Passive-Aggressive Boyfriend 

Manipulation comes in all shapes and sizes, most often in the form of passive-aggressive behaviour. It comes so subtly you wouldn’t even know what hit you till some time later.

For the uninformed, it’s a term that describes a low blow method of addressing a source of unhappiness without outrightly expressing one’s honest feelings. It’s intended to make you feel bad about something you shouldn’t otherwise feel guilty for. You may feel like your emotions are on a never-ending roller coaster ride. The worst part? When it comes from the people you’re closest to i.e. your boyfriend.

If you think your arm is being proverbially twisted, here are some ways to tell if you’ve unknowingly become someone’s puppet.

1. He’s a fan of guilt-tripping you

Perhaps you’ve made a mistake without knowing. But you’ll know soon enough—when he decides to play this card. He won’t let this one slip, trust me.

What it looks like:

“I’ve been so stressed lately and really needed to spend time out with the boys today. But since you said you needed some company, I’ll just stay at home.”

2. His words are laced with jealous undertones

He might be paranoid or you might have actually checked out a hot waiter at the bar. But can you blame him? Sometimes we can’t help but let our irrational jealousy insecurity get the better of us.

What it looks like:

“Why you must wear so skimpy one? It’s so revealing and everyone’s staring. See, even that hum sup (pervert) waiter can’t help himself.”

3. He’s really bad with compliments, and I mean really bad

When your boyfriend pays you a shady compliment, sometimes it feels as if you got slapped with the back of his hand.

What it looks like:

“Wow, you passed your driving test? I always thought you’d end up failing a few times first. But congratulations baby!”

4. He has a bad case of cold shoulders

Symptoms: side-eyeing, sulking, and silence. If you’re lucky, you might even get an audible “hmph!”

What it looks like:

You forgot that it was his buddy’s birthday yesterday and didn’t turn up at the party. You were out with your family for dinner and suddenly you get 500 missed calls and a bunch of angry “where the hell are you” texts. You try calling him back but he doesn’t answer.

For the next 2 days.

5. He dishes out excuses like second nature

Part and parcel of being in a relationship is giving your partner the benefit of the doubt. Meeting halfway and compromising is a two-way street. So it’s important to realise when you’re the only one that’s doing it.

What it looks like:

You: Babe, can you help my mom run some errands tomorrow? I have a work meeting I can’t cancel.

Him: I can’t, I’ve to go to work too.

You: But you’ve got a flexible work schedule and you don’t need to be in the office.

Him: I work from home what.

Also read:

6 Girls Older Than Their Boyfriends Share Stereotypes & Insecurities They Face In Singapore

6. He’s always the victim

There’s no way to beat this one. Even when you have a legitimate reason for being upset, he always makes himself seem like the one who’s been wronged.

What it looks like:

“I don’t understand why you have to be so emotional just ‘cos I was late. I was looking forward to seeing you but now I can’t deal with this. I’m always the one at fault what.”

7. He outrightly leaves you out of plans

You said something that rubbed him the wrong way so here’s a super salty way of letting you know that he can’t stand being around you until you feel bad and apologise.

What it looks like:

“Oh, I made plans to go out with my parents tonight. They wanted me to ask you along but since you’re always going out with Daniel, it’d be better if you didn’t come this time.”

8. He keeps score of all your arguments

You never knew maths was his thing until you saw his prowess at keeping tabs on the amount of times you pissed him off in 2012 and the exact manner in which you did it.

What it looks like:

You: I never said you looked weird in that hairstyle.

Him: Yes you did. You said it twice in May last year, thrice in September last year and on my brother’s wedding day. And what about that time at Julie’s party and…

You get the point.

9. He loves taking you on an emotional roller coaster ride

His love for adventure knows no bounds. Clearly, your emotions aren’t considered off limits for your adrenaline junkie boyfriend. Taking you on an emotional roller coaster ride just happens to be his poison of choice.

What it looks like:

Him: I love you baby.

You: Love you too.

Him: Why do you have to say it like I forced you to. If you don’t want to say, then don’t say it at all lah.

You: Huh? But I meant it!

10. He makes you feel like you can’t talk about your problems. Or anything, for that matter.

If you don’t feel comfortable enough to talk about your day-to-day concerns with someone, let alone your boyfriend, you should consider keeping a Shih Tzu. Even if he’s genuinely uninterested, he doesn’t need to shut you up with rude remarks. If not, how would you guys discuss bigger issues in the future?

What it looks like:

You: *opens mouth to start talking*

Him: Can you not talk about your work now? I already have enough problems of my own.

You: But I haven’t even said anything yet—

Him: You were going to start talking about Susan and how you can’t stand that she’s throwing all her work on you blah blah blah. I know it all backwards.

You: Actually, I was going to tell you that my aunt passed away today. Her wake is tonight.

Him: See I told you? Another problem.

Respecting Your Partner

A man can be honest about his feelings without being rude or condescending. See: A Boyfriend’s Guide To Decode Girl Logic.

Likewise, passive-aggression isn’t limited to just one gender. Sometimes we girls are masters of it, queens even.

But if he can’t seem to put in half the energy you do into the relationship, evaluate how good a fit you guys are. Be smart to know that you’re worth every effort it takes to make a relationship work. And as cliché as it sounds, it takes two hands to clap.

This article was first published on 13 January 2017 and last updated on 16 May 2024.

Also read: 

10 Singaporean Girls With Army Boyfriends Give Realest Advice For Couples Going Through NS