The Silent Treatment – What You Are Saying By Not Saying Anything

silent treatment

Probably at one time or another you have been either on the giving or receiving end of a silent treatment, otherwise known as the cold shoulder. What you probably didn’t realize is that the silent treatment is a form of ostracism like the cold shoulder. When someone is ostracized it affects the part of their brain called the anterior cingulate cortex. Do you know what the anterior cingulate cortex does?

The anterior cingulate cortex is the part of the brain that detects pain. When you give someone the silent treatment you are causing that person physical pain. Simply by ignoring someone else’s existence you can inflict pain on them. This is what the ever popular “time out” with a child is so effective. The child feels ostracized, therefore is feeling pain even though no physical pain was inflicted on them, and therefor they want to behave so they don’t have to feel that way again.

The silent treatment can be a very destructive behavior when it involves personal relationships. Let’s say with a husband and wife for instance. The silent treatment breeds bitterness on both ends and it borders on emotional abuse… I’m not making that up to be dramatic. That’s what “they” say. I’d hate anyone to confuse what I’m saying with my own divorce.

Cooling Off And Ostracizing Are Two Very Different Things

Let’s not confuse the silent treatment with something known as “the cooling off period”. The cooling off period is where one person is so angry or disgusted by the other person that they just cannot deal with the situation in that state need time to calm down before they begin to speak to this person. That’s fine and actually that’s probably better than sitting and screaming at each other.

There is a big difference between taking some time to cool down and outright ignoring the existence of the other person. Resulting in someone or both letting go of the relationship. The silent treatment would be more along the lines of you doing something that pisses someone off, they clue you in on it (or not), and then they don’t speak to you, acknowledge you or even make eye contact with you for sometimes days. No good.

To me, this is a form of torture. Nothing positive comes from this type of behavior. What makes more sense…blowing up about something, cooling off a little and then talking about how to resolve it OR not blowing up about something, staying completely pissed and not doing anything to help resolve the situation? If you said the latter… you’re a dick.

When someone is administering the silent treatment they are trying to show that they are dominant over you. The silent treatment (when it becomes a mutual one) is a power struggle in pain tolerance…whomever the winner is, cares less. Hopefully it will never get physical or involve bullying.

When You Are On The Receiving End Of The Silent Treatment

It’s interesting to me that research has shown that woman and men respond to the silent treatment very differently. Woman who are on the receiving end of the silent treatment seem to try anything in their power to win back their good grace with the ostracize where men…don’t. They just deal with it.

But what exactly are the men just dealing with and the woman trying to avoid? The emotional pain associated with being ostracized. Those who have been treated to the silent treatment have reported as sense of loss, of not belonging, of lower self-esteem and a feeling of unworthiness. All of these feelings are the result of someone just not acknowledging them or ignoring them. I find that pretty interesting.

I can say that I honestly don’t ever remember giving someone the silent treatment…not anyone that it would matter to anyway. I don’t think I have it in me to do that to someone. Not even in a passive aggressive silent treatment kind of way either. Why you ask? Because I’ve had it done to me, I know what it feels like and it totally sucks. My friend Micky Ward knows this all too well. I’m more the type of person that would like to blow up about something, probably say some things I don’t really mean, apologize for saying the things I don’t really mean and then move towards resolution. But hey…that’s just me.

Here’s a personal account from a reader who wanted to share her story:

It happens when you least expect it. You are living your life to the very best of your abilities when things just… Change. It felt so sudden, but in reality it was probably building and growing for several months. It occurs in small ways and begins in all the little things that you stop saying to each other. Then the resentment starts. The quarrels, the arguments, the snippy conversations, the single word answer to every question that is asked. And growing use of the word ‘Fine’. I hate that word. I know that hate is a strong emotion, especially to describe my feelings, but it’s the only word that adequately covers how I feel. After I discovered the hidden meaning of that word, I hate it even more now. But it’s the silence that hurts the most.

My name is Kate and I have been in a relationship with my boyfriend Dan for just over 8 years. We started dating in college as sophomores, both being education majors, and hit things off right from the start. It was not long before we were seeing each other exclusively. We found we could sometimes finish each other’s sentences, much to the annoyance of our friends. After graduating, we found work together a few towns away as teachers in the same high school. Our apartment was a hub of activity as friends, still in college, would drop by to visit or just hang out.

Everything changed about two years ago. District budget cuts forced a restructuring of the high school his position was cut. I was able to maintain my job as a Special Education teacher, so we were able to keep our benefits. It wasn’t completely unexpected. We had heard noises about the cuts through the teacher’s union and the school grapevine. Our principal knew about our relationship and tried to keep spots for both of us. He was overridden by the administration. Dan’s position was cut and he was forced to find a job in retail at a local mall to help cover expenses. Dan’s new work meant that his days off were midweek and vacation time was a premium. I still had my weekends and summers off. And I was able to pick-up extra activities that paid over and above my salary. However, this meant more hours after school covering extracurricular activities and tutoring for struggling kids.

At first, things were alright. We made ends meet and kept our apartment. Money was tight, but not overly so. We just joked that this was just another ‘plot twist’ in the narrative of our relationship. Things would be back to normal the next year. When Dan’s contract wasn’t picked up in September was when things began to change. Dan would sleep in on his days off. And little things around the apartment wouldn’t get done. Or he would ‘clo-pen’ as they call it, work until close one night and open the next morning. He would come home and crash on the sofa in front of the TV, I would wake him to get him to bed. As our schedules became more erratic, our chances to do things together became fewer and farther between. Friends dropped by less and less, and then stopped coming by altogether. I still had my peers and coworkers at school, but poor Dan was working with high school kids.

The disconnection between became enormous. And the arguments started around Halloween. We missed our friends and the teaching life we had together. There are periods where we miss each other for 24-48 hours, only to meet exhausted in the bedroom. Things wouldn’t get done, like the laundry or paying a bill on time and we would fight. And though people say you should never go to bed angry, we began to do it more and more. It was the silent treatment after Christmas that really hurt. And the use of the word ‘fine’ became a habit. Its use ended most of our fights. Oh, and the definition of FINE, that word I hate so much? It stands for Frustrated, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional. It also stands for how alone and hopeless I feel. We don’t talk all that much, because we are too afraid to we’ll start fighting. And we can’t solve our problems or frustrations if we don’t talk. I’m stuck. He’s stuck. And things are now far too quiet.

Thanks for sharing Kate.

877 comments on “The Silent Treatment – What You Are Saying By Not Saying Anything
  1. SoftMan says:

    My wife does this to me all the time. She went OFF for 2 hours yesterday…and my brain started triggering all sorts of negative emotions.

    I always have a very hard time regulating my emotions when she goes OFF. It makes me feel like I have done something terrible to her. Most of the time she does it to me when I say things she doesn’t like.

    I will never ever be able to negotiate anything with her. It should always be her way….otherwise…I am left on my own with Silent treatment.

    I am very very astonished at the fact that many men do it too.

    • Wes says:

      OK I think this is total BS! I havea step that has more issues than you can count with both hands. He is just now 16 and over the past two years of his higschool career he has passed 11 of 28 classes, he is having sex, smoking cigarettes, and take smy wifes cigarettes and then looks at me and smiles. he has been arrested twice for criminal tresspassing and is extremely manipulative. he has caused me to move out of my own home numerous times and has caused me so much pain I just dont want to deal with him so I dod speak to him. Its the old saying,”if you dont have anything good to say, dont say anything at all!” Silent treatment is NOT ABUSE! Everyone want to to place an abuse labael on everything that some does not like an it makes me sick. i am not using it to hurt him or extert dominance. R U FUCKING SERIOUS? I do it because I dont want to put my gaurd down and run the risk of getting hurt myself and causing another near physical altercation in my house. To me its WAY better to just ignore the person that is hurting you and move on. When he finally figures out that I dont own him jack shit, and that his actions not only affect him and his future but everyone else than maybe, just maybe I might want to speak to him. until then, he can kiss my ass and so can all of you people that think the “Silent treatment” is always abusive. Cheers! You got served son!!

      • L3 says:

        Ignoring someone who is significantly affecting your life in a very negative way is not the same as what this article is talking about. This article is NOT BS. My ex starting ignoring me after my pet died. I guess he didn’t want to deal with a crying woman. But, before that, he was the most perfect, loving, attentitive guy any woman could ask for… Then he ignored me for weeks and it made the mourning so much worse, because not only was I crying over my dead pet, but I was desperately trying to reach out to him and his comfort and trying to figure out why he wasn’t giving it to me… In situations like that, the silent treatment is definitely emotional torture and abuse.

    • Mush says:

      Softman, Why do you allow your wife to scream at you for two hours?
      Does she do this often? She does this because you allow it.

      I have been married for 25 years today. My husband would never allow me to treat him in such a way.

      She is not respecting you by the she treats you. Because you allow her to treat you like this she will resent you more and think less of you as a man.

      This kind of treatment must make you feel very inferior. I can tell in your tone you are fustrated. Try stepping up and take control of the moment when she gets like that. Don’t put up with it. Period.

      When she gives you the silent treatment, just act as if it doesn’t bother you. Beat her at her own game. Just simply tell her “when you are ready to talk rationally I am here to listen” and walk away..The ball will be in her court.

      Relationships take work. No one knows why people give others the silent treatment, it is very abusive.

      I see you are soft in nature, I admire that and I am sure your wife adores that about you. You can still have that nature and be in control. If you love your marriage you have to step up or you will get burnt out.

  2. Diane says:

    My brother in law’s girlfriend gave me the silent treatment for almost six years. My boyfriend, now husband, tried to talk to everyone in his family about this situation multiple times. I tried to approach this girl on the subject and she would always run away from me. The situation occurred 90% of the time during family reunions. I talked to his parents so many times about this issue but at the end they got the idea that I was the one who had the issue against this girl. I have wondered soo many times for the past 6 years what did I do so wrong in order to offend this person. Little by little my relationship with my husband’s family started to fell apart.

    As a last resource we asked my husband’s father to speak to her which he did. All of the sudden she started to talk to me and act like nothing had happened. She gave me presents, invited us for dinner, and sent me text messages. I thought I had forgiven her which made me feel really happy until recently when I found I was pregnant. I am not sure if is because of the hormones or something but the feeling of pain came to the surface again. Perhaps because I don’t want my child to ever suffer from this pain. Six years of silent treatment cannot be forgiven from night to day when especially the person who did this to you has never apologized nor given an explanation on what happened.

    Sadly enough, my husband’s family seems to prefer her since she never pointed out the issues that she had against me nor complained about me. I feel that I’ve lost his family, their respect, while now she’s really close to them. I have many mixed feelings about this whole situation and I know it affected my personality and my life. I have always been very sensitive and in touch with my emotions. I am very social, love to establish friendly relationships with people and enjoy peace. Now that I’ve realized that the struggle I went through has not healed and left deep scars I’m getting ready to seek for help.

  3. James says:

    Me and my partner have been soul mates for over ten years and out of the blue I get the silent treatment.
    We call 4 times daily etc talk over webcams etc so this behaviour out of the blue in ten years.

    After a week I couldn’t take it and I cracked as I was under huge pressure at work. I thought she was missing or dead. Called the police etc as I was in another country working abroad. She was fine!

    I apologised, sent messages, flowers, asked what I did , we can work through this and called but no reply.

    She did answer my call once and couldn’t care less and was enjoying her life to the max visiting art galleries and didn’t explain why the silent treatment.

    Sorry but I broke up with her.

    She did right on my project deadlines and increased my stress as I let it happen.

    I wondered why, was she angry, unfaithful? Punishing me?

    I walked away and now have to move on. I loved her but felt unloved by her.
    Selfish I sound but she was everything to me and destroyed me.

    I dumped’ her.

    • Andrew says:

      I can tell you exactly what happened, and I wouldn’t doubt my answer for a second. You became to predictable, too attached, too needy, you were no longer a challenge- she knew she had you wrapped around her finger. You said you waited a week and cracked, had you waited 2 weeks to a month she would have cracked. She was Bored, don’t contact her or initiate contact for a month ( perhaps even ignore her if she contacts you) wait a month, let the mystery come back. You may get her back bro

      • Nomsa says:

        I like your reply Andrew: very true, precise and to the point. Wonder what the situation is now. Cheers!

      • Alyssa says:

        I wouldn’t want to ‘get’ this person back. She’s proven who she really is. She likes to play cruel mind and control games, is what it amounts to.

  4. Kristina says:

    Recently, I have become a victim of the ‘silent treatment.’ my boyfriend of two years chose to “manage” his anger this way, and it’s been two weeks now. What did I do wrong? Apparently, I overstepped my boundaries by talking with his physician about a medical problem my boyfriend asked me for help with. I’m a nurse, so I saw his doctor at work the day after my boyfriend experienced his frightening problem, and I mentioned it to the doctor (when the doctor initiated our conversation by asking how my boyfriend is doing). The doctor confirmed my advice to my boyfriend, and I sent my boyfriend a text with that information. When I reached his home that night, I was given a few clipped responses and hateful looks, followed by the silent treatment. When he decided to go to bed and left my presence by further shutting me out (going to his room and closing the door) I went right in there and asked why he was ignoring me. “I’m not ignoring you, I’m going to bed.” I collected my belongings and left. That was two weeks ago. Now, the truth is, I feel happy and I’m enjoying my new freedom. I will be returning his key via mail, and that’s that. I will never put up with bullying/ manipulation/ emotional abuse. Who’se sorry now, MF?!

  5. Karen says:

    My mother gave me the silent treatment for 9 years where she never visited or called. This was when I was 2 to 11 years old. Then when I was 18 I lived with her for the first time on a long term basis and she did not speak to me for 9 months. You are right: It is a physical pain. I am still alive but I have tried to kill myself several times.

  6. pauly says:

    James Thank you for your comment. A person needs to here other people have circumstances like yours. After being with someone so long and speaking with them several times of the day then all of a sudden you here nothing must have been hard to deal with. I do think that the silent treatment seems to be a form of abuse, however, I don’t like to judge people because no matter how much we try to figure out why they did what they did we really don’t know how they were feeling. I want to thank you for your comment because it has made me feel how you were feeling and not just think of my self and my feelings on my situation. Thank you! I really do enjoy all of the comments and think all of you are special people for taking the time to share with others.

  7. Hayley says:

    I have been in a relationship if you can call it that. With a man who has constantly ignored me on a regular basis. The longest period being 7month. After 10 year of him sleeping with other women and not want to comit I ended the relationship as could not cope and was very depressed. He did not seem bothered by me not wanting to carry on the relationship. After a few month he decided he wanted to be friends after i had tried to talk to him about his for a while. We starting texting every othe day and were getting on well. After couple weeks of texting he asked for sex I said no ofcourse. Which was not my usuay way of dealing with him. I text him few days later to see how he was. No reply I began to worry asking him to text n let me knw he was ok as I was worried and only way of ontacting him was via text this had been the case for the fall time of our relationship. 5days passed still no reply saw him in the street few days latter he saw me and drove straight past. I have text since asking him what is wrong. Or if I have done something still no answer is this abuse?

  8. pollie says:

    i had been going out with a guy for about 2mths it seems that he had fancied me for about 30yrs!!! yes amazing.. anyway had know him briefly from a far more so his brothers and sister more so we got together really got on had a laugh and banter with each other then the bombshell hit after about a week he mentioned he had fallen for me!!! well i didnt really know how to take this quiet shocked to say the leased he called me and txted me a lot then i noticed the jealously which turned into being possesive which suffocated me a bit i mentioned a cooling off period and perhaps get to know each other a bit he wouldn’t have it saying i love you bah! bah! he just avoided the whole thing if i tried to mention the situation i looked up his behaviour patten and was shocked the signs of a control freak! the arguements started the phone was put down the swearing ext i txt him and told him i really cared for him and had feelings [not love at this point because it turned me off of him] then he responed with verbal abuse i still didnt give up i was very patient in trying to understand perhaps being hurt by other relationships and so on.. but haven’t we all? then we decided to meet up and i say something and he would turn on me and walk off! so the whole sarga would carry on with me calling and txting even in the bedroom i would fall asleep on the couch and later i get into the bed and he would turn his back on me and sulk it got to much for me and i felt totally drained from energy i blank him for a month i got in touch with him again!!! heart felt txt again!!! we went out as friends because i thought it would better to be open and no hurt feelings…wrong again i mentioned my past he got the impression i still had a thing for his brother this was 30yrs a go i didnt know about my bf then so that went out the window he stormed off.. i went to his flat to try and talk to him and was ignored for 3hrs talking through his letter box he refused to let me in and threatned me with the police for harassement could you believe which they did arrive i was so shocked he actually done that to me and upset all he had to do is let me in and talk to me and i would have apologized and perhaps talk it over as adults.. but no he gave me which iam to believe the silent treatment i left mortified i know i must have hurt him which i didnt mean to a week had passed and i sent a txt to him concerning my feelings for a change not all about him and how my feeling were and are hurt too
    i did feel a power of relief i must say oh! he send back abuse by the way haven’t heard since which i don’t want to..i also wondering do these sort of people make contact in anyway via call or your home and if so would it be abusive?

    could i have a honest anwer from someone would appreciate

  9. RC says:

    Silent treatment blows. It could be because of anything though, the worst part is when its first noticed. Drives you nuts, you think it’s you, something you did or said. We all say and do stupid things here and there in a relationship. So automatically we think it’s us.

    The person giving the silent treatment may just be having problems they feel they need to hash out by themselves, which sucks. If you love someone, you just want to be part of them no matter what. If someone you love is having a hard time with things, it’s good to know they want to lean on you. Some people just feel like they are imposing, which sucks, imposing isn’t even a word within a relationship and it never should be.

    But again, being the receiver of silent treatment we’ll never know why unless the one giving the treatment tells us. So that leaves two options, stick it out or walk. How do you walk away from someone you love? You don’t, no matter what. If they love you, it will work out. I would feel worse giving up on someone I love, I’m not selfish so why give up on someone you love? Wouldn’t that be selfish of us? No matter what we feel or the pain we may endure through it, we should sacrifice for the better of the cause.

    Wont stop us from being confused though, bottom line we are always going to wonder. So, dont kid yourselves people above….. No matter what you do or say about being given silent treatment, no matter what you do to overcome it, you’re always going to wonder, wonder more, wonder even more and wonder…… It never ends.

    It ends in one way, you talk to the one you got the silent treatment from. Personally, I don’t want to talk if 6 months or a year down the road I get to talk to the person and I find out they are involved, have a kid on the way, are having a great successful life, or any of that because guess what? They were supposed to have all that with me.

    However, If it is because of some emotional turmoil I would love to hear that person is doing well and is happy but looking for more, more with me. That is the best gift you can get from silent treatment.
    Sounds like this

    Hi, I’ve missed you”

  10. estoopidah says:

    So I started a relationship with my honey… At first he introduced me to all his friends and it was ok… I felt awkward, everyone said hi but they sounded uninterested now its been 3 years into this relationship and everytime his friends have an event I have to tag along. And whenever I come into a room, his friends shout his name & praise him but once I walk in only about 2 people acknowledge my presence. I try talking to them and they just keep chit chatting. I’ve told my bf that I don’t feel comfortable being around his friends and he told me that I have to get used to them. Last week I asked his friends wife if she can send me some pictures from a birthday party and she blew me off. Whenever we go with these folks its like I’m not there. I’m just dumbfoundedly sitting there like an idiot. Last Saturday as we were going out he told me that they were going, so I lied and told him I forgot my id. His friends called him and as he was mentioning my situation his friend stated that I stay home. So I stayed in the car. I’m getting sick of this stupid silent game.

  11. Jolin says:

    My husband and I had 8 great years together, and we just got married Christmas last year. Unfortunately, after the wedding, I noticed he changed and expected more from me. It’s like everything I did, was not to his satisfaction. I used to be earning higher salary than him, but now I’m helping his business, therefore financially independent on him. Maybe it was this reason that he started to give me silent treatments and blow things out of proportion.

    It had happened several times after the wedding. The last time, it lasted for 2 weeks before I couldn’t take it anymore and initiated the reconciliation and pacified him. Now, only after 2 weeks again, he started it. Is it necessary to blow things when we just couldn’t make it for breakfast at McDonalds’ and that I returned slightly late from facial appointment due to traffic jams? Well, I know he wasn’t feeling well, so I apologised on these 2 occasions (which happened on the same day), and pacified him. I even offered solution to prevent the issue from arising again. He ignored me. Still, I hugged him in bed the next morning, but he’s still giving me the cold shoulder.

    Then in the afternoon, I just informed him that if he’s hungry, I’ve prepared something. Right away, he threw his calculator so hard, it shocked me. I just had to leave the house…

    • Alyssa says:

      Try reading “The verbally abusive relationship” by Patricia Evans. You’ll find him in the pages of that book. I found my husband in its pages too, just about on every page or every other page… It’s an eye-opener.

  12. PatrickRomance says:

    Jan 26/27th, This Gorgeous woman in her late 20’s noticed me at a bar event, that I was Photographing a local DJ friend and his/our vip entourage of fun. She grabbed my attention with her beauty and the rest of the evening we were taking pictures laughing dancing having drinks. Event was over we talked and I thought I was getting lucky as she gave me a ride home but didn’t stay long. I didn’t remember that we made dinner plans the next day. We went to the melting pot however she said she had dinner reservations and not really and just had desert because she showed up 2 hours late. a week later after talking and she got sloppy drunk and I didn’t in order to deal with her I told her you will have to be my Girl now and we made love.

    fast forward to valentines day Dinner and drinks at the Improv with a famous comedian, when she stepped into my room rose pedals, 30 tea candles and expensive decorative Hookah to give her, chocolate dipped strawberry bottle of rose’ cheese and grapes. I wasn’t looking to make love though it would have been romantic and hott and heavy and about to make a baby but we laid next to one another and I looked at her as scared as I was I said I love you.

    Because this Poor lady is always in pain from endometriosis, and not being prescribed or afford the the medicine, her having a smart wounderfull daughter, she has something that most women I met don’t have.

    she told me a few days after Valentine’s day what would i think about a long distance relationship, I had one before and there are a lot of rules and the most important one is being faithful. I trust her and never gave me a reason not to. She was offered to take an Auto-mechanic apprenticeship in Manhattan said she be making a lot of money for a few months. She would come back. She would have her medicines the hospitals in NYC work and we would have a future everything would be fine. Kisses later I opened up my wallet, bought her the coat she wanted wasn’t expensive 60 bucks for NYC in February. Next came the plane ticket, the Limo ride 500 spending cash for food and subway fair till she gets a paycheck. It was my whole saving from my tax return that I was going to be selfish and buy photography gear. Promised to call me and go on skype said I love you and I cried watching that plane lift off.

    I watched google flight and watched it land and and I waited, I waited 20 min and I called her she didn’t pick up, I called called called called finally we talked for 5 min said I love you’s and a goodluck.

    This is where it all started as soon as that plane lifted off. I never got a call daily, it was once a week, months it seemed, for maybe 2 minutes, at a time. It was like Hi, how are you and I’ll call you later. Didn’t skype I tried to Text her call her so many times. I was over her mom’s house with her daughter once or twice a week and then I just gave up. Then it was the 3rd week she called crying wanted to give up, and told me that the doctors diagnosed her with Cancer. My boi I trust very well went up there for his reasons but was in the area she was at. I called her asking permission to give my boi her number and said Ill take a few days off work and come up there too. She said no no no theres no point she be back in a week. I told my boi to call her since she wasn’t answering my phone introduce himself take her out to lunch or dinner I would pay Him back because I was really worried she hasn’t been eating right wanted to know how she looked and if she was alright. And, to see if she was with another man. Because that how it sounds like coming from my boi. They txt a lil but that was it she had no interest in having dinner with one of my best friends that’s family to me. When she landed she didn’t call me infact it wasn’t until the next day when I tried to call her again wondering where she was because my boi was like why do you trust her she’s fake, she answered the house number locally she was like I wanted to surprise you at work.

    to make this page really short ever since then our relationship hasn’t been the same we made love again exactly 3 months from the first, we rarely talk and that part drives me crazy. It will be weeks, and I will keep trying and trying to txt her or talk to her, with no responses, I know she reads them but chooses not to respond. Its only when I get really really angry, and I start calling names I shouldn’t because that’s not who I am, and then I compensate buy just showing up at her front door with flowers and a get well card. the fact I am being ignored and not talked to by someone who you fell for and she claims she fell in love with me too, that I helped out till I was broke, I feel cheated, embarrassed to even share this, its flat out rude and disrespectful, I don’t understand because sometimes I just want to know how she is. I feel she doesn’t really care about me at all or how I am doing since I lost my job struggling not to be homeless, I don’t know what to do anymore, I am more depressed now, I lost my interest to go out even look at other women, My appetite has replaced in binge drinking, making me sick, becoming more and more angry, sleeping on the couch not caring about a fresh morning shave, don’t worry I’m not fat I can’t gain a pound and everyone says I’m quite attractive, sounds like something in a movie or something on TV.

    I don’t know if I should just stop all together and ignore her, refuse her calls don’t respond to her texts, but confused because were beautiful when were together and everything she is were compatible like every girl I have ever been with in one person. I don’t want to lose her if this is her worst. Because I want to be with her when she’s at her best. This is just so hard to go through and for everyone else on here I don’t need criticism or she is seeing someone else and feed my head with more bullshit because that would be her confession. My father told me in my teenage years, Somethings in Life you will just have to be a man and deal with it. I don’t know what else to do than just wait.

    Thank you everyone else I read all your stories and thank you for not making me feel alone out there. Really made my day when researching this. Take care.

  13. Lisa says:

    I found myself living with a man such as many of the ones described here. A platonic arrangement I set up to help me with my crazy bills turned into me sleeping with this man for over a year. Dumb choice. I own up to that part, no one forced me. But I regret it because it destroyed the BOUNDARIES I needed to PROTECT myself from this man. I’ve slowly been able to see exactly who he is: A rotten child. He throws tantrums, storms out of rooms, IGNORES ME for weeks on end. His periods of distancing himself and being cold and dismissive are often followed up by “fun” times and togetherness. It’s always been easier to accept these times when they arrive based on his decision to stop his bullshit, than to talk to him or work out why he behaved so negatively for weeks on end. Though, I’ve tried. I’ve never met ANYONE so absolutely resistant to owning up to anything they do. It’s as he doesn’t have a conscience. Hes a loud mouth and a bully. He came into my home just off of fights with other women. One time I heard him screaming at the top of his lungs at the mother of his child. He called her ugly, asked her had she ever looked in a mirror, insulted everything down to the home she lived in. Called her a piece of shit, told her she was lucky he would ever touch a dog like her, much less have a child with her, and on and on. I talked to him about…he explained it away. Said she had wronged him, he would never speak to me that way, yada yada. Meanwhile, she no longer communicates with him. The woman I am NOW knows so much more about what was going on in that conversation I overheard nearly two years ago, because here I am also being called a ugly monkey by him too. Its all he’s capable of, with any woman. I just felt so beaten up. I’m on this site tonight because he blew up at me based on a perceived slight 3 weeks ago and had ignored me since then. I finally said I cannot take this anymore, you are uncomfortable and so am I, when will you be leaving my home? I also tried to reason with him, to say: but why would you behave that way towards someone who apologized to you, and think of all the times that I’ve been thoughtful and giving to you, etc… Well, what did that get me besides a tantrum to end all tantrums: slamming doors, stomping about the house, name calling, shouting, hauling out of suitcases…the works. I’m hurt but its so over the top that I could almost laugh. He reminds me of really rotten 5 year old. One that throws tantrums in order to manipulate and take power. To think I kept giving this man the benefit of the doubt! Hes rotten! Has always been, I just refused to see how emotionally stunted he is. All he had in his arsenal was subtle manipulation, he managed to convince me SOMEHOW that I wasn’t good enough, attractive enough or whatever enough. That’s why I kept hanging on. Hoping I could convince him of my worth. This man has rained all over my life.

    • Alyssa says:

      Read “Why does he do that” by Lundy Bancroft and “The verbally abusive relationship”. I’ve read both books and they’re gems. As I said above, I’ve found my husband and his ‘subtle’ abusiveness and silent treatment strategies in those pages.
      The guy you describe is in those pages, with only a name change… It turns out that such are textbook examples of abusive men. Mine uses silent treatments to bend me to his will and I’m sure, to show who really has the power in this relationship. And then he thinks he’s a godly man…

  14. Sharon says:

    Thank you for sharing this insightful information. Guess you could say I’ve been given the silent treatment for over 20 years now. It’s more like we co-habitate. Anything meaningful or personal is not up for discussion. Silent treatment. I am currently planning my escape. :)

  15. Olivia says:

    I agree with Ken…here’s my story. I have a long-distance friendship, and we don’t get to see each other often. My friend is PA and I’m more aggressive. In my family, we expressed our feelings, sometimes loudly. We didn’t call names, and I don’t, but we would raise our voices to prove a point. Most of the time my friend and I have delightful talks and can laugh for hours. Then there are times we will argue, it gets “heated,” until my friend declares she’s hanging up, or hangs up directly. When she threatens, I back down, and apologize–Life’s too short, you know? My anger is dispelled quickly, and I know hers isn’t, but I do my best to make amends–even offering a “cooling off” truce as long as we can get back to each other at a certain period of time to discuss things. Even that doesn’t work, and she winds up giving me the Silent Treatment for days or even WEEKS. She won’t accept my calls, texts OR emails, until I grovel for forgiveness, and beg her to talk it out, because she tells me that I’m the reason the argument got so heated. I do my best to get a response, and if I get the words “just right,” she’ll finally respond.
    We then talk things out, and then she will apologize, explain that her Silent Treatment is really only a defense against “bad” behavior, and that she “hurts” just as much as I do when she ignores me. Really??!! In some instances, she has even stated that she is so wound up in her own self-destructive hurt, that if I don’t take the initiative, she may never make it herself, and could let me go as a friend..she calls it her “failing.” I think it’s a cop-out, and a way to keep me responsible for the friendship’s survival.
    When another argument occurs, and in friendships they do, I am informed that I cannot raise my voice, or she will hang up, which insures another episode of silence, which only angers me further–but she can lecture, and I am to listen. I feel like a dog being trained to hold a biscuit on her nose until her owner gives the signal that she can eat it.
    Maybe I’m too concerned with closure, but if this friend really wants me out of her life because of what I’ve done, she can call, email or text with two words: “Get lost.” If she could do that, I’d be out for good, no questions asked, and she’d never have to deal with me again. Problem is, that involves responsibility, and I have found that PA people don’t like that either–it always seems to be someone else’s fault. So it will have to be my move, once I get sick of all of this (and I’m getting there) and she can tell everyone about how terrible I was to her. I can’t feel sympathy for this kind of behavior. It’s a veiled power-grab. Still, the behavior is effective–the more silent she is, the more insecure and needy I feel. I’ve got to figure out how to break the cycle, and learn to cope, or cut my losses.

  16. Steve says:

    The dynamics of the silent treatment, and it’s effects, are effective and predictable. I have been on the receiving end of the silent treatment periodically for years (25). It is my wife’s primary response to a disagreement. When you have children, the silent treatment becomes a tool to separate you from the rest of the family. No child wants to get in the middle of that overt, yet unspoken, anger. Having experienced this response forms long gives me some perspective on the situation, but that experience does little to mitigate it’s effects. What I find frustrating is that the silent treatment bars the first step of reconciliation-an apology or in the alternative, words of civility that could lead to the beginning of the healing process. At this point, while I understand the anger (hey, we all get angry or do stupid things, I get that), I can’t understand why the silent treatment continues to be her default response. Be that as it may, I am trying to realize it is her response in anger. I hope to wait it out by removing myself from the environment she is trying to control. Will it be for 2 weeks, for 2 months? That is the difficult part to deal with, because there is no indication as to when it may be resolved, if ever. I just continue to have faith that the love we’ve shared all these years will overcome the anger and the silent treatment response. That’s all I can do, while I continue to try to create a positive environment with my kids in a most negative type of environment.

    • Ashley says:

      Why can’t you give an apology and words of civility during a silent treatment? You can easily come to her and talk to her, even if she is ignoring you, you can say “I’ve thought about what I did and I really am sorry. I’m here to talk when you are ready.” You can bring her flowers. You can even write an email to her (that she will undoubtedly read) and send her flowers if you feel she will walk away or can’t stay put long enough for you to get what you want to say out.

      She is not stopping you. Men know what they are doing–they are playing victim. If after you apologize sincerely and she continues, then its out of your hands and its her job to either explain that she needs more space because she is still angry, or embarassed and doesn’t know what to say yet or come to you and except your apology or attempt to talk again (and explain why its difficult to talk to you). That’s how it can end, but some men don’t want it to end because then they can’t be a victim anymore.

  17. Kim says:

    Has it ever occurred to anyone that giving someone the silent treatment is a natural result of utter frustration? If past experience shows that a spouse who has insulted or injured their mate will either (a) deny the harm (b) deny the importance of the harm (c) or give a half hearted apology and continue the same behavior, there is little point in discussion. For some of us, freezing a person out mentally for awhile is the only way to keep from killing them. I consider the silent treatment a defense mechanism. The fact that we females have to resort to it so frequently has more to do with lack of emotional intelligence on the part of many men. I can see and sense distress in my husband or son’s face at the early stages of upset or anger. If men had, or were willing to learn that skill, they would soon find the silent treatment to be history.

    • Nicola says:

      Kim, I COMPLETELY agree with you! Any other form of attempt to sort things out just triggers the same hurtful behaviour… Why would I WANT to give the time of day to that person at the time?

  18. Ursula says:

    He is doing it again. I told him that it’s my dealbreaker, the next time it happened, I would be done, and yet it’s happening again. I have reached out to him 3x since Sunday and he hasn’t responded one time. It’s Tuesday now. I have decided I will not call him again. And if he contacts me, I just may never speak to him again or answer him so that he can understand I am serious. He has broken me down by doing this too many times. When is it ever enough? When do you let go? What do I say if he contacts me or should I just ignore him too? I am so tired.

  19. Nicola says:

    What if “talking about it” isn’t an option because that sparks the behavior that caused the silent treatment as a response in the first place. Something as reasonable as akin my partner to clean up the spilt coffee and take away cups that he’s left there for DAYS, provokes unreasonable rages and behaviour with the only thing I CAN do, being to ignore him while I try to get over the hurt and bewilderment of yet another flare up over nothing. Trying to discuss it rationally and calmly? – Yeah right! before I know it he’ll be twisting my words around, his voice rising and somehow I’M the bad person because I’ve had the gall Ro get upset about being yelled at and abused for a completely reasonable request. He doesn’t work, he sits at home on the computer ALL day but can’t find the time to clean up his mess…there’s always some excuse – I’m tired, I don’t feel well, don’t hassle me, you only have to ask me once, no you don’t have to ask me at all, why do you treat me like the maid! – the voice gets louder and louder, he yells, maybe storms out of the house telling me how abusive I am… So really, the silent treatment is my only refuge.

  20. Starting to Give Up says:

    Dealing with the silent treatment again .. the husband is a wonderful guy normally, anything you can think of, he does and he loves/adores me, we are the classic couple in love..but about every six months or so, something I do or say makes him mad, usually something he can’t get his one way about and this time I am not giving in. I get the silent treatment for days, we are going on day two right now with the holiday weekend coming up, charming, another ruined holiday… we have to skirt around each other in the house, normally i can’t get a shower without him, except during these silent times he showers alone, eat separately, no kiss goodnight nothing, its like living alone except more stressful as there is this dark shadow you have to avoid. We have been married for 10 years, I don’t think anyone else would suit me better, but at times like this it really makes me start feeling like maybe we should split up. It really rings true what you wrote above ‘breeds bitterness’, even though I have told him time and time again, I really don’t think he understands the damage he is doing and he is really going to regret it if I actually do get pushed to the point to do something about it.

  21. Gus says:

    I am experiencing the cold shoulder right now from my ex girlfriend who i am still madly in love with and i agree that it is a form of torture. I never did anythinhg wrong by her but the cold shoulder treatment is just her way of removing herself from the situation and trying to avoid the guilt i think she is feeling over what she did to me. It is so cruel to wanting to say all these things about how much you love them but not being given the chance. The feelings just bubble up inside of you and you feel physically sick. I dont condone her behaviour but i still love her none the less regardless of the poor attitude she is putting to me. Its quite sad really.

  22. Ashley says:

    This is ridiculous. The silent treatment is not always this abusive, evil horror that people like to say it is. Many times, an offender plays dumb, and plays innocent and then acts as if they are the victim when a victim has actually grown fed up and tired of appeasing and are disgusted, sad, angry, hurt, afraid, depressed, etc. and can’t talk anymore.

    I’ve given my husband “the silent treatment,” but because I don’t have much else of a choice. Talking doesn’t work, because he gets very defensive and insults me ever chance he gets when I have any type of grievance. Me telling him how I feel about something turns into a battle where he tries to one-up me on how much I do to him. If anything, the end result is him saying he will “try” to be nicer to me since I’m so sensitive, try to not talk while I’m talking since I can’t handle people who disagree with me (yes, to him you can disagree about how a person feels inside), try to live up to his end of an agreement and then never come through. He calls me emotionally unstable, needy, crazy, etc. and acts like everything is in my head. And I’m supposed to continue on as if everything is back to normal just because he wants to move on and talk about what we’re doing for Labor Day? Screw that, I’m sad, I’m frustrated, I’m tired. And now I’m even more the bad guy because I not only started the argument (by bringing up a grievance), looked stupid not getting any of my concerns met while taking on blame and insults, but now I am emotionally abusing someone by not talking to them in a happy way after its over (to them its over).

    There is usually a backstory behind the silent treatment. But somehow people always mysteriously act like they have no idea what happened and why. Like they were just sitting on the couch minding their business and the wife just stopped talking for days. The solution is always “not to play her game” and ignore her back, give her the silent treatment back, and don’t even think to ask “what’s wrong?” if you really don’t know what’s wrong. Or think to say “I know what’s been bothering you and I’m here to talk to when you want.” That’s all it takes. But of course someone who knows what they are doing won’t do that because then they’d have to face that there is a reason they are being ostracized. The “game” continues usually because TWO people are playing it!

    • Ursula says:

      Spoken like someone who has never been on the receiving end of habitual emotional abuse/the silent treatment.

      • Gina says:

        The silent treatment is a form of abuse. The two most important things in a relationship is respect and communication. When either of these has been used against you it’s abuse. If someone is not talking with you then they aren’t interetsed in you they want control. If they aren’t speaking to you they don’t respect your feelings or you period. We wait for the silence to end because we love the person and we think a little silence no big deal, but it is a big deal. Sure, it takes two to particiapte, but if never should happen in the first place which is the point.

        • Ursula says:

          Precisely. Communication and respect make a good relationship. It’s unhealthy when you blank/stonewall your partner/anyone you have a relationship. It IS used as a form of control if it’s a pttern when someone doesn’t get their way or is angry. The silent treatment (prolonged) is not the same as saying “Let’s cool off right now and discuss this later.” That is considered respectful. Someone just blanking you and refusing to speak to you is an immature a-hole.

          • Kali says:

            …and look how the respondents proved Ashley right. “I’m a victim! You’re abusing me!” Who’s immature?!

  23. never mind says:

    silent treatment should not be used with people who love u and you love them but I think it must be used with people who are 2faced in other words they they show that they love you but in fact they hate you and they try 2 make the best 2 bother you

  24. Kali says:

    I found this blog as I was researching ways to overcome my silence and shutting down in the face of emotional pain. For me, the problem is that ST is crippling my life in a myriad of ways, so I must learn to move beyond it. I read most of the posters’ comments here as well as the article.(I’ll refer to people who commit ST as “STers” hereafter.)

    I see in so many comments the very reason why the other person shuts down. Let me start here: you are NOT being “abused” because no one is doing anything TO you. The person is simply ignoring you, which is his/her way of controlling him/herself. Got that? Controlling him/herSELF.

    I can tell you that there are certain triggers that provoke ST. I notice the repeated sentiment: “…but I apologized.” Really? Now who’s the one being controlling and manipulative here? You cannot merely say “sorry” and think the STer will kiss and makeup. That’s not fair. Most STers are people who process pain slowly. We need time to grieve and heal before we can approach the situation with a level head.

    Trigger 1: Yelling. Many STers came from homes where people yelled as a form of control. When someone yells at me, for example, I feel like I’m seven years-old and that the yeller is like my mother. I want to hide. I feel threatened and small. IF I can forgive and move forward, I will need time to build my self-esteem back enough to face you again. And the fact that I even have to go through the emotional turmoil makes me resentful.

    Rule: Resentment is the STer’s fuel.
    Once I begin resenting the other person, it’s easy to slip into this cozy box of prolonged silence as the resentment continues to feed itself. It’s like hiding under the covers; it’s far more comfortable than communicating and possibly being yelled at or criticized again.

    Trigger 2: Violations of trust or integrity. One poster on a different blog about ST said she read her man’s email. Regardless of what she uncovered, the fact is that she had no regard for his right to privacy and their trust in the first place. When people wrong me in ways that are flagrant and disrespectful, it’s difficult for me to tell them what I think they should already know. And if they don’t already know, I grieve more because I know the inevitable split is impending. Some people may stay in the relationship and keep the charade up for years, but resentment is already firmly rooted, and ST can come on at any time, for any (or no) reason further. Essentially, you’ve already burnt your bridge.

    Don’t misinterpret me, please. You don’t need to be a “mind reader” to know that you shouldn’t have opened someone’s email or that you shouldn’t use my personal life as community gossip (as one ST-receiving friend of mine did).

    Trigger 3: Dramatic, demanding behavior. “Did you just text me ten times in the space of an hour?” You could have texted “please ignore me” repeatedly because that’s exactly what you just provoked. At that point, ignoring you is the only thing I can do to keep from calling you and giving you a piece of my mind for what I deem “crazy” or nagging behavior.

    I never want to say something I’ll regret. This is the credo of the STer.

    We don’t want to hurt you, even though you’ve hurt us; we do want to wait until you’re calm because we don’t enjoy confrontation with those close to us. Just because I’ve gone toe-to-toe with the surly chick at the grocery store before doesn’t mean I want to have to defend myself around those I love. Say what you want about our passive aggression, overtly aggressive behavior will get you nowhere. (Well, it will get you to Shut-Down City FAST.)

    Many posters said they want to sit down and talk with the STer, but you’re not telling us your methods of communication. Nobody wants to sit down and hear a bunch of scathing criticisms. Do you really think I want to show up for that? I’d rather not speak to you at all if that’s where we’re going with this. I’m certainly not going to argue.

    So what can you do about ST? One thing is certain: ignoring the STer is NOT your answer. In fact, it lets the STer off easy. “I *never* have to communicate with so-and-so. Good riddance!” is what I think when the other person decides to return the ST favor.

    In a perfect world, the person would come to me and say: “I know that I was wrong for reading your email” (or whatever the violation), “I understand if you cannot forgive me right now, but I want to rebuild our trust because you are important to me, and I want you in my life.”
    Hey, I just got a little teary typing that because–you know what? No one has ever said anything like that to me. They just continue on with their “me, me, me” ramblings. I’m left feeling like: “Wow. Not only did this person hurt me, but now this narcissist is calling ME ‘abusive’ because I don’t want to sit for his/her BS.”

    Almost everyone here talks about what the STer is doing to “me”. Trigger #4: Nothing shuts an STer down like observing selfishness. Keep up the “me” act while disregarding the STer’s feelings, and you can guarantee resentment will keep the STer quiet.

    I hope this helps to better someone’s understanding.

  25. A male says:

    I just wanted to share. Every now and then in my relationship with the love of my life, we bump heads occasionally and at times I put my foot in my mouth. If she feels very hurt, she will shut down completely and will not speak, or give me any indication anything that I say is even heard or considered by her. When this happens I try to do the right thing. I apoligize, and admit that I’m wrong and beg and plead with her to snap out of it so that we can talk it out and resolve the issue. We love eachother amazingly, but I have to admit, her ‘shutting down’ or ‘silent treatment’ wears on my soul. The emotional anguish I go through is immense and hate it. I try everything to make things right between us, but she usually doesn’t come around until the following day. She claims this is a defense or ‘survival’ mechanism she aquired in her youth growing up in an abusive home. Is her shutting down on me abusive? I can’t stress anough the amount of effort I put into owning my part in the situation and working things out, but nothing helps her heal from it except time, and in that time I am in agony.

    • Lulu says:

      Kali, you need to get help. Seriously. Cause you just don’t get it. I feel sorry for you. Therapy would be a good idea.

  26. elleke says:

    Kali, did you post on this site so you could say everything you don’t say to those you give the ST? There is no reason you shouldn’t share these feelings with others in a face-to-face way. If you can’t stand yelling and consider this abuse, then think about the person on the other end of the ST. They believe ST is abuse. If you can’t say directly to another that they violated your trust and have no integrity on their behavior, then why are you violating their trust by “killing them metaphorically?” If someone wants your attention you give them no way to get it when you are ignoring them and then getting angry because they are trying to discuss why you are angry. So what if they text you.
    You said you want to overcome your silence. You’ve done it here. Now try doing it in person to the one you usually give the silent treatment. However, be advised that they may have something to say that you must listen to. Is that the real hitch. You think that if you listen to another then you will be weak and vulnerable? No, you will be strong. Ask yourself if you are projecting rage from past events onto the small situations of the present? Are you making the recipient of your ST the bad guy? You will never know if you don’t engage. Not to do so will keep both of you miserable and when that person has had enough, you will be the one who is miserable ALONE.
    If you really want to overcome your silence, I suggest you get therapy. Therapy would mean that you have to open your petals and become the blossom you are meant to be.
    Read my postings on this blog.

  27. A male says:

    I honestly believe that in a relationship, couples meet eachother halfway. When conflict arises, couples should meet eachother halfway, and work together to resolve the conflict. No body is perfect, people make mistakes, people hurt eachother, and it’s not like it’s on purpose either. I’m sorry but if someone shows genuine and sincere longing to apologize and wants desperately to work out a problem, especially if they own the fault, then the person giving the silent treatment should meet them halfway and work things out. The fact that there is an inability for people to do this tells me that they have some real emotional issues they need to fix. Also, when a person giving silent treatment accuses the other of being selfish for wanting the ST’r to snap out of it, is the ONE BEING SELFISH. What people need to realize is the pain a ST’r causes is more severe than the pain inflicted on them in the first place. It is selfish, and I think it’s not only abusive, but destructive and will cause an end to relationships time after time. Defend the ST if you will, but I am often on the receiving end of it, and I equate it to CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT.

  28. Nicola says:

    Interesting reads, all of it.

    I do not necessarily believe that just because person A is giving person B the silent treatment, it is abuse. As with anything, these things are case by case, with none of us knowing what goes on to provoke it.

    Sometimes you have no choice but to remove yourself from the situation for a time and give yourself room to breathe and process WITHOUT being chased around the house and badgered to the point of no return as you just HAVE been for the last 4 hours, with the person soon to be on the end of the silent treatment as a result of THEIR behavior, yelling at you, having a go at you because you’re not saying much (mainly because you can’t get a word in edgewise) and when you DO, no matter WHAT it is you’re saying, it’s the wrong thing and fuel for the yelling fire.

    This happens to me, i am not one to sit by and let someone heap sh!t on me without defending myself, i don’t immediately start with the silent treatment, not by a long shot, but sometimes this is my only respite and unfortunately because of just how irrational my partner becomes over the most insignificant of things, it doesn’t matter WHAT i do. He says you never talk to me, so i talk… and get yelled at, things get thrown around (not by me). The trigger (in this instance, some old listings on ebay, but enough for him to flare up and tell me i’ve got to stop buying stuff, which i wasn’t) and just bringing it into the house without discussing it with him) is completely disproportionate to the response (verbally attacking me followed by throwing things around and yelling) and bit by bit his aggression is teaching me that to speak is to get yelled at. Why WOULDN’T i just shut my mouth if this is the easiest avenue and less likely to end up with the aforementioned 4 hours of being yelled at – and no, not justifiably so.

    Why am i the bad guy because i’ve had to use the Silent Treatment, yet the person with the bad behavior is not, and should be allowed to just get away with a sorry, until the next time.

    I for one, see nothing to comment negatively on, in Kali’s post. They realize they have issues with using the silent treatment in the extreme and are looking for ways to help themselves not do that, and for that i tip my hat to them. I personally agree with what they have to say.

    While some people actually ARE using the silent treatment as a manipulation technique, others aren’t and SOME people need to realize that if they don’t want the “abusive” silent treatment then maybe they should look to their own abusive behavior that triggers it.

    • elleke says:

      Nicola, you are right; however, if you are in a relationship that requires the ST to get the balance back between the 2 of you, then you need to analyze whether that dynamic is going to lead to a positive long-term situation. There are 2 sides to every story. I recently had a relationship where the guy thought he could yell at me if I didn’t do things as quickly or adroitly as he thought I should. Instead of raging at him for his disrespect and impatience, I yelled back from the other room in assertively and not angry, “Hey, hey!” He backed off and in the end he realized that he had made a mistake in his behavior. Although he didn’t apologize, he didn’t yell anymore. I didn’t have to resort to the ST (which is an anathema to me). If I had shut him off or ignored him, it might have reinforced the behavior. This was a hard lesson for me to learn because I have been the recipient of the ST from an ex-husband for over 20 years and from various members of my family for longer than that. (At times I was so down on myself because of the silence and the lack of interaction and the frustration with trying to explain, discuss and even defend myself that I thought I might as well just die.) I was so pleased that this worked. I have no wish to manipulate another, just to let them know they were out of line, but I just cannot ignore another to get my point accross. In the past the “dynamic” was being ignored and then I pressed for discussion, apologized or surrendered to keep peace and to be loved. None of that worked. The dynamic was cyclical, just endless repetition. If your partner is a “yeller” and you can’t accept that, then I would suggest counseling for you (or both of you) in order to deal with things more constructively, him for his overwhelming lack of tact and aggressiveness, and you for the withdrawal from his in-your-face behavior.

  29. Ursula says:

    To Kali who posted this below one of my comments:


    8 November 2011 at 6:04 pm

    …and look how the respondents proved Ashley right. “I’m a victim! You’re abusing me!” Who’s immature?!”

    Actually, it is you who is coming across as immature. Nowhere in either statement posted that you were referring to did anyone claim “I’m a victim!” Don’t mince words and don’t feel you need to be rude to get your point across. You, actually, are a good example proving the point WE are all trying to make. It’s the “my way is right” attitude, the same as the person who using the ST as a form of control, that sets people back.

  30. A male says:

    In my situation, the offense is usually something I said or inadverdantly did. I put my foot in my mouth, for example, I told her I was hungry and wanted to eat even after eating dinner. She asked me why I felt the need to eat, and I said it was probably bc I was bored. She said oh great, and shut down on me. She took what I said out of context, and I explained that to her, I apologozed for what I said told her I loved her, yet she remained shutdown, unresponsive to me. That is just one example of many. When she does this I am in turmoil. I just don’t know what to do bc when it happens I feel sick and there is no not feeling just horrible until we work it out with dialogue. I’m fair and compromising and want to meet her in the middle and be there for her, but sometimes I feel like she wants to feel hurt and wants to hurt me. Her actions in these situations don’t dictate love in any way and I feel loss and grief.

  31. Heartbroken says:

    Hi I hope someone can help me. Ive read a few posts on here and now Im a bit wiser but Im still confused and wonder if someone can help and advise me.

    I had been in a relationship for 5 months with what I thought was a wonderful guy, he was very attentive and complementary and it seemed we just clicked. But the more I saw of him I started noticing traits in, he seemed cold and somewhat cruel and when I did see him we would end up arguing due to his silence and staring into space. Im quite an emotional person and also very warm and he wouldnt talk to me he just said it was the way he was.

    When we met he was going through a difficult time, I was under the impression that he was seperated from his wife and that he was going to be making plans to divorce but then I learned that he had infact got himself into trouble because of a domestic situation and was infact on bail miles away from where he said he was from.

    I stood by him because I had fallen in love with him, he spoke about a future together and one day marrying. I know I should have had a bell ringing then but when you love someone you do look through rose tinted glasses and it was a future to look forward to with him.

    When we had had words before I was the one doing all the chasing as he wouldnt reply to my messages, I was the one that always rang him but when he saw me he treated me well so it didnt seem to matter.

    Then came the crunch, I stood by him whilst his case went to court I wanted to know how he was and how he was coping but at this stage the texts were few and in the end I rang him up to which he said he didnt want to talk about it.
    It is now 4 days since I have heard from him Ive text and emailed but nothing, he has not deleted me off his email list or msn so Im at a lose at what he is playing at.

    One thing that does stand out on here is the dominance statement, he did actually say to me once that I should try to control him as I wouldnt win.

    Will he ever reply to my texts to let me know if he is ok or do I accept that he just didnt care.

    I suffer with depression which he knows about and this last incidence as pushed me close to the edge. My kids arnt talkiing to me because of him Im lost please please help put my mind at rest.
    Thank you.

    • Sue says:

      Hi “Heartbroken”

      I had to write because your story is very similar to mine, only my situation went on for 3 yrs. I too was in love, deeply in love, so I missed or dismissed many signs. The man who was so lovely in the beginning was there on his terms.

      When we were together it was always great, but when we were apart it was as if I didn’t exist sometimes, it felt like he didn’t care – just as you said. And truth be told, he said he did but his actions showed he didn’t.

      You have listed some quite serious issues, the silence, replying when he wants to, not letting you know he is ok, not caring about you, the domestic violent past, lying about locations, a defiant statement about control.

      I stood by my man too, he was also divorced and in the beginning going through a tough time, I thought it was related to that so I too supported him, and made allowances for that. He will use your support and then when it suits him leave, if he finds it cant 100% control you. Control is not a good thing, short term it may be ok to work through, but longer term will be very difficult. These types need doormats, even eventually even doormats get worn out.

      This is a very controlling situation, as was mine which I only later realised after much hurt, trauma and having been pushed to a depressed state and the brink of health too.

      I believe these are all to do with selfishness and control. Is this really the man you want to spend your future with, or any kids be near? Someone who won’t consider your feelings or be thoughtful to you, except when it suits him / his schedule. (I had that same thing too, so it’s very strange to read your note.) I found myself doing all the giving, the supportive and little giving coming back, primarily taking on is part, though at the time I didn’t see it that way, as I am a giving trusting kind person and was in love.

      Can I ask you is he stubborn too?

      Where you have any relationship where the other person is causing your health to deteriorate, ask yourself is that good for you? Is it the type of partner you want? You feel worse because you are picking up on him not considering your feelings.

      I am no longer with mine, he literally abandoned me when it suited him, left me very traumatised and he then refused to speak, took 1.5 years before he did. Please don’t do that to yourself. The silence is the control that he uses, he’ll probably have done it since a child, it’s manipulative but its ingrained in their personality by now.

      If the man is not talking to you this much in the 5 months which should be the easier and best times, believe me it will get much much worse, and if you were ever married to him, the control I believe then ramps up more. It sounds like what I found out was called a Jeykll & Hyde personality; one is really loving and kind, then it can flips to the mean and cruel side.

      You hinted you have picked up on some bad signs. Use your gut instinct, while you may be in love, use your head too. Just the person only by their actions, not what they say at all. What do the actions tell you? Also learn the lessons from the women in his past, don’t learn it the hard way. Generally how they treat ex’s is how you will get treated should it go the same way, for me too he had a difficult break up with his ex-wife. There was some of my warning signs that I didn’t pay enough attention to, because I was “deeply in love”.

      Please use your head, trust your instinct, and even more so if he tells you what he is like, consider only his actions and what they stand for, not what he says. His word means nothing, you have seen he has already lied about his location.

      The hard part for you will be seeing this, as it’s probably not in your nature to be this way, as you are kind caring giving, precisely the qualities of a person he knows he can get with and try to manipulate for his benefit.

      I wish I could be happy about it, but consider the facts, act on them sooner rather than later. The longer you remain in a situaton where your health deteriorates, the harder it becomes to heal as it gets more traumatic.

      Hope this is helpful to you. Be strong, be wise, use your head and instincts, protect your heart and emotional mental health, no one will do that for you, you have to. All the best.

      • Sue says:

        Take control of the situation for what it is. A man who truly loves you doesn’t need to dominate or control you.

        I meant, “Judge the person only by their actions, not what they say.” In my case I realised too late, and also that his word meant don’t, it was about as solid as water is.

        The most important thing for anyone is to take care of their own emotional wellbeing, make sure you do.

      • Heartbroken says:

        Hi Sue, thank you so much for your reply. It has helped a little. Its hard to think that there are men out there that would behave like that, I always try to see the good in people but I must admit I did see his bad traits quite early. I chose to ignore them because his nice side seem to compensate for the not so nice side.

        It does hurt and it still hurts to know that he has gone, Ive had problems with anxiety and depression in the past and it made the anxiety come back with avengance. Thankfully that is starting to subside and I cant wait for it to go completely.

        Its when I think about him that it starts again.

        I feel bad now that Ive hurt so many ppl by putting him first in my life also and hope in time that I can remedy that.

        Yes I still miss the guy but accept that it wasnt meant to be and he will be how he was with me with every woman he is with sooner or later.

        So perhaps it was for the best.

        I dont expect to hear from him now anyway.

        Thanks for your replies I appreciate them very much.

        • Sue says:

          Hi Heartbroken,

          I feel for you, it was helpful to me too to read your message and see it’s almost a similar pattern. You and I have both had a lucky escape. Seriously, when they don’t talk, it’s not respecting you or your feelings. It’s a very bad thing.

          The reason we both end up with depression and suffering is a lot to do with how they are to us, cause and effect, and our own values and their lack of values.

          I did the same, disregarded some bad stuff due to the good stuff.

          I took me years to realise, I didn’t see the signs for what they were, and ended up very hurt and traumatised by many things that got worse, but I still stuck by him, why?, because I was in love with him! – Not always the right reason to do that. There should be no drama in good relationships.

          Count yourself lucky also that you are actually quite emotionally smart and switched on to spot and then act on signs. And even if he came back you shouldnt go to him.

          See what your own body is telling you, you’re feeling better now.
          I had a very tough time getting over mine, ended up in counselling. I suggest you do that if you feel it may help you.

          I have come to realise one thing, yes it does hurt when you start to think about it, so the solution is dont; if you find yourself starting, then stop, do something else, keep busy, housework, etc. otherwise it can lead to depression, as we both know. Easier said that done, believe me I know!!

          You are miles more emotionally smarter to me, and I also realise that yes he sadly will be like this sooner or later with any other women. It’s who he is. People don’t change. See what is there, not what you want to see, … I came to learn that the hard way.

          And if he does come back, remember what to do, and remember the bad stuff, if needed write it out so you don’t forget.

          Protect your emotional health first and foremost. Sure you had a tough time, and it’s taken it’s toll on those around or supporting you, but realise you wised up, and will eventually get back on to the path of finding someone that will be good to and for you. Then your people will be happy for you.

          And the reason we find it hard to think there are men out there like that (I’m sure there are women too), is also due to our own value system. You said you always try to see the good in people, I did that too. But now I wised up and have learnt to see what is there, especially when they tell you things, and I think all people do tell you things. It’s up to each to then pick up on that information.

          Here’s a tip: watch those couples who are happy and find out what makes them work. I once asked a friend who I knew was happy, were they always happy, any issues, drama? She said no, it was smooth no drama from day 1. It’s an important thing to learn and understand.

          Sometimes also when you are too supportive, trusting and wanting to see the good in people, others can take advantage of that, as here.

          Take care. Rebuild yourself, for you and then others around you, and then get happy, and you will attract someone right for you.

          : )

  32. Sue says:

    And yeah I don’t expect to hear from my guy ever too. They seem to only want to be in touch when they want something from you. You watch and see, should he ever get back in touch. Be wiser. :)

  33. S.C. says:

    My GF and I have been together for 5 months now and it has been amazing. We both love each other intensely and she makes me the happiest I have ever been. She says the same is true for her. I truly do my best to make her feel special and loved. When I was younger I actively worked to make myself more emotionally available and expressive so that whoever I was with would never have to wonder how I felt about them. The only problem in our relationship is that when I do something stupid and say something hurtful when I’m stressed out she gives me the silent treatment. There isn’t a single other person in my life that has ever given me the silent treatment. My parents and siblings were wonderful and we all resolved conflicts well. So when she gave me the silent treatment the first time it was horrible. I’ve never experienced such emotional anguish. I couldn’t eat, sleep, or get any of my school work done. So far it has only happened twice until two days ago. Its the last week of classes with exams next week and I have about 10 hrs of work/study a night; so I’m pretty stressed. I should mention that we are in a distance relationship. I’ve always made it a point for us to see each other every three weeks because the longer you’re away from someone, that easier it is to forget how special they are to you when you’re angry. She went out with her friends to lunch and to hang out for about 5 hours on wednesday and I had no idea. We’re usually in constant communication so when she disappears like without even a update, I worry. I worry because she gives me the silent treatment without warning. So when she disappears, I don’t know if she is simply busy or pissed and giving me the silent treatment. I tried to explain this to her but I was upset and said it in a hurtful way. I fully own up to being an ass and expressing myself the wrong way. I’ve apologized sincerely but its been over two days and I haven’t heard from her. I haven’t even eaten more than an egg, some toast and half a strip of bacon before I just couldn’t eat anything more. Its killing me. My heart literally feels like its splitting and beating irregularly. At first it was anxiety and pain, but now its pushing me away from her. I love her desperately and believe her to be my true love so I will wait as long as it takes for her to talk to me. I believe she does this for multiple reasons. Her father was vocally abusive and sexually abusive to her mother. They are now split but she hasn’t spoken to him since. I think the main source of her thinking this is acceptable behavior is her mother who is basically a 50 yr old child. Her mother gives her fiancee the silent treatment regularly and I think is where she picked it up as a good method to convey her anger. I beg her each time to simply talk it out with me. I don’t have an angry bone in my body and she has told me on many occasions that I have shown her a whole side of men that she had no idea existed; kind, loving, generous, emotionally open, and respectful. Any insights on how to help her not use the silent treatment on me any longer?

  34. Paradise says:

    Dear Angela and Nomi
    I am living something so similar to Angela. My best recommendation to anyone going through the silent treatment or perceived emotional abuse is Google the following keywords and even string them all together: silent treatment, workaholic, narcissist, sociopath, psychopath, mental and emotional abuse, co-dependent. Everytime, comes up Narcissist and that is what I’ve been stuck with for 35 years. You have to leave and you will survive. I’ve tried all the I love you’s, all the xxxxx texts, all the desparation texts how each day is getting worse. Fantastic they are saying! Do not let them into your thoughts – don’t let them know how you feel or you are fueling it. The more attention we give this stuff, the more we are feeding it and you know if you keep feeding something…… it grows out of control. This is week two of the silent treatment with a little gap of trying to communicate, but I’m told I’m having a go, arguing, the person doesn’t have time for this so the silence begins again. It’s been say four weeks. I was a basketcase and he continued to ignore me instead of telling me off then cheering me up. Isn’t that the most mature thing to do? Would you treat a baby like this? I was told once, treat the one you love as if they were your own baby…… cherish it. He is treating me as meanly as he is treating himself inside – wow, what baggage he must contain. I am in the early stages of leaving and today is a real weak day because I promised for 35 years I would never leave and I’ve kept my word – we are soulmates, but enough of this is enough and I will survive, you will too. Keep busy, even do small things on those really depressed days. Keep moving forward, every day or they will suck the life from you – literally. Do not give in. One thing I learned about myself just last week was I am quite co-dependent – as in dependent on receiving attention from my lover, dependent on him making me happy, dependent on his love. The more I do this, the more he has control and can play his evil game – Narcissism. He’s now a workaholic and I don’t stand a chance. No one is too busy for friends, family and lovers. No one. I have a friend who has had no time to see me in 18 months. Let me point out, it’s nothing personal, she just can’t make time. “We make time for what’s important to us”. Get the message. We all have to wake up and know we all deserve better than this and life truly is too short. Have I wasted 35 years? Enjoy the peace and quiet and opportunity for new thoughts and experiences to enter your life. Keep busy, socialise and you will soon forget you are being ignored – you won’t be, you will have so many new friends. It sounds so easy, so make it easy on you. When the silent treatment ends, don’t go straight back in, have a breather, contemplate things. They can’t just switch you back on like that. Don’t get into an argument, just say you need some time to think. Keep communicating, but have some time to think – they did…. two weeks, a month, etc. Good luck everyone. I have been researching this stuff for a year and I know this guy inside out now. Do not tolerate it! Their loss and it’s opening new doors for us. xx

  35. Jim says:

    It seems like the same old story here but for me it is not someone I am married too but someone I was in a serious relationship with. We have known each other since Grad school in 2003 and have always been friends. i pursued her several times in school but she was always in a relation. we met for lunch as I was graduating from Grad school and said goodbyes as I was headed overseas. We maintained contack by email but just as friends. In 2007 she informed me she was moving overseas also but to a different country so we were both estatic. then we started talking more often and got closer. We were talking about me visiting her for a weekend so that was the plan but all the sudden she stopped responding to me in any form and finially said it would not be best to visit her for a weekend so I took that in stride and went on with life even though I had questions why the sudden change in her? It was 2010 and I returned home from overseas and she was overseas but we started talking once again. As time went on we began talking for hours at a time and well feelings started coming back for the both of us. I returned overseas last year so we continued talking once a week 2-3 hours at a time. I had made my mind up even though I had feelings I was not saying anything after the first time she had already did a 360 on me. She just one night said as we were talking I know you are gun shy after what I did to you the last time but we should meet and spend time together to see if marriage is in our future. We agreed and just continued talking but she had no vacation time but I did so I flew to meet her for a couple of weeks. She had made it clear there was some doubts on her part but she wanted me to come see her. The first two days was great with one another then I noticed that next day she spent hours talking to this other woman away from us so red flags went up for me then late that night we were talking and she said I don’t think we will work out! she said I can’t explain it but I feel we will not work…. Yes I was broken, upset and what do you say to that? She put her wall up and she had made her decision. I said let’s enjoy the rest of this trip as friends so that was agreed on. The next day was fine but the day after she started avoiding me completely then her friend came to me and said she is emotionally done so I could enjoy the rest of the trip on my own or go home early so yes i was angry then that she as a 35 year old woman send her friend to tell me this but expect me to do it and act like that is fine after I spent over a $1000 USD to come see her? I went off with some guys for two nights then came back but I had decided I was staying the rest of my time even if it made her miserable to look at me. I had spent too much money and was’nt about to spend more personal money just to appease her so if she felt guilty when she saw me fine she should be feeling this way.

    It would be different if I would have give her a reason to come to a quick decision then put a wall up but that it what I am not understanding I am guilty as charged if holding her hand, complimenting her, and giving her a good morning kiss and hug when I saw her before she made that decision. Iwould think most women would like that. we spoke about us a few times afterwards but she already had this wall up and was not listening to anything I had shared so I was wasting my breath. it hurt also if she had doubts about us then she should have came to me to talk and not others and when we talk do not share these little half truths just be straight forward with me.

    Iarrived home and texted her like I said I would to let her know I made it home okay but I have not heard anything back from her and she defriended me so as of today I am still getting the silent treatment. I am not wanting her back but closure on the relationship which for me means talking through it not just keeping everything bottled up inside of you. I have thought of calling her or writing her but thankful for friends that have been my wisdom in saying let her go and doing that will accomplish nothing in reality. Healing has been a long road but I am getting there day by day…

  36. Jimmy says:

    It seems like the same old story here but for me it is not someone I am married too but someone I was in a serious relationship with. We have known each other since Grad school in 2003 and have always been friends. i pursued her several times in school but she was always in a relation. we met for lunch as I was graduating from Grad school and said goodbyes as I was headed overseas. We maintained contack by email but just as friends. In 2007 she informed me she was moving overseas also but to a different country so we were both estatic. then we started talking more often and got closer. We were talking about me visiting her for a weekend so that was the plan but all the sudden she stopped responding to me in any form and finially said it would not be best to visit her for a weekend so I took that in stride and went on with life even though I had questions why the sudden change in her? It was 2010 and I returned home from overseas and she was overseas but we started talking once again. As time went on we began talking for hours at a time and well feelings started coming back for the both of us. I returned overseas last year so we continued talking once a week 2-3 hours at a time. I had made my mind up even though I had feelings I was not saying anything after the first time she had already did a 360 on me. She just one night said as we were talking I know you are gun shy after what I did to you the last time but we should meet and spend time together to see if marriage is in our future. We agreed and just continued talking but she had no vacation time but I did so I flew to meet her for a couple of weeks. She had made it clear there was some doubts on her part but she wanted me to come see her. The first two days was great with one another then I noticed that next day she spent hours talking to this other woman away from us so red flags went up for me then late that night we were talking and she said I don’t think we will work out! she said I can’t explain it but I feel we will not work…. Yes I was broken, upset and what do you say to that? She put her wall up and she had made her decision. I said let’s enjoy the rest of this trip as friends so that was agreed on. The next day was fine but the day after she started avoiding me completely then her friend came to me and said she is emotionally done so I could enjoy the rest of the trip on my own or go home early so yes i was angry then that she as a 35 year old woman send her friend to tell me this but expect me to do it and act like that is fine after I spent over a $1000 USD to come see her? I went off with some guys for two nights then came back but I had decided I was staying the rest of my time even if it made her miserable to look at me. I had spent too much money and was’nt about to spend more personal money just to appease her so if she felt guilty when she saw me fine she should be feeling this way.

    It would be different if I would have give her a reason to come to a quick decision then put a wall up but that it what I am not understanding I am guilty as charged if holding her hand, complimenting her, and giving her a good morning kiss and hug when I saw her before she made that decision. Iwould think most women would like that. we spoke about us a few times afterwards but she already had this wall up and was not listening to anything I had shared so I was wasting my breath. it hurt also if she had doubts about us then she should have came to me to talk and not others and when we talk do not share these little half truths just be straight forward with me.

    Iarrived home and texted her like I said I would to let her know I made it home okay but I have not heard anything back from her and she defriended me so as of today I am still getting the silent treatment. I am not wanting her back but closure on the relationship which for me means talking through it not just keeping everything bottled up inside of you. I have thought of calling her or writing her but thankful for friends that have been my wisdom in saying let her go and doing that will accomplish nothing in reality. Healing has been a long road but I am getting there day by day…

    • elleke says:

      From what you say, I don’t think this person is giving you a punishing “silent treatment.” I think she is just unable to handle situations in a socially appropriate way. I think she probably just folds herself up when anything gets tough, especially emotional interaction. I don’t believe that anything you did set her off. It seems to me that she is just “afraid” of any kind of emotional investment.

      • Jimmy says:

        Thank you elleke for the wisdom here and maybe this is true. i know she deals with relationships this way she told me of past relationships in which she has a way of just erasing the guy from her life the next day and moving on but I am not that type of person trust me if I could erase her from my life I would because all the hurt and pain she caused me. I am trying to figure out what is behind this problem ? I know she has been hurt in the past but I treated her like a princess the whole time maybe she felt I was too good to be true so she decided to end this before I had a chance to hurt her. I can’t understand how she would do this without seeing the hurt and pain she was causing me. She had to know this but I know she was hurting in her own way. She also made it clear not to keep fighting for her well at least in words and defriending me. I have been writing my feeling down but I never have sent this to her and my friends say do not . She should be the one to make contact with me first that I should not try to reestablish our relationship.

  37. Silent but not angry says:

    But what if someone just doesn’t like to talk a lot? I will use this article as a “talking” point with a chatty friend, whose feelings I think I have hurt by my silence, but I have nothing against him. I’m just not a talker.

    • Jimmy says:

      Even if a person is not a talker but knows they are hurting a person with their silence that is wrong even if you are brief be truthful with the person about the reason you are silent they deserve that. I know for me the woman is very chatty so that is not her issue she had rather just pretend as if the problem does not exist or erase it from her life!

  38. Jackie says:

    Good morning everyone and happy holidays to everyone.

    I think I could write a book about the silent treatment aka ambient abuse. I have discovered that I am married to a man who uses this treatment to shut me down and shut me out. It is nothing short of abuse, ambient abuse. This behavior is persuasive and I don’t expect it to improve. We are aging adults and I cannot and will not live out the rest of my years with a self absorbed domineering tyrant.

    To any woman out there that thinks, as I did for many years, that retreating and acting in a manner that you would want to be treated as will bring about a positive change through example, DON”T FOOL YOURSELF. Any individual that delights is causing this type of pain in another over and over has little to no conscience. Without such a conscience this individual will not and doesn’t care about you as a person, deserving to be treated with dignity and respect.

    I too, “did not believe in divorce” and now I look at my life and see how crippling my marriage has been to me and what I could have been doing for myself and others. I was always walking of eggshells trying not to use the wrong preposition in a sentence to insight a rage “attack” within my husband. My husband decided he didn’t want to continue working several years ago and at this late time in my life I am working 60+ hrs to continue making ends meet for the household.

    Unfortunately his was diagnosed with stage 4 colon and liver cancer 18 months ago and not expected to live much longer. It is difficult to watch him slowly decline but I can tell you one thing, even in death he is still the self absorbed, self serving narcissist he has always been.

  39. Sue says:

    Hi Jackie,

    Thank you for your post, it’s helpful to me, as I was with someone for awhile who I think was the self absorbed narcisstic type, but he broke up with me, and for ages I kept thinking we would have been so good together and I found it really hard to get over him. I always thought I could have married him, had kids, etc, and be happy with him.

    Though now having read your post of married life with someone like this I am not so sure and perhaps was viewing it all positively as the empathetic one.

    Any insight/advice? As sometimes I do get thoughts from time to time thinking that we could have worked out and very well.

  40. Ella says:

    Wow, I am very surprised that so many adults use the silent treatment! I understand for a couple of days, but any longer than that is juvenile and just plain cruel. I (26) have been in a relationship with my 2 sons father (32!) for 3 years or so and this year he gave me the silent treatment for the ENTIRE MONTH OF JUNE for no reason at all except that I am “annoying” even though my behavior is not annoying and does not change. Then one day just snapped out of it. Now again, I am on DAY 22 of the SILENT TREATMENT, including over X-mas. He will leave the room when I come into it and pretends to sleep if I walk by and sleep on the couch unless he can get to the bed before me. He turns his shoulder if I walk in. So how are we suppost to deal with our problems if we can never talk about it? And, isn’t a month excessively long? I couldn’t even do that if I tried. The stupid thing is I never did anything to spark a fight, again, he just woke up one day and said I”m “annoying”. Is 30 days serious grounds for breakup? Or should I wait for him to snap out of it. When he’s not like this he is great and we get a long great, then a switch goes off and he’s just pissed! I am sort of thinking it is a big deal to be ignored 2 months out of the year!!!!! WTF! I realize writing this is so rediculous but I don’t want to admit to many ppl about his silent treatments….

  41. leslie says:

    It happened again. I left again. It’s different this time. I guess it’s because last time was only 3 months ago. I’m shutting down to him. I’m not even sure what set him off. Last time he called within 3 days because he knew he crossed the line. This time I get a quick message that says “Get comfortable!” He has used the silent treatment for the last time. Been married 27 years and can’t keep guessing why he’s doing it. Never any resolution or explanation. I am comfortable. Gearing up for a fight over getting my paycheck back.

  42. pixie says:

    I Hate His/Her Ex is a book for anyone having difficulty coming to terms with their partner’s past relationships – brilliant read! Available on Amazon or most bookstores – Kindle or paperback!

  43. Paradise says:

    Almost three months and I’m still getting the silent treatment and I’ve walked away for good now. So many websites have helped me through this and I thank each and every one of you. Even though we are all going through it, we have helped eachother – how beautiful. The home phone rang on Monday and when I picked up, they hung up. It will be him I guarantee it. Narcissists always come back, but I will not respond. I am frightened he may come and get me or stalk me, but I will deal with that if it happens. I have figured out for 34 years, he’s had this Narcissistic Personality Disorder/Passive Aggressive nature and I am gobsmacked to finally discover it after all these years. I knew something wasn’t right several times, but accepted him for him and believed I was being over sensitive – ah ah. Sad, but I’m moving on. It has been an experience from hell, so so painful like nothing I’ve ever been through. I have always loved him, but I don’t need this. Life is to be lived and enjoyed. I am starting to see the beautiful things again – the sun, the flowers, the birds, bees, etc. Sounds mad, but I forgot about the beauty in our world. Focus on the good things people – silent treatment is not acceptable. Cooling off is fine for say a day or two, but you know silent treatment when you get it. Stand your ground, they may not expect you to, but you will be so proud you did. Empower yourself and take the control back. Do not give your power away to anyone! You don’t deserve it, no matter how much of a nag you were, no matter how out of line you may have been – if it was all your fault, so what, we all make mistakes, I apologised 100 times, but we don’t deserve abuse and silent treatment. Communication is the key to all relationships – I told him, he’s ignoring it. Because he wants to be in control. Off you go then. Do not tolerate it? They do this to us because they can. Eleanor Roosevelt said “no one can make you feel inferior without your permission”. You are CEO of your own life, don’t be controlled or manipulated any longer. Love to all of you. I feel so free now and not going back and I’m amazed how quickly this has come to me – it was a sad Christmas, but three months of this and I am over the worst pain. He’s actually given me peace with his silence. Delete them from your email, phone, etc. It helps. And keep busy with all sorts of things as it takes your mind off it. Don’t be scared in case you get over or forget that hurtful person….

  44. Jefferson Faudan says:

    well… i guess it just works… i am a very jolly and nice person… when i’m nagging and whining, i’m still pretty fine at that point but don’t wait for a silent treatment… i mean business.

  45. Ms. Helper says:

    I just want to let you all know that when your spouse treats you this way they do not trust you. Learn how to practice emotional intimacy so your spouse will begin to trust you. Also read the book Boundaries it will teach you how to be responsible for yourself and not let people affect you negatively.

  46. lonesome cowboy says:

    Thanks Ms. Helper I will look for that book… to the others, this isn’t about gender stereotypes. Although we were only dating for about 3 years and I wasn’t quite ready yet at the time, deep down i had thought I always knew we were going to end up together forever… we lost our patience with one another & we split up a second time, the first time she ended it but the last time it was my fault completely…anyway, long story short… we are both adults with adult kids, and I’m still waiting for this ex to finally speak to me again even as a friend, but she won’t talk to me or write or respond. It’s like I have fallen off the face of the earth. Yet she tells my son say “Hi to your Dad from me” then when he sees my eyes light up he quickly adds “She didn’t mean it Dad” — I wish I could pretend it doesn’t hurt but I think it’s literally killing me.
    Have tried dating others off & on but i am totally heartbroken this is still completely unresolved after about 18 months.

  47. Santa Barbara Chiropractor - Dr. Paul Zemella says:

    silent treatment is psychological and a person who tends to have this temperament will need continuous treatment through a professional psychologist or a friend the least… most of the time people who tend to have this temperament have had not been given the attention they needed when they were younger that caused them to be psychologically manipulative

  48. A REAL MAN says:

    This is a stupid article. I think women are more likely to give the silent treatment cause they love the games and drama.

    I, as a man, am not “just dealing with it”. I am being affected by it and my feelings are not from “a sense of loss, of not belonging, of lower self-esteem and a feeling of unworthiness” as this author has written. My feelings are all about resolving the issue. And I hate it when there is an issue and nothing is being dealt about it. This is non-constructive and useless behaviour.

    I am getting it from a loved one right now, and though I try to be calm and collected, I admit this is driving me crazy. Because I care about her, and I love her, and want this resolved. And I totally think she has gone awol about this.

    Wish me luck! :P

    • Lynn says:

      Not true. I am with a man right now who gives me the silent treatment when we have an argument…and let me tell you, it goes for days. Right now he hasn’t talked to me for 4 days. So, it’s not just passive aggressive women who do it, men can do it. No such thing as “women are more prone to this than men”.

    • charlotte reeser says:

      It is not a stupid article. My husband gives me the silent treatment every time he gets mad at me, which is usually when I try to express my feelings. This can last for several days or weeks. It is emotional blackmail, not to mention childish and stupid. It is also very destructive to a relationship.

  49. A REAL MAN says:

    Sorry, the article wasn’t dumb. I meant the last section analyzing and interpreting male vs female reactions was inaccurate.

  50. Angie says:

    I’ve watched this thread for over a year… I’d like to draw one very direct conclusion for those who wish to open the doors of knowledge and free themselves of the agony that is so universally experienced here. The silence is deafening. Literally.

    Here’s the connection, and what this blog author wrote is so profound, it’s staggering. Listen. Stop what you’re doing. Listen…

    Sticking a child in ‘timeout’ is forcing them to deal with something they already can’t, without giving them any support or tools, or guidance. It isolates and rejects. It is ostracism. Look up that term, then look up what it does to the mind. Want to know the short of it? It causes the mental responses that trigger the experience of physical pain.

    What does the immature mind do when it experiences pain? It responds however it can to stop it. In this case, repression and silent response is the only option because otherwise, the forced isolation will be prolonged.

    Teach a child to be powerless, and force him to struggle ALONE with the emotions he already can’t reconcile, and watch him develop a coping mechanism. Whether that mechanism takes the form of ridiculous passivity (this is the ‘always walked on, always my fault, turns into homicidal maniac” sort), or the sort that forms an avoidant response that becomes chronic (this is an avoidant personality). Either of these can, and usually do have an aggressive response side of things. Understanding that aggression can be expressed silently, as well as through rages is important.

    Any way you look at it, there is hostility hidden right under the surface and the behavioral patterns demonstrate it so loudly it seems impossible that we’d miss it, but we do (that is by design – go back to the “timeout” and what a kid has to do to either remove him/herself or avoid it next time).

    Stop sticking kids in time out, hell, let’s stop using punishment altogether, and in its place employ guidance, reverence, and respect. Once this stops, our children might stand a chance at learning how to deal with really big emotions, instead of feeling threatened by them. And instead of resenting a parent for what is scientifically proven to be experienced as pain, they get to have a relationship with a parent who teaches and supports.

    Guess what happens when a child has a genuine relationship with a parent that respects them completely, and admires them for the work they’re completing that is their childhood… they grow up knowing how to work with their big emotions, they fully accept themselves and are able to self regulate, and they also know how to be a contributing partner in relationship.

    Terms to look up: Avoidant, Passive-Resistant, Passive-Aggressive, Shame & Blame.

    The “silent treatment” is merely a symptom. Find the root and you have somewhere to start.

  51. Stephanie says:

    Reading the comments have given me a new insight. Although I dated him for a few months, I had a flashback from previous relationship and took my anger out on him…and it wasn’t pretty, it was verbal (via text). I regret more than anything, he really is a good guy. Mind you we both have a lot going on in our lives, he going thru divorce, trying to obtain join custody of his child,(he is the most amazing father I’ve ever seen). I’m rebuilding my life after break up and now a single mom. Yes you may say too much going on for me bringing anyone in my world but, I’m only human and I recently found the interaction with another human is vital for me…if it’s positive of course. All was good til I blew up on him. Last we spoke he said get things together and give me a call. It’s been over a month and half.I sent a hand written apology letter, called, sent text no reply. He even said before when we got into a tiff, that he wasn’t gonna take my call or talk to me anymore, but he’d had a few drinks so decided to talk to me. We had a good understanding of each other after that. I know I should just move on, but ignoring by ignoring??? Not something I see OK.I keep pondering if is he hurt, is he mad at me, has he lost interest?? I need closure on this either I have a chance or I don’t?? I don’t see him in daily passing. I’m considering going to his home and confronting him, he is a very understanding person and way I see I have nothing to lose at this point but a world of happiness to gain. Truth of matter I miss him, and it’s hurtful to say the least he can’t even pick up the phone to say BUZZ OFF or something….Insight Please….

  52. Stephanie says:

    Stephanie here again… My relation I explained is it consider slient treatment or should I just get the hint he is no longer interested and suck it up. I’m finding it hard to focus or just let go because I’ve never been treated as I fell off the planet except in high school, but isn’t that what high school kids do?? I’m 40, most of my friend say just for get it… but it isn’t that easy, guess because deep down I want what I had prior my mistake of emotions I took out on him….How to make this right and clear the air???

  53. elleke jenkins says:

    The silent treatment hurts deeply.
    You have to realize that you cannot make another person behave the way you want them to. And confronting him will make things worse. He will know that he can control you. I’m not saying that he is intentionally trying to control you, but usually people who give the silent treatment manage confrontation by avoiding the conflict, not caring about the pain inflicted. This is a childish behavior.
    Several things–
    If you care for yourself first, he may come around, but is a relationship with this man in your best interests. Have you thought about how the future would be if you are subjected to this behavior on a regular basis? He may be a great father (How old is his kid?), but what will happen when a conflict arises with his child? Will he give that child the silent treatment also.
    Would you want to be hurting like this in the long term? Yes, you might have screwed up, but you apologized and tried to make up. If someone does not respond to your efforts, are they worth any more effort?
    Ask yourself if your past relationship is the real cause of your aggravating behavior. I bet there is more to it than that. If you are sensitive to certain behaviors relating to past situations, ask yourself if your reaction is reasonable. Ask yourself if he was invading your space, crossing your boundaries or pushing your buttons. If he was doing any of these things, then does that mean he is trying to control you emotionally, keep you guessing, changing the rules of the relationship or even getting satisfaction out of making you suffer? Do you really NEED to have a relationship with someone like that if that is the case?
    The hurting will go away, but it may take a long time. Let the next move be his and then if you respond positively, make sure that you are in charge of you. Make sure that you don’t respond to his provocations. Make sure that you have an outlet for your pain other than spilling it out onto him.
    If he gets the point, maybe you have made progress and can have a good relationship. I DOUBT IT. My experience from having ST people in my family and in my ex-spouse is that they don’t change because the problem is with them. They don’t like directness and a little discretion about the other person’s behavior will not change their need to avoid directness. These people are happy where they are because if they cut someone off, they have cut off the conflict.
    I hope that you will find the strength to get through this without a lengthy grief period.
    This is not your problem; it is his. Let him have it.
    So sorry this happened to you.

  54. MadMan1981 says:

    I had this done to me post-break up by someone I DEEPLY loved. The worst emotional torture of my life. I am still getting therapy and going a big emotional clean up to reset my priorities. It has been HELL

  55. Stephanie says:

    Thank you so much for your reply. I’ve gotta say you are right with what you say on the cause of my aggravating behavior, although I took it to much higher level than I ever should have…I think I will forever regret and hate that I did to the extreme measure. We were together for such a short period of time but outside my screwing up…I wanted him in my life for more than just a in and out fling. I find myself wondering if he knows the depth of the ST and doses he really want to inflict that upon another? I don’t think so…I truly feel that I hurt him and going thru a divorce and obtaining join custody is his main focus. It bums because I wanna make myself feel better bout the whole thing but suppose I gotta admit I don’t matter enough to him. I can be pretty high strung at times and that part of me so want to just confront him and say, HEY are you aware of what the ST can do to folks and You being the understanding person you are, just wanted to talk to you about, I have been bothered by the way things were left and I’d like to clear the air with you…being polite not yelling not demanding… Biggest part of me feels I have nothing to lose at this point but a world of understanding and possible happiness to gain. I desperately need closer on this…because ST is horrible.

  56. rosekate says:

    Why will dr sambol give out my email when i specifically told him that
    my work with him was to be kept a secret i think i have to contact him
    immediately to stop further exposure see my friend am sorry i cant
    discuss that. all i can tell you is that my problem is solved and i am
    happy together with my two kids and also my husband with the help of dr sambol again. i paid drsamdol all i owned him then why should he discuss me with his client
    this must stop if not i shall stop speaking of his good works as i
    have been for him helping me to bring back my husband

  57. Sue says:

    My new boyfriend give me silent treatment for three days after I was late to reply by text. I was working and slightly late home fell asleep for short time and then check phone and found I had missed his message first one was 4 hr previous. He did this once before and I went to see what wrong. This time I just rang and text to see what wrong. This cause me much distress so when he finally answer phone we talk and I said I angry and need time to cool off before we discuss issue again. I am very tempted to break it off. I don’t think I can make this man happy. Just feels like a control issue

  58. ems says:

    My boyfriend and I are on week 6 of ST. We have known each other for many years, but have been together as a couple for the past year, and engaged since February. At present, we live 200 miles apart although this will be changing over the summer when we will make a home together. For the time being, we see each other every two weeks for the weekend, talk at least twice a day and text constantly. My fiance is usually very loving, very attentive, and we talk non-stop and laugh a great deal together.

    However, on occasion, he becomes very cold, hostile, and completely disengages emotionally from me/us – for no reason whatsoever. There is no emotional care, praise, love, affection, he doesn’t ask anything about me, and appears to be totally oblivious to the extreme pain and heartache he is causing. I have tried everything to penetrate this ‘mood’ but nothing works. Had we had a row to cause any of these silences, it would be easier to understand and would perhaps enable me to deal with it better – but they always come completely out of the blue, after we have spent an amazing time together.

    These episodes are not (currently) frequent; the first time I experienced one, it lasted 4 days but this last one has now been 6 weeks and it’s killing me. I am functioning – just – but that’s about it. I am normally a lively, fun, happy person, but I’m now constantly anxious, and none of it makes sense. I love this man so much – I can’t talk to my friends or family about the situation as I do not want them to be angry with him. I can’t eat and am now quite underweight, I can’t sleep, I can’t concentrate at work or on my normal life/hobbies/interests etc. I’m okay one minute, the next I’m in floods of tears and I just feel that I can’t take any more.

    I have stopped contacting him – but do respond if he contacts me – and always try to make sure that I sound positive and like I’m fine. I don’t know what to do, I am so so hurt that someone who professes to love me more than anything in the world can treat me like this. This dreadful coldness just descends and I feel like I’m stuck in this dreadful limbo situation waiting/hoping that he’ll ‘come back’.

  59. Ken Savage says:

    Has anyone been given the silent treatment over email or on social media sites?

  60. Camus says:

    I’m more the type of person that would like to blow up about something, probably say some things I don’t really mean, apologize for saying the things I don’t really mean and then move towards resolution. But hey…that’s just me.
    Well it’s certainly not just you. :) I’m on the same boat as you Ken. I’m not proud of it, but that’s who I am. I do try to keep the cool, but I do blow up often. And I am not a bit ashamed to apologize, so that’s something I’m really proud of :)

  61. starcall says:

    The silent treatment can sometimes be very damaging for a person. It shows that you are very upset with them and it can harm your relationship with that person. I used to do it to people all the time but now I try to avoid doing it because I’ve had it done to me and I know how much it hurts.

  62. tastefuldeath says:

    I always avoided providing the silent treatment. I think it’s generally silly and it’s unfair to people. I’m engaged right now and one of the things I promised myself I will do is to talk to him when I have a problem with him.

    Not that I haven’t used it ever. I had some online acquaintances who sort of crave attention, even though it can be the bad kind. If they realize that they’re making a mountain out of a mole hill, that’s when I stop it and try to work with their issues. If not, well, I don’t think I should even try. There are people who just can’t be helped.

  63. nonsiccus says:

    I hate having the silent treatment run on me by my SO. I feel doubly guilty about what I (allegedly) did or didn’t do not because of the issue itself, but because my SO won’t have the decency to talk about it. Recently, we’ve been working through it but you’re certainly right that you need to address it before allowing it to become irreparable.

3 Pings/Trackbacks for "The Silent Treatment – What You Are Saying By Not Saying Anything"
  1. […] is Ostracism! I found a brilliant write up to support this. It is true indeed that when you receive the silent treatment, it feels equivalent to physical […]

  2. […] is the commenter’s response to my remarks.  You can read the entire post here. My thoughts, as well as the quotes, are unedited (I will edit my remarks if I find the time in the […]

  3. […] The silent treatment can be a very destructive behavior when it involves personal relationships. Let’s say with a husband and wife for instance. The silent treatment breeds bitterness on both ends and it borders on emotional abuse… I’m not making that up to be dramatic. That’s what “they” say. (1) […]