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Hey all, hope everyone is well :cool:.

Basically, I've been dating a girl for nearly a month now who I like a lot. It's exciting to be with someone again that I feel could go somewhere in the future, as opposed to my more recent "one date and done" scenarios.

My problem is more a personality quirk than anything else I guess you could say, and it is basically that I can be pretty passive aggressive at times. The deeper issue is that I feel (especially in the very new stages of a relationship) like I should avoid fights, issues and conflicts to keep things going smoothly. I was raised with an extremely aggressive and confrontational father, and a very "eager to please" mom who would basically tell us to agree with dad and make him happy. I turned out getting many of my mom's personality traits. I'm an extremely easygoing person, I hate confrontation and all the things that go along with it. This leads to me keeping many of my gripes and annoyances to myself, things that probably would be better off if I just brought them up and dealth with them immediately.

An example is yesterday, we went to a movie. One of my major pet peeves is when I'm out with a girl and she is constantly fiddling with and checking her phone (texting, answering calls, etc.), especially during conversations or movies because it is distracting. About twenty minutes into the movie she had probably already checked her phone and text messaged nearly 5 or 6 times, and it was bugging me. I finally told her that she was driving me crazy with the texts in a kind of half-joking half-serious way, and she was immediately apologetic and said that sometimes she doesn't even realize how annoying it can be because she doesn't even think about it. She was almost embarrassed and asking me if I was mad, and I said not at all, its just a little annoying.

The thing is, I felt good that I told her it bugged me but I also felt really bad immediately afterwards! I kept thinking oh man, what if she thinks I was being an a**hole or that maybe I should tell her she can use her phone if she wants. I have such a need to avoid confrontation and please people that even a necessary but stupid, small thing like this drives me crazy when I have to tell somebody.

What can I do to get better at this? Passive aggressive behavior (from both people) was probably the hugest factor in ruining my last relationship. It led to really good times where everything seemed fine, and then really bad times when we would both unleash everything we had been bottling up for so long during fights and arguments. I'm trying so hard to avoid the same patterns with this new girl, but it's still hard. It's not that she has tons of annoying habits or anything, I just really want to try hard to make things work and I know that being passive isn't going to help matters.
Well, Nick, my upbringing was very much like yours except the opposite, it was my mother who was aggressive and confrontational and my father who was more of a pleaser. As a result me and my siblings are all 'pleasers' - me probably being the least.

I think you can say just about anything if you say it in the right way. And you need to learn to say what you want to say and not feel guilty afterwards. It wasn't like asking her to stop fiddling with her phone was going to hurt her feelings, you weren't making a nasty remark about her appearance or something, she obviously just likes you and doesn't want to 'not please' you but if you said it jokingly then that's fine, you got the message across without sounding grumpy. It's hard for easy going people to get angry because it's not natural and we don't always do it well. But I think it's important to say what you think without letting it all build up inside you and cause a bigger explosion later. Maybe you should get a counsellor or someone to help you with it or do some reading, I'm sure there are some good books around about assertiveness training. Because that's basically what it is - assertiveness training.

Are you really easy going, or have you just been 'trained' to be easy going? We can all learn to be easy going if it's just to keep the peace. Maybe your mother wasn't that easy going - maybe she just didn't want fights in the house all the time, upsetting you kids. My sister's in a relationship like that, where she has to be the pleaser to keep her aggressive, domineering partner from exploding. Often one parent will back down because of the kids.
You're compliant. Someone who doesn't want to "make any waves" or who will apologize even when it wasn't your fault, just so theres no tension.

I'm the same way. As a lot of people on these boards are. I want to change, but it's hard. And honestly I haven't tried hard enough.

All I can say is read plenty of books on the subject, see a counselor and just educate yourself.

And i'm glad you said something to her about how she constantly checks her phone constantly while having a conversation with you or watching a movie. It is extremely annoying, and people really don't understand "cell phone etiquette" which bugs the living hell out of me.

Good luck :angel:
Hey CyberNick: I just wanted to reply to the part about your g/f being standoffish, that IS being passive aggressive too. Not just "kinda".

I think you'd be surprised to find that if you just talk to her about it and tell her that you've noticed that you both do these things, you just might get those lines of communication open. I know the hard part is knowing when to start the conversation, but I think you should approach it when you are both in a good mood and enjoying each other's company. If you wait to bring it up when one or both of you is being moody or standoffish, the both of you will be less receptive.

Some of the best talks my husband and I have are actually in the car, especially if we are going a longer distance. I think we both tend to bring things up in that situation because it also helps to make the trip seem shorter. Plus we're alone and can't be overheard by anyone.

Just thought I'd throw that out there. I also think that getting some books on the subject is a great way to start. Good luck and let us know how you're doing. cmpgirl

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