131 thoughts on “The Silent Treatment And What You Can Do To Stop It Cold

  • December 20, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    Me and my boyfriend are together for 5 years, we fight a lot, but mostly because we are in a distant relationship and we had a lot of misunderstandings, we were able to work out all the fights. He could get very mad everytime I asked him when we would get married.
    7 days ago, we had a big fight because of a purchase he was wanting to do on a suspicious website, I told him not to purchase from there and explanined my reasons, and he called me a jerk, saying I can not appreciate the gift he is wanting to give me.
    He, then started to ignore what I was saying and stopped giving me attention, I complained about that and he just stopped talking to me at all. It is been 5 days now, I tried to send him messages apologising for the fight, saying I can be explosive and I was demanding too much attention, but he just takes a lot of time to read my messages and he does not reply at all. When he did replied it was to blame me, and I said sorry he was still mad at me, but he now does not reply any word, I know he is online, I know he read the messages, he just ignores me. He is my best friend, I left all my friends to give him no reason to be worried. I have no else to talk now, I feel like shit. I feel like he just does not care about me anymore. I do not sleep for 5 days now, I have been very tired, I ask sorry and forgive and he says I am acting too dramatic and like a child.I do not know what to do.

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    • March 21, 2016 at 10:17 am

      Ignore him. He’ll come back. Wen he does. Kick him out. He doesn’t want u wen ur weak. A true love wud. It’s his problem. Not urs. Stop being a ‘fixer’ (like I was)

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    • June 14, 2016 at 12:57 am

      dmm, I hope you’ve dumped his ass by now. this is an abusive relationship! He should not feel worried about you having other friends. An abuser will isolate you from all your relationships so that you are in the situation you are now and feel like you don’t have anyone to turn to but him. It seems like he’s trying to punish you for daring you to question his actions when you had every valid reason too. Dump his ass if you can do so safely and sending good luck your way.

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    • September 20, 2016 at 10:25 pm

      Wow, boy did that hit home.. I have been happily married at least I thought.on memorial day of this year, my husband got out of bed started paceing around set in a chair filled his hand with bottle of pills ready to down them & I said not in front of me. Told him to call his sister to get him, which he did have not heard or seen him since then !!he won’t call me, text me send me a letter email NOTHING. I hurt so bad, cause he just walked out & abanded me. After 2 mos. Of hoping & thinking he would come back but I couldn’t stay any longerand didn’t have the money I had to come back home, didn’t want to but I am getting help &waiting to get my own place. It still hurts but I have me to think of at least for now. 😢take care. If you want to talk please feel free to..thanks.

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      • September 15, 2017 at 1:00 am

        Jackie, If I am understanding this correctly, your husband was threatening to end his life. Since you do not give a history or state that he had done this in the past as a form of tantrum, I have to assume he was desperately depressed. This doesn’t happen overnight. Am I to understand that you abandoned him then?! Basically told him you didn’t care if he died, as long as it wasn’t in front of you?!Now you are wondering why he abandoned YOU? I could be wrong in my interpretation, but it sounds like you are completely lacking in empathy.

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    • October 20, 2016 at 2:28 pm

      This is so long ago and may be too late. But I have been married to a man for 30 years who has used the abusive silent treatment. Get out and away as soon as possible and as far away as you can. There ARE other people out there who don’t lose it (their tempers) so quickly and then refuse to speak to you. Find someone who likes conflict resolution and has a good natured personality.

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  • December 22, 2015 at 1:41 am

    This discussion has been helpful! My 45 year old sister has been ignoring me since last Christmas. All I can guess is that I verbally pushed back when she tried to bully us on Christmas to do everything her way…I’ve not been told what I’ve done… She’s a year older than me, we both have strong personalities, and since we were kids we’ve fought because she wanted to be in control of me and I like to take care of myself. She’s used silent treatment since we were kids to punish me and I was always the one to eventually give in. This time was especially tough because, we’re getting older, she’s my only sister, I’ve been having a tough few years, and I sincerely wanted to try to improve our relationship. So, though I haven’t been able to trust her with my confidences for as long as I can remember, I had started to open up to her (cautiously). So, for her to try to punish me with silent treatment again felt like a huge betrayal. I was considering not going home for Christmas to see family because I don’t feel like dealing with her, but I’ve reconsidered. The only person I have control over is myself and if I don’t show up, I let her win. Plus, other than the few hours with her for Christmas dinner, I’ll have a good trip home visiting my other family and friends… I will never make the mistake of trusting her again and will continue working on not letting her silent treatment hurt me. Btw, she because a teacher (??) so I definitely find that I expect her to behave like a role model (baffling…). Being a teacher, does seem to satisfy her need to feel like she’s in controls, so I guess that makes sense… Anyway, Cheers to All and Merry Christmas!! 🙂 Thank you.

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    • April 2, 2016 at 10:13 pm

      Allow her to be silent,it’s abusive and childish.I would tell her that you will no longer participate in her game and it’s her burden to carry not yours.You have forgiven her and the ball is in her court,but you will not even begin to play the silent game.

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      • April 3, 2016 at 11:14 pm

        Thanks for the reply Trish. Talking about it around Christmas was very therapeutic. ? Her continued childishness hardly bothers me anymore. I have so many kind, positive people in my life that I try not to focus on the negative people. It was a little hurtful when she ignore my happy birthday note, but predictable… I’ll always be civil, but I’ve given up on having a real relationship with her – sad. Enjoy your day!!

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    • September 15, 2017 at 1:13 am

      Leslie, Mine is a therapist with 30 years of experience. Go figure! Not an ounce of empathy or shame. Talk about mind-blowing!

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  • December 29, 2015 at 10:58 am

    I suffer from silent treatment my boyfriend whom i love very deeply. He knows that i am emotionally dependent on him and keeps on blaming me for every bad thing that happens to him. whenever something goes wrong, he refuses to talk to me for couple of days. I keep on texting him, trying to reason him and after dragging on his silent treatment, he finally comes back to normal. This occurs far too often and every time i almost “beg” him to come back to normal. In this period, he ignores my texts and calls. But when he comes back to normal, if i try to tell him that he should not behave like this as i suffer badly, he retorts that i looked for it and i have to suffer. All of the time, i have nothing to do to provoke his change in behaviour. He abuses me verbally every time prior to giving me the cold shoulder. I am stuck with him as i feel depressed without him.

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  • December 29, 2015 at 11:15 am

    I have been looking for help from my close friends to be able to move out of the relationship i am in for the past 15 months. My boyfriend came to me as a very charming, romantic and polite guy…I also have to say that he is very loving and caring when his mood is good which makes me forget his nasty behavior every time.We do not live together and i always do my best to see him regularly and spend time with him. I care for him a lot, always rushing to help him out..any time..during day and night without caring about myself. But then his anger comes in for no reason. I always watch my words and actions when it comes to him. Today, he called me when I was in a busy street so i did not hear my phone ring. After 4 minutes I saw his missed call and called him back immediately. But he ignored my call. After 2 hours he texted me and accused me of ignoring his phone call, I tried to reason him and he did not reply back. I texted him nice things trying to cheer him up but he is not replying to my texts and it’s now been 3 hours. He is ignoring my phone calls as well. I am at a loss with this guy. I want to move out but i feel like dying even at the thought of being without him. He keeps on punishing me for things i am not to be blamed for.

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    • March 16, 2016 at 5:56 pm

      I just posted a blog about my twenty-three marriage of abuse, which began with the silent treatment.

      Please read what I wrote . . . what I and my three precious daughters lived . . . and know that your current situation only is going to get worse.

      You never will be good enough . . . you never will ever be able to apologize enough . . . because this is not about you and your “bad” behavior (which he will try to convince you is the truth) . . . it’s about his bad behavior . . . HIS CONTROLLING BEHAVIOR . . . which takes many forms . . . all of which are wrong . . . and some which will cause great harm if allowed to continue.

      You are worth so much better . . . you have to know that deep within your being . . . self-esteem can be rebuilt . . . but not in the presence of an abuser.

      Please get away from this guy . . . then, find a competent counselor and begin to build a beautiful life for yourself . . . it is possible. Once you truly learn to like and love yourself, good things will come into your life in oh so many ways.

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  • January 26, 2016 at 1:28 pm

    I am an older woman, and I get the silent treatment from “friends” who are retired teachers. They simply do not respond to a question when they don’t want to deal with facts.

    Sometimes my questions are very straightforward, but I don’t ask them in an aggressive, confrontational or angry way. I’m just trying to understand what is happening, like “why did you do that instead of (your job, what you said, what anyone else would have done, expectation, etc). What time does the meeting begin? (she doesn’t answer because she would rather I not be there? or she doesn’t know? or she didn’t hear me?)

    It doesn’t matter how I phrase or present the question to the mute; in a group or one to one,verbally or written, I get silence.

    After wrestling with this for months I realized their silence is not my problem. It’s actually quite liberating! I ask my questions in a non-confrontational way, give them every opportunity to answer, and wait an appropriate length of time to establish the answer is silence. After that, I will simply make my decisions based on whatever I want to do. I don’t have to care about my impact on the silent person. I normally care a lot about that! Not anymore.

    The silent treatment is now my favorite response. Silence is their response. I read that as “no opinion”, and forge ahead, directing myself, my group, my family, my cooperative friends in any direction that feels right WITHOUT the input of the silent person who was formerly so significant to my decisions. “What time does the meeting begin?” (she doesn’t answer because she would rather I not be there? or she doesn’t know? or she didn’t hear me?) “OK, I’ll be there at 6:30 PM.”

    I will always pose the question, but once given more than enough time to give me an answer, when the answer is silence, I am free to do whatever I like regardless of their unspoken wishes. Oh wait, they object? “Silence was your answer” seems to shut them right up. I’m not one of your students from your teaching years. I’m an adult. Deal with it.

    “Would you like cream with your coffee?” “OK, no cream. Next”

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    • April 2, 2016 at 10:15 pm

      Love it feel the same way

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    • April 3, 2016 at 11:25 pm

      Smart ?

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    • June 29, 2016 at 1:19 am

      that was great info…ill have to remember some of that….thanks

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    • January 20, 2017 at 7:50 am

      I really like the way you’ve decided to approach this type of passive-aggressive behavior! That’s completely useful. Thank you.

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    • March 31, 2017 at 1:08 am

      Thank you for posting. I’ve been struggling with my son’s father’s silent treatmeant as I attempt to involve him in his life. He’s honestly a terrible father and we should move on if silence is his answer everytime I approach the idea of co-parenting.

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    • December 24, 2017 at 10:14 am

      Thank you. Love this response. I think I will do just that with all my “silent” “friends”.

      Now that was very sound helpful adcice. Not gonna let someone else control my emotions with their silence.

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    • May 2, 2019 at 11:12 am

      You helped solve a difficult situation with a simple and elegant solution. Thank you.

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  • March 16, 2016 at 5:41 pm

    I endured twenty-three years of marriage to a man who was quiet any way and when angry with me, escalated that to totally ignoring me (would not speak to me, look at me, and walked past me as though I did not even exist) for days (sometimes close to weeks)until I would go to him, apologizing (for I knew not what) and begging him please to talk to me, explaining that “Please, we can’t go on this way.” This happened very often in the early years of our marriage.

    By the time our three children came along and I (a stay-at-home mom) happily became involved in their growth and activities, his “silent treatment” began to have less and less effect on me. Unfortunately, that is when he began resorting to physical tactics to let me know he was angry with me. Purposely bumping into me when he’d pass me in the (very ample) hallway, or as I was standing at the kitchen counter, instead of saying “excuse me” to get to something he needed, he would pull the drawer open to hit me with it and often with force enough to hurt me. If I ever called him on these, what he termed “accidents,” he’d shake his head at me and made comments letting me know I was being paranoid, because “I was just walking past you,” or “I was only opening the drawer.” “What’s the matter with you!”

    By the time our three daughters were in school, this physical abuse escalated one morning before work and school, when tired, he was trying to open up the clogged kitchen sink filled with water & laced with Drano and in asking him to be careful not to get it on our 9-year old (middle) daughter whose help he had enlisted, he got mad, charging after me as I ran into the nearby bathroom to escape him at which point he threw open the door and with both hands on my shoulders shoved me hard causing me to fall backwards into the tub,hitting the back of my head on the ceramic tile-surround and causing the heavy shower rod and curtains down on top of me, with our 11-year old daughter looking on in horror.

    It only got worse so that by the time our daughters were in their teens, he was using the silent treatment on them (particularly our middle daughter for over two weeks during which time she celebrated her 15th birthday . . . with him still totally ignoring her) . . . as with me, his abuse of her turned to the physical so that by the time she was 17, he was physically abusing her until one horrible night, had I and our youngest 13-year old daughter not been there with me stopping him, he would either have severely injured or killed our middle child with his violent treatment.

    Shortly after (within 6 days), he removed himself from the house, getting an apartment close to his office . . . and there he stayed until months later he entered our home making physically threatening moves toward me. I managed to get to the phone and call 911 and upon the advice of an attorney, later obtained a restraining order against my husband (which he was given the opportunity to deny in court but did not, because he knew he could not with myself and our daughters as both victims and witnesses to each others abuse by him).

    Because I went outside our house and finally had to let others know of the long-time abuse going on unknown to others, he really got angry with me and filed for divorce. End of story. End of family.

    Should have legally confronted him earlier about his abuse, because our middle daughter who bore the brunt of his abuse, came to me a few years later and told me she deserved the way her dad had treated (mistreated) her. I explained to her that no man ever has a reason to physically abuse a woman, no matter what the circumstances. Sadly, for years in our family, that is not what I modeled to her and her sisters.

    I only hope and pray now, that my three precious daughters did not learn the horrible “truth” that abusers try to palm off . . . that any abuse they (an abuser) may aim at someone is always the other person’s fault . . . that normally they (the abuser) are quiet and mild-mannered and oh-so reasonable (the image my ex-husband had among those who only knew his public self) until driven beyond endurance to violence. It’s never their fault. Always the fault of the other person.

    If you are in a relationship that begins as mine did . . . with the (seemingly innocuous) silent treatment (which IS abuse), please know that it will escalate to physical violence toward you and any children you may have together. Get out while you can and before more hurt and damage is done to you and any children you may have who are forced to live with this.

    I put myself and our three daughters through twenty-three years of abuse . . . attempting always to turn hell into heaven by trying to be the best wife . . . but you’re never good enough.

    It’s not you . . . it’s him . . . in spite of his protestations to the contrary. Run . . . get out . . as fast as you can . . . an abusive man does NOT get better . . . I was told by the Director of a Men’s Anger Management organization, that of men not court-ordered by a judge to attend . . . men who are seeking help on their own not to repeat abusive behavior, only one-tenth of one percent go on to not repeat their abusive behavior . . . THESE ARE TERRIBLE ODDS . . . if you stay . . . the odds are high that you or your children will end up severely injured emotionally and physically . . . or worse, dead.

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  • April 20, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    My husband is doing this to me right now…..I’m so tired of this. It has happened for a long time.

    I said “against” him and he feels that I never believe him or trust him. That is true in many ways. This behaviour of him is not right though!

    He can talk and say what he feels. Not to stop talking, ignore me, answer with gestures if I speak.

    I’m really considering divorce! I’m worth a lovely man that treats me right <3. This is not the only narcissist behaviour he has.

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  • June 1, 2016 at 1:51 pm

    I am currently dating a guy for 6 months and am seeing a bit of a pattern of the silent treatment. Recently, we spent the weekend together and he is a very quiet person and does not speak as much as I do. Our weekend was okay, but Sunday became a bit boring so I asked him ” are you normally this quiet?” and he refused to answer me. I then said “hello? did you hear me? I’m just trying to see if you need space or you normally want to be alone” He continued to ignore me. I then stated to him that “when you ignore people, that is why the get angry” Still nothing from him. He then proceeded to go outside alone and I followed him and he continued to be silent. He went home and did not call me or text me. I have experienced the silent treatment before and it is not fun. I am now rethinking our relationship because I do not want to go through this in any relationship. I don’t know how we would make it if this continues… Any pointers?

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    • June 28, 2016 at 3:41 pm

      Hello,

      I just read your question. I was kind of in a similar situation not long ago, probably a month ago. He gave me the silent treatment gradually. Like, after 5 months of incessant texting, meeting, and everything else, the first week was “good morning etc” around 5 am (he starts work early) and then “good night..busy day blah” around 10 pm. This happened for a week and I asked him if there was a problem and if he’d like to talk about it. His response, typical, oh it’s just that I am very busy at work etc. So I gave it another week, same thing except he went 2 days with no communication this week. He did tell me on, I think a Wed night that he was taking his kids to a different city for a couple of days. So when he came back and got into his previous week sort of silent treatment, I told him I was ending it. I ended it. I took him off social media etc. I don’t think he’d learn a lesson at all, because the break up doesn’t seem to affect him at all and that’s fine. That’s really how egoistic people behave. I am not here to teach him a lesson. If it were me, I will end it, cold. Narcissists need to fucking stop their shit. It might be slightly hard, but nothing is impossible. He wants to give you silent treatment? No! You will end him. That’s my strategy. Good luck!

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  • June 11, 2016 at 11:16 am

    I loved the article, but disagree with the script for adult children receiving this abuse. Had I sad this to my narcissist father-actually I’m pretty sure I did during the course of twisting myself into a pretzel to please him-it would be akin to handing him a handbook titled “Here’s my button-now you know how to abuse me even better.” This abuse using silent treatment began in childhood. The only way to combat it was to not show how much it hurt-to show that I loved myself and thought I was worthwhile. In other words, the only way to combat it is to fight the view of yourself the narcissist parent installed and look to those who treasure you as your mirror, and fight like hell to be happy.

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  • June 29, 2016 at 1:11 am

    great article…but i believe the silent treatment is a good thing…..when you argue nearly everytime you have a opinion about something and the screaming starts..its best to go into another room and forget about it, i have circular arguments with my wife…it gets no where.just round and round….im trying the silent treatmnet and it works…im learning to be more quiet and just listen,plus if i dont do that another screaming session will start..so its pretty much sit down shut up and we will get along….so in the long run being silent does come in handy…

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    • July 13, 2016 at 2:18 pm

      hey. I respect your opinion but I think you are loosing it altogether. I understand silent treatment as when the abuser themselves is to blame but he/ she is a big coward to face a discussion with the significant other.

      am not sure what you giving your wife is silent treatment. it is a defense mechanism that I have no issues with provided you man up yourself when its you on the wrong.

      otherwise I totally disagree with silent treatment( as per my understanding of the phrase). I stand to be corrected

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    • January 11, 2017 at 2:49 am

      this is not silent treatment. What you are doing, you are ignoring her shouting. Actually she is the abuser. If she is all the time screaming to get what she wants. The abuser uses the silent treatment, to make you do what they want, or to punish you, because you have wronged them. It is a way of punishing.

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    • December 24, 2017 at 10:43 am

      The way you are using it will likely end in divorce. Shutting up and silence resolves nothing. Endless non resolution ends unions.

      Good luck with that.

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  • July 10, 2016 at 5:07 am

    Super ironic to find this article on psych central of all places. Being silent is one of the main, if not the main tool therapists use to manipulate patients into speaking more or into believing that they came up with something on their own. Maybe the psychology community should take a page from its own article?

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    • December 24, 2017 at 10:45 am

      Hahaha GREAT POINT. Its the reason I Will never pay a therapist. For their 1 word answers and silence. Nope.

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  • July 12, 2016 at 3:38 pm

    I was seeing someone on and off for a while, each time it would end the same with stonewalling and the silent treatment for a few months and that said person would contact me out the blue as if nothng had happened expecting to pick up where we left off. This time I get stonewalled and ignored on purpose for speaking my mind. I’ve been pushed away to far now and i’m getting to old for immature emotionally retarted individuals. I find it pathetic, toxic and a waste of energy and time i’d rather be on my own. Delete, move on.

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    • November 22, 2016 at 7:16 am

      Bettyturpin love your comment. My ex narc exactly the same as yours your right delete and move on. 😁

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  • July 19, 2016 at 3:35 pm

    I was married for 23 years to a man who used the silent treatment. He would actually tell me “I’m going to teach you a good lesson.” He could go for more than a week, utterly cold, while I suffered from withdrawal of “love.” Even if I thought I had done nothing wrong, I would always end up apologizing and begging him to talk to me. After I had “broken” and apologized, he would extend it for another day or two, just to “teach me a good lesson.” Always, when I was utterly devastated, then he would want to have sex and expect me to feel warm and loving toward him. This silent treatment worked really well for him for about 15 years. But the funny thing about the silent treatment is that it HURTS. In order not to feel so hurt, I started to build up a protective layer of “not caring.” Eventually, it became my feeling that “You don’t want to talk to ME? Well, guess what? I don’t want to talk to YOU either!!” The silent treatment taught me not to care about him. Once I no longer cared, one of his most powerful weapons was gone (he still used others, such as yelling and intimidation). It took me 23 years to get strong enough to leave his ass. I don’t miss him at all. Incidentally, we had 3 kids together and none of them talk to him today. He was toxic and didn’t deserve our love.

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  • July 24, 2016 at 9:19 pm

    Hi all,

    Firstly, thank you for all the post and discussion.
    I’ve noticed all the post is about a male being abusive to their female partner with the silent treatment.
    I am the opposite, my wife have been stonewalling me. We have been married for around 11 years. She has always used this tactic to get under my nerves. In the early stages it would go on for about 1-2 weeks. I would do something to apologise and try to smooth things over but as the years rolled by it got longer from 2 months – 6 months. If she gets mad and doesnt get her way she would just stonewall me.

    Currently she has ignored me for over 2 years. She would literally ignore me even in front of family or friends, she will not answer any of my questions and when she needs to ask me something she would ask either my daughter or son to ask me. I understand i could not provide her with the big house and nice car and lavish holidays every year BUT i am grateful we have a house to live in, a car to drive and holidays to go to but obviously it is not to her standard.

    She will not listed to reason from me but she will always listen to her brothers. I know i am being compared daily to others, i can only do the best i can. I have always been there for the kids, i send them to school, pick them up and take them to activities after school. I do all the house work, and anything required of me. But she has told me several times in my face i do not do anything! and she would say would you like me to say thank you for those work done? I could not believe it the first time i heard it but now i know thats what she keeps thinking.

    We also had a business before for 10 years which she quit on me when times got really tough. She blames it on me again. Since than she has stonewalled me (2 years now).

    The reason i have stayed is because of the kids but i am asking the question what about me?

    What should i do? Reading these articles now, i understand it is abusive what she is doing to me but on the back of my mind i have to think of the kids.

    Would love to hear any feedback. Thanks

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    • January 20, 2017 at 8:23 am

      Adrian,

      I am sorry for what you’re going through. The silent treatment is about fear and control I believe.

      My husband died young and left me with surprise debt that takes most of my income to repay, he had a double life he was financing and it’s the tax board, they don’t mess around.

      Anyway, what I am trying to say is that you’re a good man. A house! Wow! A car! Any vacation at all? That’s gravy. A husband who cares about his children…priceless. I have so many friends who are single moms and the fathers move on quite easily.

      She must realize, at least subconsciously, that you are a good man. The silent treatment is all she knows to try and keep you “under control” so that you won’t realize your value and leave her. It shows that deep down there’s much self-loathing on her behalf. Truly, all behavior is about the person exhibiting the behavior.

      So to sum it up, good men like you are to be treasured and if you can stop taking the behavior personally and maybe even name it exactly as you see it in a lighthearted way, I don’t know. Now I’m rambling. Your story stood out to me and growing up with a mom who behaved that way, I went on to have other relationships like that–so I related to you. All the best!

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  • August 8, 2016 at 11:54 pm

    Growing up. my mother gave my dad and I the silent treatment. She had other issues as well stemming from her own dysfunctional upbringing. I found myself giving my husband and daughter the silent treatment as well. I married a very withholding guy and it frustrated me to no end. His behavior set my insecurities on fire. Eventually he’d do or say something and I’d become silent. When I did so, he’d finally show his affection for me but, of course, it just made me feel crappy and guilty. But it felt good to have his affection and hear him say he cared. Of course, in a few hours, he was back to being withholding. We had a child and I was silent w/her as well. I did everything I could think of to do to NOT treat her as my mom treated me. I built her up, supported her dreams, gave her emotional support, hugs and kisses galore. However, there were times as she got older that I became angry at something she did that required discipline or at the very least, discussion. I did not want to be my mother. I didn’t want to criticize or put her down. I’d hold it in. Finally, I’d get angry and there may or may not have been an argument but there was silent treatment. I did not know how to handle my anger. When my daughter was a teenager, there were silent treatments due to rebelliousness and other adolescent behaviors. I didn’t know how to handle it and my husband wouldn’t. No discipline from him. He was and is a very loving dad thru actions and attitude, not words. He would never become silent. He wasn’t raised in a home w/silence but he has different issues. One thing he did was to put me down and ridicule me when my daughter was young. I begged and begged him not to do this for the damage it could cause her and her feelings towards us and her future romantic relationships. I do not know why he did this…perhaps resentment he wouldn’t talk thru with me.
    At any rate, I read one day about how damaging the silent treatment is to children and I felt like I wanted to cut my own throat. I apologized to my daughter and my husband too. It was about a decade ago, but I am unable to stop beating myself for it especially when I read articles like this. Recently I found out that my daughter, with whom I thought I was having a great relationship now since she was about 19, thinks very negatively of me. I noticed in the last few yrs, she’s been acting strangely but I didn’t call her out or ask questions. She is 27 now, independent and I love her. I thought we were OK, but now I’m completely sick with worry that I damaged her w/the silent treatments and now I am serving my time. I am about done with life. I could not be lower. I’ve been in therapy for decades and I guess it just hasn’t taken. I don’t think I’m a bad person, but in ways I sensitive and can be childlike…I don’t think childish. I can see where my silences were childish though. All I care about is her happiness and health and I sure wish I could make things right w/her but she is withholding like her dad, sensitive like me. Thanks for listening.

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    • March 11, 2017 at 9:12 am

      Steph we both have 27-28 year-old daughters that are very important to us. I recognize in you a kindred spirit. I’ve always been very sensitive to my daughter’s needs for wellbeing in every area. To the point, honestly that it’s hard on her sometimes. I’m NOT saying that is your situation.

      I grew up in a silent treatment household, and did not repeat that behavior, but made other big mistakes and errors that, knowing how much I love my daughter and how full of love my heart is for her, really shouldn’t have and needn’t have happened.

      My daughter, at times has left the country on a last-minute vacation by herself and refused to leave me her itinerary. At times I’m so overly-caretaking that she’s not wanted me to have her address. Things are different now. We’ve really come full circle. She visits me once or twice a week and we laugh about some of the things past. It’s come to a place of gratitude. One of the things that helped and she suggested was that I “get a life.” So I did. I began a whole new direction and learned that I’m actually and oil painter and can create some beauty in the world. I took the focus off her. It helped. I didn’t have time to worry so much when I was at school and with my life busy painting portraits now I’m still too busy and fulfilled.

      Anyway, what I’m saying is it can and probably will improve. I read a great deal of pain and self-recrimination in your post. I think when we beat up ourselves we invite others to do the same to us. The reason I noticed is because it’s me also. I’m learning to look for what is right within myself and the relationships around me improve. You’ve probably solved it by now! But I just wanted to reach out!

      Reply
  • September 6, 2016 at 3:28 pm

    My husband of one year does the silent treatment all the time. It’s hard to believe how different he is from when he was nice. A Dr.Jeckyl and Mr Hyde story. It’s caused me chest pains and I’m leaving him. I am very sad about it. It’s not likeI didn’t have some warning. He was like that before we got married. I fell for it. He is a scary person now and the contrast is shocking

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    • September 10, 2016 at 7:24 pm

      Domestic abuse isn’t always about being physical hurt. Psychological abuse is the most common form of abuse. Sounds like you need to get away from him. I suggest you start to read about psychological abuse and consider getting away from him. The fact that you knew what he was like before you married him doesn’t mean you should stay with him. It only gets worse and I think you are seeing that. Also look up domestic violence. Please act and don’t allow him to change who you are. You don’t deserve that kind of treatment.

      Reply
  • September 16, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    My husband often resorts to the silent treatment when he feels disrespected by me or my kids. If his kids are disrespectful he tears a strip out of them. I do not treat my kids like that as his form of screaming at them is ineffective. They are all college-age now but still living at home and we are okay with that.
    He has been silent because I made a comment about a socially controversial topic of conversation he chose with some people we don’t know very well. He is very sensitive. I feel like I have to be careful of what I say. OOPS I am human. He goes silent, instead of calling me out so I can apologize right away. Even when I apologize right away, he still punishes me by being silent. Even when I stress over how to gently tell him something is bothering me, it doesn’t matter how I say it, he just hears criticism and feels like a failure.

    I’m so easy-going I don’t care and it’s peace and quiet in the household when he’s like this. I love him, and I love all the things he does for our family, and I am supportive of him, but one tiny slip-up, me being me, him being him, it’s either a screaming match or silent, and he stomps around grumpily, and don’t think the kids don’t notice.

    I don’t want to do this, but thinking of withholding sex for double the time he is silent. The only time he ever breaks the silence is when he wants to get intimate.

    I can’t get him to counselling – he has a Psychology degree – he performs counselling!!! So obviously he is always right, right?
    I should still be angry with him for ignoring my birthday, but I “let things go” yet one little comment, he can never let go.

    Reply
    • November 8, 2016 at 4:29 am

      Your post sounds so familiar, it’s frustrating and sometimes I think the only thing that has allowed us to last nearly 15 yrs is my easy goingness. Yet it wears, and starts to make me feel weak for putting up with it. We have 4 kids and have worked so hard to achieve and have a wonderful life together yet I feel like he’s sabotaging it. But blames me. He’s bi polar type 2 mild. Not medicated. Refuses med’s or marital counselling. Drinks too much and in Sept he left hunting and gave me the silent treatment. I started to think maybe he commuted suicide. Currently getting the silent treatment again and not sure even why. I think the kids made him mad on the weekend not listening and it’s my fault because they don’t always listen to me either. He like very few if any of my friends so we hardly socialize. It’s so hard because I feel like the only solution is to leave him, yet I don’t want to give up if there’s another way… but I don’t know what to do.

      Reply
    • December 18, 2017 at 5:21 pm

      Wow. I was looking at this site because it is happening again to me, and found this eerily familiar post, and realized it was mine from a year ago :-

      Right before I was to leave on a trip with lifelong girlfriends, my daughter made a risky decision and while it had absolutely nothing to do with him, he was not okay with it and let her (and me) know it. I didn’t flip, and neither did her real dad as she is an adult, and she took a risk and there could have been dire consequences. At least she told us!
      I wasn’t okay with it but the other option would have been her getting dealt a difficult blow in life. It was along the lines of calling in sick when not really sick.

      Now, husband is calling me a liar and a cheat because if I am okay with my daughter telling a lie, then I must be okay with lying, and while I was on my trip I got one word answers to my text, and all business (similar to silent treatment). I am home and he is silent, grouchy, and when I try to talk we just fight. I have nothing to apologize for.

      Next step is counselling for me, even if he doesn’t come. YES it bothers me and I can’t let it go.

      Reply
  • October 30, 2016 at 5:47 pm

    My mom has been abusive my whole life. She had a really bad childhood and I’ve always felt empathy for her. Starting at 8 years old she would get angry at me for getting my clothes dirty while she left me outside at a boyfriends house so they could use drugs and have sex or some other crazy reason. She would call my dad or his girlfriend and make me go live with them. She would throw my belongings in black plastic trash bags and make me wait outside until they came. One time I remember her hugging me and crying and telling me she just couldn’t handle me. She would take me back a few days later. At that point I was not a bad kid at all. She kicked me out more times than I can remember. Since becoming an adult and moving out of the house she has been using what I think is the silent treatment against me. As a kid she would make me go to my dad’s for every holiday break. I never spent any holidays with her. Usually around the holidays she starts feeling sorry for herself because she’s all alone(can’t make and keep friends) and just stops talking to me all together. I never know when it’s going to happen and she’s always invited to all my in laws family functions and even my dad’s and his girlfriend’s on holidays. She always declines and would rather stop talking to me until I call her 17 times a day for at least a week and then she’s very short and blames her being alone all on me. I apologize and we just don’t talk about it anymore and it’s over or she pity parties herself to further make me feel bad. I have severe anxiety and panic disorders and when she does this I still feel the separation anxiety I did as a child and I’m 27 with my own family. I should mention I have two adult brothers and they’ve been estranged from her for at least 20 years. Last Sunday we canceled going to a pumpkin patch with her because of money issues and she hasn’t spoken to me since then. Is she giving me the silent treatment or cooling off? She never tells me why she won’t talk to me or responds to apologies by text or voicemail. I’m a little fed up. I have a son and I’m afraid she will do this to him in the future.1

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    • June 20, 2017 at 7:55 pm

      Really sorry to hear you have a parent this messed up. My Dad is just about that crazy. Haven’t spoken to him in years. No one in the family speaks to him, amd for good reason. My life got better once I realized I’m not obligated to speak to him just because he’s my biological father. Broke down though and reached out to him this last Fathers Day and got the silent treatment. Oh well…

      Reply
  • November 27, 2016 at 3:25 pm

    CHILDISH BEHAVIOR AT WORK. Earlier this week I had an incident with a younger woman who works for me in our office. She had been giving me the “silent treatment” for several days and I had left a note for her to please code a credit card invoice for me (since I didn’t know which account she was trying to draw down). Instead of coming and talking to me she deliberately waited all morning until I left for a 30 minute lunch and left it on my keyboard with a rather caustic note so she didn’t have to talk to me. The following morning I confronted her about this and why she didn’t come talk to me about it, why she hadn’t spoken a word to me for days and that what she did (keyboard delivery) was a childish, rude and immature act. She got hostile & defensive immediately, wouldn’t answer my questions and stormed madly out. She later grossly exaggerated and accused me in emails cc’ed to supervisors of me “accosting” and “assaulting” her (untrue) and said she won’t meet with me. Management knows and has talked to both of us but I doubt they will act. Best guess is she still won’t believe me when I have told her repeatedly I want to help her with her soon to be greatly increased work load. Apparently, she has decided she knows everything, and that I (older male w/3x her experience) am on my way out and to take my job. I know its all about communication but this woman won’t talk to me at all and is playing the “super-victim” in a big way. What is the professional way out of this situation?

    Reply
  • December 4, 2016 at 10:50 pm

    You should edit this piece to remove all gender pronouns.

    Reply
  • December 11, 2016 at 12:31 am

    I’m currently being given the silent treatment by my ‘best’ friend.20 years! My brother died. My best friend acted like the funeral didn’t exist. When I told her it hurt my feelings that she ignored me at my time of grief, she quit talking to me. Completely. Usually when she gives me the silent treatment I end up taking all blame and apologizing just to be friends again. This time I said I don’t feel at fault. Wanting my best friend to show me compassion, because my twin died, doesn’t feel like unreasonable behaviour. Silence. It hurts to know I’m so disposable. She knows that it hurts and actually thinks she is the victim. I guess all that’s left is to stop being friends.

    Reply
  • January 25, 2017 at 5:34 pm

    My wife is really difficult to deal with. If she doesn’t get exactly her way about something, she often will refuse to participate. Or, if she does, she has a very negative attitude and will try to start other arguments or find reasons to get upset. I get really frustrated with being the one who always has to compromise. I feel like I am giving 90% to making this marriage work, and she is giving only 10%, and wouldn’t really mind if our marriage fell apart.

    Her parent’s marriage is really dysfunctional. Her Mom is ultra passive-agressive and on anti-depressants, and her Dad tries to control everything. They don’t do anything to help each other out.

    Somedays I think my wife has the emotional maturity of a selfish, bratty 11-year old. She uses anger to get what she wants. One time she was acting particularly rude while playing a board game with my parents. She complained that we were “cheating” by making one type of play and started yelling at my parents. I told her in a firm voice “Show me in the rules where it says you can’t do that!”. She read over the rules and couldn’t find any rule prohibiting the play in question. She backed down, but she only spoke about 20 words to me over the next week. She ruined our Christmas holiday over this, and blamed me for it!!!

    Reply
  • February 11, 2017 at 10:47 pm

    I’m 16 now and i have a Maths tutor who used to be a teacher at my high school but he left due to him wanting to start a family i go to his once a week to attend tutoring sessions and one day i met his wife and gave her a curt nod smile and she immediately walked away and ignored me. The following week when i returned the teacher didn’t even greet me with his usual hello and smile and merely opened the door and told me to put down my books and start working, ever since he has been giving me the silent treatment by only answering with short answers not greeting me or giving me any eye contact. I cannot believe how immature he is, as i am not even sure exactly how i offended him in. Basically i am a very emotional person with values and his silent treatment has been affecting me quite badly as i sometimes cannot even sleep without thinking about this situation. This has now been happening more and more regularly, I also recently went on a holiday trip with my Mother and one of the other tourists who were Chinese were ordering at a buffet at first he was quite nice to me and called me well mannered and good natured but when we went this buffet at a hotel and were ordering meats the man didn’t even know how to order in english and my mum had to translate eventually after about two minutes of constant ordering my mum had enough and i had to translate at first my mind was blank and i forgot to order for the man and the man turned around gave a cold stare and walked away visibly annoyed from then on when i greeted him he didn’t even reply avoiding eye contact.The last instance of this occurring was with one of m friends parents his dad specifically who used to take me to school when i was in primary school with his son who was the same age as me we recently met up again after they had moved away and i had a sleep over the next day my friends father took me home and spoke to my father who i had a bad relationship with and my father told my friends father pretty much everything that he thought was bad with me and the next time i met m friends father he would give me a disappointed stare and wouldn’t speak to me at all even when i greeted him, it is obvious to me that he was affected by what my father had said and now to some degree despises me for being badly behaved towards my own father. I know these things may seem petty and unimportant to some that may read it but i am very socially awkward and inept to a degree and somewhat emotionally unbalanced and even a simple act like a smile and greeting could turn my day around

    Reply
    • February 11, 2017 at 10:51 pm

      And to continue i just want to say that the only place i feel happy speaking about this is on the internet as i am too afraid to say how i feel in front of family, friends or a specialist due to thoughts of self loathing and depression. Can someone please give me some guidance as to how i can deal with these situations without feeling terrible everyday for accidentally causing anyone harm or unhappiness due to what i did.

      Reply
  • February 22, 2017 at 5:03 pm

    I found some value in reading this article. I’ve been trying to understand why my daughter has always given me the silent treatment. This started at an early age but has continued into adulthood. I’m very pleased to have found this page. Thank you.

    Reply
  • March 13, 2017 at 4:18 pm

    I just made the biggest mistake while being on the receiving end of the silent treatment, a person could make. I’m hoping maybe someone can help me figure this out. My husband has used this tactic as long as I’ve known him, it drives me crazy and he knows it. We are freshly divorced now because he has decided to toss me in the trash. It’s been the hardest thing I can imagine living through, so much hurt and so much betrayal and fear and all of it, I can barely function right now and just fight to keep my head above water these days. He managed to convince everyone around me that I’m the problem, not him so what few friends I thought I could depend on have deserted me as well. So, for the last 6 months or so since I had no one to talk to at all, I’ve started to research online what made him so horrible. I have since discovered that he fits the bill of a narcissist to a t, and although I don’t feel a lot better knowing it, it’s given me something to work with. It puts my situation in more perspective and gives me a bit of hope that it isn’t me going crazy, it’s him that already is. lol, if that makes sense. It has helped me realize that I’m not the only one this has happened to and tells me that I’m not the bad person he tried to convince me I was. When he decided he wanted a divorce it just blew up my world, and I asked him why. He said, I don’t love you.” ANd I asked him if he ever had, he answered with. “Well, I tried to.” This is after 16 years of me doing anything I could to keep him happy. He wanted me to change and I tried to, I wanted to be or do what he needed, but it didn’t matter what hoops I jumped through, it was never enough and when I thought I had finally done what he wanted, he would change it to something else. I really believe the beginning of the end was when I realized that I couldn’t be what he wanted, I couldn’t change for him, and I couldn’t make him happy. And then I realized that no one can make someone else happy, it comes from within. And I started to change into who I was for a change and to sometimes actually like who I was again. And I didn’t try so hard anymore to make my life revolve around him. So, I became useless for his needs, he could no longer feed off of my pain or confusion, and that’s all he ever needed from me. Anyway, to get to my problem, when all this is happening it’s like you are riding a roller coaster, one day you feel like you are going to live, and you start to see it is possible to survive it, and care about yourself, and then whammo, you are right back in the hell again. I love him, it’s that simple and I keep thinking maybe somehow, some way I will say the right thing and he will finally see what harm he caused and give it up. I also realize now that I am the last person who could help him, he has spent too many years hating on me, and yes, that’s how it feels. So he would never in a million years listen to me anyway and actually I only hinder him because I allowed his behaviour towards me and he didn’t ever have to think about himself. Okay, he came to pick up some of his stuff and ended up staying in the shop we have for a few days when he promised he was only here for a few hours. I allowed it but he started his games on me and I had to tell him to leave. He had been so nice it was like the man I fell in love with was back, but it was another of his tricks to fool me, and he quickly started trying to make me hurt again. So, he left and hasn’t spoken a word since. They say the best way to stop the silent treatment is to act like it doesn’t bother you and I knw that but thought I would try just this once to just be honest about it with him. I wrote and told him how badly it hurt me and if he cared one little tiny bit anywhere in his soul about me then he should stop it. I told it exactly how I felt about it, and literally begged him to stop. Now I realize what a huge mistake I made and who knows now how much longer this punishment will go on. If anyone has any ideas for me I sure would appreciate it, it is so damn hard to ignore this and I just flat can’t take much more pain. He still has a lot of his junk here and I’m thinking to just give him a very short limit of time for him to get it so I can finally not have him anywhere near me ever again. I can’t heal when I know he is still going to have to come here. But isn’t this silly, I still don’t want to cause him anymore trouble. Old habits are hard to stop cold turkey sometimes. Okay, looking for some feedback, please.

    Reply
    • March 14, 2017 at 8:56 am

      Send him an email or a text. Tell him he has 48 hours to get his stuff, He is to call first. If after 48 hours his stuff is still there, you will put it all in a box and place it on the front step. 24 hours after that, it goes to good will. Do not engage him in any conversation. If he tries to talk to you, tell him, “You are here for your stuff, we have nothing to discuss”. Grow a back bone. I went through this 15 years ago with my ex. I could have written this post. I finally grew a back bone and started standing up for myself. It is not being ugly or rude just “matter of fact”. He is there for one reason and one reason only, to get his crap and get out. CHANGE the locks, do not answer his calls. If he wants a divorce, let him file and pay for it. You deserve better. A true narcissist will not change, he wants what he cannot have. Once he gets on your good side, he doesn’t want you anymore. YOU DESERVE BETTER. Cut him loose. I know it is hard, but pretend it is a game. Do not let him see how much he has hurt you. Again, you deserve better. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. (I have been there too, He told everyone lies) You know the truth.

      Reply

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