LIFESTYLE, Mental Health

Setting Boundaries and Managing Passive Aggressive Behavior

When you’re in a toxic friendship it can sometimes feel like tiptoeing through a minefield. One day you and your friends are having dinner or going for a drink and everything is great. The next day your “friend” decides to showcase their passive-aggressive side and everything feels awful. It took me a long time to learn how to deal with these type of toxic friendships and it started with setting boundaries. 

Setting boundaries isn’t about being mean; it’s about self-preservation. Your time and energy are precious commodities, and you have every right to protect them.

Clearly communicate things like your limits and stand up for yourself when necessary. Teach people how to treat you. Be direct, firm, and unapologetic. If your friend can’t respect that, it’s a red flag. Remember, “A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out” (Walter Winchell). If they start throwing tantrums because you won’t drop everything to cater to their whims, maybe it’s time to reevaluate the friendship.

Whenever I encounter passive-aggressive behavior I feel like I’m in a soap opera- more specifically, “All My Children.” Entire conversations are full of snide comments, backhanded compliments, and the silent treatment, all classic moves in the passive-aggressive playbook. It’s exhausting.

When faced with this nonsense, don’t play their game. Address the behavior head-on. Ask direct questions like, “Is there something you want to talk about?” This forces them to confront their behavior rather than hide behind their veiled insults. If they deny or deflect, it’s a sign that mature conversation isn’t their forte.

Also, take note: “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.'” (C.S. Lewis). Real friends don’t communicate through sarcasm and snark; they talk openly and honestly.

Sometimes, no matter how many boundaries you set or passive-aggressive comments you dodge, a friendship is just toxic. These relationships drain your energy, self-esteem, and happiness. It’s like trying to water a dead plant; no matter how much effort you put in, it remains lifeless. I’m so serious about that plant part. I’ve lost two plants in the past year and I’m too afraid to try again because I just don’t get what I did wrong. But I digress…

The first step in surviving a toxic friendship is acknowledging the problem. Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt, folks. Once you recognize the toxicity, distance yourself. Gradually reduce contact and prioritize relationships that uplift you.

If the toxic friend confronts you, be honest but kind. Explain that you need space to focus on your well-being. They might react with anger or more passive-aggressiveness, but stick to your guns. Your mental health is more important than their feelings.

Setting boundaries, dodging passive-aggressive drama, and surviving toxic friendships isn’t easy. It requires courage, self-respect, and a strong sense of humor to keep your sanity intact. Remember, real friendships are built on mutual respect, understanding, and support.

In the immortal words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The only way to have a friend is to be one.” Cherish the friends who respect your boundaries, communicate openly, and bring joy into your life. As for the others? Well, sometimes the best thing you can do is politely show them the exit door.

So, go ahead and reclaim your peace of mind. Set those boundaries, call out the drama, and escape the toxicity. Because you deserve friendships that are as fabulous as you are.

Listen to Episode 2 of the Mull and Wine Podcast “Ignoring Boundaries and Defiant Behavior