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Passivity: In the foundations — 13 Comments

  1. Oh. Wait a minute, if I have a passive master that makes me a slave!
    So, as a slave and yup I sure resent all the work put into trying to figure out what my passive master needs, I need to stop being a slave immediately and somehow lead him out of passive master role.
    I resent the constant vigilance, and I fear the backlash of not doing all of those things that supposedly I'm supposed to do. Not that they're “working.” or that I ever figured out the “right” things.
    Why did it take me almost 4 months of reading this stuff to realize I was a slave? Wow.

  2. Dear Maggie,
    I am developing more confidence in my understanding of this situation.
    First the core problem is not that one is a Master or PassiveMaster or Slave, the core is that you are in this area a friend has called the “Valley of the Masters.” A Master needs a Slave to exist. A PassiveMaster needs a Slave to exist. A Slave needs a Master and/or a PassiveMaster to exist. And you can easily switch around what position you are in.
    Now, if one person leaves this “valley,” the other has to climb out as well – eventually. The trick is to show these inhabitants the wall of their valley and the paths up and out.
    The Slave journey seems the longest. The Master's seems the shortest. The place to go is toward dialogical partnering. The only way I know to help one of these people out is to get out and stay out yourself and to interact with them regularly, firmly and gently from outside the “valley.”
    I fear that a codependent (Slave) counselor or an arrogant, bullying (Master) counselor is no help at all.
    Good luck. Al

  3. Oh I love this question too!! I'm the clinger, and started off as a slave with my husband – I was 17, he was my first relationship – but found his master tendencies so annoying that I very quickly turned into a master, literally just to show him how annoying it was, but all it lead to was him sliding into passive master, and me displaying masterful -behaviour but also being slavish…. in the way that I desperately was trying to figure out how to make him happy, but with no input on his part. I'm afraid the only was for this to work is for him to remove himself from being a passive master and I'm also afraid that I can't somehow MAKE it happen. EEEK this is terrifying. Sorry I might have gotten the labels of behaviour mixed up, but I'm definitely interested in help for passive masters.

  4. Well, a great question! Me, I'm wondering about it, too. Oftentimes this happens to me. I figure out something and it just leads to another fascinating question.
    In my paper on the Power of Passivity, I speak of ways to approach people in the Master, or Slave or Passive Master positions. Of course, no one is forever in just one spot but moves around. The goal is to move them all to the Friend-Friend position.
    Certainly, if you move over and stay over in Friend/Friend (no mean feat!), your partner can no longer remain comfortably in the Slave position. He may struggle around into Master or Passive Master. He may flounder around in the Slave position. My guess is that he has some growing up to do. Recently I found this situation might be one where a good therapist for him alone (I rarely recommend individual therapy anymore.) might be a good idea – someone who is good at working with Codependency. He might also benefit from something like Men's Work. I am not sure.
    But the good thing is you have an idea (many ideas) of what is going on. Let me know how it works. I will be thinking on this and probably will write more.

  5. Dear Al,
    So what happens next??!!! This describes my husband to a tee, with me in a passive master role. If the slave is resistant to cognitive therapy, then how to get through? How to break this cycle, and deal with existing resentment!
    Waiting with bated breath!

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