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Ask UfYH: Enough With the Passive-Aggressive Bullshit

Q: So my bedroom is, and has been, ungodly messy my whole life. Whenever I have cleaned my room, someone (usually my mom) always has the comment, “Oh, it’s clean, now only if it’ll stay that way” or something along those lines. IDK why, but this makes me mad beyond life. To the point that even though I want my room to be clean, I don’t want to do it just so I don’t get that comment. Do you have any idea why this is so upsetting to me?

A: Because it’s a shitty thing to say to someone?

Listen, I’m pretty solidly on record as being against passive-aggressive behavior, both because it’s obnoxious and also because it doesn’t work. In your case, for example, you’re actually deciding to not make an effort to accomplish something you want to accomplish out of spite. This is proof enough that those pointed little comments almost always do more harm than good.

So what can you do about it, besides the rarely useful “Just ignore it”? First of all, recognize that you aren’t doing this for your mom or for anyone else. You’re doing it for yourself, because you want your room to be clean. Also, consider having a talk about it. It may help, it may not, but you’ll probably feel better if you can say, “Listen, I know you mean well, but it’s pretty discouraging when you say things like that, and it makes me not want to clean up at all.” Lastly, you can try agreeing. “If only it would stay clean.” “Yeah, that would be great, wouldn’t it?” Tends to throw people right off their passive-aggressive game.

I’m going to tell you not to let it get to you, but I know it will, so just try to remember that you’re the more important person in this equation, so you should be doing what makes you feel good and happy and accomplished, not for the approval or in spite of the disapproval of anyone else.

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