Silent Treatment - Responding to a Cold Condescending Partner
When faced with unrelenting frosty or patronising comments from a partner who is giving you the silent treatment it’s difficult not to react instinctively with equally icy or cutting comment. Not taking the “bait” can be very hard indeed as it’s natural to want to fight fire with fire. However if you can be consistent with not rising to the bait, then the silent partner may tire of their tactic since it has diminishing, little or no effect. No guarantee this will happen of course, but still it’s worth being the bigger person rather than lowering yourself to participate in hollow, immature, pointless game playing. Some may find that bringing to mind a pre-prepared mantra helps them resist the temptation to play their partner’s manipulative or provocative game. For example you might say to yourself “I have Willpower, and I am using it!
Your Responsibility to Yourself
Be conscious that it’s your responsibility not to allow others to bring you down, your responsibility to uplift yourself rather than be emotionally controlled by someone else. It’s a good feeling when you know that you are increasing your resistance to the game playing. Engaging in tit for tat exchanges with a passive aggressive person is counterproductive in the long term so it makes sense to be mature and stop engaging in unnecessary confrontation.
When the silence persists on and on, it can help a lot if you can choose to approach successive conversations and encounters as a new, and thus a fresh opportunity to have the relationship get back on track. Therefore, do say good morning and good night in a pleasant manner, just like always. Part 3 of these articles also relates.
Taking Care of You!
Deep inside your “not speaking” partner may be screaming “notice me/ask me what’s wrong/say you are in the wrong/apologise/you should be upset ‘cause I’m not talking to you ...” and the rest. In being mature, empathetic and conciliatory, you might want to quietly say something like “I see that you may have some issues going on at the moment and if you want to talk about something sometime, I’m here for you”. Let your words sit for a short time and then go about your business. Even if you then only get a frosty “fine” response, or no response at all, you know you have played a part in trying to get the relationship back on track.
In the meantime, of course, you can reflect on anything obvious you may have done to offend or upset and IF there is anything you genuinely feel needs an apology you should sincerely give such apology. However if you don’t consider you have anything to be sorry for, and/or just don’t know what’s wrong, and have nicely asked once, you shouldn’t say sorry. Nor should you have to beg and beg to know what the issue is (and if you do so you are indeed playing your partner’s futile game). Part 4 of this series has some guidance about dealing with persistent silent treatment givers, agreeing and instituting cooling off periods which can help.
When your Partner Tries to Provoke You
Concerning telling your partner what you’re doing, where you are going etc when they insist on being distant, remote, and tight lipped about what they are doing, it is recommended you continue to share your plans. Stopping could be considered “tit for tat” behaviour and doesn’t help the situation any. Once things get back on track it’s good if you can have a calm and serious conversation with your partner and explain that the silences are potentially doing great harm to the relationship and discuss cooling offer periods and the like.
Rising to the bait of a passive aggressive person escalates dysfunction in the relationship - so why do it? Yes, it is difficult to be the bigger person especially if something in your psyche is telling you that you are being a pushover and letting your partner off lightly with regard to their immature negative behaviour, but do remember two wrongs don’t make a right. For the long term you can hold your head high and know you did your best to do the right thing in very difficult circumstances. Ultimately the relationship may end, it may improve or it may stay the same but in any event you’ll know you did your utmost to move things in a more positive direction.
Is it time to Change the Way you Respond to Silent Treatment?
Strategies for Coping With Silent Treatment from your Partner
If you have not already read the introductory article in this series about Silent Treatment or the first of the How to Cope Articles - please do see the links below.
- Silent Treatment Emotional Abuse in relationships/ marriage - Are you a victim?
If you find yourself frequently apprehensive of being given the silent treatment, you are likely being manipulated, controlled, and emotionally abused!
- The Silent Treatment Emotional Abuse in Relationship...
Here's what you can ACTUALLY DO to cope and FEEL BETTER when your partner gives you the silent treatment -rather than be miserable, angry or isolated.