Rules for Passive Aggressive Texting


Passive aggressive behavior. It’s been in practice for a long time and social media has only made this plague worse (or caused us to notice and call it out more, either way). In the dating world, being passive aggressive is, in a word, obnoxious.

Awhile back, I had decided an online suitor was actually suitable enough to exchange numbers. We were texting back-and-forth in the “get to know you” stage before committing to a first date when I discovered that this man would never take charge. How did I know?

He ended every single text with an ellipsis (…).

I’m not going to waste your time with a grammar lesson on what this particular punctuation is actually for, but I will take a moment to explain how it comes across in a text. When everything is ended with “…” I assume you are trailing off in thought and leaving it open for someone else to finish it.

Here’s some examples (now paraphrased because I delete texts, unlike most other people in the smartphone world):

“That’s cool you’re visiting your mom…”

“I play guitar…”

“The Great Gatsby is playing…”

“There’s a good restaurant near me…”

Reading each of these texts, I had to wonder what I was supposed to do with the open-ended statements. Does he want to meet my mom? Am I supposed to ask him to play me a song? Was there a question coming at the end of the others and he got interrupted?

What I took from the misused punctuation, was this was a clearly passive aggressive man. It was almost like he was willing to put himself out there just enough, but didn’t want to risk stepping out on a potentially dangerous limb. After a couple days of the obnoxious punctuation use (aka passive aggressive statements), we even got close to scheduling a date.

Here’s the problem. He never confirmed a time, location, or activity. Everything was left open-ended. In the meantime, a friend had offered up tangible details for going out (which I jumped on because I love me some good detail planning!).

In the end, I called him out for never actually making plans and pointed out that he never once asked me a question. I cited his ellipsis use as the least favorable way to get a clear answer from someone. Oddly enough, he didn’t seem all that surprised that none of this panned out. Passive aggressive behavior tends to get the same results again and again, I suppose.

4 thoughts on “Rules for Passive Aggressive Texting

  1. It may be deeper than grammar, or a noncommittal attitude. I know a smart phone user (the wife of my father) who must have a medical condition that requires her to end every text with a myriad of punctuation marks. For example;
    Hope you had fun at the wedding!!!! Which dress did you wear??!? Im sure you were beautiful as always!!!!!!! xxoo!!!!!!

    I’ll have to check with the AMA but I must assume without a life threatening illness, no human being would willingly use unnecessary punctuation. Perhaps your text friend could volunteer for a medical trial. Perhaps he would like my step mother as his companion.

    • I like this theory on there being a medical condition. I know several people that should sign up.

      The difference though, is that the wife of your father (and most others I know) are just SUPER excited to send their message. That’s why you end up with 543 exclamation points. But ending everything with ellipses feels more noncommittal. If it were all exclamation points I would think he’s really committed to being excited.

      P.S. The word “ellipsis” is Greek (says Wikipedia)

      • neither is worth the thought. You can put any label on any person you want if you dig deep enough. Now for example…I am so use to the auto caps that I didnt capitalize my first letter. By no means does that equate to any lifestyle personallity. I suck at speeling and use spell check all the time, whcih is not on. What I gathered is that you are a English Teacher and that you can be particular. That may be the cutiest trait to someone. But the art of written word is being lost do to typing but even more to texting. lol IJS

  2. Not sure that automatically qualifies as passive-aggressive. Dude might just have been weak-willed and living in a state of fear. Admittedly, TOTALLY not someone you should be dating, unless you want to raise a grown child for a partner, but not inherently aggressive; not everyone who lets you down is an aggressor, tho they may infuriate you due to your own preferences not panning out.

    Was he also prone to grumbling, general negativity, actual FAILURE to meet agreed-upon timelines? If not, he might just have had cripplingly low self esteem that led to subservient behavior. I have met ladies with such attitudes and never considered them passive-aggressive, just passive (tho I prefer a woman who speaks her mind, without a doubt).

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