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Silent Treatment: A Sign It's The End Of A Relationship

Updated on August 11, 2018

Silent treatment in a relationship appears in different shapes. It is one of the most-hurtful weapons a partner can use against his/her partner. Silence is more powerful than words whether spoken or written. It creates a lot of uncertainties, speculations and mixed feelings in a person’s mind to whom the silence is directed at.

The different forms silent treatment manifests itself include but not limited to: a sign your partner has ended the relationship (without your knowledge) or dumped you without you knowing or has detached herself from the relationship without informing you, a tactic used to get the other person’s attention or to inflict psychological torture and as a tool of revenge.


One of the signs that depicts a relationship is about to come to an end or has already come to an end is when one of the partner decides to be quiet. In itself it’s a psychological torture. While it looks understandable, and maybe desirable, why people choose to use this method in the real sense it is not the sensible thing to do. What do I mean?

I will give two accounts in my personal life to try to explain why silent treatment isn’t a sensible method to end a relationship, and how to react if your partner is using this method.

a) The First Encounter

I fell in love with this girl. Let’s call her Edna. The relationship was going well. From the look of it there was no doubt we would end up getting married. Friends said we were better suited. Little did I know some people have eerie reasons in engaging in a relationship. These bizarre reasons lead to the downfall of a relationship.

After a year or so, unexpectedly she became silent. I would send texts but never receive any reply. I would call but no response. I tried for a week. No response. You would have been forgiven to think she was as dead as the doornail. She had decided to remain as quiet as a graveside therefore I resolved since she didn’t want to be bothered, there would be no need to trouble her any longer with what appeared as if I was nagging her.

Two months later I had virtually forgotten about her. I decided why not see what her response would be when I tell her I do love her. I sent the text. I waited patiently. She replied. She said she had a new boyfriend, she is sorry (for cheating on me), I will find another good wife (quiet an encouragement) blur blur blur…you know the lines people use especially women when they dump their partners.


The Second Encounter

Another girl. Let’s call her Jane. Same story as the first one. After a year or so, she decided to go silent. My texts ended somewhere in the phone’s dustbin, I guess because I never received any reply. When your partner doesn’t pick up your calls or doesn’t reply to your texts, the common lie is “I’m busy.”

Well, I had some pressing issues that needed my attention than trying to resurrect the dead who didn’t want to be brought back to life. I never contacted her for more than two weeks. I decided to send her a text asking her to tell me what she’s thinking about our relationship. Two hours later she called and reaffirmed through several texts that she has another man in her life (poor me), I should not annoy her anymore with texts and calls (of which to be honest I hadn’t been pestering her), there are many girls out there (she’s not the only one) blur blur blur.

The Moral of the Story: When your partner is giving you a cold shoulder, find out if she is thinking of ending the relationship (sadly, she may have already ended the relationship, dumped you or detached herself from the relationship). Her decision to dump you (a negative term) or to end the relationship (at least not a bad term) might be related to the relationship or not. If your partner dumps you for another man and you have been good to her, then it is not related to the relationship. If she ended the relationship because you kept cheating on her, then it is related to the relationship.

Being silent is not the best method to show your dissatisfaction with whatever has displeased in the relationship neither is it the best method to use to dump your partner or end the relationship. There are better ways of arriving at this point.


How To End A Relationship

  1. Ask your partner to give you some time to be on your own meaning there will be no contact between the two of you for a while. Let him know something is troubling you about the relationship and you need to reflect it on your own. If your partner insists both of you need to sit down together to discuss about it, tell him to first of all give you the space or time to reflect it on your own. When you’re ready you’ll let him know.
  2. When you’ve composed your mind and are ready find an appropriate way to converse on what you have mulled over. If your partner is living far away from you, you can confer to him through texts or call. If you’re close to each other, it is better you meet with him in person.

You don’t want to end up as enemies after the end of the relationship with no hope of ever becoming friends – casual friends. You don’t want to end the relationship on a bad note since the effects will be severe as compared to relationships that end peacefully. Breakups do hurt but I bet you’re not looking forward in witnessing your ex deteriorating to the worst possible scenario. If you do care enough for your partner, even if you no longer have feelings for him, then you cannot treat your partner like garbage.


Effects of Silent Treatment

There is a difference between No Contact and deciding to remain silent. In No Contact, you're aiming to heal from the hurt that resulted from the breakup and to make sense of the failed relationship. This is not the case with silent treatment (refer above reasons why individuals exercise silent treatment).

  1. It will affect his other areas of life. If he is working, it will affect how he does the work. If he is studying, it will interfere with his studies. He will tend to have no mood for anything including not wishing to talk to anyone. He wants to be alone.
  2. He will search for an addiction to treat the mental torture he is experiencing in order to stop thinking about you. He will end up addicted to alcohol, cigarette and hard substances such as marijuana or heroine. We do know addiction is not good whichever kind of addiction it is.
  3. Your partner will end up depressed. He will develop low self-esteem. This is grave as it might lead to thoughts of suicide. When you remain silent you’re passing a message to your partner in capital letters which have been bolded, underlined and magnified that he is unworthy of you, he is rubbish, useless and so on.
  4. He will end up hating you with a passion. You never know what might happen as a result of your partner hating you. Some people are hot-tempered. They might do something which they will later regret, or not but most of them will regret at the action they will have carried out.


Remaining silent isn’t a full-fledged method to use because:

  1. You are unsure of how to tell your partner you no longer want to be in the relationship with him.
  2. You are thinking it is not yet time to tell him. You feel you should remain silent for a lengthy period of time. When you remain silent for an extensive period you will forget to tell him you’ve already detached yourself from the relationship, or you’re thinking of getting out of the relationship because the image of him and the relationship will be fading out in your mind.
  3. You don’t care. You feel there is no need of telling him. Let him find out on his own. Sorry to say this: it is babyish to come to such a conclusion. Even if you no longer have any feelings for him, it isn’t a good route to undertake.

If you care enough for your partner, even if you no longer have any feelings for him, don’t apply silent treatment. Silent treatment has its place in various areas of life and a little bit in relationships. However, in a relationship it is better to tell your partner you are not going to talk to him because of this and that instead of remaining silent. It will create mixed feelings as your partner might not have any clue why you’re silent, only assumptions and speculations will abound in his mind. You are only adding loads when it is becoming impossible for the horse to carry all of them.

Silent Treatment - What to actually do if your partner won't answer you!

How To Respond To Silent Treatment

What should you do when your partner decides to remain silent? What should you do when you have tried all you can but she has decided to remain tongue-tied? What should you do after you’ve asked her why she has been silent to you and her response is because she’s been busy when the fact is she hasn’t been busy? Either you know it or have investigated and found out she had lied to you. The only remedy you should exercise towards the silent treatment is returning the favor – engaging the silent treatment.

You shouldn’t keep on calling or sending her texts as she will see you as more of an irritant than the most irritants things in the world. This will only increase her resolve to remain silent. Again, you will be doing yourself injustice – she doesn’t want to talk to you and here you’re pestering her to talk to you. She might take advantage of your vulnerability, that is, desperation. Don’t bother her because that’s what she wants – not to be bothered.

You can deduce how long you should be silent towards her. One to two weeks is enough. Afterwards, ask her why she has been ignoring your texts and calls, or why she lied to you when the truth is not as she had said. Ask her what she’s thinking about the relationship. Let her know being silent is not an effective tool to communicate something of which she is dissatisfied about.


Fact: When you decide not to trouble her by giving her the space she needs of which she has decided intentionally not to talk to you because she’s thinking of dumping you or ending the relationship; if she doesn’t call or text you for a week or so after remaining silent towards her then consider the relationship is no more. Within the period of silence she should have contacted you because:

  • She misses you
  • She has feelings for you
  • She loves you
  • She cares enough for you to tell you she doesn’t want to be in the relationship with you. It is true it can be hard for many, if not some, to gain the courage to deliver the news to their partner. This is why many, if not some, take some time to gain the guts to inform their partners they’re thinking of getting out of the relationship or they have already opted out of the relationship. You will have provided your partner enough time (1-2 weeks) to tell you what she’s thinking about the relationship when you decide not to contact her for that period of time. If she doesn’t respond, then she doesn’t care enough for you even if she has some feelings for you.


You shouldn’t bother your partner with texts, calls and visits when it is obvious she doesn’t want to talk to you. Apply the silence treatment when you have tried all you can but your partner has decided to remain tongue-tied. No need to wake up somebody who doesn’t want to be woken up. Let her sleep for as long as she wants. When she wakes up she’ll not want to go back to sleep. When you don’t talk to her for two weeks, afterwards when you contact her and ask her what she’s thinking about the relationship; the fact is, she will open up and tell you her thoughts about the relationship. In some cases, she may never respond to your calls or texts. Leave her alone. Move on with your life. It will be hard because of the emotional pain you’re feeling but why pester somebody who doesn’t want anything to do with you - who hasn’t the courtesy to let you know she had already dumped you, ended the relationship or had detached herself from the relationship?

© 2017 Benny Njuguna


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    • Ben716 profile imageAUTHOR

      Benny Njuguna 

      23 months ago from Kenya

      You are right Deborah silent treatment doesn't help. When your partner realizes you've decided to remain silent, he too decides to remain silent or go on with what he/she was doing.

      Dashingscorpia, you have said it well. Those people who continually employ silent treatment signify you don't matter a lot to them since he/she has broken the communication which is paramount in a relationship.

    • Ben716 profile imageAUTHOR

      Benny Njuguna 

      23 months ago from Kenya

      My sympathy Syrenagirl. Arguments are part of relationship but if what is argued doesn't get solved instead silent treatment is employed, then what was argued will keep on growing to a proportion whereby it might shake the relationship/marriage. Hope it will work out better.

    • profile image


      23 months ago

      Yes it does shed some light, I to get the silemt treatment after every arguement and it seems like years and nothing ever gets resolved ;(

    • dashingscorpio profile image


      2 years ago

      "...silent treatment comes in different forms in a relationship. The first one is a sign your partner is thinking of ending the relationship. The second one is a tactic used to get the other person’s attention or to inflict psychological torture." True!

      The only other exception is you just had a major fight and they simply are angry at you over what you did or said. However it's not truly the "silent treatment" unless it goes on for days.

      Someone once said:

      "The person who least emotionally invested in the relationship controls it."

      Anyone who utilizes the "silent treatment" is essentially saying they have no problem shutting (you) out of their life! Instead of trying to win them over or break through you should step back and look at it as an omen. Refuse to play that game. Move on!

      "Never love anyone who treats you like you're ordinary."

      - Oscar Wilde

      If someone can flip a switch giving you the "silent treatment" shutting you out; they clearly don't think (you) are "special".

      If they did they'd be worried someone else would snatch you up!

    • Deborah Demander profile image

      Deborah Demander 

      2 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      This is an interesting article. I recently had an issue with my boyfriend, in which he spoke in a very harsh and unkind manner. My feelings were hurt and I didn't want to talk to him. I wanted him to reach out to me and apologize for his mean behavior. After two days, I finally reached out to him. He didn't even notice I hadn't texted him.

      So much for the silent treatment.



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