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18 Signs You're Petty

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18 signs you're petty in relationships 


Let's face it. We've all been a little petty at one point or another. Maybe you got mad at your friend for not liking your Instagram post, or you gave your significant other the silent treatment because they forgot to text you back. It happens! But when someone takes pettiness to a whole new level, it can be seriously annoying. We're talking about those who can't let go of the smallest things and always seem to be picking a fight over nothing.

That's where this article comes in. We're going to break down the signs of petty behavior, so you can decide if it's time to cut ties before things get too crazy. And let's not forget about some self-reflection - are you the one causing all the pettiness in your relationships? If so, it might be time to reassess and let go of those little things that just don't matter.

So what exactly is petty behavior? It's when someone fixates on insignificant matters and refuses to let them go. It's like they're stuck in a never-ending loop of triviality, and it can be exhausting to deal with. Petty and passive-aggressive behavior go hand and hand. You're obviously mad about something, but instead of going directly to that person and communicating, you may find other ways to get back at them or show them that you don't care… anything to win the battle. But don't worry. We've got your back. By recognizing the signs of pettiness, you'll be better equipped to handle those folks who just can't seem to let things go.



  1. You give another the cold shoulder instead of telling them what they did wrong. 

    1. You wait longer and text them back to make them worry. 

  2. You go out of your way to annoy your partner. 

    1. Leave dishes in the sink. 

    2. Don't take out the trash.

    3. Park over the line in the garage 

    4. Play video games 

    5. Hang out with someone you know your partner doesn't like 

  3. You go tit for tat with them.  

  4. Brought up something that happened months ago in a fight 

  5. Said "I don't care" when asked about what show you wanted to watch, only to complain later. 

  6. Intentionally make your partner wait on a reply when you already know the answer. 

  7. Turned off your location to make another person worry 

  8. Post an old pic of you going out on your socials to get an emotional reaction out of your friends or partner. Think you're having fun without them. 

  9. Upload an Instagram story or post while ignoring another person's text, knowing they follow you.

  10. Upload a sexy picture on insta to show your partner that you're hot and they should pay attention.

  11. Leave a message on read on purpose… instead of directly communicating about how you feel.

  12. Got into an argument, realized you lost, and instead doubled down. 

  13. Saying "Sorry" in a sarcastic tone when you're absolutely not sorry

  14. Keep a folder of screenshots just in case you're losing an argument and need to pull them up as evidence.

  15. Intentionally staying friends with your ex's friends, not because you like them, but because you want your ex to know you're still relevant.

  16. Sabotage your partner's plans because you don't want them to do it at all or not without you. 

  17.  Texted "Goodnight" to your partner, even though it was early and you weren't going to sleep. 

  18. Ate your partner's leftovers because they pissed you off. 


Why are people petty?


Petty behavior is highly egotistical. It's an attempt to grasp back power by playing a game with another person. It's sneaky in nature because one could just as easily directly communicate with their perceived opponent. I think of it like a sneak attack. It's the opposite of being mature, and it only stirs the pot and entices the other person to shoot fire right back at you. If you find yourself being petty, you're operating out of fear. You are afraid that you are going to lose something, and if so, what is it? What fear is driving you to stir the pot rather than heal? You may feel angry. Maybe your perceived opponent jabbed you first, so you want to jab them back. If you fall into that category, you're still operating out of fear, fear of losing. 


How to stop being petty?


Say what you mean and be honest about how you feel.


Petty is an escalation technique, which means you want to increase the drama within your relationship. If you want to increase the drama, fine, be petty. But if you want your relationship to grow, you've got to learn to communicate your emotions directly. Say what you mean and be honest about how you feel. Match your actions with your words. Don't be fake. Don't smile in someone's face even though you've left the trash they haven't taken out in front of their door. Your emotions are there to guide you, not rule you. 


Address dark stories 


Ask questions. If you catch someone being petty, instead of attacking back, ask why they did it in the first place. Don't accuse them. However, explain your dark story, a dark story meaning a negative assumption you have about them, and ask if there is any validity to it. That's your first route of defense against a petty backlash. 


Think and pause before you act. 


Before you react toward another, take a breather. Think about if you want to throw the ball back at them. Remember when we were kids and threw a pillow at our siblings or friends? Their instinct reaction would be to throw it back at us. Think about how the other person could retaliate towards you and if you're willing to deal with the backlash and more drama. Maybe they expect you to do something in return, and they are waiting so they can punish you further. People are wild right now. The last thing you want to do is test them. You never really know what another person is carrying, and that petty behavior you do could be the last straw before the final crack. So, pause, and ask yourself, "Are you being your highest self right now?" "What would your most mature self do?" Play through the possible consequences of your actions. Stop your impulse of just throwing the ball right back at them.


Try to meet the person where they are


Think about what's going on in the other person's life. Are the circumstances tough? Do you see them struggling? If another has been petty towards you, more than likely, you are not the problem. For that reason, it's good practice not to take other people's actions personally. There is some deep unresolved sadness that's lingering beneath their childish ways. That goes for you as well. If you find yourself being petty often, take a look at your inner child and ask why they are throwing a tantrum. How can you serve your inner child so that they can be happy again? Most of the time, your inner child craves love and attention from no one else but you. Nobody can show you your worth or validate you if you don't believe you're enough on your own. 

It also helps to scope out. In the bigger scheme, will the petty behavior of this one person matter to you in a year, two years, or three years, or will you be able to look back and just laugh? 


Reframe pettiness as an act of admiration. 


You can reframe petty behavior as an act of admiration if someone else has the time to really think about you and plan some childish attack. It's most likely because they admire you. They might be jealous or envious of you, but the bottom line is… something about you intrigues them to the point that they have taken the time out of their day to plan something. 


Get your boundaries ready.


Remember, petty games take two. So stop playing. If another continues their petty behavior towards you, and you've spoken to them about stopping, and they continue to do it or deny that it's even happening in the first place. Then it is time for some hard boundaries and space. There's a big difference between petty behavior and constant bullying. Nobody likes walking around feeling like a target is on their back or walking on eggshells.


Don't stop now! Check out our next article!

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