The Silent Treatment
THE SILENT TREATMENT | Has the person with whom you’re in a relationship given you the silent treatment? You know where they stop talking to you and hold back their love, affection and feelings? Does their behavior make you feel like you don’t know what to do next? Are you tired of the silent treatment?
If so, you’re not on your own. The purpose of the silent treatment is to make you feel stressed, angry, confused, and mad all at once. It’s also a good way to control someone’s feelings.
This post will explain what the silent treatment and list some of the things that go along with this sneaky type of abuse. At the end, suggestions are given for how to deal with the silent treatment in intimate relationships. If you are interested in learning more about this type of emotional manipulation? Let’s jump right in!
What Exactly is the Silent Treatment?
Most likely, you already know what it means to get the silent treatment. To be clear, though, it’s important to know how this kind of emotional manipulation and control usually shows up in a relationship.
Some common ways couples use the silent treatment are:
- Refusing to engage in general conversation about anything with their partner – the ultimate shutdown
- Not answering questions or answering only very minimal
- Withholding feelings and affection on purpose
- Keeping away from physical contact on purpose
- Not making eye contact (or even look at you) hardly noticing you when you walk into a room
- Showing that you don’t care about the relationship overall so you make selfish decisions
Poor form of Communication
The silent treatment is nothing more than an ineffective poor method of communication that we have been employing in order to get our way. When communication is difficult it can help to create some ground rules. It is time to make it clear to your partner (and to yourself) that it is okay to take a deep breath and get things back on track. TOMORROW IS NOT PROMISED!!
Why do people use the silent treatment tactic?
Why do we still utilize “the silent treatment” if it is so destructive? It all comes down to the old cliché that “hurt people hurt people,” and studies have shown that giving your partner “the silent treatment” is one of the most effective ways to harm the relationship. We are all aware that being on the receiving end of this kind of treatment is something that no one wants to experience.
Pain is what Silent Treatment is about.
When your partner gives you the silent treatment, they are actually acting in a passive-aggressive or abusive way to “punish” you for something. Does that sound like an adult or childish thing? So, yes, that’s what it is.
This is why…
The silent treatment is just an adult version of throwing a temper tantrum when you were young. It is childish and, to be blunt, very self-centered. Most of the time, a person who has “gone silent” keeps their feelings to themselves and goes back to a time in their life when they were younger. This is a learned behavior that most likely started when they were young.
Don’t be fooled, either. The silent treatment needs a lot of toxic energy to keep going.
Here are 5 Steps to resolve “The Silent Treatment”
You probably already know this, but there’s no one way to deal with “the silent treatment.” Remember that you’re involved with someone who has gone back in time to their childhood, so they are emotionally stunted. At first, this can be hard to understand because they look like grown-ups.
In any case, we have some practical ideas for how to deal with your partner giving you the silent treatment. Some of these ideas might work, while others might not. It’s clear that each situation is different.
1. Confront the behavior.
Just as we would confront a six-year-old who refuses to talk, we do the same for the adult in our lives. We must do this carefully because we don’t want to give the pouter extra clout. We should simply acknowledge that they have withdrawn and we want to give them an opportunity to talk it out effectively. Offer them the opportunity to talk, or to take what we like to call an Adult Time Out “ATO”.
2. Hold them accountable for withdrawing.
We must make it clear that we notice the behavior, and now invite them to speak directly to you about whatever is bothering them. Additionally, you note to them that their behavior is hurtful. While you cannot make them talk, you can let them know you notice what they are doing.
3. Share your feelings with them.
As you invite them to have a direct conversation with you, you should let them know the effect that their withdrawal has on you. You could say anything to your partners’ face like, “I’ve noticed that something seems to be bothering you. You appear to have become distant”. I would like for you to have a serious conversation with me about anything that is worrying you. I also want to let you know that I find your lengthy silent treatment to be incredibly hurtful, and I need an apology for that.
4. When your partner chooses to talk, continue to have a healthy dialogue about the issue.
If they choose to speak with you, be sure to express your gratitude to them. Praise them for sharing, and reinforce the desired behavior. A potentially problematic situation will be quickly resolved by this. In the event that they continue to give you what is known as “the silent treatment,” you will be left with no alternative but to give them the space that they have created for themselves.
5. When they decide to reconnect, be prepared to connect with them.
At this point, though, they will be required to take responsibility for retreating in an unhealthy manner and for causing additional damage in the relationship. Hold them accountable for withdrawing and let them know that you are prepared to reconnect when they understand the harm they have caused by giving you “the silent treatment.”
In summary, silence is a particularly painful weapon and has no place in a healthy relationship. Taking an “adult” time out, agreed upon by both people, can be an effective way to get space to reflect, pray and consider a healthier response. You should allow for ‘time outs’ and must agree that ‘the silent treatment’ will never be tolerated.
As was already mentioned, giving your partner the silent treatment is a common way to hurt their feelings in a passive-aggressive way. You might want to think about getting life coaching just for you. You might wonder, “Why?”
By giving yourself a safe way to express yourself, you do a lot to help build up your self-esteem, which is something that abusers try to break down. Life coaching can also help you see patterns in your relationships so you don’t get involved with emotional manipulation in the first place.
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