Silent Treatment is Emotional Abuse – How to Cope and Start Feeling Better

How to Cope with the Silent Treatment in Relationships
How to Cope with the Silent Treatment in Relationships | Source

On this page, you will find solid, practical advice on how to cope with passive aggressive silent treatment and how to stop letting it overwhelm and intimidate you.

This article also contains observations and advice about what to do when you're not speaking on special occasions and points to what can be done to strengthen the relationship during good times.

Personal Experience

Year in, year out, I just could not understand or work out the reason why my husband and I could not seem to go more than a few months without an extended episode of not speaking (almost always over some trivial, inconsequential matter). During much of our marriage, his silent treatment left me feeling depressed, bewildered, and tearful to say the least. Finally, I found a way to turn things around and diminish this pattern, and I am so much happier for it. The changes I made to handle this issue, and my current reflections, are presented in this series of articles for the consideration of anyone who can relate.

What is the Silent Treatment?

The term "silent treatment" refers to when a person uses silence to convey their anger or grievance by ignoring or not speaking to the victim. Here's an introduction to this topic. Often used by narcissists, silence can be a form of emotional abuse and as such, it is unacceptable. Often, the person giving the silent treatment does so because they want (consciously or unconsciously) their victim to feel unworthy, to appease them, or to feel guilty about something. Alternatively, they may want their victim to apologise for something, even though often they choose not to clarify what is wrong!

A person who is repeatedly on the receiving end of cold-shouldering can wind up feeling resigned to being isolated, intimidated, insignificant, and/or despondent. Other times, the victim may feel angry, defiant, resentful, and/or vengeful. Over time, they can become totally worn down; no one should have to endure such conduct. In a family situation, the uncomfortable atmosphere created when parents are intermittently but persistently not speaking (which may ultimately lead to separation or divorce) can negatively affect children. Additionally, emotional stress brought about by persistent silent treatment can affect physical health.

If you are now in the initial stages of a relationship with a girlfriend or boyfriend who engages in the silent treatment, the best thing you can do is to nip this negative behavior in the bud before it becomes a pattern of your union. It is true that the longer it goes on, the more difficult it is to deal with and eradicate, but it is never too late to do something about it. Dealing with a significant other who refuses to talk and interact can be extremely challenging and daunting, but there is hope.

Are You (Unintentionally) Making It Worth Your Partner's While to Keep Giving You the Silent Treatment?

On this page, you'll find out how you can stop yourself from feeling so weary, depressed, confused, angry, and/or overwhelmed in the face of silence, and make a huge dent in the "pay off" for your partner.

If silent treatment is ongoing in your relationship, do bookmark this page for future reference as you will need to be persistent in your efforts to rise above it (and it's well worth the effort)!

Difference between a Cooling-Off Period and the Silent Treatment

Following a disagreement or awkward episode, silence can be a good thing as it allows both parties to calm down. A cooling-off period works best if both parties can agree to a time when they will come together to resolve the issue.

However, do note that the silent treatment differs from a cooling-off period in that its duration is extended and unknown. It is not recommended that the victim approach the perpetrator of the silent treatment with a suggested time and date to sit down and discuss matters. This might seem like a good idea, but it is my belief that this tactic does not work when dealing with a habitual abuser of the silent treatment, since they see it as a capitulation, and it only serves to feed their desire to control and manipulate.

How to Deal with the Emotional Abuse of the Silent Treatment

Some victims have noted that the more worn down and miserable they get, the happier their abuser becomes. The victim must know that a silent treatment abuser thrives on observing the negative effect they have on their target. Therefore, it is necessary to stop “feeding” that desire for control and power.

This means NOT giving them the satisfaction of seeing the negative emotional effects of their immature behavior. They can derive a great sense of self-importance and triumph if you get irate, annoyed, upset, capitulate/apologise, weep, or plead with them to talk to you. Starve them of these rewards for their unjust behavior and they will likely eventually tire of engaging in the silent treatment.

Whether or not the reason for the cessation of communication is known, here are some strategies to help with “starving” them out and breaking a silent treatment:

  • Don’t appear upset. The best way to do this is not to allow the abuser’s actions to get you upset in the first place. Stop yourself from getting stressed by having on hand a previously prepared list of positive things you will do to distract yourself from feeling overwhelmed by the silent treatment. Your list could include listening to uplifting music, exercising, watching your favourite comedy shows, and engaging in hobbies such as painting, reading, or the like.
  • Appear to be upbeat. Essentially go about your normal day-to-day activities and be seen to be positively and contentedly getting on with your life in spite of their efforts to unsettle you.
  • Refrain from engaging in tit-for-tat silence. This is easier said than done but it pays to make a superhuman effort to speak to the other person whenever the need arises about everyday matters. When you talk to them, be sure to use your normal delivery and tone of voice. Do not be tempted into trying to beat them at their own game, for they are experts at it and it will ultimately get you nowhere in terms of eradicating such behavior. Do not allow them to drag you down to their level of immaturity: Two wrongs don’t make a right!
  • Do not try to coax your partner into conversing with you. Just be secure in the knowledge that if they don’t answer you, you will survive. You’ve survived in the past and you will survive now, only this time you will be surviving much more contentedly. When they don’t respond to you or don’t respond well, simply move on with your day and refuse to dwell on their rudeness.
  • Do not rise to the bait. When they use sarcasm or will only speak to you in a patronizing manner, instead of getting upset or responding in kind, simply get on with enjoying something on your previously-prepared silent treatment survival list of things to do! Let them see that their attempt to rile you is a waste of their time and yours! Remember: Do not “feed” their habit.

Acting on the above guidance is not easy, and you may falter at times. When this happens, just forgive yourself and press on with the suggestions, for you know you deserve better treatment. Make it a conscious choice to be responsible for your own happiness and soar above the silent treatment.

Please be aware that if you tell your partner your plans to put the above strategies into action and then, for some reason, you do not follow through, it will likely lead to your partner feeling triumphant and encourage them to engage in silent treatment emotional abuse even more! Therefore, it is not recommended, at any stage, that you tell your partner about these strategies. Just do what you need to do without explanation or prior warning.

Important: If the silent treatment is from a partner who is verbally or physically abusive, rather than acting on the suggestions given here, get help from a professional experienced in such matters. Also get professional advice before acting on these strategies if you believe your partner may gravitate from silence to physical or verbal abuse, even if they have not done this in the past.

Physical, Emotional, or Verbal Abuse?

Some people who give their partner the silent treatment feel they are justified in doing so because their partner has been physically, emotionally, and/or verbally abusive towards them.

In the long term, silence is unlikely to enhance the relationship, and it is no guarantee the abuse will stop. Thus, the root cause for why someone feels they have no alternative but to become silent must be addressed, and it is wise to seek the help of a competent professional to deal with such issues when personal safety is an issue.

Not Speaking on Special Days

It's sad and awkward when there is a special occasion (e.g. Christmas, Thanksgiving or a wedding) but you and your partner are not speaking. You may feel stressed and obligated to keep the not-speaking a secret lest you mar the day for others. My advice is to continue with the above strategies and to re-double your efforts at being positive. Do not allow yourself to wallow in feeling sorry for yourself or get indignant at the insanity of it all (especially when it's over a petty matter).

Past experience may have taught you that your partner is not just magically going to start treating you right just because it is a special day. Therefore, instead of merely dreading the occasion, actually plan ahead how you will keep yourself busy and buoyant. Be absolutely resolute within yourself that you are going to have a good day, despite their best efforts to thwart you. You can rise above the silent treatment so that the day will not be a total washout.

You Cannot Force your Partner to Stop the Silent Treatment!

Most people find that no amount of pleading or apologising will make their partner stop this behavior. Bear in mind that the only person you can change is yourself, so the only way forward is to change the way you respond when he/she gives you the silent treatment.

You Can Stop Yourself Becoming Overwhelmed with Negative Feelings

By executing the methods suggested above, taking good care of yourself, and positively investing time and energy in choosing to be happier, you can limit negative feelings such as misery and isolation.

Further, when you stop “feeding” their unhealthy, destructive, relationship-killing habit, this can lead your partner to re-evaluate and decrease such behavior, since the silent treatment is no longer getting them their desired result— i.e. controlling the way you feel or making you feel bad.

By conscientiously carrying out the above strategies, you can stop walking on eggshells because you're no longer so anxious of your partner's silence. Moreover, you can stop unintentionally making silent treatment worthwhile for your significant other and become stronger, wiser, and happier in the process.

Emotional Abuse Awareness

Emotional abuse does not get talked about as much as verbal and physical abuse, but it can be just as devastating and damaging. With a better understanding of the issue, we can help ourselves and also arm our friends and loved ones so that they too can recognise abuse should it present.

When the Silence Ends . . .

When you and your partner are back on speaking terms, it is worthwhile endeavouring to fortify the relationship. Speaking your partner's love language could help in this regard.

Thinking of Leaving the Relationship

Emotional abuse does not get talked about as much as verbal and physical abuse, but it can be just as devastating and damaging. Thus for some, the only solution to recurring silent abuse is to end the relationship. This takes courage, but many who do so only wish they had done it earlier.

It's natural to feel extremely apprehensive at the thought of breaking up. For those who find they cannot leave immediately and those who have reason to choose to stay for the duration, the strategies here can empower them to rise above silent abuse.

It may be that a partner will tire of their control tactic if it no longer “works” for them, but there is no guarantee that a person who employs silent abuse will change at all, particularly if that person has a host of other passive-aggressive or narcissistic traits. For those who are contemplating leaving their marriage this article, Passive Aggressive Partners —Why Do They Act That Way and What Are Your Options? will be of interest.

Balance in Relationships

Communication is a vital component of a successful relationship. As well as taking on board these suggestions for how to handle and cope with silent abuse, it is important to look at yourself to ensure you are approachable, assertive, a good listener, and open to negotiation, reason, and compromise. That way, your partner cannot legitimately claim they have no alternative to deal with you but to resort to silence.


Click here for the next article (Part 2) on How to Cope with Silent Treatment

Further Strategies: From the link immediately above, you can learn how self-awareness can stop you from inadvertently making it worthwhile for your partner to continue giving you the cold shoulder and how keeping things in perspective helps you become stronger, wiser, and happier even though you are being "ignored".

N.B.: There are interesting experiences from male and female contributors from both sides of the silent treatment fence in the comments section below. Topics raised include illness and feeling desperate as a result of the silent treatment and other insights and ways of coping, so do check back periodically for new comments and responses. Thanks to all who have commented.

© 2012 Ebonny

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Comments: How Do You Cope with the Silent Treatment Emotional Abuse in Relationships? 244 comments

Ebonny profile image

Ebonny 4 weeks ago from UK Author

Hello “Is it ST or Withdrawal”

It is good to know what we are on the same page as regards ensuring that we monitor our own behaviour so that we do not give a partner no alternative but to want to give out silent treatment/the necessity of finding out root causes as indicated in the article. Thanks for expanding on this and for sharing your experience. I admire you for trying to have your partner attend counselling with you to address the concerns which you felt were driving you to be silent. I’m sure there are many who are on the receiving end of silent treatment who wish their partner would offer and/or agree to go to counselling.

Is it the silent treatment or withdrawal? 4 weeks ago

What could seem like the silent treatment to one is withdrawal to the other. Withdrawal is a common protection method when one partner is afraid that saying anything will get nagging, criticism or an explosion.

Don't assume it's simply the cold shoulder. There are methods for dealing with this (an excellent audio program or book on this is called Coping With Difficult People).

I withdrew from my now ex-wife after a series of criticism and explosions for my own protection. I talked to her, told her that I was avoiding her because of this and suggested marriage counseling, and she refused to go. This made me withdraw from her further, as I felt that she didn't care about the relationship.

Now, having dealt recently with two people who had to be hospitalized for psychotic illnesses, realize that she was also mentally ill and disconnecting from reality. She left me and the kids suddenly, cutting us all off.

The lessons:

First, try to determine if you are doing something that has deeply offended your partner, or are continually doing something. A common pattern is that one sees the other as a nag or hypercritical, and withdraws, and the other sees someone who is giving the silent treatment.

Second, try some of the techniques in Coping With Difficult People for breaking a negative interaction cycle, which is often (probably generally) what is really going on. I won't go into these here, but you can find them on the internet (or read the book). This will take work, and it will probably hurt, but you could make a breakthrough.

Third, if you can't break through yourself, try to get help from a couples counselor or some other third party, such as a pastor, etc.

... and certainly, if your partner asks to go to counseling, and you refuse, regardless of how you feel about it, the message you'll be sending is generally that you don't care or you want out of the relationship (yes, the research bears this out).

Ebonny profile image

Ebonny 2 months ago from UK Author

Hi CruelIntention

Thanks for sharing your experiences. It is indeed very difficult to know where you stand when people are silent and leave you hanging. When you are hurting It’s very tough to come to terms with the notion that you may never ever know the truth or get the full explanation you deserve.

I only wish there was a guaranteed formula for initiating, speeding and completing the acceptance of a situation, learning from it and positively moving on. It’s a process and no doubt it’s different for everyone but I do hope you can find a way to help yourself to increase your resilience and positivity and help yourself look outwards, move onwards and upwards. Ebonny

CruelIntention 2 months ago

I have been with a man, who would talk every day 3 hours with me on the phone, promising me bring starts from the sky, saying so many lovely words to me about LOVE, then we met last time and then suddenly he dissipated. He went to another country without even saying Goodbye! I was shocked and cried more than a year every day. I cried because I didn`t understand how it is possible to put me on a pedestal and the next month just leaving me. There was a story behind about as if he was a hero leaving another country because of me but then again...he left me. When I wrote him a letter, he responded that i never needed his true love and that he can not exist and live anymore. It made me feel horrible even paralyzing! I never met such adult people who do Silent treatment. It is the worst nightmare to wait somebody`s email one year just to clarify what happened!!!

CruelIntention 2 months ago

I came across this article so desperate that I couldn`t help but crying!

Ebonny profile image

Ebonny 6 months ago from UK Author

Hi Laurinzo

I’m glad for your feedback. Many thanks for dropping by.


Ebonny profile image

Ebonny 6 months ago from UK Author

Hi Fati74

I’m not on here daily so it may well be you have made some decisions by now and that’s fine. For what it’s worth, and as difficult as it is when you love someone, in your position I hope I'd be thinking I’d had a lucky escape! (Although to be fair, when I was younger, more needy and more naive, I might not have come to that conclusion, more’s the pity.)

With him saying he “needs a very long peaceful time” I’m not sure you even have the option to rekindle/get back together, and if he is unsure what he wants in terms of a relationship with you, then I imagine continuing would be a very bumpy ride. Only you can decide if he’s worth it.

His blame thing doesn’t bode well and him saying he cannot remember why he stopped communicating is a huge red flag in my opinion. Is he even now prepared to discuss your concerns about him always being busy with work and friends or is this something that must be brushed under the carpet never to be mentioned again? (I have to say I’m somewhat biased as I know what it’s like to ask something and then find that the other person is so outraged or averse to my even having the temerity to ask, that they behave in such a way that I would never dare to ask the question again (i.e. silent treatment can also conveniently silence the person on the receiving end.) Now, that’s me, and I don’t know your man or his side of the story, and I don’t know you so again I have to say be your own best friend, give yourself your best advice, the advice you would give to a well loved friend in your situation, and then take your own advice.

Again, he may not want the same things as you for the relationship but if you need space and time to think about things, just tell him so and delay your decision.

Fati74 6 months ago

Dear Ebonny,

Thank you for your kind reply, I do appreciate it. I thought It was over between us.

He texted me today seemed depressed, he wrote that he is lost and feels useless and does not even remember what happened that made him stop communicating! He says he just felt he can not deal with anybody and/or anything, that the anger and this silence are making the gap bigger between us and he doesnt know if we will ever go back to how we were, he concluded by saying that "the strange thing is that you didnt even notice that i am in my worst condition", and that he was sorry if I was hurt, but He needs a very long peaceful time.

I guess he expected me to be super happy that he finally replied to me, but this text hurt me more, how is it my fault when he pushes me away, when he doesnt open up to me, and when he would leave me wondering what's wrong for over 2 weeks!!

I love him Ebonny, but I am so confused now, I dont know what should I do, I want to keep him but also to teach him a lesson so he thinks twice before doing this again to me. I did not reply , Iwill not untill i hear from you.

Thank you again ,

Laurinzo Scott profile image

Laurinzo Scott 6 months ago from Phoenix, Az.

Very well said... it is a horrible thing to once love someone and then be afraid to see, or know them.... Wow... Great hub!!!

Ebonny profile image

Ebonny 6 months ago from UK Author

Hello Fati74

So sorry to hear of your situation but I thank you for sharing. Given what you have said, I guess you would never have imagined that this could happen and are seeing a different side to him. To summarise, my understanding is you’ve established that your boyfriend is alive and well and choosing not to acknowledge your messages or engage with you at all.

Having to accept that you may never know the reason for a partner’s silence and withdrawal is never easy and unfortunately I can only say there is nothing you can do to make him change his behaviour if he doesn’t choose to or want to.

I am wondering what advice you would give to a much loved friend in your position? A very important thing to do is right now is to be your own best friend – give yourself good, constructive advice to move forward and take your own advice. Deep down you know yourself better than anybody so take time to constructively reflect on how you can best healthily get over him AND thrive. Do also seek support from friends, family or perhaps a local counsellor as necessary. The only way is up so take good care of yourself - Ebonny

Fati74 6 months ago

Hello Ebonny,

Thanx a million for this, i was frustrated searching the net to find some answers. I've been dating my boyfriend for about a year now and he has been great, compassionate gentle man, but always busy with work and friends and i felt i had to talk to him after all this period of being understandind. I did write him a brief gentle message two weeks back , saying that i understand hes busy and all but i miss him and if i didnt love him it wouldent matter ..etc.

he saw my message and from that second without saying a word he stopped talking to me, i am untill this moment totally ghosted!

I did write to him yesterday after two weeks passed (thought he might needed some space) i wrote that i dont know if this is a punishment or hes not alright, i wrote that this is not a mature way to deal with any peoblem, if you even need to breakup just tell me but dont leave me hanging here like this, he say my message (whatsapp) and ignored me totally.

I really dont know how to deal with this, i do love him and dont want to lose him, please advise me i am helpless

Ebonny profile image

Ebonny 6 months ago from UK Author

Hi Your Baby

Many thanks for your take on a previous comment from John - a reader who felt his repeated silent treatments to his wife were justified.

You said “This is ridiculous. So you punish her for something way before the start of your silent treatment? And then you don't even tell her why? If these faults are so important to you then why not say them to her again? Why play such silly, stupid, immature games that do NOTHING to make your relationship stronger or better? In fact, your silent treatment is guaranteed to hurt not only your "baby," but you and your marriage too.”

I have to agree with you. His attitude only serves to make the relationship worse.

Ebonny profile image

Ebonny 6 months ago from UK Author

Hi Emma

Sorry to hear of how you are feeling and sad to know that this is also affecting your daughter. Maybe it's difficult right now to do this for yourself, but if not for yourself then for the sake of your daughter, I hope you will try and eat at least 3 small meals each day to help you keep your strength up. With some extra strength to sustain you physically I also hope you will seriously consider the strategies on this page, and on the other related pages, to rise up over the silent treatment, so that you can stop be quite so crushed and fearful of it. I understand you saying that you want to be happy but completely suspending your eating/sleeping is only adding to your emotional difficulties and is not helping you to be happier. Sure, just by eating and sleeping more is not going to make your husband start speaking to you again, so as well as that I believe you need to start being your own best friend and doing things to uplift yourself in the interests of your own happiness. Lots of people unfortunately look to others for pretty much the entirety of their happiness whereas a huge chunk of it should come with within them-self. I wish you well with taking back more control of your own happiness. Let me know how it goes. Ebonny

emma 6 months ago

Im going through my husband giving me the silent treatment after the fight we had. He has done this before and it hurts me and its affecting our daughter. I feel motionless and cant sleep or eat because of my husband blanking me. He dosnt want to look at me or even answer my calls. Its emotionally draining me. Hes alright when we r talkiing but i just wish he would talk to me cos i dont want to break up or anything i just want us to be happy. Cos its not good for our daughter

Ebonny profile image

Ebonny 6 months ago from UK Author

Hi Sabariaz - thanks for reading and commenting

sabariaz 7 months ago

its better for the people to avoid those things that creat tenshion for him stay blessed

Ebonny profile image

Ebonny 8 months ago from UK Author

Hi "Senior P..."

My apologies for the delay in responding. Please email me and I will respond further.

Ebonny profile image

Ebonny 15 months ago from UK Author

Many thanks for dropping by. Yes - Seeing silence as the norm in our parents relationship makes children prone to perpetrating, or tolerating, silence in their relationships as adults and I think it's fantastic that you recognised and managed to break the destructive cycle of silent treatment in your own marriage. It's great for the two of you and for the next generation.

letstalkabouteduc profile image

letstalkabouteduc 15 months ago from Bend, OR

Fascinating. I've had 2 people in my life -- my mother and brother-in-law -- give the silent treatment to their spouses and, as you noted, both are narcissists. When I got married, I started giving my husband the silent treatment because that's what I had seen my mom do with my dad and I thought it was just what women do. Luckily, I realized how immature that behavior was, and I learned to communicate more effectively over time. Fortunately, my husband grew up in a very functional home where he had good role models. Otherwise, we'd probably be long-divorced by now!

Ebonny profile image

Ebonny 15 months ago from UK Author


Depending on your level of dissatisfaction or hurt or however else you may be unsettled by these silent episodes, I guess you just have to weight everything up and decide whether or not you want to stay around someone like this, even though you may indeed be able to cope better. See if there’s any lessening of the silent episodes, or the durations, when you consistently apply the strategies and be your own best friend and question yourself - does the good far outweight the bad/are you with him because you genuinely want to be or just because you are anxious about not being with him(someone)/why exactly are you putting up with less than you believe you deserve? He may simply continue just as before but you don't have to stay on the receiving end if you don't want to.


Confused 16 months ago

I think i might be with a person who uses ST abuse, if he is tired, if something goes wrong in his day, if he is hungry, or if i am percieved to have caused him trouble, i get the silent treatment, up to 2 days. He will look past me, ignore me in public, if i speak to him he does not answer, when he finally blows up and answers sometimes he says it's not about me, even though half the time i know it somehow is my problem. I do everything, work full time, pay rent, cook, listen to him incessantly about work, if i try to talk about my work he says he doesn't like it. When he comes back around, things are great, he is my best friend. He is an over trained athlete and that might play into it, i deserve better, but i don't want to lose my friend. Your techniques worked this time around but i don't want things to continue like this. Advice?

Ebonny profile image

Ebonny 16 months ago from UK Author

Hi Indifferent

Yes, detaching when constantly faced with this type of behaviour can be of enormous help and it's often the case that the silent person is put out or confused when their silence no longer has the desired effect.

Regarding your Father, it may be that he simply does not know how to cope or deal with your Mother which is a great pity for the family as a whole (I am assuming she gives him the silent treatment too). He could certainly gain insight by reflecting on the way you handle your Mother and if you think appropriate, you could encourage him to read up on the issue, albeit change is not easy.

Many thanks for sharing your situation and please accept my apologies for the delay in responding.

Best regards


indifferent 16 months ago

We've (my brother and I) been on the receiving end of silent treatment since we were born by my mother, and it's followed us into adulthood. I've grown to have a tremendous amount of hate and anger towards her, this is only one area of emotional abuse we've suffered. I now switch off when she ignores me, but let me tell you, they hate it when you ignore them back! And have a tendency to come out as the perceived victim at the end. I blame my dad for still allowing this to go on.

Ebonny profile image

Ebonny 17 months ago from UK Author

Attention: John

Many thanks you for your kind feedback. I'm afraid I'm not as internet savvy as I should be and I don't have a newsletter or subscription service as such. If you choose to sign up with hubpages and "follow" someone I understand you will be sent email notification whenever they publish. It's also possible to follow comments on a particular article.

Thanks again for your interest.

Ebonny profile image

Ebonny 17 months ago from UK Author

Hello AwakeonPurpose - again sorry for the delay in responding. Fact is my response got so long I have tried to turn it into an article in it own right and I've just published it (although I will probably edit it a bit more when time permits). You can find it here.

Hope it covers at least some of what you raised in your comment. It was good to hear a male take on things and so thanks again for contributing to this page. Also I plan to publish something on intimacy issues and ST within the next week.

You seem to have a very rational reflective take on life right now and I'm confident you'll work things out.

PS I can be contacted via email here

Ebonny profile image

Ebonny 17 months ago from UK Author

AwakeonPurpose - I thank you for your interesting and thought provoking comments/observations but must apologise as I have to ask for your patience since I am not able to fully respond to your comment at this time. If you check back in a week or so, I'll respond then. Again my apologies. Best regards, Ebonny.

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AwakeonPurpose 17 months ago

Thanks Ebonny. Really great stuff. I respect the effort you put into followup.

Im a middle age man. Grew up in a large family complete with examples of human flaw and weakness as well as strength and love. Yellers, STs, pouters, bullies, whiners, drama kings/queens, perfectionists ... blah blah. Also quiet heros and untold generosity. The full human gamut.

As the decades have rolled on, Im convinced most people do the best they can to evolve. Mostly, they get to the point where pain motivates evolution and blame weakens the personal power to improve. Its hard because the subconscious tricks us into behaving in a way we learned early would protect our unrealistic sense of imperfect love. Its work to be aware.

I think we get into relationships because nothing fosters the dance of self improvement more than doing it with someone else. Sure, chemistry does its magic but then when the purple haze moves on we choose to learn from the uncomfortable dance or resolve to be stuck.

Even though I know this, it is STILL hard to manage the silent treatment with women. I prefer the respectful bluntness of straight talk because life is short and there is so much to learn. So much joy to experience.

Mostly, I think we societally lack comfort in conflict resolution. Its scary to hang in there, be straight up, be assertive, be respectful. But, when done well creates unbreakable bonds.

The ST is a lazy alternative. Its not a punch in the nose or a slap in the face, but it is the same in terms of the core damage it creates. Perhaps worse because you cant resolve something you cant address.

I loved your reminders of getting on with life in a positive way. Thats actually easy. Whats hard is not taking bait when casually communicating with someone who gives you the "cold shoulder". The most often combination i c among women is the condescending tone of superioty followed by the half ST comments of "fine".


When a person is condescending they are basically saying "FU" in a politically correct manner and then moving around like a fly in the air by not acknowledging their anger .. "I'm fine". Move along nothing to see here.

Awkward. I want to dance and learn to resolve issues. The sex is better, the laughter more real and the connection deeper. Love can conquer all in those moments.

Btw, men deal with other men who give the silent treatment. We basically say, "stop that nonsense, your not a child" ... and then we typically move on to the task at hand. Men have very little tolerance for doing that to each other. You lose you man card pretty quickly that way.

::: laughing :::

Not that easy with someone you are intimate with. Try that and you will likely sleep alone.

I have a particular question.

When living with a woman who likes to do the setup of being condescending, followed by "im fine" leading to extended cold shoulder ... to what extent should you tell her where your going, what your doing, when you'll be home, or greet them when they walk in or wake up or say goodnight when they go to bed. Casual pleasantries.

Btw, I became aware of the "live your own life" technique about 10 years ago. I think one of the things that can block the awakening is the desire for sex. I have seen patterns (girlfriends) who are open and enjoyable when they want sex/affection ... fill up the tank ... and turn on a dime shortly after. Its very common.

Its easier for a man to see the sex dance when hes no longer completely consummed by it. Blood to the brain begins after mid 40s.

I have this thought on relationships. Nobody is perfect. The conflcit resolution you practice with one mate should be honored. They are doing something very honorable with you. Its karmic that the new realtionship often picks up where you left off with the old.

Im very eager to move past this ST dance knowing that it is a very popular form of dysfunction these days. Odds are good that the grass is not greener. Remember, there are NO perfect humans.

So, to repeat. To what extent should you perform the normal pleasantries of hello, goodbye, where yur going, when youll be back, blah blah when the return answers are cold as the artic in the night AND you have to always initiate.

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Ebonny 20 months ago from UK Author

Hi Aneesa

Sorry you have to be here but thank you for commenting and sharing your situation. - The repetitive bouts of silence coupled with abandoning you when out in public must be extremely challenging to contend with. It is not surprising you are concerned for the future of the relationship.

I am wondering how you feel about trying to put some of the strategies mentioned above into action. For some people who are conflicted about leaving implementing these methods can help them come to a decision about the future and strengthen them whether or not they decide to stay, so I do hope you will give them serious consideration and, if you do give them a try, give them a fair go and don’t expect him to change overnight. Also give yourself time to adjust – you’ll need time and determination. There are no guarantees he will change as the only person who can change him is himself. It’s much more about changing your own reaction to the silences and gaining more and more control of your own responses, emotions and happiness, rather than staying on a destructive merrygoround indefinitely.

It’s certainly wise you are thinking about the long term before starting a family. I believe employing these strategies can encourage the silent partner to think about their actions and if their negative traits are not too engrained they may choose and may be able to modify their own behaviour. Again no guarantees but if the person is not all bad it may be worth the effort to see if they do want to rethink their habits.

Also to help extend my own peace of mind and feeling of security when out, I would plan ahead for how I would deal with any future public abandonment. Always have plans for how to safely get home so that you don’t feel so compelled to have to plead/beg for him to act in a reasonable manner. Still, on the other hand, I would be asking myself why I have to be making such extraneous contingency plans and if this is something I could put up with for the long term. Being prepared for and able to cope with another person’s bad or negative behaviour is empowering. But just because a person learns to cope doesn’t mean they necessarily have to stay. Hope you can help yourself feel better for the long term.

Aneesa 20 months ago

Thank you for this article. I feel like I can relate to alot of the above points however I have only been married for 10months and my husband had started his silent treatment punishments from the 2nd week into our marriage. His first episode was on our honeymoon whereby we had an argument over dinner and he left me at the restaurant table and walked back to the hotel leaving me to find my own way in a foreign country, he again did this whilst back in the UK (1.5months into marriage) We were driving to my parents house, had an argument and then he pulled up off the next junction on the motorway and got out the car and told me to go back to my parents house and stay for 1week, 1month, 1year he couldnt care less. I practically begged him to get back in the car and was driving next to the road following him and he just ignored me completely. So I went to my parents house and my brother tried to call him to resolve it but he wasnt interested eventually after 10days of silence and my parents intervening he came down to reconcile and take me home. Through-out these 10months he has constantly done the silent treatment for days on end over things like when i tell him he said something rude. One time he called me fat (as a joke apparently) I said thats not a funny joke and because of that he walked away from me again (we were in a park) and didnt speak to me for the next 4 days.

I am currently on a silent treatment punishment episode again because im too emotional and cry 'crocodile tears' that and he said my over sensitivity is destructive to this marriage therefore hes not speaking to me and has given me a timeframe of 10days this time.

I am at a loss, should I just leave because we dont have any children yet and these first 10months of marriage he has tried to change me and controll every aspect of me, and our lives. Or do I get physcholigical help (as he says i need it) to stop being so sensitive and emotional.

I am so confused. I know people say that the 1st year of marriage is the hardest...but if hes this horrible now, what hope do I have for a brighter, happier future?!?

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Ebonny 21 months ago from UK Author

Hi Fay - Thanks for reading and commenting. For many people, I believe "days" is too long but If your partner is genuinely fine with this and knows in advance when normal relations will resume etc. then I guess it's fine.

Fay 21 months ago

I do give the silent treatment but it's nothing you said is the truth to my situation its for mine own good because if i said what I was thinking at that time nothing good would come out if it for him or I it may take a few days but it does come out with careful thinking

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Ebonny 22 months ago from UK Author

Hello Yiancy

Thank you for sharing your situation. I feel sure you did all you could to improve your relationship and just because you now find an article which relates and has suggestions for possibly changing things for the better please don’t beat yourself up thinking you could have, should have done more. You said yourself that you did employ some of what has been suggested and it didn’t work out for you and so I think the important thing now is to try and move on and really strive to be positive.

There is always lots we can learn from difficult experiences but no doubt moving on is a challenge when you your heart aches for somebody. One of the books above “How to heal a broken heart ....” may be of particular interest to you as you move on with your life. Always remember you did not break up your relationship lightly. It takes two to make a relationship work and if your husband was not budging on his end for whatever reason, there is nothing you could do to guarantee that he change if he was not minded to. Best wishes, Ebonny

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Ebonny 22 months ago from UK Author

Hi Dan

You certainly have been in a very difficult relationship and seem to be a caring person - it’s great that you are happy to be there for your ex-girlfriend’s daughter. This might not be easy given your ex-girlfriend’s personality traits but I certainly hope this works out well.

I feel confident you did your best for relationship and although it’s possible handling things differently might have had some effect, as I say in the article, there are no guarantees and so please do not dwell on what might have been. It is what it is and you have learned from the experience and can use it to help you in the future as you now move on. I know it's difficult when things don't go the way you want them to but I hope will be positive as you go forward. Thank you for sharing and my apologies for delay in responding. Best wishes

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Yiancy 22 months ago

Ebony, thanks for this article, much in it was very familiar to me, it was making sense to me somehow but not completely. This silent treatment can be so hurtful and self damaging to one person, that I really hope he doesn't go through this and I most certainly don't wish it upon anyone. I went through this for 2.5 years, never thought that this would be considered as abusive. I would always ask him "What did I do now?", "Now, what did I say or do to upset you?". It was always me who was always wrong, even when I didn't do anything wrong. It was hard for me to have to go out in public or with family as a family because there was always something I said, did or looked at. I wouldn't do anything to hurt my back then husband, I was and still am madly in love with my husband. It was very difficult and very painful to have to go through this, as up to this day, I don't understand how can someone who apparently loves you, can hurt you this much. It's going to be 5 months this month since I left him. I was becoming him and he didn't like that. As I read this article, I had tried some of the strategies mentioned, he didn't like it, because I wasn't behind him trying to ask what I did wrong or pleading for forgiveness. I am free from that but there are times were I do wonder if I should have kept on fighting for my husband and try to work on this issue of his? It's hard to accept the fact that you were indeed, treated like this. I still find it hard to understand why he would give me the silent treatment?! I did try to save my marriage and stood by his side even when he gave me the silent treatment in public, family reunions and at home. Could I have done more to have saved my marriage? I would've loved to have found this article 6 months ago, maybe I would've understood more or done more for my husband to help our marriage. Now, I have to deal with the separation process and deal with the emotions that come along with it.

Dan 22 months ago

Hello. Thanks for this. As I was reading through much seemed familiar, although there are differences in my situation.

My girflfriend always had "moods" and while we were just friends I learned to leave her alone till she felt better as I just could not get through to her when she was in one of these moods.

I accepted how she was and a couple years later we ended up together, properly (there had been some on and off before then with me unfortunately rejecting her romantically as at the time I thought we were not compatible). However, I started to see her differently. She was always there for me, and apart from the moods, so kind and loving.

But, while we were together, her moods sometimes caused problems. She would not even look at me, I would talk to her and only get grunts or single words as replies. She would also snap at me over tiny little things that weren't even a problem. I put these moods down to stress, as I noticed when the kids misbehaved, or didn't do what she wanted, she would get like this with me. I could see it happening but she would never accept any help with the kids, or with tasks about the house, she would angrily refuse help and would not tell me what was wrong.

This all got worse a few weeks back. Her daughter was hurt on a trampolene so I drove them to hospital, bought them supplies, looked after them. During this time my GF was distant and barely noticed me. I just went with it, as I knew it was a worrying time. When I picked them up she was stressed and wanted to get out of there but was sighing and tutting at everything including me. She got very angry when I suggested she was stressed and should take it easy.

Since then, her moods have increased. She would not talk, touch or look at me and when I put my arms round her she would often push me away. It is very confusing because other times she would ask me round, and would not want me to leave. She would be all over me. But the bad times kept getting worse, whatever I did, however I tried to help. She said she was depressed. She said that weas why she felt that way and she struggled to talk when she was like that. I don't know if that is true or not.

Anyway, time before last I was there, she was so cold and off with me the whole time I came home early. No drama. I didn't go back taht night - I didn't say I was going to so no broken promises. She text me at half 2 in the morning asking me about it. I explained that due to her mood I had chosen to leave her to herself that night until she felt better. I also told her (like I have before) That when she gets like that it makes me feel unwanted. She ended up saying we were "On a break" a couple days later, after hinting at it that night and saying she didn't want me to come round.

So, the very day she told me we were on a break, a few hours later she phoned me, upset. I talked to her about her issues, suggested ways we could deal with them together, helped her feel better, made her laugh. She then asked me round and told me that the problem wasn't the relationship, it was her. So I went round that night, expecting to be in each others arms, happy to see each other after nearly losing each other.

So I get there, I put my arms round her, she stayed stiff, didn't move. I kissed her - she didn't kiss me back at all. A bit later she did when I made the first move again, and she stopped me moving away when I went to play with her daughter. That was the last bit of affection she showed me. The rest of the night she didn't go near me. Didn't reach out to me once. We ordered pizza, she went to bed, then so did I - back to me all night and seemed to barely put up with my arms round her.

In the morning things weren't too bad but we went to the shops and her 2 and a half year old daughter acted up. I had to pick her up as she thew a tantrum on the floor. I took her outside and held her so my GF could do her shopping, but that was it. I went back in when the daughter had calmed down and I could see my GF was in the mood again. She fought it, but on the way home she wouldn't talk to me, only go "uhu" when I spose. At home, back to me, putting shopping away, and then putting dishes away. I asked her what she was doing now. She said "nothing" and carried on with her back to me. I said I felt like a spare part. She didn't say anything. Before she had told me that we didn't spend enough time together. I told her that was because when she was in a mood I had to leave her till was was ok again, and she agreed this was the best thing to do. So I went out the room for a minute to think and try relieve the pressue in my head. But I couldn't take it. I felt so rejected, so alone, so worthless to her. I went back and told her she had only once briefly shown me any affection the whole time I had been there and I had to initiate it. I said affectoin has to be two ways. She told me not to talk to her like a child, and started shouting when I explained I wasn't and told me if I feel like that to "just go". So we shouted about it for a bit and she kept telling me to go, so I did.

I have been trying to make sense of it. It wasn't always like this. I love her so much but I can't cope with her like that. It has happened more and more, even though 5 weeks prior to this she was messaging me saying how happy I made her and that things were great. It is like there are two of her. The lady I love and another cold distant angry person who hates me. When she is like that, she treats me like I am an enemy, like I have just called her mum a rude name or something. It's a complete personality change.

She broke up with me last night and I had to agree with the decision. I am past begging to be with people - done that before and I know how it goes. Tried to keep my dignity. I can't leave the daughter though, I have to go back see her whatever happens. I love her like my own daughter and she loves me. Coping better than usual this time but just really trying not to be a mess.

Reading this helped me feel better for a bit, just trying to work stuff out. But, it sounds a little different. I never thought my now ex GF was vindictive or cruel. I find it hard to accept now, unless it was just subconscious. But I am not pandering to those moods, I am not going to message other than to arrange to see her daughter in a week maybe. Poor girl shouldn't lose another father figure after her real dad didn't have anything to do with her. Just trying to work it all out. I don't think I could have done anything else to fix it?? I don't know. Maybe if I had read this before it all happened I could have.

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Ebonny 23 months ago from UK Author

Hello Sam

I guess by now the silent abuse from your partner will have ended and if things are okay again, then now’s a good time time to think about what you could do differently in the future if you want to stop this pattern of behaviour (which, understandably is leaving you feeling so distraught that you are anxious, stress and not getting any sleep). Even without the menopause to contend with, being on the receiving end of silent treatment is a horrible place to be.

I hope you have taken some time to familiarise yourself with the suggestions in this series of articles and will seriously consider putting them into action next time this happens (in particular Part 3 talks about coping with a partner who leaves the room when you enter etc.).

Also try to employ some positive affirmations when you feel down as this can help stop you becoming overwhelmed when your partner ignores you, and hopefully over time with you being seen to be able to rise above and not be defeated by such behaviour, he might be inclined to do it less often.

It is interesting to note that you both acted a certain way in your first marriages and want to act in an opposite way in this marriage. Since he did not enjoy always having to be the decision maker in his first marriage, hopefully if you talk things through with him he will come to realise that sharing the burden of decision making is worth aiming for, and healthier in the circumstances. I am also thinking your daughters can learn and benefit if you and your husband can model shared decision making. Likewise if they see you taking good care of your emotional health, rather than tired and distraught, it can help them with future relationships.

Again, positive affirmations can help a lot when a person is at risk of drowning in depair. It can feel strange and “silly” to be saying affirmations to yourself to begin with but I hope you’ll give it a sustained try.

Best wishes


Sam 23 months ago

I’ve just come through a night of anxiety filled non sleep, silent tears and a physical ache that feels as if my heart is being torn in two. Being just over 2 years with my husband (18 months into my second marriage) I am experiencing what I deem to be the silent treatment, but on a much shorter term basis. This usually lasts less than 24 hours, but the hurt and pain it inflicts is soul deadening. The smallest things seem to trigger it, if I appear unhappy without giving a valid reason, must add, I’m 49 years old and seem to be entering either pre, peri or full blown memopause, a slight change in the tone of my voice, giving him options instead of telling him what to do when it comes to decisions that need to be taken. Last night was simply because I wanted him to decide what takeaways to get, instead of me.

The looking past me, the avoidance, the no touching, no talking, leaving the room when I enter, getting out of bed when I get in… I never really thought of it as abuse, but if this is how it starts, then it seems I am in for a helluva ride.

When my first marriage ended, I was told that no-one expected that it would. It seemed perfect. We never fought, never had any real issues … I found out why, Hubby no 1 told me that he always let me wear the pants, make the decisions to keep the peace. Even my daughters tell me that I ruled the roost and they want to be like me.

Am I heading for an unhealthy marriage? We spoke about what we expected from this marriage, how we were, what we expected to change. In his first marriage he says that he always had to make the decisions and just wants to not have to shoulder that responsibility second time round. Learning that Hubby no 1 let me have my way to keep the peace, I am terrified of always doing things my way lest I end up in another sham of a relationship. I am not a controlling person, I always put the feelings, wants and needs of others in front of my own, I try to clear the path for others and make life easy for them.

I’m becoming stressed and see going to work as an escape from the anxiety that I’m being swallowed up in.

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Ebonny 23 months ago from UK Author

Hi Charleigh

I think I can well understand how the silent treatment and attitude from your partner that you are experiencing can lead to a person feeling needy, unappreciated or under-valued. It’s also very unsettling when you feel that your partner is a good person as it just doesn’t make sense that they would continue to treat you this way despite your explaining time and time again how awful it makes you feel. It’s a very challenging and frustrating cycle.

And unfortunately there are no easy or instant solutions for this situation. However, I do urge you to seriously consider implementing the strategies explained in the article above. They are about changing your own response to silent treatment and uplifting yourself. You may feel that in an ideal world you should be able to rely on your partner to uplift you. Fact is you cannot make your partner change if they don’t choose to. For some reason the prevailing status quo doesn't leave them feeling enough of a true desire to make any change.

The methods suggested above are about doing things differently and taking more care and control of your own emotional response so that you are not so adversely affected and/or overwhelmed by the silences.

Implementing them can help a person feel less needy and more self sufficient and whole. They can lead to the silences will not being so overpowering anymore and help a person feel measurably better.

Thank you for sharing your situation and best wishes for the future. Ebonny

Charleigh 24 months ago

So I'm reading this as I'm lying in bed next to my husband who literally left me crying for two hours and is so stubborn he will never admit he is wrong for what feels like constant rejection. He thinks that by me always asking him to care about our relationship that I "wanna fight" Ye I wanna fight for US. We hv five kids n we both work very hard. I thought I was a homebody until I met him. He puts a whole new meaning to it. So I get he's tired n that he can't take one day to even take me out for my birthday n promises he'll make it up to me but it's the second year i ddnt get a card n no the ring he bought was beautiful but I'd rather a card. He's actually a good man but he resorts to the silent treatment anytime I get remotely upset. I can be talking with no emotion but his defenses go up n he's GONE LITERALLY feels like I'm dying inside. I've explained how it makes me feel I've articulated it n calmly explained it n he still does it all the time. I even went so far as to tell him tonight I'm done fighting fir us which in 8 yrs could never bring myself to actually say (espec cuz I'm not done) but I did. I wanted to invoke a reaction- something toshow he cares. N nothing. Freaking sleeping like a baby right now. I know it's abuse cuz I've said it before to him n felt it deep in my core that it's not right. Now I'm not perfect. I get passionate I curse i yell but only bc I'm trying to get a pulse from him. I would rather talk n be rational n come up with solutions instead of feeling sooooo helpless when he gives me the cold shoulder. The only differences with him is that he will act as if nothing happened the night before n the next day converse about day to day stuff n Ye I hv occasionally given him the huh really ur pretending like nothing happened. N there's times where I forgive n forget bc I dnt wanna hold onto it either but I feel like it's so cold. He grew up w his father not talking much n I get why. His father had extenuating circumstances n but I dnt think he gives the silent treatment. I know partly that when my husband gives it to me it's bc he feels attacked but he feels attacked pretty easily to sometimes. Sometimes I feel like he tries to make a fight so he can avoid talking about something n then resorts to the silent treatment. In 8 yrs I'm married to him I never felt he was arrogant. But last month or so I hv been. I've always respected n looked up to him n things r eroding lately n yes I think we need to get away but he never will leave the kids. I dnt want to either but I think there's a balance. He just dsnt ever put me first. Is once a year too much to ask. Anyway I'd like to know your thoughts n just needed to vent too. I'm not as articulate as I could be bc of the late hour n lack of sleep in general so hope I came across somewhat coherent

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Ebonny 2 years ago from UK Author

Hello Flo - Thank you for your feedback and update and really hope that this transpires to be the turning point for the long term. It’s good that you are conscious of how your partner may be feeling and I certainly hope this is reciprocated. If someone is unaware, uncaring or in denial about the consequences of their silences on their partner, I think it is highly likely that the silences will resume sooner rather than later. From what you say it sounds like you are seriously considering putting the suggestions in these articles into action. I know it is very difficult to apply the suggestions I give here consistently over the long term. If you should fall off the wagon, get right back on (change can be difficult, but not impossible). You might also consider individual counselling/couple counselling for the future as necessary.

I also want to say that sometimes, when setting out to change reaction to silent treatment, people apply the strategies without placing much emphasis on finding ways to uplift themselves, and this includes becoming less isolated. It’s important to note that a person who is isolated will have a more difficult time in carrying out the strategies so working on such aspects in order to nurture emotional well being is key. It’s all so easy to ignore general isolation when on good terms with a partner but “oh boy” isolation can take a strangle hold when the relationship is not going right!

Again, many thanks for your update. It’s good that you found a way to get things back on a more even keel from which you are growing. ;-)

Best regards, Ebonny

Flo 2 years ago

Dear Ebonny,

Thank you very much for your prompt reply, it meant so much to me. Thank you ! I cannot express in words the amount of consolation, encouragement and happiness, your reply brought to my heart.

I'm writing to tell you we are fine. I started a chat on skype since he would not speak and we had meaningful and fruitful conversation. He is talking to me. Most of the conversation is about our daughter but this is better than nothing and he smiles.. he smiles at me.

After reading your reply I took the time to read some of the other comments and John's long comment made a lot of sense. So, I am going to try a few things mentioned on this page and hope for the best. Thank you again and will keep you updated.



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Ebonny 2 years ago from UK Author

Hello Richard

Sorry to hear of your experiences. Persistent silent treatment does indeed lead to feeling angry and hurt and it is extremely difficult to content with. I am wondering if you have tried any of the strategies in this article and/or the follow on articles. If you give them a try they are not guaranteed to magically make your wife change her ways, but they have the potential to help you to feel better and more in control of your own emotions. Whether or not you plan to divorce, I believe they are worth a try so please consider and try to be consistent, even if you falter in applying them at times, get right back on track asap.

It also sounds like you could benefit from support from a professional experienced and qualified to help with your issues - being/staying isolated is something you want to move away from. Best wishes. Ebonny

Richard 2 years ago

Dear SH,

i have been going through this experience for almost 2 years now and have had bp challenges because of it.When ever we argue and i need answers i am given the silent treatment and this goes on now for even longer periods with most of our comms being via email or IM.This has now caused me to be very angry at times it hurts so much because i love my wife very much and this has resulted in the extended family(my inlaws) siding with their daughter and i can not discuss this matter with my family out of respect for her.

i need your advice as i am not thinking of divorcing her.

Richard (Zimbabwe)

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Ebonny 2 years ago from UK Author

Dear Flo

I am very sorry to learn how despairing you are feeling at this time. Being ignored for weeks on end is taking its toll. I can only imagine how difficult things are for you if you are thinking about leaving but do not have the support of friends or relatives, or without an income of your own.

I can tell that you want the best for your baby daughter, and your own peace of mind is likewise important.

There is an organisation called Befrienders Worldwide – please google “befrienders worldwide find a helpline by country" – and I understand they exist to offer support to people in a variety of difficult circumstances. I urge you to reach out to them for support to see you through this crisis of emotional abuse. I imagine they may be able to direct you to local support also. Keep reaching out until you get the support you need to see you through this difficult time. Remember it is a strength, not a weakness, to reach out when you are in need. I know it’s easier said than done, but if not for you, please try to be strong for your baby daughter. Take very good care.


SH 2 years ago

Thank you very much Ebonny for your speedy reply. I have taken your advice on board.

Will get back to you

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Ebonny 2 years ago from UK Author

Dear SH

I am sorry to hear what you are experiencing. I am going to refrain from suggesting you implement the strategies I mention because I feel you first need to address the atmosphere of intimidation and fear that exists in your relationship.

It may be that you have been giving your husband the benefit of the doubt and feel that he may not realise quite how frightening his anger is to you, or you may doubt that he gains any advantage from acting this way. Regardless, I think he needs to be clear about of effect of his anger, how one sided the relationships is becoming - and how damaging this anger, and his silences, are to the relationship/you. Then he can choose whether or not he wants to do anything differently and you will be clearer about where you stand.

Behaviours that have such negative consequences on both your physical and mental well being should not be allowed to drift on indefinitely, lest things get progressively worse or suddenly go ballistic. It’s hard to make the decision to actually do something to change things but I hope you will find the courage to find a way forward and to move towards a happier and more fulfilling future.

Please seriously consider getting some couple counselling and/or anger management for him, and/or individual counselling for you. You can’t force him to go to counselling with you (I am guessing he may not be keen to go!). However, you could go on your own and get support from a suitably qualified and experienced counsellor. Take great care. Ebonny

SH 2 years ago


I’m in a very difficult situation. My partner gives me the silent treatment also.. Sometimes it can be for the most trivial reason and completely uncalled for.

The worst part is, he’s a very large man and can be extremely intimidating when he is angry. I feel so isolated when this is going on. I feel physically sick and can’t sleep.

Thankfully this usually only lasts a day or two. He used to bring me flowers the next day once he calmed down but he NEVER says sorry.

One day we met up with my friends & he just completely ignored me. I never even found out what I had done on that occasion

Every time this happens he pushes me away a little more. When I am angry with him over something it gets turned around onto me and I am given a guilt trip like “everything I do is for you and I’ etc.

I can’t ever say anything that I have an issue with.

I’m always scared to set him off

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Ebonny 2 years ago from UK Author

Hi Unknown

Thank you for your comment. I did not deem this article to be gender specific but I note your perception.

If a partner, male or female, is threatening violence then it's important to seek professional advice by a suitably qualified experienced professional soonest and for safety's sake seriously consider the future of the relationship. Such threats are simply unacceptable and must not be lightly dismissed. Take care.

Unknown 2 years ago

The article is good but i think its very feminice how about if its the husband whos getting the silent treatment, and have done this but the wife whos giving the silent treatment just makes it even worst for the husband? To the point that shes trying to be slightly violent throwing tantrums at you if your doing what has been suggested?

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Ebonny 2 years ago from UK Author

Dear Tom

Thank you for sharing your experiences with your brother. Your situation is different to what I have experienced as regards silent treatment in that your silent person is schizophrenic. That said, there are similarities in that it is so very disheartening, confusing, upsetting and frustrating to be on the receiving end of silence. From what you say, I believe that it is your brother’s psychiatric disorder which has changed him from his former “thankful” attitude to ignoring you now.

It’s easy for me to say to you “don’t take it personally – he cannot help it” but that won’t necessarily make your feelings of frustration and upset disappear. I am wondering if you have any outlet to air your feelings. Perhaps talking to another family member, friend or a qualified counsellorwould be good for you and I do hope you will seek help of this nature. (A health professional who has experience of working with people with your brother’s condition might perhaps give you a clearer understanding of how this illness manifests, what to expect etc).

I’m guessing that it may be your brother cannot change even if he wants to and I empathise with your feelings around not being motivated to continue to serve your brother as you have been. I'm sure you are not the only person who has felt this way in your situation so I hope you don't feel guilty about having such feelings. It must be very difficult day in, day out but, for what it’s worth, may I say myself how it VERY admirable it is that you assist your brother as you do and thank goodness for people like you who help others without recognition or appreciation. I do hope your life is fulfilling in other respects as this can help sustain you in what you do. Again, do seek out any support you need in coping with your situation and making the most of your life generally.

Best regards - Ebonny

tom vogel 2 years ago

My brother lives with me and my mom and for over four years he never looks at me or talks unless he wants me to bring in something like food. Before this we would always look at each other and talk about stuff. My brother has schizophrenia so he depends on me to bring food and stuff in. He just ignores me when I walk past him and never speaks to me. My brother used to be so thankful for what I brought in but never acknowledges anything since this started. I don't speak to him since he will either not answer me or say shut up. Doesn't it sound like my brother should change if he wants me to keep getting what he needs to live in the house? Should I want to bring food in for him if he never talks about it and acts like I don't exist?

Thank You

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Ebonny 2 years ago from UK Author

Hello Lee

It may be frustrating for your partner to feel that you will not listen to her but yet are willing to listen to an “outsider” but in your shoes I would still seek professional help to move on from what seems to be a very concerning impasse.

It is good to know that you are so keen to stop giving your partner the silent treatment and it is not easy to change old habits which manifest themself seemingly automatically. I also hope your partner wants to stop “slapping” you as ALL forms of abuse are intolerable. Do be safe and seek help and guidance as soon as possible. Thank you for sharing your experience. Regards, Ebonny

Lee 2 years ago

Thank you for the article. I am told that I am an emotional abuser that wants to break my partner with silent abuse. I am trying so hard to find out how to break the habit...I am lost, upset, and confused that I am doing this to her. I want to stop and try to seek counseling. She did not approve when I told her that. If i cannot listen to her advices, why should I go to someone else and pay money to hear the same words? I do not understand what that means...they are professional that will help break my silent abuse...right? I want to stop hurting her when I do not understand the root of my silences...

I try to take blame, but it ends up being "all about me" when I try to apologize and tell her "my" mess ups are unacceptable and "I" have to make myself change and try to discuss what happened. I end up shock and sad when I fail and upset her by doing so...and make things worse when I can't seem to make myself say anything. I become so afraid to make her feel insignificant...I say everything wrong and end up stop saying things when I keep failing. It got so bad that she had enough and I get scolded and slapped near daily. I do want to stop but have no idea how to go about it. Still I keep trying to seek professional, despite her wishes? Thank you, Ebonny.

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Ebonny 2 years ago from UK Author

Hello Maya

I note your concerns and thank you for sharing your experiences.

I think the two headings towards the end of the article starting with the words “You CANNOT ...” and “You CAN ...” relate to what you say about changing another person and I am glad if we are in agreement on this.

I appreciate what you say about leaving and as a consequence I am considering an addition to article to clarify that I am not ruling out leaving an emotionally abusive partner. As you say, for some, leaving is indeed the right thing and the only thing to do. Thanks again - Ebonny

Maya 2 years ago

This article is well written and informative. However, I am concerned that the author is suggesting that you should stay in a relationship with the passive aggressive person and if you communicate that this behaviour is unacceptable to you, that behaviour will change. In my experience having been in a toxic relationship with a passive aggressive person...the best thing you can do is leave the relationship. That is actively showing that you will not tolerate this highly unacknowledged form of emotional abuse. People need to remember that a person will only change unless they want to and you cannot change how someone else behaves but you do have control over having that person continue to be in your life.

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Ebonny 2 years ago from UK Author

Hi Addy - Welcome to Hubpages and thanks so much for sharing your views on this issue. Until relatively recently I myself did not recognise ST as abuse but it most certainly is.

Thank goodness there is more awareness and attention given to the wickedness of physical and sexual abuse in the media nowadays. Rightly so, and hopefully one day emotional abuse, including ST, will also be more widely recognised for what it is so that people know to stop simply accepting and/or perpetrating it.

I am sorry to learn you are going through this and my apologies for my delay in replying. Positive thinking helps me alot when I am nervous. I do hope that whatever the outcome of your conversation with your partner, you will rise above the silences rather than let it overwhelm you. Best wishes. Ebonny

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Addy Bell 2 years ago

Hi - I'm new to Hub Pages (an emigre from Squidoo). Thank you for addressing this topic. So many people don't recognize emotional abuse *as* abuse. Even when they do, they think of it as name-calling, constant criticism, or belittling. Very few people recognize that the silent treatment (also known as "stonewalling") is abuse - let alone that it's one of the most damaging to the victim.

As you said, stonewalling conveys utter contempt for the partner: her feelings don't matter, her thoughts are insignificant, her experiences aren't important. She's just not worth listening to. She's barely even a person.

I'm going through this right now with my own partner, and I'm preparing to have a conversation about it. I'm pretty nervous - wish me luck!

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Ebonny 2 years ago from UK Author

Hello Shiro

I am sorry to know of the emotional and physical difficulties you are experiencing in your relatioship. It is good that you have recognised how your mood affects your interactions with your children and I hope that this, if nothing else, might motivate you to give the strategies in these articles a try for an extended period of time.

I do not personally have experience with a long distance relationship but in your situation I think I would decide on how frequently I will contact my partner and stick to it. E.g. perhaps 2 or 3 times a week by phone. Regardless of whether or not he answers the phone (leave a voicemail) or if he answers but responds in "silent mode", I would ask him how he is and then proceed to give him information about the children, house, finances whatever in a pleasant, matter of fact manner and leave it at that. I would include information about the activities of the children and myself and leave him in no doubt that despite his decision to give me the silent treatment, I am not simply sitting at home moping, desperate and devastated anymore.

With all this, the IMPORTANT thing for me to do would be to consciously make sure I AM taking good care of my own emotional health as detailed in this and the other articles in the series. i.e. it's up to me to take responsibility for my own happiness. Positive thinking and positive self talk has helped me alot. The aim is not to merely pretent you are content, but to actually make yourself happier.

Hope this gives you some food for thought and that you do choose to take control of your own emotions.

(Do see a doctor, or perhaps consider some support from a suitably qualified counsellor as necessary to get out of this rut.)

shiro 2 years ago

Hi, am so glad to read this article as i am going thru silent treatmeant.

I am in a 7 yr mariage with 2 kids. The silent treatments have been there all thru the 7 yrs but now worse even as he is away for 1 yr project in a different country. When I upset him, he lashes out at me & I apologize. We never talk about the problem. When he upsets me & i tell him that i dint like how he talked to me, al hell breaks loose. He says am ungrateful and dont appreciate that he provides for the family. Which makes me wonder, just because a man provides, does it mean i should overlook other faults? This will be followed by days, weeks & months of silence. He'll just pass me by but smile, laugh n play with kids, laugh with a friend but totally ignore me & when i talk to him, hes response is in a harsh tone. I am fed up, i cry, been ill, i get headaches, ulcers, i put a lot of anger towards my kids and now i realize i hurt them & myself yet my huby lives like a normal happy person. I would like your advice on how al cope with this, self happiness and treat my kids better. I am so torn apart.

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Ebonny 2 years ago from UK Author

Many thanks for the update Lex - you seem to have the right attitude and I wish you well for the future.

Lex 2 years ago

Thank you for your reply. To answer your question it makes me more resolute. It doesn't make me fold but rather the opposite. I feel like if he won't support me I have to stand up for myself even more. He called last night. I'm on holiday so the signal was terrible but I told him I am not happy with his behaviour and that we'll have to talk on Sunday when I'm back home. If he can't promise me he will stay away from risky situations I am breaking up with him because I won't let myself be put in this situation again. One good thing about this experience is that even though I was beaten down hard (homeless with no support and not enough money for food) once I started getting back up I got up twice as strong. I'm now studying nursing at one of the best universities in the world and won't let anyone bring me down.

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Ebonny 2 years ago from UK Author

Hi Lex

I do not have much first hand experience of long distance silent treatment but I imagine it must be extremely difficult to cope with especially with your fiance being in jail. I am wondering whether him not contacting you leaves you feeling more resolute or less resolute about the decisions you related to him in your letter.

If you have a wise, trusted friend or relative you could confide it this might help you through this difficult time, or maybe talk things through with a local suitably qualified counsellor. Also it might help to think carefully through what you would advise a dear friend to do if she were to come to you with the same issues, and then take your own advice (often easier said than done though, so get some support if you need it).

Lex 2 years ago

Good article. I'm currently on day 8. My fiancé is actually in jail. He is in the situation he is in because he trusted the wrong people. He is too far away to visit so we keep in touch by phone and letters. In my last letter I explained to him very nicely that I can't stay with him if he puts himself at risk of going back to jail when he gets out because I was close to the breaking point this time around and we want children which I would never want to have to go through the same. He called up saying he didn't like what I wrote and that a partner sticks by the other no matter what happens and that what I really mean is that I want an easy life. I said that no, I can go through difficult times but that every person has a choice and if he chooses to put himself at risk I can't just stand by. He said he had to go but that I should take care and I haven't heard anything from him since. That was now 8 days ago. Usually he calls at least twice a week, often more depending on his financial situation. I can't call him and sending letters take a minimum of 2 weeks to reach him. I was so worried I called the jail to make sure he was still alive which they assured me he was and called his friends and surprise, surprise, they had heard from him. I haven't seen him for 7 months and I don't know how to handle him just cutting me off like this. It has happened twice before (both while in jail). I really don't know how to handle it. He has never treated me like this before. I'm not sure if it's jail or that the dynamics of our fights have changed since I can't contact him but it's really getting to me.

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Ebonny 2 years ago from UK Author

Hi Amanda

If you feel a need to say your piece then go ahead rather than keep it bottled up and festering. As you have stated, it may well lead to another bout of silence but fear of silent treatment is not the way to go. I suggest you deal with both initial and ensuring silence as described in the articles.

You are right to be thinking about the long term. Should it become a dealbreaker then a person must do what is right for them in all the circumstances. No easy answers but hope this gives some food for thought.

Amanda 2 years ago

I'm currently on day 7 of a bout of silent treatment, this one for which I am adamant I did nothing to provoke. My question is how, after the dry spell so to speak, do you bring up this treatment and how it made you feel? Or do you simply never respond to the stint of silent treatment and hope their actions will change as they realize it no longer works? Is there a way to approach it where I can say my piece afterward (knowing full well it could lead to another bout of silence, sadly)?

Our relationship is fairly young in the grand scheme of things but I cannot have a future with a man who can essentially cut out our relationship for a week at a time. I refuse to continue on, have kids and have to come up with an answer for a toddler questioning why daddy isn't talking to mommy.

shelly 2 years ago

Thank u for responding to my post I am going to consult with someone to find out what my legal options are I do live in fear of not knowing what his real plans are or if he is just blowing off steam behind my back

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Ebonny 2 years ago from UK Author

Atention Shelly

I am so sorry and concerned to hear of your situation. Please urgently seek professional advice in order to safeguard yourself. Take good care.

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Ebonny 2 years ago from UK Author

Attention Shelly

I am very sorry and concerned to hear of your situation. I think it wise for you to please urgently seek professional advice to safeguard yourself in all respects. Take good care.

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Ebonny 2 years ago from UK Author

Hella a –

I am so pleased to know that this article has given you food for thought in a difficult, complex circumstances and hope you can go from strength to strength and improve your situation in both the short and the long term.

I really appreciate your feedback and wish you well for the future. Be/Stay Strong - Ebonny.

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Ebonny 2 years ago from UK Author

Hi Andrey – my apologies for the delay in responding.

Sorry to know what you have been enduring and that you feel your choices are limited. Maybe my article entitled “Passive Aggressive Partner – Why do they act that way and what are your options” might be of interest.

Stay strong and thank you so much for your comment. Best regards - Ebonny

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Ebonny 2 years ago from UK Author

Hi MsSoleil - please accept my apologies for the delay in responding to your comment.

Like you, I think many people make excuses for their spouses for far too long and this nourishes the sustain the negative cycle. I am glad to know that you are doing things for yourself when he goes silent. For myself, I think it helps if I do uplifting stuff for myself in the good times too. That way, it's easier and more natural to continue uplifting myself through the bad/silent times.

In particular, I was very interested to hear of how you are handling silent treatment at long distance. This is something I have not experienced and I think that what you are doing in this frustrating and upsetting scenario sounds spot on.

I do so hope that things are continuing to improve and I feel confident that you will remain strong and confident whatever happens. Thumbs up and best of luck for the future. Ebonny.

2 years ago

Your article is well written and clearly helpful to many people, including myself!

I found this article by doing a google search for "how to deal with a difficult significant other."

Although I have not been as to read most of the comments posted, I see I am not alone in this struggle.

My relationship is complex and has been complicated throughout the nearly five years I have shared with my boyfriend. We have lived together for two and a half years making the silent treatment and complications increase heavily.

Often times I apologize after taking a cool off session although I was not the abuser or the aggressor.

Thank you for the useful tips and this thought provoking article. The "survival list" is a great start to "teaching others how I want to be treated!"

Andrey 2 years ago


I faced manipulative techniques at workplace several years ago, and found out there was a name for it. Later came to realise that most effective manipulative techniques are employed against me at home! There's no even a place to run or hide anymore as it turns out. Ending this relationship is not an option, because we have three small kids. I suffered 7 years... untill now. Thanks!

PS: Funny how russian pages will only teach you silent treatment, not a word on how to cope with it.

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MsSoleil 2 years ago

Refreshing! I had already started putting in place exactly what your advice says, I AM DOING THINGS FOR ME, when he goes silent.

My situation is very different in that my SO is in the military and gives me the silent treatment long distance so that I have absolutely NO WAY to speak to him until he decides to make it happen.

At the level he is and with the job he does, many times he is not allowed to tell me when he is moving to a different place so not only can I not speak to him, I may not even know where he is at times. After 28 years in the military, I think it is easy for him to disconnect from me because he has had to leave everything and everyone (his kids from previous relationship that are over 18 now) so many times....anytime the military says so, he gets in a plane and jumps out of it in some godforsaken unknown place in order to do his duty to our country.

My issues are that we were friends for a few years before we became a couple which has been 2 years now and I fear losing that friend part of him more than the relationship itself. Also, I think I was making excuses for him (how convenient for him right?) about him growing up shuffled around the family because his mother was shot in the head when he was a small child, about his military stuff as mentioned previously.

He usually goes silent over the smallest thing in my eyes but will not explain why it is big to him. He also has a tendency to do this right after we have finally had a wonderful time together. I started to wonder if this was his mechanism of separating when duty calls (I made that excuse for him too, how nice of me).

ANYWAY, last week I told him that I was DONE with the silent treatment, I can handle his job restricting our communication but when it is a choice he made over something small I am NOT going to take it anymore. I told him if he wants to continue this abuse, YES IT IS ABUSE, then please, just walk away. I started feeling stronger and more in control right away when I said that and I meant it.

So, he has been calling me every day from wherever they have him now, I answer and speak to him like normal but if he goes silent, I am not even going to try to figure it out. I am not going to cry, apologize for something I don't even know what I am apologizing for, and I am not going to try to call or text him either. I am not saying I will leave him.....yet, but I am not going to feed into it by trying to figure out what is wrong and what I can do to fix it when it is not me doing it. If this strategy does not work, then I will leave him eventually, I already know I will. I just want to be sure that I don't walk away unless I have tried everything I know to do within reason because other than this one issue, he is funny, smart, and one of the kindest, caring people I know.

Its part of the trick I think, to be so awesome that when you are occasionally behaving like an ass, you are hard to walk away from.

Thank you for talking about this issue and for helping me feel confident in my new method of dealing with SILENCE.

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Ebonny 2 years ago from UK Author

Hello Lyn

This pattern of behaviour is no doubt very frustrating and unsettling for you. If he won't acknowledge his silences, let alone tell you why he is doing this, in your shoes I would apply the strategies above and see what happens i.e I would not pursue/contact him if he goes silent but keep busy and entertain myself with other things. Basically don't sit at home waiting for his call. Get on with your life and as and when he eventually calls just be upbeat and enthuse about your activities since you last saw him. Let him see for himself that he cannot control your emotions or make you anxious by acting this way. See if this makes any difference to the duration/frequency of his silences.

Goodness only knows what is going on in his life whilst he is estranged from you and for the long term, I would be thinking very carefully about whether I wanted to continue to engage with a person like this. Best to simply not allow people to treat you this way. Thank you for your comment and best of luck.

Lyn 2 years ago

Thanks for the hub. What is going on when you get the silent treatment for no reason at all? This is something my boyfriend does regularly. For example, after a lovely weekend together, I will not hear from him, he will not answer but then bounces back again as if nothing had happens. When I confront him, he sort of shrugs it off and leaves me feeling as if I am the needy one. The longest has been 2 weeks. He does have communication issues for sure and I am often left analyzing what is going on. I sometimes wonder if he is happy with me, he says he is. It is all very confusing. We are one year down the line and I am asking myself questions about the whole thing. I don't do silent treatment myself.

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Ebonny 2 years ago from UK Author

Hello Mohammed

Thank you for sharing. You seem to have had a very difficult time over the past 5 months. I would like to propose a suggestion so please could you email me. To do this, click on the link below. Regards, Ebonny.

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Ebonny 2 years ago from UK Author

Hi escape25

17 years is a loooong time to contend with such behaviour - so debilitating to know he is not willing to work on the relationship. Insult to injury to subsequently act like nothing happened and expect you to be okay with that. I do feel for you.

I can understand you finding it hard to imagine how you can feel better in this situation, but for YOU, please do try and uplift yourself, whether you decide to stay in the relationship ultimately or not. The suggestions in this article and also the ones in "STOP the silent treatment stress affecting your physical health and well being" could well help your peace of mind and physical health. Hope you will considering all as a gift to yourself.

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escape25 2 years ago

I can't even begin to imagine how to do this, how to act happy. I have been in a relationship for 17 years and we have 3 kids. Mine uses the silent treatment to work out problems. He will say things like it's not worth it to him to work on our relationship, basically say it's over and then give me the silent treatment. Like either 8 hours later up to a week later, he wants to act like nothing happened. I am tired of it and am considering leaving. It's not worth it anymore. I just want to be me, not a defective version. He obviously gets a better pay off to this non sense than I do. So frustrating!

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Ebonny 2 years ago from UK Author

Hello ernestdh

Thank you so much for again sharing your journey - so pleased to know that things are going well for you both and, although of course every relationship is different, I do hope it can offer encouragement to others.

Alongside the counselling and the two books you recommend, I feel your positivity and determination will have been a big influence in helping you soar above the bumps that you have encountered.

Again, I am so very happy for you both, and in due course I may well add these books to one of my articles. Best regards, Ebonny.

ernestdh 2 years ago

I wrote 5 months ago to tell my story. Yes the silent treatment did subside some but not altogether. Finally she agreed to go to a Family and Marriage counselor with me. It has done more for us in than we could ever do by ourselves. I did want to tell everyone about 2 really good books that she gave us, (both paperbacks) that are really helping. These may or may not be listed on this website, but I highly recommend them and going to counselling if you can get your significant other to agree to go. The books are "The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work", by John M. Gottman, PH.D. which list the 4 horseman of the Apocalypse. If you and your spouse cannot realize from these horseman why your marriage is in trouble, then your relationship is headed for breakup. You cannot build communication with these guys trampling all over your relationship with their sharp hooves. They are Criticism, Defensiveness, Contempt, and Stonewalling (OR THE SILENT TREATMENT).

The other book that I highly recommend which is "EASY" steps to build a solid, caring, understanding relationship is "Communication Miracles for Couples", by Jonathan Robinson. This book is an "easy read" with lots of easy remedies to help you to get your spouse to "turn on their ears", and hear you. This book works, by giving you the words to counter a possible bad situation before it really gets started. One example is the 3 "A's". The three a's are Acknowledgment, Appreciation, and Acceptance. This book makes you realize that no matter what negative situation arises, that your spouse is crying out for a positive response even when acting out. Get it and read it, do like I did and highlight the pertinent information and use it. It has done wonders for my wife and I. We actually are seeing very positive results.

As with any advice, if one of the parties involved are not willing to do anything, then eventually the 4 horseman of the Apocalypse will destroy the relationship and it will disintegrate.

So if both of you are at a turning point, and want to try one more thing, then try these two books. They have helped my wife and my relationship and we are overjoyed that they have. Eventually if effective, the solutions will become a part of your arsenal to kill the horseman and bring love back to your lives. As with everything, these books cannot replace a good counselor to guide you and your spouse to a loving relationship. Good luck to all of you who want your relationships to continue, and my sympathies to those of you who cannot get your spouse to work with you to work out a terrible situation.

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

Hi Susie - Firtly I must say I am sorry for your loss. I know dealing with Silent Treatment is particularly hurtful and frustrating at times like this.

Your realisation is a VERY difficult one to come to terms with, but when they show us who they are, through their behaviour, I guess we should take note and act accordingly. Easier said then done, but then again why prolong such unnecessary agony. Best wishes to you for the future.

Susie 3 years ago

I'm going through one right now, we don't live together and he is currently busy caring for his Dad. I know this one is different for both of us as we are dealing with important matters than our relationship (I lost my Mom recently). When we had the argument that let to his silent treatment, I texted him that I thought we had gotten past this sort of behavior given what other things we were dealing with, but he never addressed it. I now realize that he won't ever grow up and maturely handle what life hands us and will use the excuse of having to focus on his Dad as the reason for not coming around, prolonging his behavior. We have been together 10 years and he has done this throughout.

jacky 3 years ago

Thank you for your advice. That is basically what I'm doing, keeping upbeat for children, wen actually wanting to give him a piece of my mind. I have lost respect fr him. I think it really is time to go . I have two children don't want another.

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

Hi Jacky

I think sometimes when someone is determined to wallow in discontentment we just have to let them. In letting them it doesn’t mean we have to let their discontent overwhelm us and completely steal our joy. You have already let him know that you are there for him when he needs you. Until then, I think taking care of your own emotional well being, (see suggestions in the articles) is best for you, and ultimately best for him as it may help you feel somewhat less resentful since you would have been positively getting on with your life during his “off” period rather than being deep in depression. It’s easier for a person to help when they are in a reasonably good place themself. I am assuming that he has told you the actual reason for his discontent, but with some they only tell you part of what is bothering them (and it’s a pain trying to figure it out!) Anyway, hope this isn’t the case for you. Thank you for sharing your situation and my best wishes. Ebonny

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

Hi MissLantern

Needing a break or cooling off period following an argument can be a good thing but what is needed is some known limit to the break and commitment to engage at the end of the time limit. Not sure if you have read part 4 of this series but this issue is discussed there. I hope your husband will be co-operative but in any event do think about giving the suggestions above a go. I am sorry to know that you are having to endure this treatment and thank you for sharing. Best wishes.

Jacky 3 years ago

I am thinking of leaving but I have children and they wd b devested because I hide the way their father disconnects from me if I confront him with some truth that he does not like. He says don't start. Then goes for along walk and then does his own thing. This as been going on too long and has spoiled weddings, holidays and days out with the children. I'm always the one that' says we need to talk. This time I was told he was depressed because might lose job. So text and said let me know when yr ready. Nothing to date. Any advice please. X

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MissLantern 3 years ago

I don't completely fit within this definition, but what I experience is hurtful, causes distrust, and resentment within my relationship. After nearly every argument (big and small), my husband will retreat into silence. He has spoken about his need for a "break" when we are calm, but will never say, "I need a break" or give a time limit. Instead, he is silent until I come to him to talk. When I approach him, he is typically able to communicate openly and in a calm manner. However, I don't know the amount of time he needs his "break". In addition, he will never, ever end an argument or extend an olive branch. It certainly appears to be a form of control. During his "break" he will avoid eye contact, storm around, nap, or snap at me for no reason. I don't engage when he is like this. I am hurt, angry, and wondering if I made a mistake in marrying him.

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

Hi Jacky

Many thanks for your comment. The feedback is much appreciated and I do hope you your situation will improve before too long.

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jacky cross 3 years ago

This is a breath of fresh air. My husband has given me the cold shoulder since xmas,,because i commented that he had drank to much and made us feel uncomfortable.

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

Hello Talking Drew - Thank you for sharing but sorry to know you find yourself in this situation which is extremely difficult to bear. I think there are very few people who are actually guilty of having driven their partner to habitually give them the silent treatment. It's often something they would do to any partner they had if that partner allowed them to get away with it.

Yes, unfortunately ST can and does lead to relationship breakdown. My suggestion is for you to seriously consider implementing the methods in the article above but this does not preclude you from seeking marriage counselling. With some people, third party intervention can make them sit up and take notice that they might not be in the right all the time.

Best wishes, Ebonny

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Talking Drew 3 years ago

Dear Hub. Thank you for this helpful information. Nice to know I'm not the only one out there on the receiving end of The Silent Treatment.

I recognize a lot of what is related in the various comments above. In my case I experience two scenarios : Either I have absolutely no idea of what the original problem / offense / hassle is which results in TST or, upon asking after TST has been initiated, I get an emotionally-charged response telling me exactly what the problem(s) is, followed by on-going silent treatment. The problem is me, fullstop.

I recently discovered your blog while doing some research on the topic, trying to get to the bottom of it all and to gain some insights into just " bad I must in fact be..." to drive my spouse to inflict this treatment on me, whom she confesses to love.

What, if anything, distinguishes genuine Silent Treatment (abuse) as described above, from marital / relationship-related breakdown ? What I mean is, do we seek marital counseling, or is it fair to say that the silent treatment is not "a marriage thing" but rather bad judgement / bad behaviour / emotional immaturity on the part of the abuser ?

I'm amply aware of my failings and short-comings. Apparently some of these are insurmountable at times and rather than rational discourse and some give-and-take, I get TST, which ends whenever I am worthy of being spoken to again..

I am thus unsure of whether I should be following your advise as one who is abused, or leaping into action and booking marriage counseling sessions.

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

noooologic - I am glad to hear that communication has improved and hope that the relationship will continues to thrive.

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noooologic 3 years ago from california

I should have expressed "The Silent Responder" a bit differently. By silent I meant that every time I did respond about how I felt or if I disagreed with what he was saying, I was only putting myself in more hot water.For me, being silent was better. Until one day he realized that though by being so superior over me that by keeping me silent that he was in charge of all of our arguments, it backfired in his face when he realized that a one sided argument can never be won. And also by the time he saw this, I did not have a single clue on what to say or where to start.But I have great news. On New Years Eve he went to bed early, I stayed up and had a drink. He got up and wanted to start an argument, but I said could I just say something to him first. He said yes.So I began by saying that I had always believed that when a little girl grow up and falls in love that she should be able to find safety, comfort,love and security in the arms of who she loves.That she should want,and be able to tell him anything without any fear of being criticized.That her heart shouldn't have to hide from him.I said that was all I wanted to say.And he asked me,"do you trust me with your heart"? And I said no, I did not. He was silent for a few minutes, and said he loved me with all his heart,that he never meant to cause me to feel the way I did and that starting that night, he was going to be different.And Boy is he different! He is like the person I first met some 16 years ago.So far all is great.He stumbles, but I speak up now and together we have gotten through those moments. I really like this site, and thank all who have responded. Wish me well :)

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

Hello Elankaz

What you are going through is soul destroying but well done you for changing your reactions and stance because you can take heart that you have done all you can to elevate the relationship.

However when the silent one is doggedly determined to retain the upper hand and escalates to threatening body language this is VERY concerning.

Please do not hesitate to get qualified help and do all that is necessary to take yourself out of danger. It’s not easy but you deserve a happier life so I hope you will not let fear stop you from doing what’s right for you. My sincere good wishes.

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

Hi Sarah. Sorry you are going through this but I agree - when a person constantly pushes you away you can get to a stage where you become numb to them as a kind of self preservation but over time you realise you can indeed be without them and be content and start thinking really life's too short to live this way. So yes, once a person becomes detached, any crumbs they are subsequently offered by the silent one are just too little too late.

elankaz 3 years ago

I am in the situation where I am experiencing silent treatments of increasing length. It is just me, he has great conversations with everyone else.

It used to be a day, two days, three days but now it is weeks to months and the speaking periods are now only one to two days before it reverts to non- speaking again. I have just spent Xmas and New Year in isolation, (I have no other support), and whilst this is not new in our relationship, it is now killing me. After two days of speaking reasonably, he is now cold-shouldering me again.

I used to plead, I used to get upset, I used to cry, but that got me nowhere. I have tried everything, humour, love, affection, rational discussion, reasonable words, giving praise, apologising, getting angry, getting almost verbally abusive, all in order to stimulate some sort of reaction, but all to no avail, nothing works to get back on to an even keel.

More recently I adopted a "getting on with my own life and meeting my own needs" stance and ignoring the silent treatment, but all I am getting now are more prolonged periods of the silent treatment, disdain, and any words that do escape his lips are frankly hurtful and designed to hurt even more.

This is mixed in with "rationally" delivered statements from him that I am crazy and that he is just minding his own business and I am just causing trouble... But any attempts at reasonable neutral conversations ie the weather, the news, trivial stuff etc. are rebuffed, ignored, laughed at or reduced to short replies, Yes, No, I don't know. and a blank, uninterested expression.

He can also turn the most neutral, trivial topic into a tirade against me and that can end by him telling me to get out of the room, which at that point I have to do, as his body language is threatening.

I am not bound by "love" or any unrealistic romantic expectations for this relationship, but I do have limited other options.

I just want a happier life...

Sarah 3 years ago

I have only tried to call my boyfriend once and texted once to apologize for something that was not 100% my fault. We are on day 5. I have done all I can and therefore will give him his space and time but I got to thinking about it and I thought a good way to explain it is almost like losing someone (maybe not to the exact extreme of death but similar). I think people who do this should understand that the individual being punished, sort of speak, by the silent treatment goes through stages. I personally started out with anger now I'm grieving and soon I will be able to have gotten over it but by the time I have gotten over it and the significant other decides to come around, I will be at a stage of contentment and will never want to go through that process again, thus pushing me away because of the fear of hurt again. If a relationship doesn't have communication you have nothing, the relationship dies if you wait too long.

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

noooologic - Thank you for your comment.

From what you say I get the impression that you feel you are being repeatedly treated badly by your partner and feel ignored when you do try to talk things through, in which case I can understand your frustration and follow how you have resorted to giving silent treatment.

However, it is apparent that your giving your partner the silent treatment is NOT helping matters. When you are at the point of having “exhausted every possible way to try and get someone to understand that the way they are treating you is unacceptable” it’s time to get counselling together to gain outside perspective and help to resolve matters or move on - because if someone is abusing you, you don’t have to lower yourself to abuse them also, albeit in a different guise. So think about if it's time to step off the merry-go-round - two wrongs don’t make a right!

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noooologic 3 years ago from california

What do you call "THE SILENT RESPONDER?"

Over the years I have doled out a silent treatment or two..probably more.But what is it called when a person has exhausted every possible way to try and get someone to understand that the way they are treating you is unacceptable?Especially when they see nothing wrong with the way they treat you? They have explanations for every bad comment they ever said.Are quick to say to you that you treat them like crap, when in comparison, I have never said anything as hurtful as hes has to me.I am always accused of wanting to talk only about myself. Is it fair for me to jump up everytime an arguement has begun to quickly sate what I feel is being done wrong to me?Well I have done that several times and have only proven him right.For each arguement, I bring up me.It does not matter it never gets discussed.So when an argument has begun,I am quiet.Nothing to say.On the few occasions I have chosen to stand my ground and voice a question or a statement of how I feel, this has only opened up several cans of "worms"so to speak, of which none are in my favor.This has gone on for so long now that of the times he has said"Okay it is your turn,hes ready to listen" I don't have a clue where to start or what to say,as I am left standing with an armful of pages of carefully written feelings, have suddenly gone blank.And so I have found myself..again, blabbering out words that make no sense to the next word I speak.And though I feel in my hear what I am trying to say is very important, what comes out is more like whining.A word from each different thing I wanted to discuss,all thrown together in a most horrible mixture of words that could never make any sense to anyone. So I ask...if from the moment he opens his mouth and begins to talk, I am silent then, as well as through out this onesided conversation.Except for the times he demands an answer to a question here and there.Am I the abuser here? Am I giving him the silent treatment?

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

Hi Lucy - Being on the receiving end of silent treatment can certainly be crazy making. - it’s hard to fathom why someone who professes to love you would want to inflict such hurt. If you are ever subject to it again I do hope you will nip things in the bud, possibly by employing the strategies suggested here to see if it helps in your particular relationship or by bailing out at the start. Silent treatment is emotional abuse and you don’t have to take it.

Lucy 3 years ago

I am so relieved to have found this site, I was beginning to think that I was overreacting to my now ex boyfriend's silent treatment.

I have only recently broken up with my boyfriend in the last couple weeks and have been finding it really difficult to adjust. He was my first real love and was kind, caring and thoughtful most of the time. Every now and then though something would happen, such as a disagreement or if I was upset about something, he would decide to give me the silent treatment. We don't live together so often it would mean that he would ask me to leave his house and the only way to contact him was by phone but he wouldn't reply for days. I would become so upset and anxious everytime this would happen and would end up trying to apologise and get him to speak to me in any way. I wish I had come across the tips you suggested before this last incident.

This time it was on his birthday and I went to give him his present, although I knew he was ignoring I went to meet him on his way home from work. He said he didn't want "to have this conversation", which I assume means he was annoyed about some rather insignificant petty issue that had cropped up the day before. In the end I was so angry that he was treating me like this that I snapped at him and we argued and I finished it. I didn't want to but I'm at breaking point.

I had tried to tell him how it made me feel, and he had promised me he wouldn't do it again and I believed him. He doesn't seem to understand how horrible it is to be on the receiving end of the silent treatment. I desperately want to get back with him but at the same time can't keep going through the same thing. He's now very angry with me and won't speak to me rationally.

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

Hi Geordie - thanks for sharing. Often you get what you allow in relationships so we have to be mindful not to allow what we do not want to tolerate for the rest of our lives. You imply that you don't deserve the treatment you are putting up with so I hope you can do something about it. Some soul searching, evaluation and decision making are called for. Counselling can help if a person finds they have difficulty sticking up for themself in a relationship and/or fear taking responsibility for their own happiness.

Geordie 3 years ago

I have been in a relationship for 4 years now second marriage so to speak but not legally married. My problem is that my partner seem to stored up negatives and then lets loose with them to me eg silly things like the house is untidy (when it clearly is not) the dishes haven't been done for days, the dishes in sink where from that very day, the washings not done, the more time you have the less you do, digs about my weight, which is the same as when we first met, running out on me at New Year and going to the place we'd planned to go with his adult children by himself, then coming back and still thinking he is right, I do not complain if the gardens not done or the garbage hasn't been taken out life is too short and I'm not getting any younger. Do I just leave and find my own way or keep on allowing this to happen.

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

Hello Jenta – and thank you so much for sharing your story. I think of what you are describing as one of those “a-ha” moments/penny finally drops. Yes, loving and being kind to ourselves is very important, and we disrespect ourselves when we allow others to treat us poorly - unfortunately fear of the unknown can serve to keep us in situations we should break free of. Realising it is possible to take ownerships of our own happiness is key.

When, as you do, a person finally believes they can do it and they will be fine, then theyrise and equip themselves to overcome obstacles and positively thrive. My sincere best wishes to you for the new year and beyond. Take good care. Best regards, Ebonny,

Jenta 3 years ago

I have been with my husband for 7 years. The silent treatment is one of many tools in his belt that he uses to punish me, intimidate me, etc. I

am writing this two dys after Christmas. He hasn't been speaking to me since Christmas Day night. It has finally occurred to me that to love someone who treats me this way points to something very off in me. I can not possibly love myself and allow someone who so clearly shows little concern for me to be in my life at the same time. It makes no logical sense. I have long since applied these strategies during the silent treatments. In fact, they have become like vacations from his verbal abuse. I go on with my day and he leaves me alone. What I found the most revealing though, is that after I took responsibility for my own happiness or unhappiness...I suddenly began to find his behavior less frightening, less intimidating and have become far more inclined to not accept it. Whereas before, I would wish for a different life or wonder why my life is like this with an abusive spouse. Now, I know why my life is like this...because I allow it. I stay with my abuser. And two, the only wishes that come true are the ones applied in our waking life. So, now, I am actively planning leaving. We have children and he has always been the bread winner, with my staying at home. But I am over the fear of a new beginning or being alone. I am already alone. I already do it myself...and under the enormous pressure of appeasing an unreasonable over grown toddler as well. I can do it. I'll be fine. So,mforgive those of you upset about these suggestions, thinking they are encouraging co-dependency or enable abusers to abuse. I disagree. They encourage those under the thumb of abuse to take responsibility for their lives and enable a space for self esteem to be restored.

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

Hello Data - thanks for the update. It's great that you are able to consistently apply the strategies and I hope you yourself have found the experience uplifting and that such feelings increase over time. As well as being for the good health of the relationship so to speak, the strategies are for YOU to feel better and to know that you are ultimately in control of your emotions and reactions. Warm wishes. Ebonny.

Data 3 years ago

Just an update on my current situation

We have started to talk a bit (about the house) but have not really touched on the real behind this current episode. For my part, I have been consistently applying your strategies and doing little things for her patiently. Like what you have mentioned in your articles, it is not possible to change a person. I can only modify my behaviour to invite a positive reaction from her.

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

Hello Esinam - I appreciate your feedback and really hope things work out for you.

Best regards, Ebonny

esinam 3 years ago

TThanks soo much for this wonderful article. It has really enlightened me,i've been through this for some time now and don't know how to deal with it. Thanks ebony.

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

Thank you for sharing your situation Data. Nowadays I would not try and force a discussion with someone who is hell bent on not speaking. I used to do this and it got me nowhere. Instead I would advise carrying out the strategies and take good care of my own physical and emotional well being as explained in the articles. See Part 4 for when to have a discussion about changing the dynamic and instituting limited time outs instead of indefinite silence.

Obviously if there is something pressing which must be discussed (i.e. the cause of the present episode of silent treatment is a major rather than petty issue) then go ahead and speak about it as necessary but as for talking about the issue of silence itself, I found that I was in a better position to discuss it once I felt I was no longer so overwhelmed by it - i.e. I knew I could cope with it alot better than before AND my partner knew I could cope with it too and therefore he was more inclined to listen to my suggestions about cooling off periods. Hopefully this helps somewhat but do look at Part 4 in the series and see if that helps any.

Take good care. Ebonny.

mapletree 3 years ago

Hi ebonny,

Many thanks for sharing the strategies given in hub pages. I will definitely be staying positive but I am rather worried about the negotiation phase after breaking silence. My wife can b pretty unreasonable at times. Does not listen and want things her way. Would appreciate if u could advise on how I can have a win win situation here.... thks.

Data 3 years ago

Hi Ebonny.

First and foremost, I would like to thank you for the strategies that you have put forth in hub pages. I am currently in the midst of another episode of silent treatment but has not set the cool off time with my spouse. She is out with her mom and I am not sure if she will be coming back tomorrow. May I know when is the best time to talk to her again. For your information, this is the second day of her giving me the cold shoulder.

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

Hi Sassyspice

I am glad to know that this has helped you at this stage, and through volunteering at a shelter I feel confident you will have a MUCH better Thanksgiving Day that you formerly imagined. Many thanks for your comment and please don’t beat yourself up too much about how you’ve handled the crazy making silent treatment in the past. So many of us do just as you have and if this article has given food for thought in a difficult situation, I am indeed myself very thankful to have this opportunity and platform.

A very Happy Thanksgiving Day and beyond to one and all - Ebonny.

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sassyspice 3 years ago

First i would like to say THANK YOU SOOO MUCH!!! This article has spoken directly to my soul. I am in America and it is 2 days before Thanksgiving, which is a big holiday here.... and I am in the midst of a bout of the silent treatment. I was comforted by your inclusion of how it feels on holidays to be treated this way- right now, he has me blocked from his phone and told me I would not get to see his visiting children because I am the one with the issues- not him. And it hurts ALOT. And sometimes I feel COMPLETELY CRAZY! Like he is right, that I am the one who has the issues... I have been guilty of giving in and giving him what he wants- we work in the same office and before he left for the day, after telling me I would not see him or the children for the holiday, he gave me a hug and kiss!!! Which I know I should not have even entertained, but the pain of being isolated causes one to give in when the other person decides the silent treatment is over, even if just for that moment. Its like I just want the cruel treatment to be over, so I will do anything. A very WEAK place to be. So I am leaving my office now, equipped with your suggestions for a 'survival guide'. I have already decided to volunteer at a homeless shelter for the holiday and I am continuing to pray that God continues to give me strength and help my mind more when these situations occur. We have been together on and off for almost 6 years and this silent treatment is nothing new for me... I really appreciate your article and have tagged it as a favorite, so that when I am feeling low, I can come here for encouragement to know that I am not alone. I love him and I accept who he is- I just need to be stronger when his not so wonderful side comes out. And your article will help me to do that. Thank you again!

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

Thanks Lacey .

Lacey 3 years ago

This is great

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

Darlene - Thanks for sharing. I am sorry you are hurting; it is so unjust. Please can you e-mail me - see above right of screen and click where it says by "Ebonny" to go to my Profile Page, click on Fan Mail and then click "Send ..... an email" and I will respond further.

Darlene found some Arborist to share with you while visiting their Arborist Center! 3 years ago

I was glad to see a name to this type of abuse. I have been divorced for 25 yrs and I am still being abused. Not just him, but his mother. We have children and though they are grown and we have grand children...there are time when i have to be in his presents. I've tried the not letting to bother me, but it seems to make it worst. Our daughter will be getting married in the near future, which will mean being around them again. I feeling of loss of self worth in their presents is a never ending battle. Instead of being in the happy role of mother of the ex mother in law is already trying to replace me in the role. I encourage my children to have a role in their lives....but they show me no such respect. Hurt and crying...I feel hopeless because when the wedding happens...I will be unsure where I will be sitting or how I will be treated by his family. The silent treatment is a hard thing when you are in a group of people you once thought of as your family. I can't not not go or it would hurt my daughter. What do I do and how do i make it stop?

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

Hi Rose - Thank you for your input. With a person who is prepared to escalate abusive behaviour to include vulnerable family members, I can well understand your decision to divorce. This ties in with the “important” note in the article above and I appreciate your sharing your situation. I agree with you on how it is difficult for a person to accept/acknowledge that they have been subject to abuse. Most of us like to think and believe we would never allow ourselves to be treated badly, yet it happens – somehow creeps up on us without us realising! A painful learning experience.

Sincere best wishes to you for the future. Ebonny.

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

Hello Linda – not bored at all and thank you for sharing what you have been going through. It is so hard to endure silences which leave you devastated, sad and confused and I can understand your thought process when you say silent treatment accounts for 5 per cent of an otherwise good marriage. No marriage is perfect is going to be perfect all the time, I and many would say. Often it’s extremely difficult to weigh whether or not the “good times” are worth “bad times” – perhaps a quality v. quantity issue, and for each person this will be different.

Anyway I hope you will consider giving the coping strategies a try and that over time you become clearer about the future and that it feels less of a prison sentence.

Rose 3 years ago

For fourteen years I have experienced this, always accepting it was just his personality. It has only been a very recent acceptance on my part that I and my lil boy live a life full of verbal, emotional, financial abuse along with the silence. He will go for days n days unspeaking and avoiding us to the max. About eight months ago I made conscious decison to ignore these debilitating epidsodes. I appear upbeat, happy and my son and I leave and go about fun times without him. Yes, in ways this helped me, however, this incited other painful abuse. He no longer felt he was controlling me in that way and began ratcheting up other forms of abuse. If he could not adequately casue me sufficient pain he than began getting to my son. If that was non effective because of my never ceasing diligence protecting my son than he went after my 76 year old mother that resides in our home and verbally abuse her. To say it has been a painful journey these many years is an understatement. I honestly did not face the news of the abuse til just recently. Not a title I care to have hung on my head. But with this acceptance and knowledge I see more clearly all the many ways he is abusing me and my family. We are still together, but I served him papers five weeks ago for divorce. He has been an angel since that time and procfess undying love for me and his son. I can take no more and look forward to the day he moves out so that life can begin again for me, my lil boy and my mom.

Linda 3 years ago

I met my husband three years ago. I had been a single parent for 13 years bringing up my two wonderful boys. One thing that attracted me to my husband was his humour, energy and his faithfulness to his late wife. He pursued me with vigour and I fell totally deeply in love. Within 6 month we were engaged and married about 18 months ago. On the outside all seems wonderful but a few people now have witnessed his bizarre Jekyll and Hyde behaviour. One being my friend who thought, after an outburst regarding his terrible relationship with his mother, thought he was bipolar. That was one of the first of many silent treatments once she left. I am always left devastated, confused and just so saddened by this. Today is one of those days. Something little then it blew up. I told him very rationally not to speak like that and not to give me the silent treatment for 3 days as it distresses me. He hasn't spoken since : ( This has been a godsend seeing how many people cope and what they have done. What I thought was a beautiful loving ' till death do us part' relationship at times seems like a prison sentence. I now know he did this to his wife. I am beginning to regret this union but on the other hand I love him to bits and this is only maybe 5% of our marriage. I am a sociable bright bubbly hugely empathetic person so I find this increasingly difficult to live with. Just writing this down is actually quite soothing though so I hope I have not bored everyone with the detail. Advice welcome. Thank you

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

Umamir - I am happy to have given you some food for thought.

Umamir 3 years ago

Finally, a light in my tunnel. So happy I found this web page and this amazing advice.

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

Hi Ann – Thank you for sharing your difficult situation. I can appreciate why you feel you are done with the relationship, and if I understand you correctly, your husband has singled out your children, as opposed to the children you have together, and is giving him/them the silent treatment too. This is deplorable and anyone in your position would be right to be thinking of leaving when their spouse is inflicting such emotional abuse on a child. With some silent ones, they may tend to be more “pally” with the children when not speaking to the spouse. Whilst such game playing is upsetting, it is favourable to what you are going through. I am pleased to know you will be giving the suggestions a try, as even if you decide to go ahead and leave the relationship the strategies can help see you through the interim period.

Unfortunately, many who resort to silent treatment are too stubborn to attend counselling, and some may attend/go through the motions but not make any significant long term changes. Others are willing to listen to an independent third party (be it a counsellor, trusted friend or family member) and try hard to make efforts to change when they know it is a dealbreaker for their partner. For them, change is not an easy thing, and only time will tell if they are able to commit to change to a sufficient extent to allow the relationship to continue. In any event, you might want to consider some counselling for your son as he has been acting out.

As for me, yes my husband and I are still together as we’ve managed to go for a long period without the usual extended silences – i.e. we adhered to time limited cooling off periods.

Ann 3 years ago

I am currently getting the "silent treatment" from my husband. It has been months since we last REALLY spoke and weeks since we last spoke period. It is so painful that I came into work this morning and Googled "how to stop the silent treatment" and this hub came up. Im at a point where I told my mom this morning I am done with the relationship, his silent treatment is not only geared towards me but also MY children (not our children together). My 8 year old son who loves and looks up to his step dad has been acting out for the last few months as a reslult in my opinion from his silent treatment. After reading the above I am willing to try your suggestions, but I would like to know if you and your husband are still married till this day?

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

Many thanks for your update Ernestdh. :-)

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ernestdh 3 years ago

Just an update.

Things have been like they were when we first met. We both have sat down and cried over the situation as we realize together (finally) that a relationship is a 50/50 proposition and both are at fault not just one. I also told her that I now realize why her mother divorced her father and married someone else. I just did not know both sides of the story. After all she did say that she "Learned it from her father." and the realization (on her part) that this was the main thing that did in their relationship made her know without a doubt how horrible this treatment of someone can be.

I know that it might happen again, or some other bump in the road will come up, but I also know that she and I genuinely and completely love each other, and that we together, will take care of this problem.

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

Hello Ernestdh

I am glad to know that you have been moved to change your reaction when being dealt the silent treatment and thank you for your feedback and for sharing how you approached your wife on this issue.

I am sure your words came as quite a shock to her, and for the future I hope there will be less and less reason for you to have to employ the strategies suggested. As you rightly realise, things will not change overnight/ once and for all, and it helps to be realistic in these matters.

Just keep strong and positive. Best regards, Ebonny.

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ernestdh 3 years ago

I married my dear wife 3 years ago in December. We had been together for a year with no problems whatsoever. Then all of a sudden she started giving me the silent treatment about 2 years ago.

I had never had this treatment from anyone, and did not know what it was. I fueled and rewarded her by doing all the things this page says not to do. Finally after going on vacation this past week and getting the silent treatment for 2 of the 7 days, got fed up and decided that I would get on the internet and research. When I did, I found this site. I could not believe that it was an actual form of spousal abuse, but did realize that I had a bunch of the health symptoms especially depression and heart palpitations, and anxiety. After thoroughly reading the site, I decided to take action.

I was at the time in my 3rd straight day of her silence and anger.

I immediately began doing what it said. I told her that I was going to run errands, and that in a couple of hours would be back home. When I got home, she continued with the anger and silence. I know that she loves me, and this is why this site helped me with the remedy.

I asked her to come out and sit and listen to what I had to say, and that she could remain silent. She came out and sat down with the angry stare, and the silence. I proceeded to tell her that I loved her, and that I was not trying to make her even madder at me, but that I was going to tell her some things that I had found from researching on the internet about what she was doing to me.

I proceeded to tell her that what she was doing was mental abuse. She broke the silence to say that I was a crazy S.O.B. I told her that with this new realization of her behavior, I was going to stop rewarding her. I also told her I loved her more than anything anywhere, and that I knew that she loved me because she could be soft and sweet, even though she was abusing me in the present. I made it very clear to her I was no longer going to reward her with my begging, pleading, etc. to try and get her to talk to me. I told her that what she was doing was narcissistic behavior. This really pissed her off. She accused me of being sick and needing mental health assistance. I laughed in her face, and told her that she was the one who was considered in my research as needing mental health assistance. I told her to start researching it herself if she did not believe me and to contact a mental health professional. I told her that she could continue to give me the silence, but that I would never fall into her trap again by rewarding her with the past behaviors that fueled her to continue.

She sat in silence staring into space looking away from me. I continued to explain the fact that the mental abuse was giving me health problems, which did show up recently and she knew about them. The more silence she gave the more I laughed and talked and told her how much better I felt now that I realized that she was getting gratification by watching me turn into a bowl of jello when she abused me. I told her that I could not believe that anyone who claimed to love someone as much as I know she loves me could do such a thing and enjoy it. Finally, I just dropped the subject and started petting my dogs and loving on them talking about the unconditional love that they have, and that I would really appreciate her not yelling at them when she was really angry at me. I also would inject things into the one sided conversation at times like I knew that she had learned this from her dad (which she admitted to me before) and that now I knew why her mother had run around on him and finally divorced him. I told her that I would never betray our relationship, but that eventually time would run out now that I knew what was happening and that when it did, I would end our relationship, not knowing when, but that time would run out if the abuse continued. I got up at times and did other things but when I would sit down with her I would ask her questions like "Now that you know you are abusing me, can you really justify being this way knowing that I know how much you dislike abuse?" After about 45 minutes of me carrying on the one sided conversation, going about my usual business and acting like nothing she was doing was affecting me (which it is not and never will again now that I know the rewards to her) she all of a sudden started being nice, being herself, and carrying on a conversation with me about the trees that I had mentioned that were cut back in the neighborhood so drastically coming back out after being so butchered. The silence just ended, and she became the soft sweet wife that I enjoy so much.

This might not work on some people, but if a spouse that is doing this really loves the person they are abusing in this manner can continue doing it, then they do not love the person.

I don't believe this treatment won't happen again, but now that I have the arsenal of knowledge of this site, I bet that I can end it by reminding her that I will not reward her, by continuing on without any further notice of her abuse.

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

Hello Nanam - sorry you're going through this and hope you will feel able to try some of the suggestions in this, and further articles, to help you cope.

Nanam 3 years ago

How do you cope with someone you really love - but they use silent treatment to always show their displeasure at you?

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

Hi Jackee

Thank you for sharing your situation and for your comments. Being purposefully ignored is abuse and it is great that you are not adopting a victim mentality. The prospect of change can be very scary indeed, but the prospect of things staying the same is a powerful motivator towards change.

Your attitude of not letting fear control you is very inspiring and I believe you will be able to make the right choices for the future. Best regards, Ebonny.

Jackee 3 years ago

I was married to a man who was physically, mentally and emotionally abusive previously, so when I married my current husband I tolerated his silent treatments as just a quirk he had. He will go a week or more without speaking to me and I usually have no clue why. After a week or so he acts like nothing ever happened... And I still don't know what I said or did to make him mad.

When he's like this, he seems to be looking down on me like he's better than me and I'm the child. (I'm 9 yrs older than him)

He withholds affection, only answers in single syllables, and broods silently with an expression of superiority.

I suffer with bipolar ism, borderline personality and PTSD. So you can see why it's extra hard for me. If I ever get angry at him, he just gets angry back and goes into his silent treatment mode.

He has all control over our finances and every time he gets like this I fear for my financial stability. I get disability but it isn't enough to live on and I work part time and my checks go directly into our joint account. He works a LOT and is our main provider.

Every time he gets like this I fear for my marriage and stability. He's very intimidating but has never been violent or otherwise abusive. When he's not mad at me we get along wonderfully and he's kind, loving, giving and attentive.

Monday was our 13th anniversary and I got mad that he spent the entire day reading and ignoring me instead of making the day special. Like I stated previously, since I got mad, he just got madder and has barely spoken to me in 3 days.

I'm grateful for your article for first pointing out to me that it is a form of abuse and control, and that I don't have to feel like crap about myself. I'm still scared that he will leave me high and dry, but I'm not going to let that fear control me. I'm going to let him have his little tantrum and continue on my merry way. I'm also going to discuss options with my psychologist at my next apt.

Thank you for the excellent advice.

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

Hello Troubled

I really do feel for you. Six weeks of silent treatment at a streatch, always having to think twice before uttering even the simplest of things – no wonder you are thinking about leaving.

From what you say you have indeed put the strategies suggested into action. However when a partner is immovable, cannot admit or conceive that they might at the very least be a degree responsible for the tension between you, it will drag you down. If you are isolated you could end up depressed and feel crazy, even though you are not.

I feel that when someone has done all they can to cope with and try and influence their partner to no avail, the next step is getting support to help explore how to move on. I’d love to be able to say to you keep up with the strategies and he WILL change his ways, but I can’t. There are simply no easy answers but I thank you for sharing your situation and sincerely hope you can get the practical and emotional help you need to do what is right for yourself and your child for the long term. Take very good care - Ebonny. (nb: pl see email.)

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

Hi Linda.

Thank you for sharing your story, which is somewhat similar to an example described in the “Is the Silent Treatment Emotional Abuse affecting your physical, as well as emotional, well being?” article. I am very happy to know that you had the courage and support to get out of such a relationship, and that you are better for it.

Your experience shows that it’s never too late to make a change.

Troubled 3 years ago

Thank you so much for these articles and for everyone sharing their stories... I think I've found here a place of support and help.

My story in a nutshell:

Been married for 4 years and have a 3 year old child. I've been receiving the silent treatment from my H on and off since we've been together (we didn't live together until we married so it was easier to handle then as I didn't have to see him everyday) but it got worse after we got married. For the stupidest little thing, he would close off and not engage with me for days. The longest period of silence was last year, it lasted 6 weeks and I thought I would die... There was no word from him at all, no hello, no how are you, no nothing! He even left our room and slept on the couch for 6 weeks for something that I don't even remember.

Now we're on it again and going on ou 3rd week. I'm sad to say that I'm used to it and that I handle it differently than I used to. In the beginning I used to cry and beg for him to tell me what I did wrong, apologize for something I might have done or said to upset him and his answer would be :"if you think hard, you'll understand what you did wrong". Then when he decides that he's ok, he'll start talking to me again as if nothing ever happened; if I tried to talk about the issue, the cycle would start and I would get blamed for causing trouble again...

I can never talk about things that upset me, I cannot share my pains with him, I am afraid of saying things the wrong way and be "punished" again so I keep everything to myself and have very little conversations with him... even on good subjects, if my opinion is different than his, it becomes a problem.

I have no affection from him, not even when we're not on silent treatment... I feel like I don't exist, like he doesn't need me in his life...

Now on week 3 of a long series of silence, I live diffrently... I act as if I don't care. I do my own things, I limit my talks or questions to him, because I know that he will answer cruely and I'll react negatively, which will make it worse. So I try to look happy and take care of our son in normal way... but I'm tired of this, I'm in pain and I don't know what to do to make him see his wrong. Does he even care?

I'm thinking of leaving (I thought of it on the last one bur stayed and hoped that things would change) but I'm thinking of my child and am scared.

Please help me

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

Hello Herb

Many thanks for your comment. I do hope your mother in law is no longer tolerating such behaviour.

My hope is that more and more people are enlightened to this form of emotional abuse so that they do not simply put up with it as a matter of course indefinitely, but instead stamp on it straightaway, and leave the relationship if it continues.

Run as fast and as far as you can is most certainly a great option and easiest to do in the early stages. Hence the need to be aware of how silence can be used to manipulate and control.

linda 3 years ago

I was married to someone who gave me the silent treatment when he wanted to go out to the clubs and cheat so he convinced himself he wasn't cheating. finally left him after 24yrs of this treatment. its been 2yrs it took a lot of counseling and support from friends to stay away and see how pathetic he is wish I did it years ago . now at least I can see and think clearly without all the manipulating to get me back only to do the same thing over and over again he is such a joke

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Herb Hopkins 3 years ago from Clayton Alabama

Very enlightening article. I have been part of this silent treatment issue before first hand. My Mother-In-Law endured it for as long as I can remember. It was totally a "control" issue with my Father-In-Law. He would go days on end, sometimes even weeks on end without speaking to her. It ruined her self esteem as well as her self worth as a wife and a mother. It would happen at a drop of a pin, for absolutely the most silliest of reasons, for example a new hair cut that he thought was to short, any amount of weight gain, a pair of pants when he thought she should only wear a dress, or maybe a pair of shoes that were not stiletto heels! I can not imagine having to live my life with a partner that inflicts that much pain on me. I would have to say, run as fast and as far as you can. Just my honest opinion...

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

Hi Twinkle

I too would be extremely worried about the negative impact of a partner shunning and saying hurtful things to a tiny one month old baby. He has found a new way to “get” at you which is indeed hard to ignore, and no doubt he knows it. I am sorry I am not able to offer more, but I would urge you to explore this important issue fully with an appropriately qualified counsellor as soon as you are able. Also, is there anyone suitable that your partner looks up to whom you might confide in, and who could then talk to and influence your partner on your behalf about this.

This nasty escalation of his silent treatment needs to be nipped in the bud now before it becomes the norm. Take good care of baby and you, and thank you for sharing (pl email me via my Profile Page, Fan Mail ). Ebonny

Twinkle 3 years ago

Hi Ebonny, I've just been reading your article as I am in the midst of a silent treatment episode. I have been with my partner for nearly 8 yrs and he has always used the silent treatment against me. I used to plead, cry, apologise etc but over the last few years I've used the same strategies you have outlined above, I had no idea if they worked but I just got to a point where I literally couldn't be bothered with his childish behaviour. It has gradually become less and less frequent, I think the last episode was last October when we were decorating our new house...Anyway, I'm currently doing the same again, gettin on with my own life etc, however, I'm worried as we now have a one month old baby. He has fallen out with me because of the baby, saying I don't trust him with him - which is obviously ridiculous, but he had previously played with him by throwing him up in the air (not high but still too much for his age) and then shouted at him to shut up when he was crying...I asked him to pick him up rather than shout at him and that's where it all started, telling me hes leaving, doesn't care about us, slamming doors etc. That was Wednesday night, its now Saturday and he's still cold shouldering me and not having anything to do with our baby apart from when other people are here. However, he still doesn't hold our baby, just chats with the other person about him, sometimes saying pretty nasty things about him - he's boring, ugly (he really isn't! but he says it because he's losing his hair & makes faces), fat, a mummy's boy/gay (I'm breastfeeding) etc.

now, I'm happy to carry on the strategies but I'm worried about the affect its going to have on our how his father is being going to have negative repercussions? I don't want him to get to the point that he doesn't like being held by his dad or not be able to bond with him... Should I say to him something like, treat me however you like but baby has done nothing wrong in all this? Or should I leave it? I just don't know how to deal with it as its not just me anymore, I've got our precious little baby to think of that just wants to be loved by us both.

Any thoughts you can give me will be appreciated. Thanks xx

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

Hi Kerry -

I think many will recognise the detailed scenarios and patterns you describe. Good that you have wised up and are no longer tolerating intolerable behaviour as it's futile to engage in silent mind games.

As you have done, best to step off the roundabout. Then stay off it and view it as a learning experience and move on positively. My best wishes to you.

Kerry 3 years ago

I love the advise on here. But what if my boyfriend and I are not living together and he wont talk to me? He is very sensitive and any attempt from my side to communicate with him about something that he is doing to hurt me always ends up in him getting upset and shutting down.

He broke-up with me over a minor issue like (apparently I'm too passive and I don't get things done in a hurry), and then we both agreed that we both wanted to work things out so we met-up talk about it. During our talk, I noticed how he was acting as if he was doing me a favour by getting back together with me. He said things like "You should prove to me that you have indeed changed" and that if I continued being that way, he was going to break-up with me again. I didn't like the way he was making threats and putting conditions on me so I calmly told him that I was willing to change but that I didn't like the way he was communicating his expectations to me. I also said if we are talking about getting back together, then we should be positive and not continue talking about breaking-up again, which lead to an argument because he felt there was nothing wrong in speaking to me that way and accused me of stirring-up an argument. He got angry and said that if I continued to bring up fights again, he was going to leave me - and permanently this time.

He then sarcastically apologized for his behavior and then left my place, and I was under the impression that we had finally worked things out. The next day, I didn't hear anything from him and neither the following day. So I send him a text asking him what is going on. He called me and I explained to him that if we are going to work things out, we should at least communicate on a daily basis and not continue the silence as if we are still broken-up. He could not give an answer as to why he had not contacted me for the past two days and only saying that if I wanted to talk, I could have also called him and not waited on him to call. I apologized for "starting" the fight the other day and I told him that all I wanted was for us to understand and be patient with each other, and when I asked him for his opinion since he was not saying much, he said he had nothing to say. I was hurt when he said that. So I told him that if he continued giving me the silent treatment for one more day, I would take it as a sign that our relationship was over because his behavior was hurting me. He said that he "got my point". By saying he got my point, I thought he had finally come to his senses that his behaviour was hurtful, only to have him ignore me the following day as well, no messages and no phone-calls. I was really hurt as he was showing me that he didn't care if his silent treatment was pushing me away. I send him a text saying that I was taking his continued silence as a sign that he didn't want to work on our relationship, to which he didn't reply, that is when I knew that he was giving me the silent treatment deliberately to hurt me and make me feel worthless and possibly even to beg him to forgive me.

The following day I still didn't hear from him and I just send him a text, telling him to "take good care of yourself" as a way of showing him that I was not going to let his cold behavior make me feel miserable and bitter. I have decided that I'm not going to beg him or send him anymore texts as that would only feed his ego. Afterall, I had told him that if his silence continued, I will take it as a sign that he has left the relationship, to which he didn't reply, so I'm moving on with my life and I'm not going to beg him to talk to me as that would just feed his ego. If he still loves me, he knows my number.

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

Hi Linda

I'm glad to know that you do not intend to take this abuse lying down. Many thanks for your feedback and for sharing.

Linda 3 years ago

I have endured this treatment for years. Through therapy and my golfing friends I have been pretty much ok. However this st is returning and with a lot more regularity. I plan to call and start ciunseling first thing on Monday. No matter what it still hurts and is a huge sign of immaturity and abuse. I have been married for 48 years and it hasn't been easy. Thank u for your suggestions. I feel I have had a great refresher course.

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

Hi Rae

It is good that you are now able to stand back and see the consequences of silent treatment and that you are working on yourself to eradicate this most unhelpful habit. However, you cannot force your father to recognise or change his ways. You are right that at his age he ought to know better and should not be resorting to such manipulation but I have to tell you that I know of people in their eighties who still use this form of emotional abuse, so don’t hold your breath!

I note you say you will be trying the strategies I have put forward and I think it would also be good if you were to make other members of the family (in particular your mother) aware of the strategies so that they might also consider employing them. The hope is that he himself will eventually realise silent treatment as a means to control and manipulate family members is no longer working and he might elect to gradually stop perpetrating it upon you all. But there is no guarantee this will happen.

In the meantime if you can all stop walking on eggshells and pandering to him you will all feel better within yourselves. I think that, within a family where one parent gives silent treatment, often the silent treatment is just endured but never openly discussed amongst the other family members, and this state of affairs allows the silent one to dominate. So if you haven’t done so already, let your mother and siblings know you are sorry that they are being ostracised by your father following the argument you had with him, let them know how you will be handling it and suggest they might read these articles and consider doing the same.

Thank you for your comment and for sharing - Ebonny.

Rae 3 years ago

Thank you for this article in strategies to cope with the silent treatment. I have seen the silent treatment a lot growing up with my parents and especially my dad. He would not speak to neither my mom or us kids when he was having a bout of anger with my mom. I grew up thinking that this was normal behavior and unfortunately this appalling behaviour rubbed off on me and I did have friends and bf the silent treatment when I was upset. I started to realise how unhealthy and appalig my behaviour was and am making conscious steps not to do this to people. I must admit though I do did it difficult not to resort to ST but am a work in progress. Recently my dad and I had an argument which is quite rare but in any case it has now lead to him giving everyone in our family the silent treatment. I am quite annoyed by his behaviour given that he is in his 50s now and still restoring to this childish behavior but not practicing any self-awareness about how this is unconstructive. I wouldn't mind so much if he just have me the ST since the argument was with me and I am also known to dish out the ST (but hope eventually not to) but the fact that he is given the silent treatment to my mom and brothers now makes me feel guilty that because of our argument they all have to e subjected to this punishment. I haven't lived at home for 8yrs so am only now starting to realize where I picked up my bad habits and make steps to stop my own actions of ST. I do think that my dads has gotten worst over the decades - moving from days of silence to weeks. I will try your strategies but also think that for a person in their 50s it is not going to change anything and he will not be reflecting to see how this behaviour is unhealthy both for oneself and those around. I do wish I could help him not use the silent treatment and rather talk about the situation til we reach a point of resolve to move on from the argument. It was a rather trivial issue so not unresolvable. It's my dad- so I can't leave the family. But I feel like this isn't something that should go on to his 60s. I feel awful that my mother had to tolerate such behaviour all these years.

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author


Given what you say, I do hope that your girlfriend not hearing from you for an extended period will be a wake up call for her, assuming she does want to continue/resume the relationship.

In the meantime there are a couple of things I suggest - don't simply mope around feeling sorry for yourself whilst you refrain from calling her. I know it's tough when the one you love is acting this way, but use the time to work on yourself, develop and pursue interests which keep you busy, uplifted, happy. This is crucial. If she never comes back to you, you need to be able to sustain your own happiness and emotional well being. If she does come back to you, likewise this is still crucial.

I think another thing to do is to work out how things will go in the future should she come back to you and pulls the silent treatment again. I hope you can resolve to change your response to silent treatment for the long term. Ebonny.

SS 3 years ago

My gf or ex-gf has been giving me complete silent treatment for 10 days now. I'm not sure what to do. I love her, and have endured this before but before it was only for 3 days at a time. She believes I was doing something malicious, but I wasn't. Regardless... A tone have success stories about getting back together or her eventually coming back after longer periods of ST? I texted her once a day for the past few days. I've set a limit if not texting for 72 hrs this time. More for my own sake. I don't understand why she does so extreme things. I did something stupid, but not bad. She wouldn't even let me talk... She flipped out and made assumptions and was done. She said its over... But she has said that before. Idk what to do. My friends think I'm crazy for wanting to stay, but truth is, when its good, it's the best. I've never had so much love and passion for a person. Sorry for rambling... I'm not sure really what to say. I treated her amazingly well... Her roommate would say, "you're the best bf ever... And I never dated you." I only say that because no one here knows me... But I am truly a rare and exceptional good guy. Ask anything for more info... I'm just hoping she comes around eventually. We were friends for 13.5 years before dating. We dated 7 months to date. Not sure about anything right now.. I just keep questioning myself and all the times she cried from being happy and telling me she never felt so loved and was never so happy etc... That's just a sample of many times things were wonderful and she expressed gratitude and happiness. I don't get this extreme behavior. Ok done for now.

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

Hi TravelinLady3333

Thank you for sharing how you are moving onwards and upwards. For many it can be scary to contemplate being out of the relationship but life really is too short to suffer such indefinitely. Having given a partner the opportunity to recognise their actions and a chance to change, there comes the time to make a decision to stay or go.

Great to know you had the courage to make the right decision for you future happiness and peace of mind. Take good care. Ebonny

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

Hi Mel

Thank you for your comment and for sharing your situation. I think it's often the case that the person giving the silent treatment denies that they are doing anything wrong. So frustrating!

I'm SO glad to know that you have taken charge of your own emotional state rather than let it be dictated. Your resolve is inspiring. Continue to take good care of yourself. Ebonny

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TravelinLady3333 3 years ago

I had to finally ended my 3 year relationship with someone who used the silent treatment. It was a consistent pattern of about every 2 months and then after a recent long bout we had another heart to heart talk about the destructive nature of the silent treatments.

It took about 2 days and then he implemented the last silent treatment he will ever give me (another one after the heart to heart). I enable it to be a permanent silent treatment (gotta love technology).

I finally had to do some soul searching about why I allowed it to continue so long. We had a 3 year relation and did not live together. He knew what he did bothered me greatly and always used the excuse "I didn't mean to give you the silent treatment" but we lived only 8 doors away from each other and I simply got tired of the abusive treatment.

There is a lot of people out there and a lot of people you can love. I see why it's more tolerated if you are tied together with marriage or children. But I'm in my 50s and simply will no longer tolerate it. I can't even imagine being married to someone who does this. And since I wouldn't ever marry this situation, why waste time even dating.

I have since gone through the pain of ending the situation. And have recently started dating again. What a relief to find good people out there who are a lot of fun and don't have communication issues. I count my blessings that I dodged a bullet and didn't marry this situation.

Peace and serenity doesn't exist in abusive situations and yes silent treatment is definitely abuse even if the perpetrator denies it.

No longer living outside my truth!

Mel 3 years ago


May I say, your advice is BRILLIANT! I live with someone who uses silent treatment, but absolutely believes & insistes it is not silent treatment. She says she is just working stuff out or she is mad at me and can't talk to me right now, but that "can't talk to me right now" will last days sometimes until either I cave or capitulate (which is what usually happens) or she finally decides to have it out with me and tell me for frig sake what she is mad about.

This happens every few months, sometimes out of the blue and sometimes sparked by a disagreement or problem in the relationship. Up until literally yesterday, I was always so upset by this, it drove me absolutely crazy. The one thing I can't stand is the silent treatment, so much so that even when I am mad at her, I try to make sure I don't use that. I used to be so afraid, and timid and angry when she would do this - afraid to talk to her or even be in her presence, and I ALWAYS ended up begging her to tell me what was wrong or I would break down crying and apologizing for something that may not have been my fault, just to get her speaking to me again.

Well, today is a completely different story. I got up this morning determined to be happy and upbeat and chose to engage with her and talk to her even if she didn't want to talk to me...and slowly, as the day progressed, she started to pull out of it. For the last few days, she wouldn't barely speak to me unless I spoke to her first, but today, I just kept talking to her in my normal voice as if I never noticed anything was ever wrong. It was hard at first, but it got easier as the day progressed.

It was like magic how it worked. Even if she hadn't pulled out of it, I just felt so much better about myself, I don't think I would have cared if she continued (though if it continued to long, or happens again too frequently, I will be considering ending the relationship).

I will NEVER again let her or anyone make me feel bad with the silent treatment. I will either respond the way you have suggested, or I will leave the relationship, whichever needs to happen in the situation.

I have myself and my self-esteem back, and slowly I have my roommate back.

Thank you.

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

Hi Chelsey - My gut feeling is that, regardless of whether or not you matter to them, covering up is far more important. I hate to sound pessimistic but to be honest I do not expect things to change for the better – as you have said begging and crying doesn’t help. The family have closed ranks over whatever the issue is. No doubt you are concerned as to whether the horrific things you have heard from the sister are true. Given that your friend has not denied you are right to be/remain concerned.

I guess it’s time to decide whether or not you want to continue like this indefinitely. If not, you will need to consider moving on/distancing yourself from them all and filling the void with people who are open and transparent. Perhaps some counselling would help you think things through and come to a decision. Look after yourself.

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

Many thanks for your comment Violet -

I'm glad you no longer have to contend with such behaviour and had the clout to get out rather than stay and/or let it undermine you.

Hmm - It strikes me some may not have the confidence to walk away initially, but when they find a way to "cope" this might in time build confidence and result in them being better placed to make a choice regarding walking away. Thanks againfor dropping by.

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Chelsey Cherneau 3 years ago

Thank you so much for all of this great help! I have a situation I need further help with. Does the silent treatment always have an ending? I have had a "friend" for 35 years who's family is like family to me. At one point he and I were even talking about marriage back when we were in college. A few years ago this man's sister told me some horrific things about him and she began to stalk me. I went to my "friend" expecting him to be angry at his sister and explain things to me to make things great again...but instead he did the opposite. He didn't explain anything and didn't stop his sister from harassing me. It really confused me because what she was saying was sick and horrible things about HIM. He didn't angry at her and instead ended up deleting me and blocking ME on Facebook and his email with no explanation! Meanwhile, other family members continue to be in my life and know what is going on but won't tell me! A few weeks ago I had a graduation party for one of the kids in the family and my "friend" showed up! He acted friendly like he wasn't mad, but also would not have a conversation with me. I again asked family members what is going on and no one will tell me!! His extended family continues to be in my life and don't care at all that the silence and ignoring of my questions and need for answers is killing me. I don't understand or know what to do. Is this selective silent treatment? Stonewalling? Can I ever expect things to change and get better? My crying and begging for answers and explanations is just ignored and my "friend" who I love has completely cut me off. :( Is it because they are covering up something, or because I really don't matter and they are just sick of me crying? And if I don't matter, then why do they all stay in my life and tell me they love me but not give me answers/explanation? I hope this makes sense. Thanks!

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VioletHughs 3 years ago from Libertad, ME

I love this article. I can so relate but I opted to leave the marriage instead. Who wants to deal with this!? Not me. I can say, I'm much happier for it.

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

Hello Nenny

It is very difficult not to feel defeated in the face of such passive aggressive actions but I hope you will choose to consistently respond differently as you know you deserve to feel better. It’s important to prioritise taking back control of your own emotional state rather than have someone else unfairly dictate it. This will not be easy, but so important and worthwhile.

As regards the exiting a room when you enter, I'd be inclined to audibly hum a tune or such like as he starts to exit so that he’ll know that his not wanting to be in your presence is NOT the end of your world, and it really isn’t. Believe that. The strategies suggested involve putting on an act to begin with but the important thing is that a victim of silent treatment needs to actually transform that act of being upbeat into a reality.

I note that working together is an additional challenge for you. Much easier said than done, but don’t show anger when he won’t do things such as pass on telephone messages. I would be inclined to matter of factly state in an even tone that such actions can harm the business, but so be it. Then calmly go about your tasks. Be the bigger person. The shame is on him, although he may not admit it.

You have it within you to not allow yourself to be overwhelmed or defeated by such behaviour so please do persevere. You might also want to take qualified advice as regards the verbal abuse, meantime take good care. Ebonny.

Nenny 3 years ago

Hi Ebonny

I am currently on day 2 of the silent treatment, like other posts he does this frequently when i say or do something he doesn't like, this time i think it was because i repeated something he said in a fuuny way !!!! this will now go on for anything up to 4days and he will only then speak if i push him and then it becomes a big row with him shouting and swearing and blaming me for everything..My situation is slighty different to others as we work together so everyday is made to feel like forever.......He continues it at work and won't even pass on phone messages etc etc.....Today i haven't even bothered to go in as I feel utterly defeated..Like your other posts i will give your advice a try but it is sooo difficult as he won't even enter a room if i am in it and will walk out if i enter a room where he is........He is almost 50 years old not 15 !!!Tonight i will give your advice a go and hopefully at least i can change the way i respond to it and not worry so much about the way he chooses to behave....

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

Many thanks for your comment Ninny. I would not discourage anyone from leaving a silence abuser.

However, particularly if someone has invested a lot time/commitment in a relationship, I believe it's worth them challenging and changing their own enabling behaviour if that is what they have hitherto been doing throughout the relationship. (Sadly, a lot of the time we don’t realise we are being abused, and inadvertently encouraging it, until it’s gone on for far too long.)

Having stopped their own enablement, some people on the receiving end of silence abuse may choose to leave the relationship rather than continue to have to cope with repetitive prolonged silences. Some may find that there is sufficiently diminishing silent treatment to choose to stay. Either way, it’s a difficult decision.

The boundary I have advocated is that a short time limited cooling off period is fine, whereas silent treatment is not. Taking control and ownership of our own emotions and happiness is paramount because, as you rightly point out, life is too short.

Ninny 3 years ago

Silent treatment is emotional abuse, plain and simple. You don't try to reason with abusers or "try to uplift yourself to face the silent treatment", you enforce your boundaries and LEAVE. By staying you are enabling this behaviour. Get out NOW and find someone who treats you with love, care and respect. Life is too short for this BS.

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

H Lucinda

Sorry to hear of your situation and how it is affecting your children, your work and not least you. It's not easy to put the strategies I recommend into practise when you have spent a lifetime doing the opposite but just remember it's difficult, but not impossible, and you CAN do it.

I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to actually take control of yourself and make yourself do things that are uplifting and make you feel good because then you are not merely putting on a act of being upbeat. Sure you'll have to pretend to begin with but the important thing is to actually take responsibility for your own emotional state, so that it's not merely an act. It really helps with persevering if you can develop such positivity in the face of silent treatment and I wish you the best.

Lucinda 3 years ago

Dear Ebbony,

my husband and I have been together for almost 7 years, we have 2 children, son from his previous marriage and our daughter we have together of 4 years. My husband also gives me the silent treatment, not only when we have arguments but sometimes just out of the blue, he will just not talk to me and it will go on for days, i am currently in a "silent treatment" and this time around it's hurting like crazy, unfortunately i found your article 4 days into the silent treatment, which means i've been begging and pleading, crying and just emotionally broken before I read your advice. He is still not talking to me, but tonight I will try and be strong and take your advice, I am an extremely emotional person, and my daughter is very upset when I cry so much! it's creating a huge barrier in our family, and I don't know what to do anymore! my work is suffering as well as my childern....

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Ruchi Urvashi 3 years ago from Singapore

Hi Ebony, my husband and me, tend to talk and resolve the problems. I used to see the silent treatment issue in my parents. There used to be lot of silence between my parents and all the children had to absorb the resentment of mother. There was no shouting between our parents in our home but there was lot of hidden pain. Your article is very useful as it uncovers one of the uncommon topic. Voted up.

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

Hi Sandra

Thank you for sharing your experience. Such decisions are so very difficult to make - all we can do is weight everything up and proceed with what we believe will be the best for the long term.

If someone chooses, consciously or unconsciously, to be broken we cannot make them change and I agree, we can only pray.

Sandra 3 years ago

I totally agree with I had a relationship with a silent treatment giver and, though it was more painful to let it go than to keep it, it seemed to me that letting it go was the saner thing to do. I could have learned how to "control" his sickness but I chose to walk away. Walking away was way more painful (and, it still hurts today) but I could not see sticking with it under the current terms. And, I did not walk away willingly, I really wanted a life-long relationship and for things to work out as this person is my brother but, since he kept giving me the "silent treatment", I subconsciously "sabotaged" the relationship instead of doing "my part" (as described above, pulling out your list of defenses when it happens to you) to make the relationship work. But, it came down to him talking to me when he needed something from me/our family or him giving the silent treatment when we needed him/his support. Everyone else walked away in anger but, I still love this person as he is my brother and because our relationship is lost and broken, many people in our families will suffer but, my hands are tied until he comes out, tells me what I did, and is willing to talk and reconcile whatever conflict he has with me so our families can be united again. It is a shame that for these Silent Treatment givers, they gain more satisfaction from brokenness and separation than unity, one can only pray for them.

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

Hi Torn - I appreciate your comment. Hope it helps some.

Torn 3 years ago

Love the support here!

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

Hi Florence

This is most encouraging and I thank you for your comment. I am pleased to know that, having tried similar methods off your own volition you have experienced fewer occurrences of silence over all.

I can relate to what you said about the silent one waiting for a meltdown/capitulation, but wonder why it took me so very long to see the light and stop dancing to that tune. Ah well – better late than never!

With best wishes – Ebonny.

Florence 3 years ago

Thank you for this hub, I find it very enlightening. My partner too does this sometimes. The pattern is always the same, we have an argument (it doesn't really matter who is the instigator) and sometimes afterwards he reacts by shutting off for several days (up to a week sometimes).

A year ago when an episode happened I decided to employ a similar method to the one you suggest in order to not break down any further. It t00k a lot of mental force and I could tell that he was sort of hurt by this behavior and it also prolonged the phase (sometimes before we would actually resolve the silence when I had a meltdown, which made me think that it was what he wanted). Interestingly though, after that episode it took a full year before it happened again. Before it would happen around 4-5 times a year.

Now it has happened again, unfortunately, but I found your suggestions a morale booster. That said, it is hard, one part of me wants to say “this is unacceptable, bye, bye” but the thing is we really do have a great loving relationship and good communications and even constructive arguments in between these bouts. So I find myself being torn on how to view this issue. For now I have decided to keep trying this method as I find it more helpful than the yelling and tears. This way at least I keep my dignity and sanity. And we will see how it all pans out.

Also it is not just men using the silent treatment, which the commenter John seem to suggest. I have male friends who gets the silent treatment from female partners too.

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

You are very welcome Orazia and many thanks for your update. Be good to yourself. - Ebonny

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Orazia 3 years ago

Thank you. I will try your different way of getting the essential info I may need and I shall try to have an alternative plan. IT is a great idea to rephrase in the way you indicted and so smile when I think about it, but hard to do at difficult times.

I have put in place your other suggestions since my last post and am feeling a lot happier. It was very helpful to have your hub available to ask the question. At those angry times it can be difficult to think clearly. Thanks for encouraging me to overcome embarrassment and be more open and give more details to my counsellor. I shall certainly try, as that way she can give me the best help. Your hub has has moved me further along the path to a more tranquil life than others.

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

Hi Orazia

Swearing under your breath and walking away is fine and certainly you could give the suggestions you mention a try and see how they work out for you.

When you get no reply, have you tried following that up with occupying yourself with maybe some physical activity and see if that will dissipate your anger a little more quickly? Or see the suggestions in the silent treatment/physical health articles.

You may well have done this already, but before you even ask him a question, think about what you will do besides being angry (which is wholly understandable) if you get no response or an inappropriate response. That way you can proceed with your Plan B and retain some control. Also with the example you gave, maybe instead of asking and standing there waiting for a response you could say something like “Don’t forget to let me know what time we are due to leave if you need me to be ready for a certain time”, walk away and focus on positive thinking and an attitude of gratitude for the positives in your life rather than allowing his unnecessary wilful provocation to undermine you. I know it's much easier said than done - but so worth it.

Lastly, although I do understand your reservations about approaching them, I think your counsellor, friends and family would think your partner is the one who is weak and pathetic given the behaviour you describe, so don’t hold back from venting on that score and I imagine your counsellor can work with you on gathering strength and positivity for whatever you decide for the long term.

With best wishes - Ebonny

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Orazia 3 years ago

Hello, can anyone give me suggestions on how to deal with the unresolved anger I feel at times during stretches of the silent treatment. I find that the suggestions made here are very helpful and work most of the time but at times when my husband does not respond to basic questions which are required for normal day to day life , such as " what time are we leaving for ur trip tomorrow?", I get so angry I swear under my breath and just have to walk away. It takes a while for the anger to go away but I am worried about how I can go on like this. Am I compromising my health? I know it is a waste of time talking to him about it, but I have to express my anger. Is it pointless to write him a letter that I will simple destroy later or is it dangerous to "visualize" a conversation with him tha will never happen? I have to get this out of my self but do not want to bother my friends or family or counsellor again as I fear they will think I am weak and pathetic. I haven't the strength to leave.

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

Hi Delighted

Many thanks for your response to my comment about the abuser not wanting to talk about their choice of behaviour and also for highlighting that, although taking ownership for your own emotional state is very well worth the effort, there is no magic formula for making a relationship perfect. We still have to weigh everything up and keep things under review in order to make important decisions going forward. If they choose to come out of denial, I agree it can be a valuable learning experience for the silent one.

I appreciate you dropping by. Ebonny

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

Hello Orazia

I am so sad to know how you have experienced silent treatment over the duration of your relationship - including months of silence at a single stretch - and sorry to hear that at times you too have thought of suicide. It appears you have come a long way and I would like to congratulate you on forgiving yourself for not feeling able to cope with the silent treatment in years gone by, realising that you did the best you could do at that time. Well done for working on increasing your confidence and recognising that you can elect not to be completely downtrodden by your partner’s unjustifiable behaviour. It certainly sounds as if you are more attuned to prioritising your happiness, as we all should do in these circumstances, rather than putting yourself last on your list.

I very much appreciate your comments and feedback and hope it might encourage others to give the strategies a try if they have not done so already. Keep doing what you’re doing Orazia and my sincere best wishes for the future. – Ebonny.

delighted 3 years ago

I am grateful that the system sends me updates from this article. It is so helpful to read of others situations, and to gain Ebonny's very sage, compassionate and impactful feedback and recommendations. Ebonny's comment that the abuser may not want to talk about their behaviour as somewhere deep down they know how childish it is, yet don't know how to change it and don't want to seek help, seems right on. I can't imagine that these intelligent human beings, who are so capable of putting on a show of care in front of others, aren't deliberate in their abusive / silent actions. I very much relate with Ebonny's comment that those on the receiving end feel sorry for the abuser. I am still in this relationship, and yes, I am continually evaluating whether to stay. It has become much easier, through distancing myself and focusing on being responsible for my own happiness. It does however still make it difficult to have a truly supportive relationship between both parties. Choice - he is choosing his behavior, and I am choosing mine. He may find that my choice becomes one he won't like (leaving) but that it is his behaviour that makes it necessary. Should I decide to finally make the break, he will be told 'why'. He deserves to know, and perhaps still be able to make a choice to change so that in the future his relationships can be better.

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Orazia 3 years ago

Hello again. I too have been so low as to consider suicide as a result of this abuse. It is very hard when this abuse happens so often and for long periods. For me it has been many years. Some may think I was weak to stay... Maybe I was but at the time that was what all I was capable of because my confidence was so low. But as I said earlier I somehow pulled myself back for the sake of my family and realizing I had done nothing so bad as to deserve this. Now I try, within reason of course, to live a life where my own happiness is important. I do not berate myself for apparent weaknesses in the past. Now is the priority, it is not too late to make the descision to help oneself,

My husband has many good qualities and we have many years shared so the effort is worthwhile for the moment.

However there have been awful times but, by getting out and getting help I have been able to cope a lot better. I do not know what the future holds but in this little bit of time, the suggestions made here are working for me, most of the time. Considering how bad I was and how I became so ill, this is a great step forward and sort of sets me free.

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Orazia 3 years ago

Thanks for your wonderful articles. For years I have tried to cope with the silent treatment for my husband. I have had sessions that went on for months. In one recent one Sometimes after long period like this I might be told what I have "done wrong", usually things I am not aware of or triggered by some randon comment. At first I was wrecked by this treatment. My health suffered seriously but I did not have the courage to leave. I am the bread winner and it was hard going to work and then trying to deal with this insidious abuse. Finally I went to counseling and determined I had to save my sanity and health. I have been putting into place many of your ideas already. They have helped reduce the episodes duration. I am in the middle of one now. I do slip up at times but keep trying to put this I to practice. In the end I feel it is about my own survival and well being.

If he is not prepared to change, so be it. For now I am taking care of myself so I do not get sick. If in future I have to leave well that is something to worry about later. Yours is the best help I have found and there are quite a few new strategies here I shall try. I am very grateful. This is clear, do-able and also compassionate. Thank you so very much. I am coping a lot better with this episode.

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

Hello Callie

Many thanks for sharing your experiences and I am so glad that the advice has helped. Sometimes I do wonder if the reason the silent one won’t discuss/explore an issue is because deep down they do know how ridiculously childish their behaviour is, and know there is no way of adequately justifying it. Thus they choose to remain in silent defiance and/or denial.

I note what you say about rethinking the relationship - it sounds as if you are in the relative early stages of your partnership? I believe it is extremely important for a person to nip this sort of thing in the bud, so to speak. From my own experience it becomes more difficult (although not necessarily impossible) to deal with if the silent one has been getting away with this manipulative and childish behaviour for many many years, as sometimes, even if they want to stop it, they don’t quite know how to break their relationship killing habit and are too stubborn to seek help! Down the line it may be the case that although the person on the receiving end of silence can now COPE with such silences (and indeed they may feel somewhat sorry for a partner who is incapable of behaving maturely) they may elect that they no longer actually wish to remain in a relationship where there continues to be this need to cope.

Best wishes – Ebonny

Callie 3 years ago

I appreciate the advice, and suggested activity that give me the power to control how I respond to my boyfriend's silent treatment. I think it makes all the difference. I am not going to be a victim of a childish tantrum. It's making me rethink this relationship too. The silence game is going on right now (day 2), and I am spending my second night in the guest room because he doesn't want to see me or talk to me (we have lived together for a year). A two day silcnce stint is common when I tell him I didn't like a comment or disrespectful behavior toward me. When I try to encourage a conversation to resolve his issue with me, he usually says he doesn't want to talk about it because he doesn't want to hear my anger about it. Examples of his behavior that warrant my complaint are when he throws a tantrum, insults me and storms off when we are walking somewhere and I want to explore the next street and he doesn't; or he rolls his eyes and storms off in a grocery store because I want to find my brand preference of yogurt. His intolerance is usually demonstrated with insults and storming off. I am usually stunned and hurt by it and insist on talking about it.... which relults in the silent treatment, and then I press him because it angers me.... something I won't do anymore after reading your advice. I told him we can discuss it later if he wants to... but 2 days of silence is so immature. At least I'm not weeping like I used to do.

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Ebonny 3 years ago from UK Author

Hello PT

Thanks for your comment and I am glad to know that you found the article enlightening.

That your partner is so meticulous about putting on a performance of normality and warmth towards you for the benefit of onlookers, but immediately shuns you when you alone together, is particularly hurtful.

Whilst I am sorry to know that for you suicide felt like an escape route from the misery of the silent treatment, I am grateful to you for sharing this. I know that you are not the only person who has felt that way in this situation, as I too have been there - but no more - and I sincerely hope that you will be able to persevere in applying the strategies I have detailed in these hubs.

With determination, a person can change their reaction to adversity and become stronger, wiser and happier as a result. I will look forward to hearing an update from you as time passes, or indeed updates from anyone else who has applied and sustained these methods. Take good care. Ebonny

PT 3 years ago

Dear Ebony,

Thank you sooo much for writing this article, I wish i had come across this earlier.....but better late than never. Seriously I can't thank you enough for writing this.

I have been married for 1.3 years and my situation is quite similar, and I am really surprised to see so many people going through similar things.

My husband gives me silent treatment many a times, something just upsets him, and I suddenly see a change of behaviour from his end, and unable to understand what caused this change, i begin to question him and after a point coax him to tell me what is it that is upsetting him. At times he speaks the same day but many times i need to coax him again the following day after which he opens his mouth. After he tells me what I did...etc etc. and I speak / explain what I meant and justify my behaviour / thought process / situation, he prefers not engaging in any conversation for a few days (ranging from 3 to 5 days). What upsets me the most is that after having discussed the situation, me apologizing, he still prefers not to speak for a few days. During these days if I attempt to call him, he won’t answer or simply cut my calls, if i text him i may be lucky to get a response after several hours, that too saying he is busy and he will message later. Apologizing doesn’t help and I have been doing it even if I don’t think i did anything wrong. And 90% of the issues till date have been extremely trivial. During these days if we need to go somewhere in public he suddenly becomes different and all warm and nice towards me and the moment we are back in the room he gives me a cold shoulder. At times i used to feel sooo miserable with this treatment that i wanted to run away somewhere or just simply end my life (yeah there have been some situations that were quite bad), maybe I wasn’t strong enough earlier to handle this and after going through repeated situations of silent treatment i have probably become stronger and begun to accept this behavioural pattern. It usually happens once or twice a month...sometimes i thought men PMS too and hence this whole emotional drama and behaviour!

I had decided to make peace with it until i read this article. I am definitely going to try these suggestions.

I would be happy to hear from you if you can give me any specific advice to my situations described above.



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Ebonny 4 years ago from UK Author

Hello Heartbroken

To be honest my gut response to this was “silent treatment, control and manipulation including threats of suicide and fake self harming - hallelujah – she’s had a very lucky escape”, but I realise this may not be very helpful to you as you navigate your way out of the distress you are feeling right now. In your heart of hearts I suspect you know that life with a person like this would always be agonising, but it doesn’t mean the pain isn’t still there.

You have been through the wringer and I, for one, want to congratulate you because you have got yourself on to the right path. Please now pat yourself on the back and applaud yourself in that so far you are doing all the right things to get through this and resolve to continue in the same manner. Be sure to bar his calls/texts and please continue to seek and accept help from your friends when you are at your lowest, and generally, as they have your best interests at heart. The counselling should help also.

As time goes on you can think about what you can learn from the experience and reflect on your response to his silent treatment and other issues, and how the knowledge and experience you now have can help you going forward. With best wishes. Ebonny

Heartbroken 4 years ago

I have been seeing someone for four years (living seperatly) and i am utterly in love with him .BUT 6 months into the relationship he started over trivial arguments to leave my house and give me the silent treatment not answering the phone sending a few abusive texts until he was over it then he would be ok. This past 12 months he has "up t the anti", if i have a night out with my female friends he would send texts saying he was going to kill himeself and even send pictures of terrible self harm (which turned out be lies).Then 3 months ago during a silence treatment he told me were finished. Naturally i fell apart and begged him to give me another chance , i was distraught. He then started to see my again two moths ago then within two weeks slient treatment and again"we are over"....again im heartbroken beginning like a fool. i promised i would do everything to make him happy.

Then this very last time on the 26th jan 13 (his birthday) he call me to tell me he is going out on the town to see what he can find and that he didn't want to see me any more and we are over. since then (3 weeks now) he has sent me a couple of messages (abusive) and it appears he may have moved out of his flat. I feel so ill from the rollercoaster of his emotions and its on..its off...silent treatments etc that i feel im now having a breakdown. He imagines im sleeping with a whole array of different men ! he acts so crazy....but i have to take it that we are over this time and i have embarked on councelling this coming thursday and signed up to some yoga classes...But to be honest two nights ago the loneliness and emptyness i feel could have driven me to do something silly. But imm using my friends for support who are encourageing me to have the strength to never go back to him if he calls or texts...but the love is so strong...the abuse he has done hasactually made me less able to leave him in my heart as im lost...sorry so much information...please help.....Heartbroken

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Ebonny 4 years ago from UK Author

Hello Sad

I am sorry to know of your situation – enduring silent treatment from someone you should be able to turn to for support and nurture when you are suffering pain and chronic ill-health. I wonder if you have considered couple counselling with your partner, assuming he is willing. Sometimes having an independent third party intervene can make a helpful difference.

It would be asking an awful lot of you if I were to encourage you to try to carry out these strategies at a time when you are so incapacitated but can I assume that you have a pain management plan from the medical staff who are treating you, and that you are reviewed regularly?

Also I am a big fan of positive thinking and affirmations so you might want to consider this too. Along with support from a counsellor, friend/relative or support group (try googling liver disease support group, or similar) you can plan ahead for a brighter future, with or without your partner at your side appropriately supporting you. Thank you for sharing with us and please do treat yourself with TLC. With best wishes - Ebonny

PS: I really do share your kind concern for SK and hope that he is inching forwards.

Sad 4 years ago

Hi Ebony,

First, I must say, I really feel for SK. My situation isn't nearly as bad, but his story really struck me and I hope he finds a way out of this painful and abusive cycle. No one should have to live in so much misery.

I, myself, am in the cycle of a silent treatment, being given to me by the man I love. It occurred because I am very ill, and I approached him about his lack of attention when I am going through an ill 'bout'. I have liver disease, and sometimes I have incredibly bad 'bouts' in which there is bleeding and such. It is very hard for me, and I perhaps wrongfully turn to him for comfort, but he simply seems uninterested, or preoccupied.

I suppose, I imagined that I should receive what I've given to him, which is loads of attention for his every whoa. In other words, I attempt to always be there for him.

The odd thing, I find, is that he is incredibly loving, kind and gentle otherwise. Still, this kindness doesn't mask that I feel very alone when I am struggling with my health, and so I bring it up to him.

I find that initially he is very kind to me when I bring up such things, but actually, now that I think about it... it feels more like he is trying to persuade me into not feeling the way that I do about the situation. By making simple statements like "Baby.." followed with a frown, and what not...

I tend to interpret this as 'How could you think that? Don't you know how much I love you?'

But when I hold my ground and continue to express my upset and the need for the situation to change, that is when his rage grows and before I know it, the kindness turns to coldness like I have never experienced before him, and within moments, he is gone... the silent treatment begins.

Keep in mind he does this fully knowing that the issue at hand here is that I feel very alone through my health struggles, and so that he leaves when I bring this matter up, he is choosing to leave during one of these ill 'bouts' of mine, only enhancing my initial concern.

... making me feel even more alone, while I struggle with incredible ill health.

He is also fully aware how stress is incredibly bad for someone who suffers the health ailments that I do, and I can tell you... what he is doing to me is -incredibly- stressful.

I feel like this is a manipulation tactic to get me to a point where I will feel crippled any time I want to bring up an issue about him, or us, that I feel a little communication could easily fix.

... and so, I have written him and told him that I have had my fill, that I will no put up with this behavior of his, that it needs to change, or I will leave...

I have a feeling in some days he will write me, and if so, I can only imagine that the discussion will then be about -this treatment- and not what I had initially intended it to be about, which was -my health-. Something that I feel is far more important than these childish games.

I feel so disheartened right now, because I truly love the man that he is outside of this, and have never been treated with so much kindness and love (minus this silent treatment that has been an ongoing cycle with him). But is this the price I must pay in order to have such kindness?

It's like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

I am so drained, so heartbroken... and I have to wonder if the kindness now was all an act, an act to keep things controlled. It does seem to me that someone giving these treatments must be a pro at burying their feelings, so I would not be surprised.

I don't know what more you can offer. I have already drawn the line and intend to stick to my guns... however, I felt the need to share my story, for whatever it's worth.

Your article touched me and it is not often that I take the time to express myself in this fashion, online.

I am sad, deeply deeply hurt, feeling abandoned, neglected, and yet, still do not want to walk away from the man that I love... but I just truly see no other way.

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Ebonny 4 years ago from UK Author

Hello Midget38

It is indeed hard to know how to handle this issue and all to easy to get overwhelmed by it. Many thanks for dropping by and for sharing.

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midget38 4 years ago from Singapore

Hi Ebonny, I love the advice in this hub. It is expertly given and so useful...many of us unfortunately do not know how to handle silent treatment and end up blaming themselves, saying the wrong thing and falling into depression. Important tips which I share!

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Ebonny 4 years ago from UK Author

Hi Sparkster - I very much appreciate your comment and insight.

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sparkster 4 years ago from United Kingdom

Very useful hub for those in this type of relationship, it can be extremely difficult to cope with at times.


"Having to do all this for a perpetrator of silent treatment seems to me to be a form of co-dependency - in other words why would you even put up with it?"

Many of these perpetrators may have a personality disorder such as NPD (Narcissistic) therefore they manipulate their partner/victim into a situation they can't get out of. Financial abuse is often involved and makes things extremely difficult.

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Ebonny 4 years ago from UK Author

SK - please go to my Profile Page, Fan Mail for the option to contact me via email as necessary. E

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Ebonny 4 years ago from UK Author

I cannot tell you how sorry I am to hear of how you have been living. A person who is disrespected, taken for granted, stressed to the point of it bringing on life threatening illnesses, treated as if they are worthless, didn’t exist and given the silent treatment for a single stretch of 4.5+ years (not to mention the other episodes) needs to be urgently and seriously re-evaluating how they really want to live the rest of their life.

SK - Please do seek support now, e.g. from a counsellor, trusted friend/relative, support group – perhaps all three! And please be kind to yourself – treat yourself with tender loving care. Even if it was the case that your wife had a dreadful childhood, that is no reason for you to live a life of emotional hell. If you are not doing so already, please eat well, exercise and above all look into using positive thinking and affirmations to help you change yourself, your self-perception and self-esteem for the better and for the long term. I feel certain you are worth it.

It won’t be easy for you to put the strategies in the above article into practice but do please start with making a list of little things you can do to uplift yourself. In turn it can help you gather the strength to figure out what you want out of the rest of your life. Get started with the strategies as soon as you can and, if you falter along the way, as is often the case, don’t beat yourself up – get back on track just as soon as you are able. It’s not an easy path by any means but I believe it’s well worth it.

I am very heartened to know that the article has been of some relief to you and thank you for sharing some of your story. Take good care. Ebonny.

SK 4 years ago

Dear Ebonny,

Thank you so much for this article. I am married for 25 years, and My wife has been giving me silent treatment since before our marriage. The latest one is going on for 4.5 years.

After our marriage, I thought that she is silent because of her dreadful past. But now after 25 years, I do not think so. Also, she is VERY VERY happy with all her other friends, including male friends.

I was very healthy before, but now I have been at the death's door 4-5 times (Prolonged sicknesses) and most of them were stress related (as per doctors). I am in IT field and have a decent pay package, but zero balance as she drains up my money by the middle of the month. She has been working for past 20 years but I do not know how much she earns, and where does she spend or keep her money (I never bothered to ask as I thought it would be wrong thing). Today I was just making a random Google search and found this page.

I am so much burnt up now, that I cannot write what I have been suffering , in one go. But I found some relief reading your article and few of above posts.

One more thing - she sleeps separately for past 4 years in a separate room. We have had no quarrels, no fights for that. She just started that and it went on. SHE DOESN'T SPEAK ANYTHING (Sorry for all caps).

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Ebonny 4 years ago from UK Author

NB: My thanks to Delighted (see her comment above) who has sent an interesting update in the comments section of Part 3 (Specific Examples) of this series of articles.

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Ebonny 4 years ago from UK Author

Many thanks for your comment Meme.

I think withholding affection and intimacy often goes hand in hand with the silent treatment unfortunately and as such I would remain consistent with the strategies above, rising above the provocation and being seen not to let it upset or overwhelm you. However, if your partner deliberately witholds affection and intimacy even during the times when you are on speaking terms then you may need to explore the reasons for it with him if he will open up.

Meme 4 years ago

Very good article. I, too am with a husband who us an emotional abuser. He is verbally abusive and then gives the silent treatment when I try to confront him about his behaviors. He also withholds affection and intimacy. How di I deal with that part?

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Ebonny 4 years ago from UK Author

Hi Jane

Sorry to hear of your situation. If you find that apologising for your part in things only fuels him into more unnecessary drama, I believe all you can do is pat yourself on the back for having acknowledged and apologised and move on with your day. Don’t let the fact that your husband cannot/will not give credence to your apology keep you down.

Dragging children into the mix makes things doubly difficult and were I in your shoes I would consider saying something (when both your husband and the children are present) to the effect that it is unfortunate that they had to witness the disagreement - then leave it at that and again go about your day contentedly.

I think I do get that you are not currently minded to attempt anything new and in the circumstances this is understandable, especially as you say there has been couple counselling, anger management to no avail. With that in mind, I am not sure if things failed because your partner didn’t put the effort in but if this was the case you can still try the approaches above and change yourself for your better.

My feeling is that if someone is in a place where they are thinking of giving it all up, it can still be very beneficial if at some point they can muster the spirit to embrace the strategies above as they can help whether or not you decide to terminate the relationship, in that a more positive attitude is for you and not just for you in your current (or any future) relationship. So think about doing it for YOU first and foremost – if your husband is encouraged to change for the better as a result then that’s a bonus. I hope you give serious consideration to doing it just for you!

Thank you for your comment – Ebonny.

jane 4 years ago

very interesting reading all the comments and article above. I have been married to a man almost 3 years who from about 6 months gives me the silent treatment. It usually goes on for 3-6 days and then only subsides when I approach him and try and get him to talk and he then "explodes, then cries and says how much I have hurt him". He knows my personality and is so used to me being so compassionate to his tears. We have had plenty of counselling by professionals including him doing an anger management course. All really to no evail. As I speak I am currently in a silent treatment period. Admittidly I did "lose it" myself Christmas Day and apologised for it as i know I hurt him incredibly with what I said. I have said I am sorry twice to which he just rudely stands and in front of his children (my stepkids) and says come on lets go and walks out the door. Leaving me in mid sentence?? Very very humiliating. Yes i admit my part to play in "creating" this little episode but honestly I am so over this behaviour. I am smoking yet again, fearful of when he comes home from work, embarrased in front of his kids, very depressed and really at the point of "is this really really worth it?" I understand your suggestions above but honestly this has gone on for so long and I am too depressed and worn out to do anything but just lie in bed.

thanks again for the article

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Ebonny 4 years ago from UK Author

Hi Michelle - I would find this extremely disrespectful. If he is unwilling to even grunt a thank you, I would be considering matter of factly (no hint of sarcasm etc.) stating that if he continues to lack the courtesy to thank you for meals you will take it that for the time being he no longer wishes you to prepare his meals. If you do say this, be prepared to actually stop cooking for him as idle threats just make things worse in the long run. Do think things through first, especially if you are preparing meals for a family and not just your partner as children will wonder why he is not being given a meal. (Be prepared for their questions and respond appropriately, but without necessarily putting your partner on the spot in their eyes. On the other hand they may well have already noticed his lack of courtesy and wonder why you tolerate it.)

Thoroughout all, be mindful that you act in an entirely respectful manner towards him rising above any provocation - no tit for tat as I have mentioned somewhere – as that way you can hold your head up high.

Part 3 of these hubs gives some specific examples, one of which relates to your question so do take a look. Many thanks for your comment.


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Michelle1964 4 years ago

This is a very good article, I will take your advice....I have one question though, how to deal with silent treatment in terms of meals I still fix dinner for this man... I feel like a fool, like I am caring enough to still cook and serve him and he doesn't even have the decency to look at me and say thank you..what the heck is that about?

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Ebonny 4 years ago from UK Author

Hello John

I can appreciate that it is extremely difficult to deal when a person believes their partner is time and time again carelessly remiss about admonishments on the same/similar issues. Further I note what you say about a considerate man not having the intention of setting out to control a partner and how much of a struggle it is to avoid uncontrolled over-reaction (Can I assume you mean lashing out physically/verbally?).

When a person has succeeded in refraining from uncontrolled overreaction towards their partner, which would likely lead to the deterioration or the end of the relationship, it is sad that their chosen method of keeping control (i.e. silent treatment) ends up in same deterioration or ending of the relationship. Although I would say that physical/verbal abuse can lead to the decline of a relationship more quickly than silence abuse, I strongly believe silence abuse has the same ultimate destination. Thus, rather than rely upon silent treatment to avoid lashing out, I feel there is a need for an alternative/modified method.

As I have recommended in my articles, a time limited cooling off period is the way forward if a relationship is to flourish. Again, it IS going to be difficult for someone accustomed to using silent treatment to alter their ways. However, difficult does not necessarily mean impossible. If a person has the will, and can stand back and be open to the possibility that they are/have been subjecting their partner (consciously or unconsciously) to mental turmoil/emotional abuse, then I would think that for the sake of the continuance of the relationship with someone they love, they would try their utmost to diminish/eradicate silent treatment in favour of time limited cooling off periods.

As I have said, a cooling off period is actually healthy when conflict arises, so long as BOTH parties are comfortable with the length of such timeout. If a person feels they are unable to shorten the length of time they take to cool off, despite knowing the emotional damage they are likely inflicting upon the person they love, then I believe it is time to seek the help of a trained, experienced, and objective relationship counsellor. If I have understood you correctly, you are saying your wife carelessly or unconsciously repeatedly pushes your buttons. Be it deliberate or unconscious, this too can be explored with an impartial counsellor.

You are correct to say I have focused on victims of silent treatment. This was intentionally my focus given the title of these articles. When time permits I hope to write more on silent treatment from the abusers angle, but whatever the root cause of cyclical silent treatment, be it petty, justified or unjustified, it still leads to resentment and other negative emotions for the person on the receiving end (and ultimately damages the relationship for both) and I set out to help people realise that, at the end of the day, they themselves hold the key to their own happiness even when they are being dealt the silent treatment.

Further a person who cannot or will not stop giving silent treatment needs to address this issue since days, weeks or months of repetitive not speaking properly is as much an “uncontrolled overreaction” as is lashing out verbally or physically. Must a person have to choose between physical, verbal or silent abuse? Is not a time limited cooling off period an acceptable alternative to silent abuse or are we saying that those on the receiving end of silence should just count themselves lucky! If a person can discipline themselves from lashing out verbally and physically, in time I believe they can discipline themselves as regards giving silent abuse too.

Naturally, many are shocked, sceptical and/or in denial when confronted with the notion of being labelled an emotional abuser, particularly where they “drifted” into this pattern of behaviour over time. Whatever the intention as regards control or manipulation, silent abuse is NOT right and improved communication skills do not generally come about when a couple have not been speaking for long periods of time.

Regarding gender – My recollection is that there are at least two comments from men – from either side of the silence abuse tree (if not on this page, pl see the other articles in the series). Further, throughout my writing, I have intentionally not said/implied that all or most perpetrators are men and I am disappointed that it has been assumed that I am targeting men in this way as I personally know of both males and females who have suffered appalling silent abuse.

If your partner is saying she is adversely affected by your silences, I sincerely hope you can reflect and appreciate how silence can be a form of emotional abuse and that you can acknowledge that labouring to find a way to diminish the duration of cooling off periods to a level that is acceptable to both parties is a way forward. Thank you for your comment.


John 4 years ago

After reading many posts, I'm yet to read one from a man’s point of view. I happen to have google "silent treatment abusers" because my partner mentioned it. Yes I am a man, I'm one those who won't talk to my partner until cool off, and my relationship with the woman I love is on the cliff.

I know in advance that no matter how long my explanation is, it still won't justify or satisfy my actions in your views. We are foremost men, we are genetically wired to think, to behave and respond to crisis in a different way than women.

Various partners do have various issues, and for the most part none are similar. But how it is that over 60% of men "react" with a "silence treatment" to people they say they love?

What is striking here on the above article is the author’s tendency to highlight repetitive behavior of the “abuser” without addressing the “why”; what are the things that have pushed the man who loves you to become a “repetitive abuser” as that is how we are labelled? Why is it so difficult for some women to pause, to face the mirror and ask how it has developed to that level?

Let’s try to break it down from a male prospective.

1) 1st and foremost, it has absolutely nothing to do about controlling your partner.

2) Men are wired to be the protector. However it is how our minds prioritize protections for our partner that is different from women. Although most “silent treatment” will generally come from men who are known to be very caring, or have been for most part of the relationship caring and loving men. Affectionate men are generally patient with their partners. However the consideration and the love felt by women will for the most part blind them from confronting in “serious manner” alarm bells when things are still going smoothly in their relationship. At some point, when specific issues that upset men are recurrent, especially small ones men think could have been addressed with a little commonsense, it tends to have men “feel” that their woman does not put the necessary work for the relationship or worse is not considerate, although we know that our woman loves us more than anything. Being in love with someone is something, however it is the small things that we do on the daily basis that build and sustain a relationship. Unfortunately for the relationship and sadly for both partners, emotions of are not first in list of priority protections when we are faced with things that “upset” men. I put upset in bracket because men deal better with things that make them angry than situations that just upset them.

3) When faced repeated situations that upset us, any considerate man will initially consciously or unconsciously go through a protection mode (silent mode), it is an inner struggle to suppress any sort of negative thought that may lay ground for any potential external uncontrolled overreaction toward the person he loves. This state of mind takes a lot of energy; it drains us out, but it is necessary to have us absorb any current and future shocks. Any external uncontrolled overreaction toward anyone you love is the worst kind feeling a man may endure. It is the upmost expression of weakness, the shifting of an inner balance, the loss of his ability to be the protector. For any inner suppression of thoughts we have to enter to maintain our inner core balanced regardless of the time this might take to cool us down, we are genetically wired to go to the extreme to ignore or worse cut the link with the woman from which by her actions perturbs our balance and opens the door to the possibility for any potential external uncontrolled overreaction.

4) In our eyes, women in most case tend to approach the problem from the last known issue that sparked the repeated silent mode. They fail to do complete rewind and to go far back far enough when things were still going smooth and their man was whispering softly and lovingly into their ears : “baby…if or when you do or don’t do this or that, it does upsets me, but try not do it again or try to remember it”…. Unfortunately, the silent mode is purely a men reaction to women action. No considerate man will enter into a silent mode just for the pleasure to torture or to control a woman. I believe that just like me, most men really hate to subject their woman to such indifference. But sometimes the woman failure to understand, and to maintain a reasonable level of consideration toward a relationship on things that seem meaningless to most however important to her man leads to series unfortunate actions and reactions.

Finally, for women out there, I love you all, including the baby I’m leaving. Don’t we all believe that the greatest happiness in life is the conviction that we are loved - loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves?

We often cannot see that we have choices... no matter what happens we always have choices and sadly sometimes the hurt we experience in past sometimes keeps us at a distance from responsible choices. Once the rollercoaster start, it becomes difficult to overcome our limitations.

My advice to you! Your happiness will never come from someone else. It will only come from taking care of you, feeling good about yourself and knowing that the time that you invest in your personal growth is the best contribution you can make to the relationship that you have with another person. And for us men it sounds like this “the center of gravity of one’s life should lies upon himself first…..anyone coming into one’s life should just be the cherry on the cake”.

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Ebonny 4 years ago from UK Author

Hi Torrilynn

Yeah, we all get angry from time to time - just need to know how to handle and what the risks are if it is not handled well. Many thanks for commenting and voting.

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torrilynn 4 years ago

this is interesting and useful. Sometimes realizing that your angry and trying to find something to calm down is a good solution. Enjoyed reading a lot. Voted up.

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Ebonny 4 years ago from UK Author

Hi JJMargaret – I so appreciate your comment and I do feel for you in that situation. I would have wanted the ground to open and swallow me!

However, as humiliating and highly embarrassing it was to you at that time, you can take some solace in the fact that he showed himself up and demonstrated to all who witnessed the event just how immature and unfeeling he is. Hopefully, at some point he recognised this with regret. Anyhow, sounds like you are in a better place now. Many thanks for dropping by.

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JJMargaret 4 years ago from South Jersey

Ebonny, my ex-husband was verbally abusive and used the silent treatment for the most trivial of situations. One example that was a breaking point for me was when he was giving me the silent treatment during our daughter's pre-school graduation ceremonies. He acted like he was a stranger to us and refused to respond when I spoke to him or asked him a question in front of all of the other parents just to embarrass me. Thank you for writing this and justifying that this behavior IS abusive and degrading to the victim.

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Ebonny 4 years ago from UK Author

Hi Julie Anne

Thanks for your comment. Now I must say that's a tricky one – a damned if you do/damned if you don’t type scenario in my humble opinion! May I suggest you explore with your counsellor how your experiences might be received and perceived by the new girlfriend, what you would have done with the information at the outset of your relationship if contacted by an ex, what she might do/not do, also his reaction, plus how you feel this information might best be conveyed if you do decide to go down this route.

It’s good when a person has genuine concern for the next potential victim, so to speak. Meanwhile be sure to take good care of yourself as you positively move on.

Julie Anne 4 years ago

Separated now for 3 months and having counselling. he has already found another - do I have an obligation to give her some kind of warning - I would have appreciated it

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Ebonny 4 years ago from UK Author

Hi gfcampbell

I really appreciate your comment and am glad to know the above has given some food for thought about where we learn certain behaviours and their cost. With more self awareness we can get on track and move forward more positively. Thanks again - Ebonny

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gfcampbell 4 years ago

Thank you for your this hub. I am guilty of this abuse as my mother used it on us children and my father. I now realize how painful and upset it made me feel. I was confused and I realize how upsetting this has been on my own children and spouse. I never thought of it as A B U S E.

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Ebonny 4 years ago from UK Author

Hello Ray – Please don’t fold, don’t get angry, don’t overly try and reason with her. Don’t continue down the same road cause it will only lead you exactly where it led you before. My best advice is that you stop playing her game by using the strategies I have outlined and just allow her to play these games by herself.

Also, even if (for her) your take on events is off the table forever, don’t let this be the end of your world (as you say, the issues are non-consequential - right). You can and should take responsibility for your own peace of mind, contentment and happiness and see it as a DUTY to yourself not to allow anyone to manipulate you into feeling unworthy.

From your experiences I think you can see that you cannot change her. When you are finally able to ACCEPT this fact, you can divert your energy into changing the way you yourself react to the things about her that you cannot change. Then you can start to feel better about yourself and take control and ownership of your own emotions. Please refrain from trying to appease her and being visibly upset when she is not appeased. Concentrate on just getting on with your day, distracting and amusing yourself as necessary to attain more equilibrium for yourself. I'm sure you deserve it.

If she engages in labelling or slandering you to others, all I can say is that if they have any sense and/or know her well enough, they will know to take what she says with a huge pinch of salt and may give you the benefit of the doubt – even if they don’t verbalise this to you directly. So think about giving them credit for being able to read between the lines even though they may not be bold enough to call her out or question her on it. It can only eat you up if you let it - so do learn to be be positive and be good to yourself.


RAY 4 years ago

I routinely receive the silent treatment after a disagreement about non consequential matters, matters where I typically fold because the games and responses become elementary and insulting. I see myself rephrasing myself 5-6 times because I’m interrupted and talked over because one detail is not as she sees it. Example happen “Saturday” not Sunday… So my whole concern is invalid, dismissed and off the table-forever. I shortly thereafter receive the silent treatment for 3-6 days and have let her be during these periods. I receive more punishment for doing this and not babying her, coddling her or rewarding her with flowers. She uses the periods of silent treatment to extend herself to friends and family. It seems she won’t give it up… I’m told I don’t care if I let her know I’m going to be watching TV in the other room when she goes to bed at 5:30pm, I even ask if she would like to join “do whatever you want”. How do I avoid being labeled as I don’t care during her emotional abuse or learn to take not take ownership of her ways.... Its really beat me down

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Ebonny 4 years ago from UK Author

Hi Life Iz Beautiful - It’s great you have an upper time limit in place that works well for your relationship. Reminds me of the old saying “Never go to sleep on an argument” which is good advice I would say. Again, many thanks to you for your interest and input on this hub.

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Life Iz Beautiful 4 years ago from India

I agree with you regarding the cooling off period. I had mentioned before, that if the days of silent treatment exceeds for more days ( more than 2 days!) it is wrong. Personally I don't drag my silence for more than 1 day.

Also it is a vicious cycle. If one are not self aware, and empathetic to the other's feelings, one may cross the boundary and can be termed as a silent treatment abuser...:)

It was my pleasure to read this work of your's.

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Ebonny 4 years ago from UK Author

Hi Life Iz Beautiful - welcome to HubPages.

Regarding a silent treatment giver wanting their partner to realise his or her fault by themselves this is understandable. However, in order not to glide into becoming a silent treatment abuser, I think the key is to have a cooling off period which is known to BOTH parties at the outset. At the end of such period, if one party has not realised their perceived fault they need to be respectfully informed (no further mind reading required one might say) and given the opportunity to discuss, agree/agree to differ etc.. (please see Part 4 of this series of hubs for more on limited cooling off periods).

Also I believe some silent treatment givers may be in denial about the peculiar “pleasure” they get from seeing their partner’s discomfiture. It is this “pleasure” that can perpetuate a cycle of abuse where no control, physical, verbal or emotional abuse was ever consciously intended.

Many thanks for reading and for your thoughtful feedback on this topic.

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Life Iz Beautiful 4 years ago from India

hmmm... This article is a bit of self realization for me. I liked the way you have differentiated between cooling off time and silent treatment. As it is very much of the truth.

Reaction to a stimuli( here emotions) is an individualistic trait. In this case anger, disapproval or irritation of the abuser, is expressed as silent treatment,and if closely inspected one would see, the abuser doesn't want to indulge in physical and/or verbal violence( This is my case),it is not always the need of power to be felt by the abuser. It usually (for me) is to let the other person realize his/her fault by themselves. Now, therefore, I won't term the above said nature as that of an abuser or victim.It is just a way one person deal with their emotions.

I do agree that if the silent treatment goes on for more days and is habitual, then it can be viewed as an abuse and the terminologies like abuser and victim can be used.

Very much interesting and thought provoking hub. voted interesting.

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Ebonny 4 years ago from UK Author

Thank you for commenting Au fait – I agree a relationship that includes persistent silent treatment needs to be weighed in the balance. I guess the trick is not to allow denial (that a partner would consciously inflict such hurt) to delay that rethink.

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Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas

Good ideas. I really think if a significant other makes use of this childish behavior too many times and makes clear it's going to be a staple, then it's time to rethink the relationship. If you know this is a person's favorite ploy, you should reconsider getting too invested in the relationship in the first place.

Voted up and interesting!

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Ebonny 4 years ago from UK Author

Hi aangel - the older I become the more I get the meaning of the phrase “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. A separation or divorce is never easy but by learning from past experiences, knowing ourselves better and a positive attitude the future IS bright. Thank you for the update and wishing you well. Ebonny

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aangel 4 years ago

dear ebonny, thank you for sharing your story. I'm done. He refused to talk to me, continues to blame me for his problems, won't tell me exactly what I did except to say "I flap my tongue without thinking". He gave me the choice to change or leave. I chose the latter. It's been over seven years of this "crazy-making" behavior.

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Ebonny 4 years ago from UK Author

Many thanks for sharing aangel - For more years than I care to admit to, I played along with the silent treatment game, not realising that no one can punish me with their silent treatment unless I allow them to. Be good to yourself and do what you need to do.

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aangel 4 years ago

What excellent advice. I had read your column before, when previously seeking direction, but didn't follow through. Once again, I am being subjected to an episode of silent treatment for not liking the way he talked to me. That's it...that's all I did wrong. I didn't yell...just said that I didn't like the way he talked/treated me. I even apologized--not for myself, but for the evenings occurrences. Day two. This time, I will follow through. How sad. Every entry describing this type of abuse is evident in his behavior.

In all my life, I had never witnessed this to such extreme. This is similar to a child holding his breath. He won't die and neither will I. It just hurts to be part of this "punishment". Good luck to me.

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Ebonny 4 years ago from UK Author

Hello Pete

Thank you for your comment and please accept my apologies for the delay in responding. Regarding buying red roses and chocolates did you try this and if yes what was the result? My own view is that this is somewhat like rewarding someone for treating you badly which I fear will have negative repurcussions in the long run even if it gets her speaking to you again in the short term. However, I have never that method myself!

As to making her life hell by not doing any housework - I would say two wrongs do not make a right. Rather than put my energy into what might look like a form of revenge I would rather concentrate on taking responsibility for my own happiness and keeping myself upbeat. As to going out with friends, perhaps invite your wife along but if she declines that does not mean you have to stay in and be miserable.

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Ebonny 4 years ago from UK Author

Thanks for your comment Gail and so glad you found it of interest.

Pete 4 years ago

Hi Ebonny

Thanks for this excellent article. I have had the cold shoulder from my wife for one month now. I've been married for 10 years and it's never been this long before (10 days max). Anyway, after reading some other articles, I've found another two ways of dealing with the silence treatment, (if initiated by your wife).

One is buying roses and chocolates and leaving behind 'I love you' cards, hoping she will come round; and the second is kind of the opposite ie. making her life hell by not doing housework, going out with the boys and so on. I would like to know if you recommend either of these two options - thanks

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Gail Meyers 4 years ago from United States

This is an interesting hub with useful tips. I know a couple of people who try to use the silent treatment for control. Voted up and useful.

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Ebonny 4 years ago from UK Author

Unfortunately silent treatment seems to be all to common and across a variety of relationships, including parent/young children. So glad you found it interesting.

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rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

A very useful and interesting hub, Ebonny. Yes I have seen this silent treatment but in a different way, amongst friends and relatives. One giving a cold treatment to the other. But I guess, it affects couples more.

This is a lot of information I learned. Thanks for sharing.

Voting it up & useful.

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Ebonny 4 years ago from UK Author

I'm not quite at the empty nest stage but more recently, I am choosing to put my energy into choosing to actually be happy rather than pretending everything is okay in an attempt to hoodwink the kids (and I bet they saw right through the facade because kids are usually so intuitive).

Yes, silent treatment can be SO punishing - no visible scars, yet it cuts to the bone! I love your phrase "create 'space' for happiness" - it has brought a smile to my lips on a day when I am myself fighting to create space - and, like you, I know will succeed.

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delighted 4 years ago from Tucson, AZ

Very helpful article - concise and practical. And yes, the difference between a cooling off period and the silent treatment is validating, as the silent treatment is so much worse. I have finally reached a personal equilibrium in dealing with this, and can echo that one can create 'space' for happiness in spite of being dealt long bouts of silence. I choose to engage in activities that feed my spirit and not be (so easily) oppressed by the silence. He is 'enjoying' lots of alone time while I do other things and I am no longer worrying about getting him to re-engage in communication. To make this easier, I have moved into another bedroom in our house, for now. Our kids are all grown and no one else is here now. Voted up.

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Ebonny 4 years ago from UK Author

To Paul2211 - Many thanks for the update. Your partner sounds a very challenging individual where silent treatment is concerned and, thus far, from what you have described, you have done really well to stop playing the silent treatment game. Please do stay strong.


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Ebonny 4 years ago from UK Author

Hi Paul

I am sorry to learn that you are in the midst of a very lengthy bout of silent treatment from your partner but pleased to note that you feel this article has given you some insight into what is happening, which I hope will also prove beneficial in practical terms.

As stated above, breaking the cycle won’t happen overnight and it is not always easy to keep on track with the strategies suggested. If you feel you would like some additional support whilst you try to change the way you react to your partner giving you the silent treatment, please send me an e-mail (see my profile page for how to contact me). Best regards, Ebonny

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Paul2211 4 years ago from UK

I in the middle of another silent treatment. It started about 8 July so its about almost 3 weeks now.

Its not the first time but previous time was about 2 months at the start of the year.

Its amazing how she changes and so quickly from one extreme to another:

I have been leaving her notes and sending text messages asking -Why and what did I do wrong etc. I really cannot work it out and I wondering if she even knows!

After reading the above I feel like a weight is lifted from me. I now have a strategy and understand her mode of operation now.

So I just starting this now. I will update later how it goes!

Ebonny profile image

Ebonny 4 years ago from UK Author

I appreciate your positive feedback glassvisage and am glad you found it interesting.

glassvisage profile image

glassvisage 4 years ago from Northern California

I think it's good that you differentiated between a cooling-off period and the silent treatment. You made a lot of great points in this Hub - thanks for sharing this. You opened my eyes to a few things.

Ebonny profile image

Ebonny 4 years ago from UK Author

Carly Sullens – Many thanks for your thoughts. I am glad to know that you had the strength to break free from a silent treatment relationship and no longer have to anticipate/endure it. My best wishes to you.

krillco – Thank you for your comments and I note your suggestion with interest. I would say that repetitive silent treatment can be extremely harmful and undermining, even if it is not coupled with other forms of abuse. However, I am certainly not an expert, and I can appreciate that many would hesitate (as I did) to attach the label “abuser” and appreciate your observation.

Psychicdog – I am grateful for your take on this subject. I see the strategies as primarily benefiting the person on the receiving end of silent treatment, rather than being “for a perpetrator”. Glad to have given you some food for thought. profile image 4 years ago

Ebony you made me think and I thank you for that! Having to do all this for a perpetrator of silent treatment seems to me to be a form of co-dependency - in other words why would you even put up with it? I suppose if kids were involved and you were forced to continue in a relationship with such a person

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CarlySullens 4 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

Thank you for writing this out. I was a victim of silent abuse, and it hurt so badly. I didn't know it had a name and that was what he was doing. I eventually cut off all contact with this abuser because of his toxic personality.

krillco profile image

krillco 4 years ago from Hollidaysburg, PA

Look up some information about 'differentiation' in relationship, as this is essentially what you are speaking about in the technique you offer for coping. Your coping recommendations are quite good, but I would hesitate, though, to qualify the silent partner as 'abusive', unless they are genuinely emotionally and physically abusive as well.

Ebonny profile image

Ebonny 4 years ago from UK Author

Hi vocalcoach - For a new hubber like myself it's really humbling to get feedback like this. Thanks so much for taking time to read and comment.

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 4 years ago from Nashville Tn.

How useful and educational this is. If we could just remember that both the silent treatment and verbal abuse is about the one giving it and not about us. Wonderful advice here - very helpful. Voted up, useful and interesting.

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