Women in passive aggressive relationships, or PA women themselves, often develop a vocabulary specific to their situation. This vocabulary, innocent as it appears, can cause numerous communication problems between the PA and the partner trying to handle them.
Fine – An “I give up” way to quickly end an argument. Cliche and used often in sitcoms, it nevertheless occurs in everyday relationships, inhibiting any progress that could have been made through calm discussion. Fine establishes the speaker’s lack of intention to respect the situation and its issues.
Nothing – Nothing never means nothing. A PA may use this to sow doubt or retaliate against her partner, and a partner may use this to retaliate against the PA. In either case, it works against progress the same way “fine” does. In fact, arguments that start with “nothing” usually end in “fine,” proving the uselessness of both words.
Go ahead (and/or see if I care) – The ever-tricky trap. A PA might use this to lure the partner into doing something that the PA can use against them later. If a partner says this to a PA, they are merely reinforcing whatever behavior is going on, even if it gets them out of the current situation.
Be sure to distinguish between “Thanks” and “Thanks a lot.” If you find yourself about to commit to the latter, stop yourself. Sarcasm is the surest way to maim a conversation and infuriate the receiver.
Replying “You’re welcome” to a “Thanks a lot” may result in the last word – “Whatever.”
Whatever – Whatever is very similar to fine, nothing, and go ahead. However, it has the added perk of insulting the receiver. “Whatever,” no matter the true feelings behind it, will usually express the painful weight of an insult or a rejection, a complete shutdown of the other person. Coming from a PA, a single “whatever” is very destructive; coming from the PA’s partner, it is ammunition and a means to placing blame.
Surviving a passive aggressive relationship takes focus and a skillful way with words, because words are the rocks that partners often throw at one another in their anger and frustration. Choosing the right words at the right time is incredibly important in working toward change and mutual respect.