Perhaps the gift you got your partner was obviously a last minute purchase from a petrol station?
Passive-aggressive behaviour is when someone expresses hostility indirectly. Aggression can occur without anger; a person tackling someone in a rugby game is being aggressive, but not necessarily angry.
But generally, anger is a common cause of aggression. Emotion psychology cites the appraisal theory of emotioninvolving primary appraisal and secondary appraisal.
Primary is where the event that triggered the response is assessed and a suitable reaction calculated. Secondary appraisal assesses the ability to cope with the initial event, as well as the consequences of the initial response to it.
But often, passive-aggressive behaviour can be deliberate, whether provoked or not. But you can ignore emails, turn in reports late, bad-mouth him to colleagues, forget to arrange meetings he requested, and various other things that cause him hassle and embarrassment overall.
Invariably, women are at the lower end of power dynamicsand many of these studies focus on the workplace where women are regularly penalised for being assertive. Under such circumstances, the passive-aggressive approach will end up being used more often.
But there are potentially more unpleasant motivations. But this overlooks the fact that passive aggressive is also rife via technological mediums.
No doubt there were frosty telegrams in centuries gone by. Why is it so bad though?