Silent Treatment in Relationships: How To Know When It Becomes Abusive

silent treatment in relationships

When it comes to romantic relationships, and marriage, silence or silent treatment has always had polarising opinions from people. Some say silence is sometimes a good thing, and some say that getting the silent treatment from their partners is one of the most stressful experiences ever. In order to truly understand whether it is right or wrong, it is important for you to understand whether both these terms mean the same thing or not.

Why Do People Turn Towards The Silent Treatment?

There are several reasons as to why some people give the silent treatment to their partners, instead of just talking it out. Here are some of the reasons:

1. To manipulate or control the person, and situation to turn it in their favor.

2. Punish their partner.

3. Wreak emotional pain and trauma.

4. Feeling excessively overwhelmed, and not knowing how to handle the situation.

5. Unsure about how their partner will react when they give their opinion.

6. Scared and apprehensive of their partner’s temper.

7. Expecting the problem to disappear simply by ignoring it.

8. Attention seeking, as in, their partner is not giving them enough attention, and this is a twisted way of changing that.

9. Thinking that their partner will not listen to them, so it’s useless talking about it.

10. Tormenting their partner, by trying to make them go through the same hurt they are.

Related: The Silent Treatment Vs. No Contact: What’s The Difference?

When Is Silent Treatment Acceptable?

Fights, arguments, and disagreements are a part and parcel of every relationship. Sometimes, when a fight escalates too much or goes horribly south, the wise thing to do is take a timeout and give some space to each other. Or when your partner is indulging in name-calling, you don’t have to engage with them. In this case, being silent doesn’t mean you are ignoring your partner, it simply means that both of you are trying to gather your thoughts, diffuse the heated situation, and attempting to understand the other person’s point of view.

The only time silent treatment is probably acceptable is when your partner hurts you too much about something, and you need some space and time away from them to feel a bit better, forgive them and heal yourself. But, keep in mind that the silent treatment should not go on for days, or weeks, as this will only disintegrate your relationship further.

When Is Silent Treatment Not Acceptable?

On the other hand, if someone is serving a big, cold plate of silent treatment to you, it is not always a good or healthy thing. If silent treatment is being used to mentally, and emotionally abuse, and torment a person, it is a strict no-no. Narcissists tend to employ this tactic in order to get their toxic demands fulfilled, and also use it as their narcissistic supply.

The silent treatment can be a very annoying, and sometimes disturbing thing to deal with. If this is not addressed properly, or handled properly, it will end up doing more harm to your relationship than good. It is vital to dismantle this communication pattern and fall back on healthy communication.

Related: 6 Steps To Disarm The Silent Treatment Without Making it Worse

When Does Silent Treatment Become Abusive?

The silent treatment constitutes of the following behaviors:

1. Lack of acknowledgment of what you have to say.

2. Refusal to talk to their partner.

3. Acting as if they don’t hear you.

4. Screening your text messages, calls, and every other means of communication.

5. Lack of acknowledgment of your opinions, and feelings.

6. Completely avoiding you, even in social situations.

7. Disregarding your efforts to communicate with them.

8. Ceasing all communication with you for a long time, and then suddenly reappearing and acting as if nothing was ever wrong.

9. Behave in ways that make you feel invisible, irrelevant, unnecessary, and a burden.

silent treatment
Silent Treatment in Relationships: How To Know When It Becomes Abusive

Here Are 5 Ways You Can Respond To The Silent Treatment

1. Give your partner some space.

Personal space is very important for a successful relationship, more so when there is a lot of friction happening between you both. When you have a fight, and your partner clearly states that they need some space, avoid trying to understand what they are thinking, or for how long they are going to need space.

Fights are never pleasant, and everyone has their own way of dealing with their feelings. So you might be the one to constantly talk about it with the hopes that it might smooth things out, but your partner may not be on the same page. Give them some space to cool down, and get back to you with a clear head, and calm demeanor.

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