Patterns of passive as well as aggressive behaviour have huge impacts on the quality of our relationships.

Being passive sometimes seems safe but when you give in to others and abandon your own needs, it creates frustration and resentment that builds up inside. Eventually the relationship may become so painful that you blow up, collapse in depression or run away.

Aggressive behaviours also destroy relationships because they push people away.

An aggressive interpersonal style derives from a strong sense of the way that things should be and how others ought to behave. When others act in a way that violates your sense of what is appropriate or right, you may feel a strong need to punish them.

A second source of aggression in a need to control interpersonal events. Things have to go a certain way and you expect certain outcomes to happen or not happen. So when the other person fails to do what you expect, anger starts to boil up and you apply more pressure to control what happens. At times you may feel so determined that you explode and drive others away.

Recognising if we tend to act in a passive or aggressive style helps us to be more aware of how we may be contributing to difficulties in a relationship.

McKay et al (2007) provide a checklist of statements reflecting passive and aggressive interpersonal styles that clients can use to assess themselves.