Where the Science of Psychology Meets the Art of Being Human

The Surprising Truth About The Silent Treatment


The Surprising Truth About The Silent Treatment

The silent treatment is a way to inflict pain without visible bruising – literally.

Research has shown that the act of ignoring or excluding activates the same area of the brain that is activated by physical pain.

The best predictor of divorce isn’t whether a couple fights – arguments are inevitable – but how a couple fights. The key to being closer in the good times lies in the way a couple treats each other during the bad.

The silent treatment can tend to present itself as a response more fitting of the ‘high road’, one of grace and dignity, but research has shown it is anything but.

Kipling Williams, a Professor of Psychology at Purdue University who has studied ostracism for twenty years, explains, ‘Excluding and ignoring people, such as giving them the cold shoulder or silent treatment, are used to punish or manipulate, and people may not realise the emotional or physical harm that is being done.’

The ability to detect ostracism is hardwired in us – it doesn’t matter if you’re being ignored by a group or a person you can’t stand, the pain still registers.

The silent treatment, even if it’s brief, activates the anterior cingulate cortex – the part of the brain that detects physical pain. The initial pain is the same, regardless of whether the exclusion is by strangers, close friends or enemies.

The silent treatment happens when one partner pressures the other with requests, criticism or complaints and the other responds with silence and emotional distance.

Paul Schrodt, PhD, Professor of Communication Studies reviewed 74 relationship studies which involved more than 14,000 participants.

Findings from his in-depth analysis revealed that the silent treatment is ‘tremendously’ damaging to a relationship. It decreases relationship satisfaction for both partners, diminishes feelings of intimacy, and reduces the capacity to communicate in a way that’s healthy and meaningful.

‘It’s the most common pattern of conflict in marriage or any committed, established romantic relationship,’ says Schrodt. ‘And it does tremendous damage.’

It’s an incredibly hard pattern to break because both partners lay the blame at the feet of the other.

‘Partners get locked in this pattern, largely because they each see the other as the cause,’ explains Schrodt. ‘Both partners see the other as the problem.’ One partner will typically complain that the other is emotionally unavailable. The other will accuse his or her partner of being too demanding or critical.

When couples become locked in this ‘demand-withdraw’ pattern, the damage can be both emotional and physiological include anxiety and aggression as well as erectile dysfunction and urinary and bowel problems.

It doesn’t matter which partner demands or which one withdraws, the damage to the relationship is the same. It’s the pattern itself that’s the problem, not the specific partner. 

The silent treatment should not be confused with taking time to cool down after heated or difficult exchange. Williams suggests that instead of reverting to the silent treatment, try ‘I can’t talk to you right now, but we can talk about it later.’

Nobody engages the silent treatment expecting it to damage the relationship, and that’s the danger.

Generally, it’s called on as the weapon of choice because it’s powerful and it’s easy to get away with. There is nothing subtle about a physical or verbal lashing, but an accusation of the silent treatment, ‘Are you ignoring me?’ can easily be denied.

Silence can feel like a dignified, high road response but it’s not. It’s a way to inflict pain but without the physical marks. 

Being noticed is so close to being loved, that sometimes they feel the same.

Being ignored is just as powerful.

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Hi! I’m sorry you are all going through hard situations! I have been dating a man for almost a year long distance and we are both in our mid 40s. We both volunteer for the same organization and met several months prior to dating and have a lot of mutual friends. He has visited me twice for a week and asked me to come see him over Christmas. The problem is that he lives with with his parents and has lived there for 15 years. He has full custody of his son and says that he lives there because his parents help with his son (who is 15) and he’s also had five surgeries over that time. He is going through some health issues right now. His mother is very controlling and calls the home he lives in “her house” (she does have a husband) and has a lot of rules in her house – which include her cooking every dinner and not allowing him to cook for his own son.

He would like me to come over Christmas but said that we would be eating every dinner as a family because his mother would like to get to know me. Basically, the same rules apply when I visit. I told him that I have only seen him for two weeks total and would want to spend all my time with him and his son, although I can acknowledge that we to have Christmas Eve/day dinner with his family. And to be honest, I don’t care for his mother based on all the stories he used to tell me (he stopped a few months ago) and I don’t think we have a thing in common. I am going to see him and his son, not get his parents approval. I would like his son’s approval however and would really like to get to know him and see what it may be like if we became our own family. He was getting very frustrated with me and seems to be on the same page as his mother and said he had to go and has since stopped talking to me. He will not return my calls or read my messages that I sent him. I reached out 5 different times and quit. He has given me the silent treatment in the past and it’s even more difficult because he doesn’t live in the same state and I cant just drive over there to talk to him. I feel very hurt and ignored. He gets upset if I don’t answer when he calls but the same rules don’t apply to him. It’s the holiday season and I am very sad over this. I had hoped to go visit and spend time with him in his home state.


I’m sorry you’re going through this, but it’s soon enough for you not to get caught up in this pattern. He will not change and if you live with him it will get worse. I’m living it now


OMG You are long distance , he has mother issues, and you are left searching for a connection. Could you possibly have more clues that he is unavailable. Better to be alone than with someone that will make you feel as bad as he will. Fortunately for you he sees that it would be a disaster. I do wish you the best, but you can be certain it won’t be with him.


Go meet some other men, he sounds like a narcissist and honestly, psychologically abusive and manipulative. I’m serious.


Wait a minute. You are having a long distance relationship with an adult male who lives at home with his mommy? He has a 15-year old and he lives with his mommy? Is this guy employed? He whines about how “controlling” his mommy is because she has rules that he must abide by if he lives in her house, which she has every right to do, BTW, it is HER house, but he doesn’t have the cojones to move out and get his own place? How old is this guy and what are you thinking? I can guarantee that if you pursue this relationship you will end up with two male children in your home and the MIL from hell. Is that really what you want for your life? Trust me, he is not going to magically grow up.


I recently broke up with a man whom I was dating for three months. We were both working full time/ going to school full time/ and I was raising a son full time too. I recently was rushed to the ER with a massive build up of stress hormones in my brain…..he never came to check on me and sent me two text messages and an email the next day. He lives less than two miles from my home. I broke up with him because I felt completely abandoned by him and didn’t know what else to do. Since then he has blocked me on social media, won’t speak to me although he still keeps in contact with my parents. I thoroughly enjoyed your article, because while I still want to be with someone one day, I am having a very difficult time moving past the hurt his avoidance has caused me. I am learning that he wasn’t the one for me and I need to move past it. Thank you for the insight and I will take it with me on my journey towards healing.

joan j baczek

i get silent treatment in cycles and i don’t make demands or criticism,he will suddenly ignore me just cuz someone else pissed him off. but i don’t get to know this fact until suffering weeks of silent treatment with no clue as to if i was dumped or not, then he comes back, as soon as everything seems fine bam another silent treatment.


Oh, I’m sorry,, sounds like my situation, but I came up to feel deeply pain cannot talk to him no more not even one word, I suffered the silent treatment in cycles also for three years and I got extremely tired can’t go further the last time was last month seeing him on October 28 and he disappeared all month till November 28 and that’s bcus he called and found out I wasn’t talking to him no more but during that month I tried to reach him many times and I was in the hospital for pneumonia and told him in messeges ,he was busy with friends, he never called I got so hurt even physically after pneumonia bcus I was emotionally destroyed inside torn apart could hardly eat and sleep I could feel like I wanted to scratch my hands and my neck in desperation of the agony I felt in my spirit even had throat tightness and sometimes I suffered anxiety attacks and also experimented panic attacks tachycardia and more, and all just bcus I was left ignored badly when he was with me the last time he told me baby I’m coming tonight to be together,, oh I was excited and happy,, well he never came and he had put me to wash his clothes that day…. I suffered way too much for three years and he lives like a mile away from me that hurts more… I gave up told him in a message to not force me to talk again to him, bcus he did like almost Week ago coming to force me to be with him and I felt extremely humiliated he didn’t apologize,, I asked why and he blamed all on me saying I text alot,, which I know I didn’t, and he seemed very rebellious towards me after using me for a moment, ,now he is doing same thing so I’m over and in peace I have left,, had to pay for someone to fix the gate so he won’t come next day nokin my door bcus I ignore him a day before ,,, I never went to nok his door bcus he ignored,,, after all the one who ignores really shows how to live without them, if I ever reply to him again just to say who is this or ssh don’t interrupt your silence I’m almost forgetting you,, ..people who ignore other people are in risk to be forgotten….


I am sorry to hear this story. How difficult It must be for you . I strongly recommend that you tell
Your partner that you are not prepared to go on like this., it’s unhealthy and is causing you Lucy unhappiness . Tell him you both attend counselling to address these issues and if her refuses then my advice is to end the relationship. No man is worth that amount of pain. This is about you and why you are a masochistic to his abuse .
I wish you well xx


I to receive the silent treatment from my husband. I’ve been with him for over 20 yrs. The silent treatment is a new game he’s been playing on and off for a few yrs.he has always been hard to plz which usually means nothing is really his fault. He’s verbally abusive and accuses me of things that aren’t true then he gives me the silent treatment because he says he taking the higher road in our argument. Does anyone have any psychological advice on this kind of behavior. I truly feel like I’m dealing with split personality disorder or something and it’s getting worse as he gets older. I really don’t know what to do.


I have never heard of a cure, especially if he doesn’t want one. I did this for 10 years with an emotionally unavailable wife. Any chance he has an overbearing parent? You need to understand he is abusing you, please find a way to get out.


Yes, narcissistic personality disorder!!! Google it!! Research and you will learn and know how to deal with it.


Sounds like my fiancé of 10 years. He keeps all emails, even 10 years worth so he can go back and read them. You get angry with the silent treatment. I know I did. I never was an angry person before him. I was a very happy, positive person and even went to med school. You would think I would know better, right? He gets angry over everything and blames me, never once taking blame. He even joined an AA group ( he is not an alcoholic) and they think he just walks on water. I broke it off for 6 months and he shows up at my office and wants to ” give me a proper good bye because he has met another woman ( dated 4 times) and he was suddenly in love with her. Bam ( as the writer above said) I am back with him going through the same blame and silent treatments. He blames me for virtually everything going wrong in his life past and present and he never accepts any blame. This last silent treatment I actually humbled myself and went to his job and although I did absolutely nothing accepted responsibility and he seemed like he enjoyed it. I am a professional woman, smart and attractive so, what is wrong with me? Why would I allow this man to put me through this agony? I love him but, I don’t know how to walk away. If you can give me any advice I am open to listen. I grieve when he is gone and I hate him around. I’m so lost. I have to see and be up every day for my job because people depend on me to make good sound judgements so why can’t I make these good sound judgements for myself? Is he a narcissist or just a bully?


My boss has been giving a silent treatment after I didn’t agree to start a new project. I have been trying to ignore his cold shoulder, but I am very concerned about my future in the company. I am glad I found your article! I now realized that I can’t go on like this. This silent treatment has to stop. I will explain to him that I am feeling disengaged at work because he is now excluding me from other projects and won’t say a word. Wish me luck.


I delt with it for 25 years, it sucks, the one being silent sees nothing wrong, apologies are not taken , the more you fight it, they put the blame on you, l left the relationship , the effects of it are still there and you can never change their actions, they can be the only one.no matter the amount of love you have for the person , leave and do not spend the time i did expectingit it to be different.the hurt will now end.


Mark, this sounds so much like my situation. I’m knee deep in it now. Just wishing he would just reply. 9 years almost, this has happened multiple times. I’m just so sad


I lie here awake at night. Feeling as though someone has cut a whole in my chest.

My wife (together for 7, married for less than 1) hasn’t spoken to me for a month. Despite my best efforts.

I moved to New Zealand from the uk, I made it happen because of her dream (we even shipped out the dog) It didn’t work as planned and was difficult, but we were turning a corner, or so I thought. I came home one night after work and she had packed her bags and left. No note, no email, no explanation.

I’ve come back to the uk over Christmas to try and make contact, to salvage something. I have only been able to speak to her mother who said I was not welcome and hung up.

I know the relationship is over. And I need to move on with my life.

The silent treatment is an awful, pathetic, cowardly way to deal with difficult issues in your life. It caused so much pain I am besides myself, second guessing everymove. No one deserves this. It guts you of your power and maximises suffering.

I realise that I may be mourning a relationship that never really existed. But it sucks. Big time.

I hope to be able to move on. Until then I am shouting into the wind.

I love you Sarah, dam you.


You will be thankful one day that she made it easier by leaving. I wish my husband would leave as I’ve endured on and off silent treatment for 2 years now. I lie here in bed awake hoping he would just leave and end this torment for me as I’m too afraid to make the move


I wish my boyfriend could leave or tell me to leave..I have been going through the same circles for over a year now , came back from work yesterday and he wasnt talking (we chatted like an hor before coming home and all was well), it is about 24 hours now of not talking to me and when he does, he will blame it all on me. Sometimes I want to leave, but I feel guilty of leaving a man who oeft his country and came to leave with me in my country, am the only reason he l8ves in this country..but the pain he causes me is too much sometimes, sometimes he will fart and if I ask him to pull a bedsheet over him so I dont smell it, he will be mad for 2 days or more, just forcing someone to even keep up with your stinking fart it too much….I dont know what am doing in this relationship at all😢😭


Why would you feel guilty leaving, what he is doing is abusive. Please make a plan to get out. When you’ve gone for awhile your head will be clearer and you will be so happy you’re free!


That really sounds like her dream was to get away from, let me guess, an overbearing mother. You did nothing wrong she just went back to her mother. She is no longer available to you so kindly move on, please.


There’s a guy ive been messaging on line. He had ago at me as I rung him by accident his messages have been nasty..ive ignored him . he hasn’t apologise


My soon to be ex-wife is Queen of the silent treatment…I googled it and it led me to the term Narcissism….I googled that and emotional availability…she absolutely is not available emotionally
There is some relationship with narcissism and emotional unavailability…She had childhood trauma so I excused much of her negative treatment of me for 2 years…Learned that I have some codependency issues as well..
I hope she gets help..I have some soul searching to do as well…Bottom line is people have to change themselves..Its a huge waste of time to attempt to change them..I have known this for years..
So to anyone suffering from the silent treatment….Its not a healthy way to solve problems…Your partner was “damaged” years before you met him(her)..Pray for them and move on


wow, just read this and I’m in the process of strengthening myself to move on. Thank you.


You are welcome…I am divorced now…Her primary concern at the courthouse was my signing a quit claim deed to her house…A bit selfish and self centered on her part….True to her narcissistic form
I signed it..Im not even on the deed…I was a gentleman on our final day..It made me feel good about me…I am still sad over the breakup but I am relieved at the same time….Shakespeare…”parting is such sweet sorrow”
Most of my anger is at myself…I saw the “red flags” and I ignored them…Foolish me….I will be better at choosing a mate next time…..Live and learn :o0


If I had somewhere to go I would leave for sure. There is no reason a man should treat a woman like this that he cares about! All he care about is eating, taking care of himself. He had an osteomy bag put on and it is temporary, he is too dependent on others. Then he is silent! I am at a point where I see him being so f——— ungrateful. Like it’s my job to care for him. He wouldn’t take care of me! But Silent Treatment Everyday! Not my husband, just a boyfriend I live with. He’s been through a lot, not my fault! I am 6 years older. Not grateful for all I’ve done or will continue to do?


silent treatment that is just that regardless of stories just run listen to your gut or be pulled into a spiderweb of lies manipulation and your self destroyed minimizing the truth is not reality read the little red riding hood again they know what they are doing go no contact and live!!!


Find somewhere good to go, plan it like you are escaping an abuser because you are. I was in a similar situation. They specialize in guilt and they can tell you fall for it that’s why he will never leave you.


Thank you for stating why you believe he will never leave. I have tried to get away from the guy that ignores me and I always come back. I have told him, if you don’t want to be with me, tell me, don’t ignore me. He tells me he wants to be with me but it continues. I haven’t spoken to him since Dec 22, 2017. Haven’t texted or emailed him. For all he knows I could be dead! That is someone who cares about you right? Oh boy, it has taken me a long 5+ years to realize just how toxic he is. I am trying to move forward, but it is hard… I miss him (from time to time, not always) and I think of him, but I am really trying to move past him. Not good for me, not a healthy situation and I do deserve better.


Tammie, I get that it is hard. I have been ten years thinking that surely she would like a better relationship. I did a ton of research to be sure I was right because I am horrified by leaving someone. In my case there was no ability to connect with my wife on an emotional level. The technical name is I believe emotionally unavailable. It gets mixed up with mostly guys that don’t want to get married but if you sort them out what you are left with is clinically emotionally unavailable people men and women. Like my wife, they want to get married and want a relationship but they are incapable of meeting another persons emotional needs. They rely on guilt because they want the relationship they just can’t or will not be able to meet the needs of a healthy relationship. The most common cause is having an overbearing parent which is definitely the case with my wife. It has something to do with not developing the skills at a time in your life where you need to learn them. They do become expert at finding what I would term low maintenance partners who are also susceptible to guilt about leaving a relationship. I hope I am not being too harsh but I have not seen anything encouraging about overcoming this, especially because they either won’t go to counseling with you or they will go to stall. An interesting thing is that they can connect with other people sometimes, just not with a primary partner. I do wish you well.


I’m currently going through the same situation I was with him off and on for 7 years the only good use for the first couple and he was amazing but slowly started to pull away I asked him and beg him to just let me know if he doesn’t want to be with me anymore but he’s tells me he does but then continues to act the same and makes no changes he tells me I must favorite person he misses me he loves me but he makes no effort what the hell


The silent treatment tears your guts out when you’re a communicator! But I think they know you like to talk things out, what better way to cause you pain and hurt then to go silent….right
I dated a woman recently for 6 months and I often thought she seemed emotionally unavailable. I also believe when I would speak with her through text she was also speaking to others (possibly men) at the same time. She often told me she wanted the relationship to work but was always so busy with work and other things in order to “make ends meet.” I would only see her about 3 times every 2 weeks, and during the 6 months we dated she cancelled plans on me last minute at least a dozen times. When ever we would have an argument she would quickly get mad always get cutting and sarcastic then go into seclusion for a bit and not answer my texts or emails.
We were going on a short 4 day trip together about 3 months in and she made some very strange comments to me shortly before we left “I hope this isn’t the beginning of the end” “I hope I don’t chase you away” “I hope you don’t get tired of me”.
On December 13, 2017 she texted me out of the blue and said “I’m guessing I did/said something wrong-???”

“Cuz u haven’t texted at all today. U usually text something by now…”

When I said I had been busy with work that morning

She replied “Don’t get all defensive on me plz.” and then “Ok ok Easy…Omg. Just chill”.

“I thought I did something to piss u off as I hadn’t heard from u. Sorry I was wrong!
I won’t bug u anymore today”
She then preceded to go into silent mode for 4 days.

Just before Christmas (Dec 20, 2017) she cancelled plans on me once again. I slept on that night and the next day told her I needed some time to myself (until the New Year) to determine what I wanted this relationship to be moving forward (committed relationship? Casual dates? or just a friendship? On December 22 she texted me and said “you don’t have to worry about my precious time any longer”, “I think we are done here” She totally cut me off social media and went into silent mode and not answer me until I sent a not so friendly email after Christmas about respect and communication in relationships and yes we are totally done now. She slung the usual stuff that narcissistic people do “Your delusional” “Your crazy” “You need help” “you’re a narcissist” you know all the deflection they toss.
When you treat someone extremely well and to be cast aside like a piece of garbage does not feel very good. It’s no surprise to me now why she once told me she comes from a long line of broken relationships.


It sounds very much like she was testing you to see if you would put up with the abuse. You did so my guess is that she will never leave you and make you feel guilty if you ever leave her. Sorry to sound so bitter, I have been there.


Takes courage, fair play. I searched ‘silent treatment’ in Google.com and was amazed how common this is.

Relationships in 2018..


I had a female friend just like this and I broke off the friendship . Exact same behaviour. All about her , me. Me. Me.
She was rude to the waitress in the restaurants when we would eat out. Her attention would always immediately divert to her phone; looking at texts; she was very hyper and highly strung; putting people down and saying stupid nasty things to people and very loudly out loud making bad comments about people. She was often clueless and insensitive. Your lady partner has all
The traits of this.
There are better women out there , believe me! Good luck!


Hi folks I think I know what you’re experiencing.I broke up with a girl about 10years ago I’m not going to go into all the details but for some reason I couldn’t trust her she was a good looking girl and she new it in amongst the conversation we were having she mentioned that we clicked and I couldn’t trust her (yes I did love her) and low and behold she gets pregnant by some other chap for some reason my life has been turned upside down this certain person didn’t even have the decency to speak to me to explain.so what I done I researched for reasons why and what I found was very liberating for my health and my sanity it was a case of life and death.What I didn’t realise which I do now that I’ve a had a trait for quite some time I couldn’t understand why I could see things or felt things which weren’t right it was my sixth sense. Unfortunately for me I seen something that I wasn’t happy with and she new this so instead of talking through it she kept silent it’s a way of punishment they project and it’s emotional it’s called narsisist personality disorder it’s hideous and evil so stay alert folks and look it up for yourselfs you will be glad you did narsisists prey on empathy so good luck over and out👍


Hi Wayne, I think what I found hard was that my wife was not a narcicist and as much as anyone she was loyal and trustworthy. I would explain it like if you straight jacketed someone from the time they were 2 until they were 20 they would never develop the skills to use their arms. If a persons emotions are straight jacketed they don’t develop the ability to be open emotionally. They are closely related, both having to do with parenting, and the practical result is nearly the same, but I think the narcicist is less trustworthy and more easily recognised. I am still shocked by how much damage bad parenting can do.


My husband uses the silent treatment on a regular basis. I was upset with him recently and told him. So for voicing my opinion I am given the silent treatment. What he doesn’t realize is that it makes me think less of him makes falling out of love with him easier. Why would I stay with a man for 45 years that treats me this way? This isn’t love. How can you enjoy doing this to a person you supposedly love. He is mean plain old mean. So very narcissist . I wish that I could walk away


I know exactly how you feel. I loved my husband very much but had to endure days of silent treatment every time we had a disagreement. By nature, I’m a problem solver and when a situation comes up, my philosophy is to find a solution and move on. With the silent treatment, nothing ever got resolved because my husband would simply leave the house for a few hours and then not talk to me for days at a time. I couldn’t live that way any more so I moved out. We reunited after six months and it’s been 7 years. Things have gotten better but only because he made the commitment to change his behavior. But I’ve changed, too. I used to practically cry and beg for his attention during his silent treatments. Now if he attempts it, I laugh at him because I see how childish and manipulative it is. So he gives up and we resolve our disagreement; I admit whatever guilt I had in the situation and we move on. Life is short.


well, I’m experiencing this for many years now, and I’m quiet tired of it.. It is not only the silent treatment , it is provoking to answer the silence with more text, more calls , more surrendering …
Ignorance is the most painful thing to do and we all know, they try to make us feel guilty. I’m giving you an example: I was walking , he called, I picked up the phone, my battery has been flat, I told him.
He asked: Why you didn’t recharge your phone? I said : I simple forgot to recharge, but I will be home in 20 min, and bam, my phone died. After 20 min I arrived , I called him back, you know what happened? HE FUCKN DID NOT PICK UP THE PHONE , I tried several times, nothing … zero respond ..
After all it was me who was to blame ..
Like in my childhood, my father has been an expert in that matter,
they treat you like a 5 year old child , which is cruel enough to do that to a child !!!! I never would have done this !!
they want you to run after them to make themselves feel good.
I need to leave this relationship , very soon … and I get the feeling I am very close…
You know why? Because I dare to be pissed, and not to be happy because him getting in touch with again.

Ask me if I love this man, answer:: yes, I do , very much so !!!!


My last relationship ended because he would go silent on me with no warning for weeks and months at a time. I tolerated it until I couldn’t anymore. Now I have been dating a guys for about 8 months and he too is a serial silent treatment giver. He currently hasn’t spoke to me in almost 6 days. In that time I have sent two texts to avoid that whole demand thing – no response. I already know I will be walking away. I am more so wondering what is wrong with me that I continue to encounter these men? They never show these signs in the beginning until I am in too deep. I’m just at a loss and feeling like there is somethign wrong with me. I know I am a good person, I don’t cause drama, I feel like I actually go above and beyond to be available and please him but I can say the smallest things with no intention of hurting him and he shuts down. he has told me that’s how he deals with problems and I told him it doesn’t work for me and he said he would tell me when he needed space — well he didn’t he’s ignored me and made no effort to resolve. How does he expect to fix this? It can’t be fixed. And here I am picking myself up once again. I see how people get hardhearted.


Hi. I have been married 23 years. My husband is really good at dishing out silent treatment. If I don’t agree with him, he takes it that I don’t support him and then threatens to leave me if I don’t do as I am told. He has moved to a different room in our house. He has threatened to move out and take the dog with him knowing how much I adore our dog. I feel helpless and out of control. He also calls me names when he’s stressed. He is ignoring me now so I am keeping out of his way, wondering whether I should sell house and leave or rent somewhere and leave. The despair is dreadful. X


Psychopaths, that’s what these people are. They derive pure pleasure watching someone else suffer. It’s the only thing that keeps them alive. I know; I’ve been going through this for 13 years. It was my “ex’s” favorite form of abuse, the Silent Treatment.

Luckily, I learned early on what his hot buttons were, and backed off at trying to have a “normal” conversation with the man. Practically everything set him off. Therefore, I learned to avoid nearly every topic. The only ones that were”safe” were about HIM. Therefore, if we weren’t talking about him–his business, his farm, his equipment, his land–there was nothing to talk about. I could have been dying, and it would have been an inconvenience for him to have to take me to the ER. (Happened a few times, actually.)

Mind you, he was not like this in the beginning. Of course not. He “suffered through” pretending to care while he reeled me in (for the Kill). Then, forgiving, loving person that I am, I waited around for 12.5 years of the 13 for my Mister Wonderful to come back.

Deep inside I knew I’d been duped; however, I refused to believe it. I was too smart for that. Furthermore, I wanted to “fix” him. My father was a psychopath, I couldn’t fix him; so, maybe if I could fix my fiance, some justice would be served.

Never happened. I’m 57. I give up. I’m exhausted. His last punishment was the Silent Treatment. And, yes, as the author of this article pointed out, it is the worst form of abuse. It’s eats away at your soul like a flesh eating bacteria. You cannot believe someone could be this cruel. Well, “my guy” did it to me for years on end. He would deliberately avoid contacting me first. If I was to see him, it was only because I initiated the encounter. And then, he was usually more than willing.

Hilariously, I lived with this man for 5 years. Can’t believe how I survived. Long, anxious nights while he lay there on the couch, completely shutting me out. And I knew the whole entire time it was deliberate. Three years ago, I decided to perform what I call an experiment. I intentionally decided to stop contacting him “first.” We were fine the last day I saw him, but after we parted, I did not contact him. For six weeks. I never hear a word. Zero. No text, nothing. I decided screw it. After 10 years of this, I have had enough. I began dating my best friend. Guess what? My ex came back with a diamond ring and a proposal, and diamonds taped inside a Valentine card. He hated Valentine’s Day. It was too commercialized.

Well, we lasted four or five months. I didn’t buy it. I wouldn’t marry him because I knew he would slide back into the silent treatment mode. Oh, he had violent tendencies, too. But, like I said, I avoided those like the plagued; hence the reason for the lack of communication.

All I know is, I feel like a fool for subjecting myself to this treatment for so long. This latest bout has lasted nearly five months. I hear he’s pinging all over the US golfing and whatnot. Yes, we are through… but the pain has never gone away. I feel broken. However, not worthless. I know am I am so much better than this. A shame that people like this exist. So many more than I think STATS predict. 4%? Nah. I’d say more like 25%.


I have a question.

Am I the one giving the silent treatment or is she?

When an issue comes up I can feel it right away. I’ll ask if everything is okay or if anything is bothering her, and she will respond with “I’m fine” or a like response where she will then become quiet and distant. So I’ll leave the subject be, and later it will come up again as anticipated.

When the issue finally comes up again I am told that I am quiet and fail to communicate. I am chastised for not working the issue out right then when it was fresh. This has come to the point where when there is an issue she will shut down until I say the right thing. I’m told I don’t get it and she is tired of holding my hand.

Truth of the matter is these issues seem to blow up, and I don’t feel that they are that big of a deal. I find cheating and causing physical pain to be a big deal. There was once an argument where she was cold and distant for several days. It was several months into the relationship, and it was because I wasn’t calling her. I told her if you would like me to call you just say so, and I can do that. That’s not what she wanted though, she wanted me to want to do it myself.

The reason I question if it could be me giving the silent treatment is, because I am a quiet person. When things go bad I get even more quiet, and sometimes I don’t know what to say. I don’t purposely stop talking to her, but when I feel she is upset I do talk to her less. I try my best to speak to her during these times, but I don’t get any responses back. For example, I will text her how she is doing and she will not respond. I will then call her to see how she is doing, talk about how the day is going and she will just listen, and when I ask her whats going on she will say “nothing is the matter with me,” which I believe implies there is something wrong with me.

I understand relationships are difficult, and we have to find common ground but sometimes I feel like I am being manipulated.


Back to the beginning, me and my ex boyfriend meet in person in working place as consultant in my country, then he moved back his country and we continue by long distant relationship. We meet every 3 months. We travels to some cities around the region. Seem everything going well, but suddently after last trip we meet, he gave me silence treatment since November 2017. Last day of the trip, we talked that we would find the way to stay together. At first after awhile when he back to his country, I told him late before 30 mins for our daily talk that I would online late than appointed time because I had to provide cooking service in my relative house. He said he had migraine attack and he had to sleep out early. Next morning his son brought him to hospital for injection. Fe day latter he went other province to work for other project, and he could not make time for our chatting due to he had to travel 150 KM going and back from working place and when he arrive hotel he had to go for dinner with his friends.

Secondly he said he telephone is not good and service provider over charged him and he needed to change to other. He ll give me new number when he got one. He email me and gave me his new number. I email him and ask when he available, I call. I made a call few day latter and no reply. I texted and whats app him but no reply. Feel like he plying with me. I tried to call, some time phone is connected by no one speak from the other side. I just keep calm and not make any contact. I know he leaving me but why? During Chrismat, I posted him new year present with registration and I can track the route. Things were delievered to his house, but few day I email and asked him if somethng wrong, just come and talk and adult people. He remained silience. Three weeks ago, one of our friend passed away, and he very much close to us, and I emailed him if he go to wake house, I would like to pass my condolence and contribute some money but as usual, no reply.

Well I feel every much hurt and invisible, down or whatever I can not describe. It was his punishment for what i was late? Until today still have question, why he was so cold. Sometime feeling blaming myself about late talk with him and other he may not like about me. We had argument, once about being late to inform him about my late; i said something upset him but I dont mean it. Seem he too picky for what I said and I feel not confident to talk or say sth with him, afraid it will make him upset. We are different nationality and we use English to communicate and my English not really good, dont know how to use correct words to express my though. The silence treatment was really hurt. I would like to have mature talk if we really can not go further. Now I am 80 % recover from grieving, accepting, forgiving him, praying for him and let thing go, but just sometime feel missing that guy. I waste my time and energy for this silence treatment.


I’ve been married for almost 23 years and my husband has used the silent treatment since day 1. It didn’t happen very often in the beginning but as we have gotten older, it happens more often. I am the type of person that can explode when I get mad but get over it really quick. He won’t let it out but instead holds it in and “fights with me in his head”. How can I figure out what I did or didn’t do when he won’t tell me? I’m not a psychic so if he is that upset, is it unreasonable to think he could tell me? I used to get so upset when he did this that I would cry and beg him to talk to me. With age, I just have learned to stay quiet and wait for him to get over it. Sad thing is that I feel that it is the same issue that he has and nothing gets resolved because he won’t be honest to work on it.
The really sad thing is that our kids (15 & 20) have witnessed this their whole life and the 3 of us just go on living while my husband sits in a corner by himself and gets even more mad that no one is talking to him. The irony of that. It is a devastating action that has caused me to feel like I have to walk on eggs. I feel he has depression issues and needs help but he actually has tried Lexapro and I feel it helped buy it caused some side effects that made him come off if it. When he acts like this – the kids ask if he is off his meds. Divorce is not what I want but I am so tired of dealing with this behavior. Any words of encouragement or wisedom is greatly appreciated.


Jen I don’t have words of encouragement but what I do have is words of wisdom. Entire marriage dynamics might change if you both invest time and money in Christian counseling. I am an emotional abuse victim of too many years. I have too many years invested in this farce of a marriage. He will continue abusive behavior, there’s nothing to stop the cycle. Whatever comes along that is disagreeable he will take it out on you. I’m no longer young enough to leave but I have no love and no desire for intimacy and I never share the sordid details with anyone. My body has suffered because of the mental anguish I tolerate from a narcissistic man who I can’t even say we like each other as friends. He’s angry mean and he’s alive but not living life. He has no friends and he’s desperately trying to get me to lose my friendships. God bless you.


Well, Im the one giving the silent treatment.

I live with my boyfriend, Im 23 years old, he is 25. Im the only income at home, but thats fine cause I get paid quite a lot (not that much, but its plenty for us. Also, he has a few social phobias, so I dont mind being the one paying. He just stays at home and plays with the computer (now, thats not true, I dont like cleaning, and he does it all, but only a few times a month. The house is often filthy, but we are pretty much okey with it. Im a mess so I cant really complain about it and REALLY DONT MIND IT. at all.)
I only ask one thing of him and that is that he must be awake when I come from work. Thats it. I have social phobia too, so I dont really have many friends, and we talk a lot.

And its not even that I arrive at a strange hour, I get home at 3 pm. But he is never up. He stays up all night in the computer cause he has insomnia.

Ive tried to help him change his sleeping habits. But I just feel that he doesnt care.
So the day before yesterday, when I arrived, he was asleep, but im pretty used to it by now, so i just get annoyed. He wakes up and asks me for a coffee. And I snapped- I´ve been giving him the cold shoulder since.

And he is being “most helpful” he cleaned the whole house, he makes me breakfast, he walks me to the bus stop at 7 am, rearranged the furniture and a lot more. But he still wont be awake when I get home.

Now, as I read this I feel ashamed of my behavior, but Ive tried to find solutions and its not like he doesnt know what im mad about. I just dont know what to do.
Im going to apologise for my behavior, but Im going to state that im still mad at him.

Ge Gadwa

I unfortunately use the silent treatment on my wife. But I feel justified. At times something I do or say will trigger her. She will either use violence against me or my stuff. My reaction to the violence is the silent treatment. I have no inclination to use violence. At the same time I do not want to have to be fearful for my safety when I am in my own home. I have a project room where I can stay and lock the door. Or I can go out. But I avoid being in her presence for a period of time.


People are using the silent treatment and no contact which can be very hurtful to the people receiving it.
It is the most hurtful form of emotional abuse causing a deep hurt to one’s soul. Making them feel unworthy unloved and disrespected. A person who actually cares about you would not do that for a very long period of time..Sometimes when people have an argument they don’t talk but the silent treatment is when they do it to punish or manipulate you.


The silent treatment that I have been experiencing is different from any I have read about. My friend will be totally silent whenever we are with my family, kids, spouses and grandchildren. Or my sisters and brother and Mother. I have confronted him about this many, many, times, and he claims things will change. Mostly I avoid family with him and go by myself. This causes me much heartache. Is this abuse???


I am going through this now. I went through it the first night we were together. Even our wedding night. I’m living a nightmare. I had such a good life before my husband and I just want to get back to it. I’m cut off from all that I love for someone who only loves themselves and the pain they cause me. I was always worth more and just need a clear way back to me.


It is usually the weapon of choice of a sick controlling insecure person. It is manipulative and cruel and is worse than physical abuse. I have recently had someone who has done this to me threaten me to someone else saying he will deal with me.


I don’t know your experience, but my husband and I go back and forth sometimes with the silent treatment if you will…more so just giving each other space. I don’t want to talk when I’m angry because things will get out of hand and twisted.

I understand this thread serves to help each other cope with being given the silent treatment…but that is NOT worse than physical or sexual abuse, not even remotely close.

I know I have a long way to go and my husband does too, and we as a couple need to communicate better, but sometimes it’s just better to give one another space and not be in their face all the damn time trying to resolve things right away.

If you are with someone you hate, if you are with someone who does abuse you physically, sexually or emotionally…I know it can be hard, but life is about growing and learning and learning to do the things we are scared of.

Every individual has the responsibility to take responsibility of their own happiness, their actions, and life. No more victim talk, because you take away your own power. You have power, use it.


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