The best way to understand the difference between Submissive, Aggressive and Assertive is with the idea of “rights.” Our typical style of getting our needs met will be found somewhere on this continuum between Aggressive and Submissive.
Aggressive people violate the rights of others.
Submissive people violate their own rights.
Assertive people find solutions that preserve everyone’s rights.
There is a great deal of misunderstanding about the difference between Aggressive and Assertive. One of the most common relationship mistakes that people make is for a normally Submissive person to suddenly become “fed up” and lash out aggressively. They often swing to the opposite side of the continuum and mistake it for simple Assertiveness. In fact, they are no better off. It makes for great movies, but poor real-life relationships.