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STOP Silent Treatment Stress affecting your Physical Health and Well-being

Updated on November 24, 2015
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If you are a victim of the Silent Treatment emotional abuse in your marriage/relationship you may often find yourself

  • Dreading returning home when you have been out, or dreading your partner returning home,
  • Anxious about how long a bout of silent treatment will last, e.g. will it end before we are due to go away for the weekend, or a birthday, hospital appointment , funeral or other event.
  • Uncomfortable about decisions made during a silent treatment bout because the issues haven’t been adequately evaluated due to the lack of a relaxed co-operative atmosphere.
  • Constantly walking on egg shells lest you say or do something to spark the next period of silence

in which case you need to be conscious that your body is under stress and you need to take appropriate steps to counter this stress in order to promote good physical as well as mental health.

As outlined in Part 5 of these silent treatment articles, emotional stress invokes alteration to bodily processes in readiness for a fight or flight response. Prolonged periods of emotional stress, for example caused by silent treatment emotional abuse, means bodily processes are affected for long periods of time. This can lead to actual physical pain and ailments - ranging from tension headaches through to heart problems. Indeed a large proportion of doctor visits are said to be attributable to stress-related issues.

The strategies outlined in detail in Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4 of these silent treatment articles can help get you through a silent treatment episode without feeling so overly worn down, depressed or downhearted as you might have in the past. In turn, the same strategies can also help you avoid undesirable physical health consequences.


Stress Management to negate negative physical health effects of silent treatment and stress generally

Don't let the silent treatment make you sick.

It’s important to recognise that your health is at risk as a result of silence abuse and indeed stress generally. If you are experiencing insomnia, depression, feel numb and the like it's time to start treating yourself with the utmost kindness and care. Alongside eating healthily, exercising and using the specific strategies in Part 1 2, 3 and 4 of these silent treatment articles to help you cope with silent treatment by presenting to be, and actually being, upbeat, stronger and happier, you might also want to try some of the stress relievers mentioned below.

Journaling – Privately writing problems down on paper, on a computer, wherever, can be very therapeutic. Some find it helps them get things in perspective and lightens the load. Some find that new solutions, clarlity and/or coping strategies come to mind in the journaling process.

Laughter –Giggling, chuckling and larking about is stress limiting and deemed to be the best medicine. It is said to help support the immune system, up energy levels and distract one from pain. Alternatively, if you can feel comfortable with it, rather than overwhelmed, crying can be a great release at stressful times.

Music therapy – Many people find music makes them relax and mellow out. It can lift the spirits and take you to a different place where you can put aside your worries at least for a time, which helps to keep problems in proportion. Generally music can induce a feel good factor. Coupled with singing and dancing, music can be immensely beneficial mentally and physically.

Positive thinking, mantras, affirmations - your internal self talk or way of thinking is all important in dealing with stressful situations. Making positive efforts to disengage from negative self talk can make a world of difference in your life.

Hobbies – Do something you enjoy – e.g. drawing, painting, reading, writing, decorating, playing a sport, volunteering, cooking, making jewellery, sculpting, fashion or interior design, photography, playing chess or other games (the list is exhaustive!). Perhaps there is a skill or activity you have always wanted to try but never got around to. Perhaps there is something you have given up and would enjoy resuming. Either way, scheduling regular "me" time and actioning it is great for bringing down stress levels.

Deep breathing, meditation, and visualisation are all wonderful stress relievers.

Talk therapy – Is there a wise, empathetic friend or relative you could converse with or even confide in? Alternatively or additionally you might like to share your feelings anonymously via the world wide web, join an appropriate support group or perhaps seek the services of a qualified counsellor. Even though you can’t expect others to make everything right, you will likely feel some sense of relief and lightening of your load by having shared what you are going through with someone else, rather than keeping it all stifled inside, upping your stress levels.

Do you keep your silent treatment torment a secret?

Many people never divulge that they have troubling silent treatment episodes on a regular basis, let alone reveal how lengthy the episodes are.

Others do reveal that they have had a spat with their spouse and that they are not on good speaking terms. But of those who do let on, few will actually reveal just how debilitated and depressed being given the cold shoulder makes them feel. Perhaps this is because they don’t think people will understand, or they feel people will be dismissive or judgmental, thinking or saying that silent treatment isn’t so bad on the premise that if there is no actual physical injury, then all’s well.

Unless they have personally experienced it, most people do not have any idea just how insidious silent treatment can be. It’s not something that is generally spoken about on any deep level. This form of emotional maltreatment is silent in more ways than one! It seems petty and who wants to be thought of as not being up to dealing with such relationship conflict. So most sufferers say nothing or very little about their torment to their wider family or friends when they get the silent treatment from their boyfriend, girlfriend, wife or husband. When people simply suck it up and hide their very legitimate hurt it serves to amplify their feelings of isolation and upset and in turn it impacts their physical as well as emotional health.

However, as the case studies in the preceding article show, continuing episodes of not speaking CAN culminate in a person presenting in the ER/hospital, albeit that silent treatment emotional abuse induced stress is most unlikely to be specified on the notes as one of the possible sources of their health concern! In light of this, talk therapy is well worth considering.


Eliminate unhealthy ways of dealing with stress

e.g. smoking, consuming too much caffeine, alcohol, unhealthy food and drink, not eating, taking your stress out on others by lashing out, being impatient or overspending in an effort to cheer yourself up. Replace these and other negative methods of dealing with emotional stress with the methods suggested above and in the other articles on silent treatment.

Look after yourself – you deserve it

The importance of remaining mindful of the negative mental and physical effects which silent treatment emotional abuse can bring about cannot be over emphasised. Take the time to do what you need to do to avoid tension headaches, skin problems, lower libido, grinding teeth, depression and potentially so much more.


By

  • standing back from emotive issues such as silence abuse from a narcissistic or passive aggressive husband, wife, girlfriend or boyfriend
  • keeping things in perspective by refusing to be overwhelmed
  • distracting yourself with positive activities which you enjoy

you CAN help stop your partner’s silent treatment from having long term, dire, physical and emotional effects on you.


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

Cooling Off Periods are healthy for relationships

Accepting that there are going to be times when disagreements occur or when one or other partner is irritable and needs a time out means that there has to be some mechanism for dealing with such occurrences. Since silent treatment is not only a potential relationship destroyer, but has the potential to seriously damage your health, it's wise to aim for a time limited cooling off period in preference to indefinite periods of stress inducing silent treatment.

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Please Note:

You should seek out professional help from a suitably qualified therapist or doctor if you are suffering physical and/or mental illhealth or if your partner is violent.

Strengthening long term relationships where Silent Treatment is an issue.

Source

And if it's time to leave ...

Love Is a Choice: The Definitive Book on Letting Go of Unhealthy Relationships
Love Is a Choice: The Definitive Book on Letting Go of Unhealthy Relationships

A thought provoking book - highly rated at 4.7 out of 5 stars - Dec 2014

 

Further Reading on Emotional Health and Silent Treatment

Comments - How to help stop the silent treatment affecting your physical health and well being

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    • dashingscorpio profile image

      dashingscorpio 4 years ago

      All relationships are "at will". Each of us gets to (choose) our own friends, lovers, and spouse. If someone is not treating you the way you want or need to be treated than you may have (chosen) the wrong partner. Mistakes happen. However bear in mind no one is "stuck" with anyone.

      Each of us is entitled to have our own "deal breakers". Lack of communication, disrespect, and neglect do not make a happy relationship. Anyone who is unhappy in a relationship and chooses to stay in it is by default choosing to be unhappy. You can't control another person but you can control whether or not you are going to invest your time and emotion in them. Without communication there is no relationship. Odds are if someone does not want to talk to you they also don't want to see you.

      Thankfully there are over 7 billion people on this planet. We all have "options".

    • Gail Meyers profile image

      Gail Meyers 4 years ago from United States

      I think this is an exceptional series of articles. My late narcissistic personality disordered mother dearly loved to use the silent treatment for punishment and manipulation. I think this article is particularly timely because they are beginning to link several auto immune disorders to prolonged exposure to malignant narcissists. I am going to link this series to my Healing from a Narcissistic Mother hub. Voted up and awesome.

    • Ebonny profile image
      Author

      Ebonny 4 years ago from UK

      Hi dashingscorpio

      When we choose to let things drift, rather than make a change, we are electing to subject ourselves to potentially serious physical harm. Thanks for your comment and for the important reminder that we do indeed have a choice and do not have to simply put up with such disrespectful treatment.

    • Ebonny profile image
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      Ebonny 4 years ago from UK

      Hi Gail - I agree silent treatment is a favourite and effective tactic used by narcissists and note your comment about auto immune disorders - kind of scary to think how these traits can affect us. I appreciate your compliment and link. Thank you.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 4 years ago from The Caribbean

      Very good presentation on the topic of silent treatment. It must be awful to be afraid in the house where you live. Hope many find help in your articles. Thanks for your thoughtfulness in sharing them.

    • Ebonny profile image
      Author

      Ebonny 4 years ago from UK

      Ms Dora - Many thanks for dropping by. Your comment is much appreciated.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Ebonny, you certainly outline some useful ways to tackle this issue.

      Voted up and useful.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 4 years ago from SW England

      A sensitive and supportive hub - great! I found you through your question about grammar in which you seem to worry about your own. You don't need to! This hub is well-written, better than many I've seen. A few question marks where they shouldn't be or missing but I guess that's proof-reading. One sentence - 'Perhaps there is a skill or activity you have always wanted to try but never got around to it.' - doesn't need the 'it' at the end (you haven't put it after 'try' so why after 'got around to'; they are both verbs and we know you're referring to the skill etc.

      Hope you don't mind me pointing this out but you did ask for constructive comments! Off to follow you now. Voted up and useful.

    • Ebonny profile image
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      Ebonny 4 years ago from UK

      Hello Rajan

      Many thanks for dropping by. I much appreciate your comment and vote.

      Ebonny

    • Ebonny profile image
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      Ebonny 4 years ago from UK

      Hello annart

      Many thanks for your comment and support. I will certainly try to take on board your positive and helpful advice.

    • profile image

      Cookiebjs 3 years ago

      Yes, I had a husband who gave me the silent treatment on and off for our entire marriage. One time early in our marriage, it lasted for 3 months. It was hurtful to me. I did try to go on about my life but I know the children noticed what was happening and that makes me sad. It got to the point that I actually welcomed it - it meant that I didn't have to have any interaction with him and it was okay with me if it lasted forever. I just wish that I would have put that sign on the frig. that says "My husband thinks that when he gives me the silent treatment, it is a punishment." My life is so much happier now that I left him after 35 years of marriage. He is a spoiled brat.

    • Ebonny profile image
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      Ebonny 3 years ago from UK

      Hi Cookiebjs - I agree it is very sad when children are affected and/or influenced by the silence, but glad to know that you found yourself able to detach from your husband so that he could no longer hurt you. It is indeed liberating when you finally realise you no longer fear the silent treatment. Many thanks for your comment.

    • profile image

      April 3 years ago

      Help me please....

    • Ebonny profile image
      Author

      Ebonny 3 years ago from UK

      Hi April

      Not sure what to say given that there is no indication of your issues but I do hope you can find it within yourself to confide in a family member, friend, counsellor or doctor. Pl think positively and take good care of yourself.

    • profile image

      April 3 years ago

      I have been married for 14 years, we have four young chuldre, and we currently live in USA. All my family and good friends live in another country, all my husbands family lives in different country. We have family all over the world, but nobody living close by. My husband was living here before we got married and I decided to make the move after we got married. Life has been challenging, with trying to adjust to a brand new counrty and having kids and raising kids alone with no family support. Having said all this... I was able to keep up with it all until my husbands silent treatment gor more frequent, and longer durations. He is so mean to me when he has to answer a question. The children are picking on the silence among their parents. I can't consider a divorce at this time, because that could mean for me to take the children with me to my own country. But, my husband, on many occations said, I can leave whenever I want but the children are stsying with him. I can't leave without the kids, but I don't want to live with him. i am so tired, so so so tired with all the struggle and all the heartache. I don't know what to do...I am so unhappy. I can't talk to anyone about my marrital problems. I considered counselling for us, but my husband said, he doesn't have a oroblem that I had a lroblem I should go see to counselor. I felt like I really needed to talk, so last year I had a few sessions with a counselor but my husband made jokes about it all the time, and his sarcasm just got to me so much, I stopped going. The silience treatment has been going on for four months now. And it is getting worse by the day. Iam so lost, feel so sick... I can't sleep till 4 or 5 every night and get up at 6 for the kids, not sure how I go on with my day with hardy any sleep. I cried from furstration, and he doesn't even acknowledge that. I keeps saying I am spoiled, because I am at hime with the kids, I don't need to get up and go to work, and I have a car and decent home. I don't want any of the materilistic things...I just want us to be on talking terms. That's all

    • Ebonny profile image
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      Ebonny 3 years ago from UK

      Hi April

      Thank you for sharing the on-going misery you are going through. I’m sure it was extremely difficult for you to write it all down – it was most certainly tear-jerking to read. No one should have to live with such emotional abuse. Mentally and physically it takes a huge toll so you need to do something about it starting now. I was particularly sorry to know that, by way of his ridicule and sarcasm, your partner had succeeded in his mission to stop you getting help, and keep you playing his sad silent game.

      You are very isolated and somewhat trapped, so it’s important to be kind to yourself and to be in effect your own best friend. At the same time, if at all possible, get involved in the local community – perhaps volunteer. You might also want to consider finding a part time job, even if your husband’s earnings are sufficient for the families needs.

      You cannot make your husband change his behaviour. Likewise your husband cannot stop you from changing your reaction to his behaviour. It’s VERY IMPORTANT for you to realise that you have to and CAN make some specific positive changes so that you no longer feel so completely overwhelmed, unhappy and cheerless when he gives you the silent treatment.

      If you have not done so already please look at my recommendations in Parts 1,2 and 3 of this series of silent treatment articles and get started RIGHT AWAY. It won’t be plain sailing to do the things suggested but you must just pick yourself up and restart if you falter.

      Alongside the strategies recommended in the other articles, I urge you to read up on and practise POSITIVE THINKING. This will help you change your reaction to him giving you the silent treatment and help you to do the things that will elevate your physical and mental well being.

      Also in carrying out the strategies your children will notice you become more upbeat and happy and you will be teaching them that it is possible to overcome being manipulated, bullied and controlled. Showing them that you can rise above being ignored and emotionally abused will be a life lesson for them. Your children will benefit from you not being an exhausted, despondent victim of silent treatment. But do it for yourself too, as you deserve better. Please do change your response as the crying, pleading etc will continue to get you nowhere. Take good care. Ebonny

    • profile image

      Beth 3 years ago

      Thank you so much for these articles. I consider myself a very level-headed and loving person, but my husband and I do have fights from time to time. Lately the fights have been evolving into silent treatment. The case of silent treatment that is currently happening involves him moving out of the bedroom and into the guest room and putting a key entry lock onto the door, which is really scary for me. I saw a therapist earlier this week for my own well-being after trying everything I could think of to get him to talk to me from drawing funny pictures (ignored), writing desperate love notes (ignored), and trying to see him at work during my coffee break (we work for the same company in different buildings - I was ignored here too). My therapist's advise was very much in line with your advise. It is so nice to have something that I can refer back to in times of weakness. Today, I have a scheduled day off work so I decided to do things for me including going to church in the morning, finishing my normal chores in the house, and getting a massage. It's good to know that his silent treatment doesn't have to affect my mood as much as he wants it to. I'm still a little sad, but it makes me feel so much better to know that others have gotten through this and built healthy marriages out of these kinds of situations. I'm definitely taking a different (and more healthy) approach to his silent treatment now. Thank you!

    • Ebonny profile image
      Author

      Ebonny 3 years ago from UK

      Hello Beth.

      Dealing with silence abuse in a relationship can be so very frustrating and daunting. Thank you for sharing some of what you have endured and I am glad to know you are now getting help from a therapist and are feeling somewhat better. Although there is no guarantee that every silent person responds will respond as we hope to the strategies outlined here, my feeling is that they are well considering as otherwise a person might never know if the silent partner might have decided to act differently in the long run.

      It can be a long and bumpy road but I know being more positive helps A LOT. I hope things work out well for you and my thanks for your response and feedback. Keep safe and well - Ebonny

    • profile image

      Dezertbeauty46 2 years ago

      My boyfriend of 3.5 years is actually in the "silent treatment" stage at this moment. Yesterday after being aggressive driving mode he went into this mode. I spoke my views in a subtle tone early this morning. He's in the bedroom watching TV and I'm watching TV in the family room. We are both divorced. I from a 15 year marriage and he after 20. Both ex spouses remarried. His just recently. Anyway... I read these articles and found them very helpful. I'm enjoying a good classic movie and just being myself. Staying positive and in a good mood. I miss his touch but won't be manipulated to his long time immature behavior. Even at his age of 48 and in law enforcement for 20 years. Thank you for the article s. I don't feel confused anymore. : )

    • Ebonny profile image
      Author

      Ebonny 2 years ago from UK

      Hi Dezertbeauty46

      Seems to me that, no matter their age or status, they just can't seem to fathom how immature and futile such passive aggression is!

      I appreciate your comment and feed back very much. I know that when I stop myself from being overwhelmed, it helps me immensely. Being self aware and choosing a different path can make all the difference. Such a pity they don't teach us the importance of being positive in school.

      Stay strong. Best regards - Ebonny

    • ologsinquito profile image

      ologsinquito 2 years ago from USA

      I agree that the silent treatment is a very hurtful thing.

    • Ebonny profile image
      Author

      Ebonny 2 years ago from UK

      Ologsinquito - Yes, seems relatively harmless on the face of it, but has far reaching negative consequences.

    • profile image

      Christine 2 years ago

      I can't believe that you encourage people to stay in such an absolute destructive situation. All the positive thinking in the world isn't going to change these Silent Destroyers. I come from a 34 year marriage with one of the best Silent Treaters on the planet and after reading your articles I took away a complete awareness that I need to get away from this person after wasting my entire life hoping for a change. He has one person on his mind and that's himself. He will NEVER change I don't care how many massages or good movies I watch. His main goal is to make me feel worthless and hopeless. I've decided I'm done with it and am leaving him even though my family will be devasted including my precious grandchildren. You never did explain how you sleep in the same bed with this person. It's MY bed but somehow I'm forced to sleep else where because of how awkward he makes me feel after not talking for days. This also includes him not coming home for days. I assume he's not dead since his work hasn't called. Good luck to those who have to deal with this horrible treatment but I wouldn't recommend waiting around to see if the ignoramus changes because HE WONT.

    • Ebonny profile image
      Author

      Ebonny 2 years ago from UK

      Hi Christine – thank you for your comment and apologies for the delay in responding.

      You are absolutely right in that you cannot make anyone change their behaviour. Staying or leaving is a personal decision for each individual – the strategies here and in the other articles in the series may help a person cope better within their relationship and they may choose to stay, or it may be they cope better within the relationship until such time as they are able to leave, and/or it can help them once they have left the relationship and in any future relationships generally. Some find it empowering to prove to themselves that they can cope and not be an emotional and physical wreck due to their partner’s silent treatment and once they know they can cope they decide they don’t want to have to cope and they move on from the relationship more confidently. Others might find the information insightful and decide to move on without put the strategies into practise at all. Others still gain insight but stay stuck. Every person relationship and circumstance is different and my hope is that it gives people food for thought at the very least.

      Some who try and sustain the strategies find that their partner decides to alter their own frequency and durations of giving silent treatment to a tolerable level (cooling off periods), whereas others find that their partner makes some initial changes but cannot sustain them in the long term. For some on the receiving end of silence, having tried the strategies and seeing no change in the incidences of silence from their partner, it can be they feel they have tried everything and they finally allow themselves to leave, whereas before they simply could not summon up the courage to leave because they felt there was something else they should try. It’s different for everyone and in your case, I feel sure your decision to now leave your 34 year marriage is the right one for you and I can understand why you now wish you had left earlier.

      I hope that carrying out the suggestions might make people feel and cope better. However, feeling better and knowing how to cope does not necessiarly mean they must stay in the relationship – indeed knowing they can manage and control their own emotions no matter what can give a person the confidence that they can indeed survive and thrive on their own if they decide the relationship must end.

      Hope I’m not rambling too much (no time to edit this) – in a hurry. Best regards, Ebonny

    • profile image

      Ivorbeauty 2 years ago

      Ive been in a 2year relationship with a man I love dearly. We have our good and bad days just like any relationship but the one thing I can't understand is that things will be going great. Out of the blue he will be mad and say I'm irritated, so I leave him alone. Then a day goes by he still is giving me the silent treatment. I have no clue what has trigger him to get so angry because we are all laughs and happy then its just like a complete mood change to silent treatment. I asked him what was bothering him he only says you irritate me and that's it he want say why or what I did just gives me the cold shoulder. I don't know what I should do? Any help would be great fully appreciate.

    • Ebonny profile image
      Author

      Ebonny 2 years ago from UK

      Hello Ivorbeauty

      It is so upsetting and frustrating to be on the receiving end of this sort of behaviour and so I really do feel for you.

      If you have not done so already, do see Part 1 of this series of articles which kicks off my strategies for what to do in the circumstances you face. I do hope you will seriously consider the suggestions and believe that with time and persistence they can help to break cycles of silent treatment. Take care. Ebonny.

    • profile image

      Idda 2 years ago

      helow guys I need your help.

      Last Friday I discovered that my boyfriend was cheating on me with another girl. He knew that I have discovered that from that day he has never talked to me but he wrote me a text saying he is not ready to talk to me about anything but he needs time to think and will come back when he is ready to talk and discuss the matter. But his silence hurts me a lot. Am glad to see this I need your advice.

      H.

    • Ebonny profile image
      Author

      Ebonny 2 years ago from UK

      Hello Idda

      Cheating hurts SO bad and I feel that a cheater refusing to communicate with the person deceived is adding insult to injury big time. You must have so many doubts, questions that rightly require clarification and for him to shut you out in this way looks like he is only (again) considering his own feelings without much regard for yours, hiding away rather than being big enough to take responsibility for what has been happening- leaving you dangling.

      Not sure if giving you the silent treatment is his usual way of dealing with his issues but, in any case, think carefully about what's right for you for the long term, and lean far away from those who treat you with disrespect. I hope you can find ways to use this time in your life to plan ahead and help turn a negative situation into an opporturnity to learn and move forward positively. Hopefully some of the stress management ideas outlined above can help you through the hurt. - Ebonny

    • profile image

      Fiftyfourandtired 18 months ago

      I've been married to my husband for 26 years and some of it has been good. However, I am starting to realize that the depression I fight is partly because I walk on eggshells all the time to avoid getting the silent treatment.

      He is 15 years older than I and was married with 3 kids before he divorced his first wife after cheating on her several times. When I look back I wonder what the hell I was thinking! I was 30 years old and swept up in the fantasy of being loved and getting married. He was so attentive and loving and kind and said he wanted to give me the world!

      After the wedding I learned very quickly to make sure I was a good wife and everything was exactly the way he wanted it to be, otherwise he would threaten to divorce me and then give me the silent treatment. I so wish I had taken him up on one of those threats of divorce along the way.

      I am now into day 5 of the silent treatment after he became upset that I had charged some kindle books on the credit card. He feels I should pay for anything I want that is not a necessity with my own money that I earn working part time.

      The second day I apologized but he would not accept the apology, which is normal for him. I have gone on with my normal schedule of activities and work for the rest of the week while he continues to walk around radiating anger, hostility, and hate.

      I would so love to walk away at this point in my life but unfortunately he was recently diagnosed with dementia and I am stuck.

      The stress of this situation and resentment of his treatment of me are out of this world and I feel myself slipping further into depression. Will visit with my counselor next week but the damage is already done.

      My advice to people who are seeing this behavior in their boyfriends and girlfriends is to run away from that relationship as fast as you can and make sure your next relationship doesn't exhibit the same tendencies. Life is too short and you might just get stuck taking care of a sick old man who treated you like crap.

    • Ebonny profile image
      Author

      Ebonny 17 months ago from UK

      Hi Fiftyfour

      I thank you for sharing your difficult situation and your advice. For my full response please see this newly published page - https://hubpages.com/relationships/Silent-Treatmen...

      Best regards and take good care. Ebonny

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