How frustration of human needs is located at the root of passive aggression?
Let’s recover a bit of human needs theory:
We all human beings have vital needs that demand the cooperation of others to satisfy. Without others help we cannot survive, develop and grow into independent adults.
Through the vehicle of necessary interpersonal relationships, these human needs are expressed and satisfied. Of course, sex and love are important part of those needs. In this graphic you can see the needs and how they build up on each other…
Humans at birth have a family, so we can both survive childhood and feel important and loved by parents and relatives. This is the basic attitude necessary to grow up feeling loved and connected with others later.
Why the connection with others, including future sexual companions, is important? because growth as an adult person needs the interchange of actions and messages between people to cover all the basic needs.
In this way, consensual sex is an agreement by which both sides cooperate in getting their connection needs solved, and marriage becomes an alliance between two people who agree to support each other in the fulfillment of these basic needs, so they can develop completely into adulthood.
Human Needs Chart
In other words, we can understand different levels of human needs describing different human situations like the following ones:
- We need many social connections, (variety) some of which are closer than others. We need to matter to others, be approved by and be held in high esteem by others.
- We need one significant, permanent and loving partner. If we do not find one, we will have a deep craving and sense of something missing – even if we banish these feelings from our consciousness and refuse to acknowledge them – until we find such a partner.
For many people, some bonding needs are going unmet for long time. This state of chronically unmet bonding needs can feel “normal,” or an acceptable fact of life… He or she may rationalize it as an aversion to sex, ineptitude at or disinterest in relationships. In other words, he or she experiences relationship pain but accepting somehow the responsibility for this frustration.
Looking at the basic frustration of connection skills that some men suffer, this is a skill that needs to be learned along life. All boys need both to learn how to connect with other men, (the world of male companionship), and the very different sphere of learning how to connect with women, using relational skills to feel valued and appreciated.
In short, when this process is not done properly, he ends up seeing himself as rejected and isolated in a world where everybody else is connected…Passive aggression is the way of telling others that this person suffers due to the inability to connect, and the way of compensating is getting even with the people assumed to be isolating him.
Isolated and frustrated young men are not a new phenomenon; what is new is the actual connection with deep wishes for “retribution” against their perceived isolation….we live in such an interconnected world that deprivation of basic human needs (as sexual needs) are felt as a global attack against oneself. The power of unmet human needs is real here.
What can be done to prevent this kind of behavior?
- We need to be sure that we build emotional connections; that we care for each other in such a way we teach young people not only how to man a computer game but also how to express and share basic human needs language. We need to avoid bullying and all other ways of rejecting and ostracizing young people.
- We need to teach that hungers of the heart for love and connection are to be acknowledged and solved in everyday life; that we can’t ignore some kids starvation from connection because it will affect others that are not directly responsible for this starvation in the future.
- In a sense, we all have to take care of teaching our youngsters how to connect and relate to each other in an appreciative way, in such a way we nurture each other’s sense of self.
When the frustration of human needs for affection is frustrated in a permanent way, we have husbands doing passive aggression as their way to connect. Now, the challenge is on the wife’s shoulders. She needs to learn how to identify, understand and manage passive aggression in her home. At the same time, she has to balance her own personal development while compensating the chronic lack of emotional support of her partner.
Nora Femenia, Ph.D. is the author of the book The Art of Living with a Passive Aggressive Husband, a field guide for women that have to deal with passive aggression from their partners.