How to Respond to the Silent Treatment – The Ultimate (only) Guide You Need

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Are you looking to learn how to respond to the silent treatment? We can only be happy when we have happy and healthy relationships in our lives. The master key to the healthy and happy relationships is the mature, healthy, and productive communication between all parties involved.

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It is even more crucial in all sorts of romantic relationships. Unfortunately, one of the biggest killers of healthy communication in couples is the silent treatment. Fortunately, we are presenting to you the most comprehensive, detailed, and ultimate guide on how to respond to the silent treatment.

Let’s get started.


Defining the Silent Treatment – How to Respond to the Silent Treatment

Six Deadly Signs of the Silent

The silent treatment is a painful behavior opted by one of the partners in a relationship when one ignores the other partner, not acknowledging them through any form of communication.

This often occurs after an intense fight or argument between the couple. It also occurs when one of the partners decides to ‘sulk’ or become silent in anger while the other partner doesn’t even know the reason.

Actions & Behaviors of the Silent Treatment::

  1. Ignoring the other person
  2. Pretending that you cannot hear them
  3. Not Acknowledging their feelings and opinions
  4. Avoiding their Company as they are an Enemy
  5. Ignoring their Needs and Requests – Even if Expressed Clearly
  6. Behaviors with an aim to make the partner feel invisible or ‘a ghost’.

In short, the meaning of the silent treatment is when one partner is angry or wants to control the other partner by cutting off all the communication. This is called the silent treatment. It is important to define the silent treatment for yourself when you are learning how to respond to the silent treatment.

Silent Treatment as a Punishment

Receiving any kind of silent treatment is painful and feels like a punishment. Actually, it’s a form of punishment that was used in prison or other disciplinary institutes to ‘teach a lesson.

But we are now living in a modern, sophisticated world. Being cut off, giving silent treatment is a kind of emotional abuse. So it should never be used as a punishment in any kind of setting.

Therefore, the concept of silent treatment as a punishment is long gone. However, there are still many people who practice within their relationships.

Silent Treatment as a Punishment in a Relationship:

In a relationship, it’s a form of banishment, often to get the receiving partner to comply with the wishes or demands of the silent partner.

Silent Treatment in a relationship is also a sign of low trust of the silent partner. He/she is not communicating with the other partner because he/she is afraid if he/she will express the real concerns and deep internal thoughts, then he/she will be judged by the partner.

Another reason for silent treatment in a relationship is the silent partner trying to control the other partner. They think that if they stop giving their love, care, and affection, even their words to their partner, he/she will submit and comply with their wishes and demands.

Whatever the reason may be, silent treatment in a relationship can truly damage the probability of long-term happiness.

Silent Treatment in a Marriage – Receiving Silent Treatment from Spouse

Silent treatment in a marriage is equally damaging. If there are children involved, then the effects of the silent treatment can go over generations.

Marriage is a relationship where one expects to be listened, understood, and cared for. But if there is a silent treatment from a partner in marriage, then these goals can never be achieved.

However, with professional guidance or following the tips in this article, one can hope to improve the situation and then finally kill it altogether. A professional can effectively help you learn how to respond to silent treatment.

Importance of Responding to the Silent Treatment

It is important to note that silent treatment is classified as a form of mental abuse and that no one, whether male or female, deserves silent treatment in a loving, healthy relationship.

This is a severe form of ignoring your partner consciously and is a sign of passive-aggressive communication. Therefore, you really need to learn how to respond to the silent treatment in your relationship.

It is important to respond to the silent treatment, but it is also important to respond in a constructive, non-damaging manner. We have curated the ultimate list of ways of responding to the silent treatment in a constructive, productive manner.

  • Take A Break – Take Some Time to Cool Yourself Off

Seven Tips on Responding to the Silent Treatment
Seven Effective Tips on Dealing with the Silent Treatment 

Taking a pause and reflecting on the real cause of the issue is always helpful in any kind of argument. Similarly, one of the best ways to respond to the silent treatment is to take a step back and allows yourself some time to cool off.

During this break, reflect upon what led to this silent treatment. What is the real issue that might be bugging your partner? Is he or she justified in being angry with you, if the partner is justified then the only way of expressing that anger is wrong, not the reason itself?

Honest answers to these hard questions can open up various ways for both of you to take your relationship out of the silent phase.

  • Allow Your Partner a Break – Let them Think Through It

Taking a break for yourself is important, but allowing your partner some space is equally important as well. It is a common mistake to repeatedly ask your partner ‘What is wrong?’ when he/she is giving you the silent treatment.

Instead of bugging them again and again, allow them some time to really think through the matter in a nice way and communicate it to you as well.

If you will try to guess the real problem, your partner will become even more frustrated and angry after each failed attempt. Even if you succeed, your partner will not learn to think for herself and will rely on you guessing every time there is a problem in your relationship.

  • Label Your Feelings:

When we are emotionally stressed or upset, we often label ourselves as emotions. For example, when someone is experiencing the emotion of anger, we usually say “He IS angry”!

The problem with this approach is that it labels the whole personality and the person, instead of just the emotion. Therefore, ‘he is feeling angry’ or ‘he is experiencing anger’ will be much more apt labeling.

So in order to respond to the silent treatment effectively, start by labeling what you are feeling if you are on the receiving end, like

“I am feeling ignored by you being silent” Instead of “You are ignoring me”.

  • Acknowledge Your Partner’s Feelings:

Start by letting your partner know that you understand and acknowledge what he or she is going through.

You can say something along the lines of:

“Look, love, I know and understand that you are feeling upset or (sad, angry, disappointed, etc.). I would really appreciate if we can talk through these feelings and experiences together as a couple to move towards healthier communication. I really want this thing to work, but being silent is not taking it anywhere”

  • If you are Sorry, then Apologize!

During your break or even between the argument, if you come to realize that you are wrong in this argument then do not let your ego come in the way. Apologize.

It takes courage and will to humbly apologize when you are wrong, but this one habit can really change your relationship for the better. If you have realized that you are the one who needs to change something, then you should apologize.

You can follow the following steps if you are stuck on the how:

  1. State That You Have Realized that You Are Wrong
  2. Empathize with Your Partner – How he/she must have felt!
  3. Communicate that you are sorry for being the cause of their hurt.
  4. Convince them that You will do your best not to repeat that behavior again.
  5. Do something good for your partner (little things can make a big difference) and cheer them up.
  • Never Apologize Half-Heartedly

Apologizing just for the sake of your partner without truly being convinced about your mistake will simply not work.

You cannot have an authentic and meaningful relationship by being fake. Try to truly empathize with your better half and think about what it will feel like if the same things happened to you?

Apologize ONLY after you are really, truly sorry about your mistake.

  • Think Through the Personality Differences in Your Relationship

It is quite possible that you are misidentifying the behavior of your partner as the silent treatment. After both of you have calmed down and decided to have a mature conversation, then you should also take some time to understand your basic personality of yourselves.

Are you an introvert or is your partner an extrovert? Or vice versa? Actually, introverts process arguments and conflicts by ‘going in their cave’ and talking with their own selves. While extroverts need to talk out the whole argument with their partner.

If this is the case with your relationship, then you only need to follow the next tip on responding to the silent treatment.

  • Have some rules of Healthy, Productive Communication

The silent treatment is about cutting off communication. This happens because a couple does not have any rules or principles to guide them when it is difficult to communicate.

If you can make MUTUALLY make some rules then there will be no doubt that when a person wants to communicate something difficult, the other partner won’t listen.

These rules and principles will give both of you the required trust and confidence that if you will try to express your deepest thoughts and fears, they will be listened to and understood.

One primary rule should be that there should be no communication when one or the other partner is ‘flooded’.

What do we mean by ‘flooded’? According to Dr. Wyatt Fisher, flooding occurs when we feel so many feelings and so many thoughts that it is impossible to integrate them in a moment.

The best way to deal with flushing is to have some time off to calm down. Then come back to the real issue and sort it out. Having some really effective and healthy communication rules is one of the best ways to learn how to respond to the silent treatment.

  • Write a Letter – Yes, it’s really Effective

In silent treatment, your partner is not willing to talk to you. He is not even willing to listen to you. Therefore, if all of the above approaches seem to go in vain, then you can try one of the most effective ways of handling the silent treatment.

Summary of How to Deal with Silent Treatment:

Based on all the tips in this article: calming yourself down, empathizing with your partner, appreciating his/her previous good deeds, etc, write a beautiful letter stating the followings:

  1. Explain how the silent treatment is making you feel. Label your feelings, not your partner.
  2. Appreciate him/her for all his/her genuine qualities.
  3. Write how much you would like to actually talk and solve the issues.
  4. Tell them that you love them and value them.
  5. Close the letter with a positive note and a request to open up.

Write this letter as beautifully as you can. Hand it over to them when they are calm or simply post it to their name. It can work magic.

Silent Treatment – Psychological Abuse or Not?

There is a debate between psychologists and social scientists on whether to categorize silent treatment as psychological abuse or not.

Few scientists agree that the silent treatment from one partner damages the emotional well-being of other partners, therefore, it is a form of psychological abuse. If the partner is stonewalling the other partner to gain control over the situation, then this is psychological or emotional abuse for sure.

Researchers have found out that silent treatment or stonewalling causes as much emotional damage as physical abuse. Others, however, argue that as silent treatment is part of the ‘flight or fight’ system of human beings, it is not psychological abuse but a really poor form of communication.

Whether you categorize silent treatment as psychological abuse or not, it is agreed that is quite painful, disgraceful, and emotionally damaging.

How to Handle the Silent Treatment with Dignity?

The silent treatment is a mature way to deal with any sort of conflict, but if your partner is still giving you the silent treatment, here are some tips to handle this with dignity:

  1. Remind yourself again and again that in this situation your partner is feeling vague, out of control, and uncertain
  2. Do not resort to stonewalling, sulking, pouting, badgering or any other negative form of behavior yourself. It will only make the situation worse.
  3. Try to calm yourself throughout the episode. If necessary, take a break and walk in nature to get some fresh air.
  4. Consider your own motives and style of communication in this situation. Are you trying to control the partner as well?
  5. Empathize with your partner, and assure him/her that you will listen to the problem and do your best to solve it.
  6. Actually, truly listen to your partner. Allow him/her to communicate all he/she wants. Do not judge.
  7. After listening, restate what you have understood to make sure that you got the real message. Allow your partner to add or subtract if you heard it wrong, again do not judge.
  8. assure him/her that you will try your best never to make him/her feel like this again.
  9. Now state how you felt about him/her giving the silent treatment to you. Do not label your partner, just label your feelings and communicate respectfully.
  10. Appreciate him/her that he/she still trusted you and expressed the real issue. Then comment that you would highly appreciate if they can do the same in the future without resorting to stone-walling or silent treatment.

So, these 10 tips on handling the silent treatment with dignity will surely help you out in difficult situations. These tips are simple and effective, but certainly not easy.

5 Things Not to Do When Receiving the Silent Treatment

Things Not to do when Respond to the Silent Treatment
Five Big Mistakes in Dealing with the Silent Treatment

We have provided a comprehensive list of techniques and strategies to be applied and used in dealing with the silent treatment. However, we would also like to include a list of things that you MUST NOT DO while dealing with the silent treatment.

  1. Don’t retaliate

Do not respond to your partner in the same way as he or she is responding to you. This is never the solution. Therefore, if your partner is stone-walling you then you must compel your urge to do the same with him or her as well. Retaliating is not the way to learn how to respond to silent treatment.

  1. Never Blame Yourself

Accepting your mistake and realizing it is one thing, but blaming yourself for the whole situation is something else.

If you resort to this strategy, you are going to lose respect in the relationship for sure.

Yes, realize and accept your mistake. But never blame yourself that YOU are the only cause for all of this to happen. Because punishing any mistake by totally ignoring your partner is not what you deserve, for whatever mistake you might have made.

  1. It’s not about Pleasing your Partner

In trying to respond to the silent treatment, it is about finding the cause of the problem and solving it mutually. It is never about pleasing your partner and awarding him by complying with his wishes by submitting to his silent treatment.

So, try to make him or her sit together and work out the whole thing instead of simply trying to please your partner by simply doing whatever he/she is implying through the silent treatment.

  1. Don’t Beg Your Partner

Begging your partner to talk and speak up in response to the silent treatment will never work. Instead of pleading with your partner, again and again, to talk to you about the issue, simply state clearly that you are there to listen and willing to talk whenever they are ready.

This is the way of handling silent treatment with respect and dignity.

  1. Don’t accept this Behavior

While you should try to make him/her up and resolve the issue, you should never accept the behavior of stone-walling.

Giving the cold shoulder is not mature and respectable behavior. You need to communicate this with your partner clearly.

Therefore, never excuse your partner for stonewalling or on giving a silent treatment. It is not the way to learn how to respond to silent treatment.

After the matter is over and you both are relaxed, convey to them that you hope and expect better and more mature behavior from your partner the next time anything disturbs them.

Silent Treatment After Break-Up

Many people totally block their ex from their lives by giving them a cold and silent treatment right after the break-up.

This is referred to as the ‘no contact rule’ in the relationship advice book. But there is a debate among people about the benefits or harms of this rule. Contacting your ex might incline you to go back to the same relationship right after the breakup. This can lead you into a vicious cycle of breaking up and then coming back. Therefore, it can impact your process to learn how to respond to silent treatment.

On the other hand, giving silent treatment after the break-up can hurt both parties a lot. But if given some time, both parties are abler to move on with their lives and be emotionally available to their new partners.

Many people think about ‘Why my ex is giving me the silent treatment’ and the most common answer is:

Your ex is giving you the silent treatment because he/she wants to move on and live life. There is now no place for you in his/her life. You better move on as well.

Narcissist Silent Treatment – How to Deal with It

Four Tips to Dealing with Narcissist Silent Treatment
Tips on Dealing with a Narcissist’s Silent Treatment

So far we have discussed the situation where one partner is giving the silent treatment because he or she is genuinely hurt or simply unable to express their feelings with the partner.

Now, we are going to talk about another type of silent treatment known as the ‘Narcissist’s Silent Treatment’.

This is referred to as stonewalling as well.

A narcissist is someone who is so full of himself. He does not care about other people’s feelings and he only cares about himself. So when a narcissist gives the silent treatment, he is looking to exploit you. He wants you to submit to him, listen to him, and obey him. In a silent treatment, a narcissist wants you to beg him and pay attention to him, even if he is wrong.

So here are a few steps on dealing with the Narcissist’s Silent Treatment:

  1. It’s Not Your Fault

One of the key traits of a narcissist, stonewalling or the silent treatment is that he makes you feel guilty and think that you are the one who is wrong.

So the first step in dealing with the narcissist’s silent treatment is to console yourself that it’s not your fault.

They are just using the silent treatment to punish you for your imaginary mistake in their own mind.

  1. Make the Boundaries Clear

In this step in dealing with a narcissist’s silent treatment, you must clearly communicate your values in the relationship and the boundaries you are willing to tolerate.

You have to have some boundaries in all relationships.

Simply let him or her know that he or she is going above and beyond these boundaries by using the silent treatment as emotional abuse and punishment that you are not going to tolerate.

He/she can adopt more mature ways and means to resolve the issues, if there are any, to improve the relationship. If they are willing to do so, then and only then you are willing to listen as well.

  1. Stop & Wait – Do not Try to Re-Initiate Yourself

After communicating the boundaries, you must follow this third step.

As a rule, you must not beg your narcissist partner to talk to you and to respond to you. You must simply stop as well.

As discussed above, a narcissist is giving you the silent treatment because he wants the undeserved attention. His expectations are so high and so unreal that you cannot ever meet them.

Therefore, it is best to stop paying attention to him, stop begging for his attention and response, and simply disengage yourself from this emotional abuse.

  1. Re-Evaluate the Relationship:

If he is still not taking a step after you clear your values and boundaries clearly and wait for him to take the step, then it’s time to reevaluate your relationship closely.

Ask yourself, is this the kind of relationship you want? Even if this issue gets resolved, will this relationship ever turn out to be a healthy one?

If you are answers are in negative to most of such questions, then you can declare this the moment and break up with this partner to save your emotional and love life a lot of havoc.

The Psychology behind the Silent Treatment

The silent treatment is no doubt a psychological problem in many cases. Silent treatment consists of many psychological strategies and behavior with a single target to ignore the other partner.

The psychology behind the silent treatment is a many-faceted subject to deal with. But we will try to describe it in the most comprehensive manner possible.

According to the Psychologists, the silent treatment is the sign of emotional immaturity and weak emotional intelligence. It’s a manipulative tactic, also used as a form of punishment in many cases.

There are many harms and long-term negative effects for the person on the receiving end of the silent treatment as well.

Effects of the Silent Treatment:

The silent treatment, stonewalling and cold-shouldering can result in many negative consequences.

Following are the few silent treatment effects on the receiving partner:

1. Silent Treatment Results in Emotional Trauma & Stress:

As receiving the silent treatment and trying hard to get some response from the silent partner is emotionally taxing, therefore, silent treatment often results in emotional trauma and stress in the relationship.

The person on the receiving end becomes the victim of this emotional abuse. It destroys their self-esteem after being ignored for so much time.

2. Silent Treatment Can Cause Physiological Damages as Well:

Scientists and Psychologists have shown that being ignored and feeling invaluable after receiving the silent treatment can cause various physiological ailments as well.

A specific part of the brain known as the “anterior cingulate cortex” records our pain and negative emotions. Studies have shown that this part of the brain is quite active when someone receives the silent treatment.

This feeling of pain can then result in physical ailments. Most of the most common of them are:

  1. Headache
  2. Migraine
  3. Digestive Problems
  4. Fatigue
  5. Insomnia

Another psychological and physiological effect of receiving silent treatment is the weakening of the auto-immune system. This results in lots of other diseases as well.

Silent Treatment as Abuse

Yes, the silent treatment and ignoring someone to gain control or to have our demands met in the form of emotional abuse.

You may know it or not, but the person on the receiving end is being emotionally and psychologically abused by the person who is stone-walling him.

Silent Treatment as Abuse in an unacceptable behavior under all circumstances.

Following are the 10 Shocking facts that make it clear that Silent Treatment is Abuse.

10 Facts on Silent Treatment as Abuse:

  1. Silent Treatment is a form of Emotional & Psychological Abuse
  2. Your Partner May Have Narcissist Tendencies
  3. Silent Treatment as Abuse Leaves your Relationship Dysfunctional
  4. Emotional Abuse of Silent Treatment Can Lead to Physical Abuse & Violence
  5. Silent Treatment is abusive to your Health
  6. Your Partner is Avoiding Confrontation on Important Issues by Stonewalling
  7. The Silent Partner is not cooling off – He is Abusing you with the Silent Treatment
  8. It leaves you feeling guilty and wronged
  9. Silent Treatment as an Abuse can become his habit if tolerated.
  10. Silent Treatment is a form of Passive-Aggressive Behavior.

Borderline Personality Disorder & Silent Treatment

Borderline Personality Disorder or BPD means when someone is borderline emotionally immature and involves a pattern of emotionally unstable relationships, extreme impulsiveness, and a ‘far from reality’ self-image.

These people carry an intense but unreal fear of abandonment. They even attempt suicide or other self-harming behaviors in response to real or imaginary life difficulties.

One of the common behavior of such people is giving the silent treatment as well. In such cases, one must be very cautious in responding to the silent treatment and one must seek professional help as well.

Silent Treatment Quotes & Sayings – Most Authentic Collection

Quotes & Sayings on the SIlent Treatment makes us relate and learn from the thoughts and experiences of the great minds in history. In this section on our guide on how to deal with the silent treatment, we have collected some of the best silent treatment quotes and sayings.

These silent treatment quotes will surely make a place in your heart by the sheer honesty in their words. These quotes are from people who have sensitive hearts and souls, therefore, each word is deeply coming from the heart and the inner soul of their being.

Let us know about your favorite silent treatment quotes in the comments section below:

Silent Treatment Quotes

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Top 20 Silent Treatment Memes & Jokes

The Silent Treatment, Stone-walling, and cold-shouldering is a serious topic. But sometimes we need a punch of humor to actually understand the seriousness of any subject and to actually change our behavior in real life.

Here we have collected some of the best and most funny yet meaningful Silent Treatment Memes and Jokes. These jokes on the silent treatment will surely make you laugh and understand the concept with a pinch of the salt.

Which one is your favorite silent treatment meme and jokes? Do let us know in the comments section below:

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FAQs on How to Respond on Silent Treatment:

What is silent treatment?

The silent treatment is the one where no one is interested in talking with you. No one acknowledges your efforts you do them. It can happen in any relationship.

What does the silent treatment do to someone?

Well, the silent treatment is used in more than one way, either the person is angry or frustrated with you and want to punish you or want to regain control, or sometimes you may feel good by ignoring someone to realize them your worth. in both cases you are not looking for the solution of the problem.

Why do guys give you the silent treatment?

The silent treatment is most damaging to the relationships if any of the partners give the silent treatment instead of addressing the problem of seeking the solution, it may lead to a breakup of that relationship.

Why does silent treatment hurt?

Researchers have revealed that silent treatment gives physical pain to the person. when you keep excluding someone from your activities, it activates that part of the brain which is activated during physical pain.

Concluding The Ultimate Guide on How to Respond to the Silent Treatment:

So here we are at the end of the ultimate guide on how to respond to the silent treatment. In this guide, we have covered all the things related to the silent treatment which you might want to know, which you should know and which you must know.

Starting from the definition, we have cleared the concept of what silent treatment actually is. Then we moved forward and learned about how to deal with the silent treatment and what not to do when responding to the silent treatment.

Then, we also discussed the various effects of the silent treatment in our relationship and on our own selves. Also, we discussed the psychology behind the silent treatment as well.

Lastly, we discussed various quotes on the silent treatment and the silent treatment jokes and memes as well. We hope that this guide has been beneficial to you in some way at least. Do let us know in the comments section below.

Further Readings:

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