months ago, but he denied needing his parents’ approval in the past.
In addition to the parental issue, he slighted me throughout our relationship. He would always distance himself from me during events and not introduce me as his girlfriend to women and men, alike. I’ve asked him if he was ashamed because I am black, but he denies this. I don’t know why he behaved like this in public, specifically during church events. If it wasn’t because I was black, all I can think of is that he was trying to appear as if he were single. At times it seemed as if he had inappropriate interactions with other women, but I didn’t want to believe this. He seemed so nice and all of these interactions were happening during church. Yet, these extended conversations with women bothered me. He has confessed to cheating in the past, but I didn’t want to think he could still be engaging in such behavior because when he cheated before he had fallen away from the church. Now, I believe he was flirting with women right in front of me.
In addition to cheating in one relationship, he had another relationship in which he would break up with his girlfriend and then find a rebound girl only to return to his girlfriend again. I feel that he now wants me to be in this situation. I recently aired a bunch of grievances to him and he said that he felt ambivalent about being in a relationship with me. Now, he’s saying that he wants me in his life, that we should talk once in a while and that he needs a month or two to get closer to God and find balance in his life. I didn’t fall for it. I told him that it was best if he were out of my life completely. Now, I feel that I’ve been devalued. As soon as I told him how badly he’s hurt me, he wanted out. He also said that he didn’t feel “in love” and hadn’t felt that way in a couple of months. This is a man who has admitted not being able to last in a relationship for longer than a year without breaking up. Should I take it personally that he doesn’t feel “in love?” I asked him what being “in love” means to him, and he said “butterflies.” Well, I haven’t had butterflies for him since the beginning of our relationship. I know he has a history of not being able to commit, but I still feel bad, as if I could have done something to maintain his feelings of “love.” Should I feel this way or do passive aggressive men simply devalue women over time? I was independent during my relationship with him. I maintained friendships with other people, started new friendships and branched out in my career, so I don't think I was a clingy, desperate woman. Yet, he was bored with me.

By your description at

By your description at least, he really seems quite disturbed. And given his history, there's not much reason to take what happened to you personally. You need to question, however, why you stayed in the relationship as long as you did, especially if he repeatedly slighted you. The tone and substance of your comment suggests that you may have some unresolved issues of your own, which, potentially, could be valuable for you to explore. Why, for instance, were you attracted to such an individual?

Why I Stayed with PA So Long

I don't know if I'm supposed to reply, but since no one else has posed a question, I will respond to your question. I believe that I stayed with him because I was putting faith in a fairy tale of having a Christian home and marriage with him. I believe that I am usually a pretty perceptive judge of character, but I thought that he was a genuinely good person. I would confront him with issues, and he would behave as if we were having honest conversations. For example, when I asked why he seemed to be dodging me at a particular church event, he said that he didn't know how to be a boyfriend in a church setting. When I asked why he just introduced me as "This is NK" rather than "This is my girlfreind NK," he discussed taking a gender studies class that showed such titles were meant to treat people like possessions. He always seemed to have a reasonable explanation even if it didn't seem quite right or contradictory. Plus, I see now that he prepped me for his bad behavior by saying things like how anything worth its salt requires struggle. He also told me that he has "low empathy." So, when he did something that seemed inconsiderate, I never thought that he meant to be malicious. I thought that he didn't really know better. I even wondered if he had Asperger's Syndrome. That is what's heartbreaking for me now, the idea that he meant to hurt me. I feel so betrayed that I am having basic difficulty performing at work and going about my day. Yes, I have personal issues of my own. I was sexually abused as a young child and felt that my mother was incredibly insensitive about the abuse, as she behaved kindly towards my abuser after she learned that I had been abused. In my teen years my mother forced me to go to my abuser's wedding. I have been in counseling about this. I have read self-help books. I even stopped communicating with my mother for a time. I believe that I have some level of self-esteem, though clearly not enough. Now, I wonder if I am destined to play out this cycle of allowing uncaring people into my life forever. I have tried in earnest to heal. Now, I feel as I have failed once again. I am at the point of losing all hope.
Lastly, as crazy as it seems, I believe my boyfriend admitted indirectly to being jealous of me because I'm black. He told me a few days ago that he always thought that I was beautiful, which he struggled with because he didn't see that beauty in himself. He said that he felt out of his skin as a teacher in a mostly black and Latino school. Now, I'm wondering if he got pleasure from setting me up in a situation where his parents would reject me because of the color of my skin because he felt rejected in his work environment. Thanks for your time, Dr. Seltzer.

Letting Go of a PA man

This blog and others like it have been extremely helpful in understanding someone who I thought was very close to me. He had an extreme fear of dependancy and intimacy. Until I started reading about passive aggression there was a huge part of our relationship I did not understand. His behavior made us both miserable. He always felt under-appreciated, but rarely discussed his anger. Rather he would just not speak to me or "forget" to be there when I needed him, which left me confused and furious. Then he would feel "beat down" if I expressed how this behavior hurt me, and would not speak to me at all. Almost as great as his fear of being dependant on me, was his fear that I might depend on him. Needless to say, that makes a close relationship impossible. I realize now that it isn't my fault, and that I never really knew him when we were together. He is a typical "yes" man at work, and will spend time reading about how to improve superficial work relationships, but his whole life has been about avoiding any real intimacy. He has only had one other year long relationship And that was 13 years ago, has no children, no pets,and cannot communicate with his family or friends. He freely admitted being selfish, but didn't change that behavior. He said I was the "only one" who he was ever close to, so I felt compelled to keep trying. He seemed so sorry and would literally cry with remorse but would just keep doing the same things. The traits he exhibited were weakness, selfishness, and deceptiveness, so I have to look at why I would want to make an effort with someone who has the traits I despise the most in a person and would never accept in myself. I am not as angry now (although I clearly still have some anger), I pity him. He is not willing to change, so sadly, he is repeating the same cycle of behavior and living a rather isolated existence, but with the help of this blog (and others) I have stopped blaming myself. At least one of us can be happy. Maybe one day he will address his problems, but I have let go of the need to "save" him and started living my own life. Thank you.

I am now dating someone new

I am now dating someone new and he is wonderful. My question is how do I know early on if he is passive aggressive? I dated someone PA for awhile and honestly thought he was just wonderfully accomodating. He did me all kinds of wonderful favors, ran errands, you name it. Then he would forget to call or be excessively late when it was important. I believed him when he said he did not mean to do these things, and the waiting for him to get back to this sweet guy I fell in love with wasted a lot of time and caused me a lot of pain. I realize now that he likely did not want to agree with me all of the time (I have a pretty forceful personality) and likely resented a lot of things, which explains the acting out he did. Problem is, now that I have someone new, every time he agrees with me or takes his coffee like I do, I wonder if he is secretly raging inside and will just start being a jerk a few months from now. How can I tell?

Can you even be sure that

Can you even be sure that your former love was passive-aggressive? He might have been but it's also possible that he had intimacy or commitment problems, and this is what he was acting out through his devious behaviors. It's possible that he couldn't tell you directly about the inner conflicts he was having about his relationship with you. As I've said elsewhere, what isn't communicated directly will be acted out behaviorally. As regards your latest boyfriend, it's really a matter of looking for signs that he's not being straightforward with you. The important thing is that if you suspect he's being less than honest with you, you "call" him on it and see whether he's able or willing to level with you. Another thing you might do is ask him about his upbringing--and whether he might have some unresolved issues with his parents (or one of them). Chances are that if he's got some unresolved anger toward them, he'll at some point re-direct some of that anger toward you--and possible in passive-aggressive ways. Finally, the more you read about passive-aggression, the more likely you'll be able to recognize it, if and when it appears before you. . . .

Dr. Seltzer, I definitely

Dr. Seltzer,
I definitely think that my ex had intimacy issues, but doesn't that often go hand-in-hand with passive aggression? Everything I have read about PA fits him, right down to the very angry father that the whole family tiptoes around.
The new man is wonderful, I really don't feel like he is being dishonest with me. I am just afraid that I won't notice the signs. Likely I am just gun shy, but I wish they all came with warning tags...
I don't think I know anyone that doesn't have some form of childhood pain or resentment of their parents in one form or another. Looking back, I should have seen that my ex blamed his father for everything and couldn't bring himself to say one negative word about his mother's part in things. Other than "I can't believe she stays with him". Maybe he had anger towards women that came out in other ways?
I guess with the new guy I should see how he talks about his mother and if he can't be real with his feelings about her (both good ones and bad ones)he will likely not be able to be direct about his feelings for me.
Falling in love is scary. Sometimes it is like you really don't have a choice, and nothing will be clear until after. One thing is for sure, I don't want to mess this up with baggage from the past.
Thanks for being more therapeutic than I ever thought a blog could be :)

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Leon F. Seltzer, Ph.D., who holds doctorates in English and Psychology, is a clinical psychologist and author of Paradoxical Strategies in Psychotherapy.

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