Everyone has surely heard of the silent treatment. This is a kind of manipulation, which we and our partners sometimes use in relationships. This concerns any type of communication – romantic, friendly, family, and so on. Today we will explain why people resort to the silent treatment, ignore their partners and how to solve this problem. If you understand the nature of this phenomenon, you will be able to solve the problem positively.
What Does the Silent Treatment Mean in Relationships?
Imagine a situation when you repeatedly seek attention or some kind of change from a partner and receive silence in response. Frustrated by the lack of reciprocity, you put forward all new requirements, while the other participant of a relationship is increasingly moving away. It turns into a vicious circle. Soon you are no longer engaged in solving a specific problem, but you start quarreling over trifles. The research of 75 studies has shown that the silent treatment is one of the most destructive and intractable relationship conflicts: it is often a harbinger of divorce.
According to the study, women are used to making demands, while men prefer to deal with feelings with the help of silence. Sometimes roles are distributed the other way around, but both partners always suffer. Does the silent treatment work? In most cases, it doesn’t. Scientists have found that couples, practicing it, have lower levels of satisfaction with relationships. Health problems are also observed: disorders of the immune system, problems of the urogenital system and intestines, erectile dysfunction. When someone ignores a soulmate, it is not only rude, infantile, tactless, cruel and strange, but extremely destructive for a victim both emotionally and physically. Ignoring another person is not a manifestation of love. On the contrary, it is a manifestation of violence.
Examples Of Silent Avoidance
1. You say that a partner has done something unacceptable in relation to you (for example, they have deceived, lied or cheated), a partner leaves you, and you don’t see him or her for a week. Then he/she returns as if nothing has happened.
2. Both of you are discussing some important topic. Suddenly, he or she says, “Goodbye!” and disappears for several days. Or a person makes an appointment, but they don’t come and subsequently don’t explain absence at all.
3. You come to a partner to discuss what worries you, and he/she just continues to read the magazine not even paying attention to you.
4. You ask something, but a partner behaves as if he/she doesn’t hear you even if you repeat the question several times in a raw.
5. You both are arguing. Suddenly, a partner puts bags and goes away for a month, making it impossible to contact him or her. So, if a partner behaves like this, then you should know that they are not the kindest person in the world.
Psychological Effects of the Silent Treatment
Ignorance keeps a victim in a constant state of uncertainty. All this time, this person feels bad. The brain produces a painful reaction that causes a feeling of loneliness. Abusers use silent avoidance as an aggressive tool to control and punish. All of this is aimed at motivating a victim to behave the way that is advantageous to an abuser. This is an extreme form of humiliation. The goal is to arouse in the victim a sense of dumbness, loneliness, rejection, and invisibility. The negative impact of this form of abuse includes:
1. Feeling of guilt
People, who fall prey to such relationships, as a rule, can’t finish them. They constantly justify their behavior and partners. In addition, they get upset every time due to the fact that their cohabitation is hardly based on a harmoniously developing relationship. Such a contradiction is the basis for the emergence of self-doubt and confusion in thoughts, which makes a person continue to support this unhealthy union.
2. Decreased self-esteem
Is the silent treatment in a relationship emotional abuse? Yes! People who experience the silent treatment almost always suffer from low self-esteem and lose faith. A toxic partner builds up communication and relationships by suppressing the human will and does it so explicitly. Therefore, many people react too late and begin to understand that something is wrong only when their will is broken, and their self-confidence is destroyed. The problem also lies in the fact that being close to such a person, it is very difficult to recover and regain confidence and own strength.
3. Loss of the integrity of the personality
The easiest way to lose your identity is to get in a relationship where the silent treatment is used. Toxic partners skillfully manipulate their victims, forcing them to forget about their desires, needs, and feelings. One of the partners inclines the second to do what he or she wants. But, in the end, after many years of living together, victims suddenly realize that they have lost themselves and dissolved in their partners. This brings nothing but pain and disappointment. How to respond to the silent treatment in relationships? Our life is unique and unrepeatable, just like our personality, so it’s foolish to waste our time, which no one will return, and to be only a small part of someone. The loss of the integrity of the personality can lead to the strongest dependence because of which a person can’t finish relationships.
4. Mental disorders
It is very dangerous for mental health to stay long in the silent treatment. Victims of such relationships suffer from severe depression, neurosis, panic disorders, and phobias. The effect of such treatment is not immediately noticeable, but with prolonged and regular use, it violates all body functions and destroys human health. So, regular psychological violence makes a person wounded, disrupts psychological balance, and leads to all sorts of problems and illnesses.
How to Handle the Silent Treatment with Dignity?
Such an attitude is disgusting. It can take you out of balance and make you angry. You feel unnecessary and insecure, you lose faith in love. So, if you face such a problem, you have to know how to win the silent treatment. Do the following:
1. Don’t call first
You will certainly want to find out why it has happened, but the truth is that if a loved one doesn’t respond to any of your calls, then he or she avoids you. No one can be so busy that they don’t have time to look into their phones for a few days. So, do just like your soulmate. Don’t waste your energy and emotions. Don’t chase a partner and beg to answer.
2. Don’t be angry
How to react to the silent treatment? If your reaction to the silent treatment is aggression, then you can hit the pillow. Don’t let this occasion devour your emotions. Anger causes many problems with health. It is not worth it.
3. Don’t let a person take away your joy
Well yes, a partner applies the silent treatment to you. Unfortunately, this is a part of modern dating. And you have two options, you may either come to terms with it until you find the right person or end a relationship at all. Don’t allow an abuser to drive you crazy, affect your mood, and deviate from the intended course. You have the right to worry, but this feeling should be short-lived. No one can make you feel sad all the time. Smile and enjoy life. Love will find you.
4. Don’t pay with the same coin
No matter how you react to your partner’s silence, it is very important to do everything possible so that it disappears from your relationship forever. Therefore, if you need time to calm down, tell your partner in a calm voice that you want to stay alone right now. Remember that giving someone the silent treatment speaks volumes about your character. And you are a kind person, right? If you pay your partner with their coin, then your relationships will ruin.
5. Don’t try to talk to a partner
Reacting to the silent treatment, the worst thing you can do is to force a loved one to talk. If you need an answer to an important question, simply formulate it in the form of a statement. If your partner disagrees, he or she will either say something or accept your decision.
6. Be positive when communication is restored
How to deal with the silent treatment? It is important to maintain a positive attitude because it will make it easier to resume communication. You shouldn’t use sarcasm when a loved one decides to talk to you again, as this will only provoke another quarrel.
7. Find out why this happens
The most common reason for the silent treatment is to punish you, but other explanations are also possible. Quietly ask your partner what makes him or her take such a step. If a soulmate is just trying to calm down in this way, then try to find alternatives. This is how to forever stop the silent treatment.
Yes, it can be very difficult to handle this situation. But, first of all, it is necessary to realize the problem. You shouldn’t blame a person for the fact that he or she builds up relationships with you in such an unhealthy way – most of them do it unconsciously. It is not always necessary to end such a relationship – you can learn psychological protection and methods of counteraction.
How Long Should the Silent Treatment Last?
Giving the silent treatment to a narcissist, you can teach a good lesson to a person. Yes, for relationships, silence is bad. The problem will not be resolved by itself if you leave the dispute, slamming the door and boycotting. But sometimes it is the necessity. After a quarrel, you can remain silent for several hours or for several years (if we are talking about the silent treatment after a breakup). This method is perfect if you pursue the goal of simultaneously teaching and hurting your soulmate. But regardless of the goal, silence always damages relationships and leads to disastrous consequences. Usually, silence ends after the apology of one of the partners. And what if both of you believe that they are right and are not going to go to reconciliation? Psychologists offer several temporary options for perfect silence.
If a quarrel occurs at home, you can keep silence for an hour, not more. If you have quarreled, being far from each other, it is allowed to remain silent approximately half a day. If you don’t want to be bothered with questions, and there is a desire to be alone – just say openly about it. Let your loved one know that you will talk as soon as you calm down. The partner will understand that you are in a bad mood, and it is better not to talk to you.
There are situations when it is impossible to explain anything to a partner, and he or she doesn’t want or can’t understand your complaints. You rightly believe that you can reach out only by causing moral discomfort. In this case, silence is the perfect solution. Just don’t overdo it. Otherwise, it will lead to the consequences described above. And yet, such punishment shouldn’t be frequent because there will be no effect from it!