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Abusive Relationships/How to make him aware of his abusive comments.


I am female, currently in a relationship with my male partner. I feel as if he is being emotionally/verbally abusive however, when confronted about this he will say things such as: "I don't even know what passive aggressive means." (even after given the definition.)
Our problems start with when he makes snide comments that are intended to be jokes. I have tried to look up the exact terms for what these types of "jokes" consist of, but while many are similar they do not always match the abuse. Some examples of these abusive comments would be... When I mention to him any male friends of mine, he will make a "joke" of how they will "steal me away." ...If I accomplish something he will always have something to "one-up" what Iv done... The term that I have not been able to identify would be: On occasion we will be playing video games together or be in some situation that will involve trading, Ill trade something to him but then he will try to cause panic in me by telling me that he didn't receive what ever the subject was.  I repeatedly ask him to check again. Only after he makes me doubt myself, feel as if Iv messed something up, he will tell me he was "joking."
I have been able to identify to myself that I am not happy with these actions, but when I try to tell him that his "jokes" are hurtful; he will say something like: "Oh so,should I just never make jokes again? Im not going to change who I am!"  Humor isn't the problem, he just doesn't realize that from my end of the joke, its not funny.
I understand that he has had a history or neglect and abuse from his family and past relationships. However, it is no excuse for denying his his "jokes" to be abusive. How can I inform him of the hurtfulness of his jokes? I only wish that he would learn to filter his comments and think about his actions before he does them.

Dear Amy, you didn't mention his age, which may be a contributing factor in the situation.  However, at the very least you are dealing with a high level of insensitivity.  What you are doing is correct as far as verbalizing the hurtfulness.  Statements don't qualify as jokes if they are not funny and even less so if they are hurtful.

Your assessment of passive-aggressive behavior is correct.   When people use humor to say things or imply things they cannot say directly, it makes communication and problem solving very difficult.  

If this person is not willing to address his hurtful behavior and change it, the relationship will not improve.  You sound like you have been clear about your feelings, which is all you can do.  If he refuses to change, the alternatives are to stay and be hurt or leave.  His unwillingness to address the problem leaves you with few other alternatives.

I wish you the best and if I can be of any further assistance, please contact me again.

Abusive Relationships

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Kriss Mitchell, M.Ed, CRC, CNHP


I can answer questions regarding emotional and physical abuse in dating and marriage situations, however I am unable to give legal advice. Having had firsthand experience in an abusive relationship, I understand the feelings, the questions and the doubts we have as we try to make decisions about how to improve our situations. I am also able to address spiritual concerns regarding staying in or leaving these types of situations.


Having been a victim of emotional abuse for many years and having family members who were in violent abuse situations, I have personal experience on many levels. I have since gone on to become a professional counselor and work with abused women.

American Mental Health Counselors Assn., American Association of Christian Counselors, International Association of Prayer Counselors

I currently maintain a blog at I also have links and currently written articles on my website at You can also follow me on TWITTER @livingwellcc, or on facebook at Living Well Counseling and Consulting. My writings have appeared in The Good News Northwest and the North Idaho Business Journal

Licensed Professional Counselor, Board Certified Professional Christian Counselor, Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, Certified Natural Health Professional

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Board Certified Christian Counselor

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