So I've come to the conclusion that the only way to respond to PA comments is to give that person what they "want." When someone makes a PA all-encompassing statement, like, "You won't let me stay at your house for the entire month of June? Fine, I just won't come to visit you ever again!" They're expecting you to scramble back to a position where they're not mad at you any more, i.e., "Oh, no, it's not that big of a deal. Please just move into the master bedroom right now." They get what they want by making you feel guilty and threatening the security of your relationship.
But when you say, "OK, then" and agree to their statement, it takes away all of their power. Recent real-life examples:
- My relative, Susan, has struggled with her mom's PA behavior for years. Susan's father recently lost his job due to hostile behavior in the office. A few years ago, when Susan and her husband, George, were going through typical "early married" financial problems, her mother told Susan that asking family members for loans JUST WASN'T DONE in their family. Susan was hurt that her mother would say something like that before Susan even asked for help and the tone was "We don't want to help you, so don't ask." Father has been out of work for two weeks. Now, Mother is sending Susan texts like, "We'd usually go out for dinner on Friday nights, now we're having cold sandwiches. Sure would be nice if someone sent us a restaurant gift card!" or "I'm not even bothering with Black Friday this year. Sure would be nice if Santa sent us Christmas money!" Susan responded with, "That would be nice." to both. (Please note that these people aren't hungry or suffering. Susan's parents live a very "brand conscious" lifestyle and there are plenty of things they can do to scale back. Not to mention items they can sell for extra cash.)
At Thanksgiving, which Susan hosted, Mother informed Susan, "It would be nice if you gave us some spending cash. Otherwise, we're not going to be able to afford Christmas gifts this year. And if that happens, I don't think we'll even bother coming over for Christmas." Susan said, "Well, we would miss you." Mother sulked and said maybe they would come over after all.
- (I mentioned this story in another thread.) My mom told me a story yesterday. Mom's friend, Linda's, has a MIL that hates her. MIL routinely tells Linda and Don, the wrong time for holiday meals, telling the rest of the family another time. So when Linda and Don arrive (15-20 minutes before the time MIL told them) they find that the whole family has already eaten. MIL says, "Oh, the food was ready a little early, so we decided to eat without you." It's clear that the food is cold and has been sitting out for a while. Linda and Don are expected to piece together a plate from the leftovers. This has happened at almost every holiday since they got engaged four years ago.
So this year, Don asked his mom what time Thanksgiving will be held. He says, "Mom, please don't serve dinner early, before the time you've given me and Linda. It's upsetting for us to get there and find that you've already eaten." Mom huffed, "Well, if it's so upsetting, you shouldn't come at all." expecting Don to backpedal. Instead, he said, "OK, then." and hung up.
Cue dozens of (ignored) calls to Don's cell from MIL. And more calls from family members telling Don how much he had upset MIL by hanging up on her and telling her he wouldn't come to Thanksgiving. Don has been telling them, "Mom told me not to come. So I'm not coming."
Does this work for anyone else? Any stories that further support my theory?