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.

[irp posts=”810″ name=”Fighting Fair in A Relationship: How to Get What You Need and Stay Close While You Do It”]

676 Comments

Zoey

Well mine is a lil bit different. See, i’m in a relationship of a year and things aren’t working out. Don’t get me wrong I love my boyfriend and he says he loves me too. Lately, i’ve been complaining about commitment and how distance he is. He only see me when he’s the one who needs me. So i came to a point where i asked him to give me space, because i never knew who is the problem between us; whether i was giving too much or maybe he doesn’t want to be with me but just pretending not to hurt my feelings. Then he said he’ll give me space but i shouldn’t hurt his feelings because he loves me. So i tried to distance myself but he didn’t want that to happen. He would text me just to check if i’m okay. And i ain’t gonna lie. The space thingie didn’t work out. Now I’m giving him a silence treatment i don’t call and i don’t text back. I don’t know if it’s the right thing to do because we had a lil chat 3 days ago when he asked me to tell him about how do i really feel actually because he doesn’t understand. So i did just that and he didn’t give me a reason that would make me feel sympathy for him or something like that. So i don’t know if i should call him or he will, but i doubt because he never calls i’m actually the one who does that , see now i’m owning my ground. But i don’t know if it’s the right thing.

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Eva

I hope you broke up and he found someone else. Will pray for that for him and for someone like you to match you in your level of nasty.

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Yuliana

Hi everone, My boyfriend and I have been in a long distance relationship fora year. We barely ever fight and when we do we get over it within a day or two. He usually ignores me and talks to me as little as possible when he is angry. This week we had a fight because him and our mutual friend haven’t been getting along because our friend is going through a difficult time in his relationship and my boyfriend finds that hilarious so he keeps picking at him. My boyfriend likes to brag about how has the best girlfriend ( which i find super adorable sometimes). This time our mutual friend had and my boyfriend were arguing, our friend said he was going to ” expose me” and said that I wasnt as innocent as my boyfriend claims I am. He then proceeds to tell my boyfriend some warped out version of the truth about how me and him wanted to meet up and basically saying i was trying to go behind my boyfriends back to meet and have sex with him. Yes me and our mutual friend did want to meet BUT it has always been as friends and in the end we never officially planned anything and we never ended up meeting. I didn’t mention it to my boyfriend because at the time it didnt seem like a big deal, we didnt meet each other and didnt secure any plans to meet. Anyways my boyfriend got furious and called me all types of names and said i was sneaky, disloyal and ungrateful (because he takes care of me financially). I apologized several times for making him feel this way and he said he needs time to himself and that he would talk to me when he feels like it. Its been 5 days and we haven’t spoken except for a couple times through text ( even in the text message he kept bringing up our mutual friend saying i should be with them) and today its even worse. I went to the store to buy something and the card declined. When i went to check the balance online , he had transferred all of the money off it as if to punish me. I don’t understand why hes being this way if he knows that I wouldn’t betray him. I checked his status on facebook and he changed it to single but he told me if I change mine then we are finished. Should I wait for him to stop being mad at me or should I leave and move on with my life?

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Samantha

He’s Abusive – and if he moved money from an Acct to his WITHOUT notifying you, that’s also Financial Abuse. THAT could lead to MAJOR problems if you’re actually living together one day? You sound like you’re pretty young– there are a LOT more and better men in the Sea after him. Break off with this Dude, get some Therapy or 12 Step Codependence/Love Recovery and try again. You deserve WAY better. -S

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Margaret

I am depressed my boyfriend got me pregnant its now 4 months but he doesn’t communicate ,I try to talk to him but he Doesn’t pick my calls or even reply some messages ,I love him and its so hard for me at this time ,,,I have not told my dad that am pregnant because he has anger issues and he can throw me out of the house yet I have no one to turn to because am not sure if my guy will accept me ever ,what can I do

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Leslie

I’ve been talking to a guy I met from online for 5 months now. I’m a single mom of 2 going out of my way to find a sitter for dates. I am always the one commuting the distance to see him. I enjoy spending time with him and don’t mind. He’s currently finishing his masters and tells me he’s on a budget and doesn’t want to do things that cost money all the time. In my culture it seemed offensive at first I felt like am I just a f**** because clearly I’m the one that forking the money most of the time. I noticed he doesn’t even try to impress me with his appearance but when he goes out on outing and sends me pictures he has a fresh cut and is dressed nice (never on our dates). I feel like my past relationships have made me insecure and a person who finds it hard to trust. He makes plans with his friends and coworkers (again he’s supposed to be on a budget) that really sets me off. Long story short I have him the silent treatment, and he text me he noticed I haven’t communicated with him, I couldn’t hold back and told him I see he has his priorities and I’m only being seen when it’s a convenience to him. He pulls his reverse psychology on me all the time and says sorry he made me feel that way that it’s not his intentions. I didn’t text him back after that because I need to cool off, and he hasn’t either. Is this relationship worth keeping.

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Jen

I feel sad that I’m looking up this topic online even. My 62 yr old boyfriend of 17 months is frequently irritable with me. His grown son told me this is how he was his whole childhood and that’s why his mom left him (for another man). Lately, whenever I am happy, cheerful, grateful, talkative, excited about something, whatever, he treats me like I’m being an annoying child. Our phone calls last less than 10 minutes, often less than 2, and this is when one or the other of us is out of town. When I ask open questions, he shuts me down. When I ask yes/no questions, he asks me why I need to know, or why I don’t just leave him alone…to play Solitaire on his phone for 2 hours while I do other things in my own house and he sits in my living room. Meanwhile, I have many happy, engaging, interesting friendships with dynamic, awake people of both genders. I think I’m getting to the end of the relationship, but then again, he’s the most loyal, helpful, reliable, solid, moral man I’ve ever dated. Maybe being bored (and snipped at!) is better than being with someone interesting and communicative. I don’t really know anymore.

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Charlotte M

I became emotional reading your comment as I find myself in the exact situation. My boyfriend can be cold and dismissive;using silent treatment as a form of punishment. I excitedly try to have an engaging conversation with him and only met with a tone meant to shut me down. The contradiction in my life is that my friends and family are very open minded,engaging and woke people who enjoy my insight yet the one person who is supposed to engage with me disregards my mere presents. Such people like him,have traits of narcissism.

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Annie

my best friend gave me silent treatment for weeks without any reason, i was miserable not knowing what my fault was always and begging her to tell me, then she acted like nothing happened i was afraid to ask why did she do so cause i didn’t wanted to hurt her or worse me again. eventually we drifted after that , and i stil have nightmares always at the end of the dream asking her why did she do so. is something wrong with me? cause i am stil kind of afraid to meet her one day.

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Luvuyo

WE HAVE FIVE YEARS WITH MY BOYFRIEND IN A RELATIONSHIP BUT HE STILL HIDES ME FROM HIS FAMILY. WHEN EVER I GO TO VISIT HIM I COME AT NIGHT AND NO ONE MUST SEE ME. HE DOESN’T BUY ME ANYTHING TO EAT SO I SLEEP WITHOUT EATING ON TOP OF THAT WE HAVING SEX EVEN THOUGH IM HUNGRY HE CAN’T EVEN FELL ME WHEN IM NOT OKAY AS LONG AS HE CLIMAX. SO I TRIED CONTACTING HIM ABOUT THAT I WROTE HIM A LONG MESSAGE TELLING HIM HOW UNHAPPY I AM AND SINCE FROM THEN HE NEVER REPLIED AND HE’S IGNORING ME AND IM QUITE I DON’T WANT TO FOLLOW HIM .

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Charlotte M

I cannot tell you what choice to make but that’s not a relationship one can flourish. You deserve better than that Luvuyo.

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Anonymous

Hi guys,I have been experiencing the silence treatment from my husband for the whole year.Initially,when brings visitors I would tell them about it in front of him,because when he is with other people he is Mr good guy but to me,there’s no communication.I used to call people and talk about him just to hear their opinions,I have spoken to his big brother about it,just for him to mentor his younger brother,I didn’t get any feedback from his brother.I had one session with a Psychologist,I expected more as I am the one who is emotionally hurt,the Psychologist promised to get hold of him and he she doesn’t she will continue with me for more sessions.Until today I have tried to call the receptionist she promised to call me back.I feel like I was not meant to be with my husband as he recently doesn’t reply my calls or texts.He is currently away to be with his family but he doesn’t check on me with the kids.I am really hurt and the only option that I have decided for tge sake of my health and the kids,is to leave him as I am dying inside.

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Layla

Leave the idiot. I went through this with my abusive partner but I was oblivious to his behavior for too long. I never loved him as he continuely made me feel sorry for him. It was like having to babysit him while allowing him to parasite off me. I finally took a hike and never looked back. The silent treatment he gave to me was to make me feel like I didn’t matter.
He’s alone and unhappy now.
Leave and let him drown in his own silent head.

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Ahmed

My ex wife used silent treatment our whole marriage whenever she wanted to hurt me.

We got divorced, I became alcoholic and got deported from UAE where we lived due to alcohol related problems.

One day I caught her lying about my son so she blocked me then her family blocked me then she changed address and refused to tell me anything about son then cut me off from talking to him.

3 months after complete silent treatment from her and all her family, from a country i can’t visit, I flipped out and swore at them online – because I can’t reach them
By any means and can’t afford a lawyer.

She reported me to police for harassment and I got charged.

My own family – mother sister brother and uncle all refused to intervene because I was “aggressive” and because I swore at my ex.

Now my family is doing silent treatment to me.

I’ve gone to mental hospital and keep getting arrested for anger related things and the more it happens the more my family ignore me.

My son is 6 and my best friend and I haven’t spoken to him in 3 months. And I don’t know what they’ve told him. We used to talk everyday.

I spend my whole day writing abuse emails to everyone from the rage I feel. The more i threaten to kill myself the more they ignore me. AND the more space I give them and back off for a few weeks and re-approach then politely and nicely – the more they ignore me too

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Meera

This type of silent treatment can be abusive. Recently l discovered about AVOIDANT ABUSE. It opened my eyes, l suggest anyone facing this look up online about Avoidant Abuse, read a book on it. You will finally be able to heal and understand what’s going on helped me so much xx stay strong

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Shorty

I should have seen the signs. He was twice divorced red flag number one. I didn’t understand the significance of his drinking issues red flag number two. He wanted separate lives (financial and family) yet still controlled both red flag number three. All these were easily ignored while we were both busy with our careers, he took his pleasure trips. I spent time with my grandchildren. We took a couple of vacations of his choice (always shared expense). Home remodeling was split 50/50 as were most expenses. Even though his income was greater than mine. Well he retired and things started to go south. I was still working and we were doing a major addition to the house. He now expected me to pick up more of the expense because he was retired. The issue always was he never communicated his plans. He decided when he was going to retire (not we as a couple). Every thing he does he plans how it’s going to be then tells me it’s that or I can leave. Well he never took into consideration what was going to happen when I retired and was no longer financially able to pay half of everything. Since my retirement life has been hell. I am cursed and spit at daily. He throws things at me. So yes the silence treatment is what he gets.

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Stacey

My boyfriend, knew when we first got together, that i was seperated from my partner, he shows me he loves me, but won’t outright say it. He knows that I love him, and he has become withdrawn because he says that I have not got divorced yet. I think that this is just an excuse, because he couldshow more love towards me when we are at each others home. Now, he still texts me, but it takes him ages to reply. I know he might be busy, but I recently found out that i might have cancer and told of him of this threat and he went silent on me.
Is this because he is worried about my health? But if that was the case, wouldn’t he ask if I was ok?

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Beatrice

I have dated my boyfriend for 2 years now. Out of know where this young dude comes into our home n virtually sleeps with him on the same bed with him. They are like the Best of friends. I told him the guy was invading in our privacy but nothing. Now he doesn’t talk to me for 4 days now. O have moved from the room where we sleep but he hasn’t made any effort to talk to me

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Dan

Ok do how do you get out of the argument then… I mean i don’t want to sit around and have a yelling contest with my wife either, so what i do is i take a break from it and just walk away instead of yelling at each other then we’ll come together and talk about it but in that meantime when i walk away from the situation we don’t talk….. So agsin what do i do if that’s wrong.

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Lea

Hi Karen, I need your help, I met this wonderful man during the summer when I took my car into his shop. I had no feelings for him at the time but it stated to grow after he was showing me so much care and concern over me, he had my car to work on for a while and every time I got it back something else was wrong with it. After seeing each other so long we would stare into each others eyes a lot and smile. I know he started having feelings cause there was chemistry between us. We talked and we both loved the same things. One day he was telling me that he had a long night at the shop and I told him that on my way home from the office meeting I drove by the shop (which is the route home) I saw the lights on and noticed. It seemed fine, the next day I brought him a cake he wanted and he seemed a little cold but he still talked to me. The following day, my brother went in to talk to him to get repairs and I was with him cause he had parts to order for me but didn’t say hello and didn’t even glance at me, after he took my ownership to get the VIN number, he turned to my brother and gave him my ownership and totally ignored me. My brother noticed it as well. I thought he might have thought that I checked up on him but that would not make sense since it is the only route home straight from work, the other route is 15 min away, and how would I even know if he’d be at work? I just wanted to get home, do you think it could be something else?

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Dee

Hi: My boyfriend a costa rican expat and I dated for eight m onths. When he gets stressed at work or overwhelmed, he disappears no matter how much calling or texting I do. He has two weeks left in my country. He travels a lotWe were supposed to go out this weekend but I can’t get him. What do I do. We did not have a fight or anything and on Friday he had said I love you

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Irada

I had this experience. It is a mind game with a purpose to control you. Nothing related to care, sympathy. Don’t believe his excuses when he will appear next time. But he will definitely appear. Ignore him. Leave him.

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Ariel

I’m 27 year old female, married to 32 year old who tries to control, criticize and emotionally abuse me…And due to these behaviours, we fight a lot.

But I am the one that gives the silent treatment.

He hates being ignored due to his ego getting hurt from that. But I don’t ignore him because I want to hurt him… for me, I internalize all my pain and emotions. It is my problem. But I need this time out and self care to help me process my feelings and also as my way of not saying the wrong thing or opening up too soon when I still feel withdrawn because it will cause more fights… basically, I’m trying to wait until my boiling anger can cool down. This can take me some days. Im an introvert while he is extroverted, so he is only able to release all anger asap. And the more I receive his hate filled messages about how I don’t care or how stupid or bad I am as a wife…this does not make me want to respond. I am aware that the insults and threats are his way of trying to intimidate me into submission in order to respond and continue the conflict – this is absolutely not my style…I hate conflict and always shut down. I’ve tried communicating this issue with him before but considering his me me me attitude and severe impatience and lack of empathy… it goes right over him. And now I came home to find he ripped up a b u nch of paper and left it on the floor for me to clean up. Another attempt at trying to scare me into responding.. I should just be angry but I’m sick of having my feelings continually dismissed when I AM open with him. So.. I’m not going to respond to this either, because his behaviour is unacceptable. The only wrong thing I do is not talk to him, but why should I agree everything is my fault when he sends me a toxic message after another?
If he would just behave normally and calm down, he would understand that the silence is a good thing….because thing too many times he can’t control his impulse to send hurtful, hateful messages designed to screw up your self worth.

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Viki

My partner is doing the same thing what you do to your husband. It is the most painful thing in the world.

It makes you feel that the one you love doesn’t care about you…

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David

I am your husband. My wife gives me the silent treatment mixed in with outbursts of rage. We have been perpetuating this insane cycle, and the cycle looks like this: We have an argument, I try to connect by talking to her, she withdraws (silent treatment), I try to provoke her, then she either becomes more silent or I am “successful”. “Success” actually is just another argument about all the past unresolved pains and it starts over again.

It seems like in a healthy relationship, the couple treat the cycle as the problem. They blame the cycle. They think, “How do we jointly solve this problem so the next time this cycle is about to rear it’s head, we can avoid mutual hurt and instead achieve connection.”

How good would it feel if the two of you came up with a solution, executed it, and both felt great having solved the problem? Sounds better than being at a stand still forever.

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WrldTrdr

I read the first few lines and when I read “If he would just behave…” I didn’t read anything more.

I have been a victim of this treatment, I did shout and criticize my ex-GF and I hated to do that and to feel that anger….. seeing the words “If he would just behave…”… and more how you think you know what is “best for him” …. “he would understand silence is a good thing..” …. I would suggest to your partner, be at silence and peace Alone.

This is exactly how she thought.

When your partner is doing something you don’t like, you withdraw your attention, manipulating him like he is an dog or a child and his behavior is just unacceptable. This is the worst judgement you can pronounce on your partner.

If you cannot make the effort to understand him, and why he is doing something unpleasant to you (which is unpleasant for him too), if you are only focused on what you are getting then it is best to just leave that person alone and let him grow and live.

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Ariel

Sorry you misconstrue our issue to having to understand why he is abusive to me as if it’s my fault.
I have an underlying childhood trauma that stems from severe neglect, if that clears up anything for you. He is aware of it, and I’m emotionally reticent (crying is bad, I am a burden on others, I am never understood, people dismiss/hate/belittle me etc). He has his issues too. Look, it’s not alien to each other what affects us, but our arguements always begin from him complaining at me due to his DISSATISFACTION of basically, whatever he’s not happy with (oh, your cooking is boring, oh you can’t finish me properly, oh you shouldn’t drive therefore i’m not gonna let you attempt to get licence, you are not smart, you are this and that etc etc) like….it’s this bullshit right here that absolutely destroys a person, especially one as me that was suffered neglect and low self-esteem, he abolsutely plays on that whether knowingly or not. And my natural instinct is to avoid the things that are harmful to me, and so I avoid him out of FEAR. I have brought this up to him before, tearfully and you know how he responds??? Your tears are manipulative. MANIPULATIVE. As a CHILD, I learned to not cry because I would be punished. My mum threw bowls and threaten me with kitchen knives as a 7 year old, so yeah. I still have this memory fresh in my mind, so me crying or showing emotion? Is not valid, apparently. These are the conditioning I had to grew up with and is very hard to remove, even after explaining my case. Made near impossible when your own husband refuses to even acknowledge your deepest hurt because “it’s maniuplative” – My only option is furtherered – do not show emotion because people do not care! I often cry myself alone, silently. I hate showing my tears to anyone. My parents, entire family have never seen me upset. The first time was last year, on my birthday, I had a mental breakdown from all this shit and my abusive, non caring mum saw it. I screamed at her to leave me. (She is part of the problem).
So yes, as an abused child, I should empathize with my abusers, yes? Thank you. Thank you for reiterating my crippling lack of self confidence and anxiety. I will just soldier on as my husband treats me as a slave, as he so ‘jokingly’ refers to me.

Look, you might not be my husband, or someone as bad as that, but as I just gave you some backstory (and, trust me, there is so much more) then you can try to balance the situation. Me being silent is the only thing I have done. I make little advances to ‘not’ be silent after some time, but alas, I am the timid, misunderstood one.

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Stu

Sometimes it’s not losing the person / relationship that is upsetting, but the WAY it ended.

Realising how damaging the silent treatment is to your mind and soul, I can finally forgive myself for being so hung up on someone

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kesha

last week my husband has presented me with divorce papers, It was the greatest shock of my life. I almost lost my life to alcohol..

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kesha

last week my husband has presented me with divorce papers, It was the greatest shock of my life. I almost lost my life to alcohol… I lost my job, I got sick and was admitted into the hospital emergency ward, Two days later when I opened my eyes I saw my mom and my husband beside me holding my hands, I was shocked again and confused to see my husband.
Then he knelt down and apologized that my bestfriend told a lie that I was cheating on him, He was advised to divorce me so they can get married. I didn’t understand, until I was discharged.

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Anna

I’m in a fairly new relationship. 9 weeks together.
My boyfriend was married for 14 years. He’s been separated for 1 year.
There are a lot of issues going on with his ex regarding their children. He gets so upset that he just shuts down. He only tells me little pieces. Ive always made myself available to him. We’ve had a few instances of him just ignoring me. The worst went for 3 or 4 days.

His kids don’t know about me and I’m fine with that as it is early days.

This past weekend we went away together. It was our first time sleeping together and it was special to me.
He got called to come home early due to an issue with his son. I was fine with that. I dropped him home no dramas.
I sent a few texts to check in. He has not replied. It’s been 24hours. I feel this is very hurtful especially as we’d just been intimate for the first time. I’m left here feeling like what have I done wrong? I feel that the silent treatment now is so inappropriate. He could text and say anything!!

Am I wrong to feel like this? What should I be doing?
I did send a message today and told him how I was feeling. No reply. He’s just vanished. Also I am not a dud in bed so it can’t be that! Lol

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Jeff

It’s not you It’s him. I think there was something going on and he still either has feelings still or did. Maybe someone else. Who knows. I’ve been through this before as well.

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Phosphorus

Hey Anna. I’ll tell you right now you’re not dealing with someone who is a grown up. Intellectually, sure, emotionally which is the foundation of all of a our relationships, not a chance. As a very emotionally keyed in and sensitive male I can tell you right now his behavior is just plain selfish and childish.
Effort in communication, sometimes significant effort is required, but he’s not willing. He’s capable, just not willing.
I’ve experienced this manipulation with male friends and ex-female girlfriends, I have never done it, but have had it done to me.
It is just a power game, and he will just want power over you in the relationship. If you stay you’ll find out soon enough how he’ll treat you. And it won’t be kind or pleasant.

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Jacqueline M

Ive been with my boyfriend for 10 years. Yes theres occasional fights and quarrels which is normal. But I feel like something is very wrong this time. Last friday he took me to my graduation office to obtain some paperwork and he was going to help me pay for it. And we always try to help each other out especially with school. So on the drive there I told him to switch lanes on the freeway but then later realized he was in the right lane and told him “oh my bad I forgot this lane is fine too”. He then got sarcastic and said “really ? you came to school during summer practically every day and you cant remember what lanes get there?” I didnt respond because it was sarcastic and almost scolding. I hate the scolding. So we get to campus and finally park right in front of the graduation office and he tells me to go ahead with his little nephew of 3. So i went…. He called me and said “where are you?” I told him I came to the office, and he said “How are you going to pay?” and I said I came to make sure it was the right price. He immediately hung up on me. When i came back down complete silence. The car ride home silence. Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and now today and nothing. I called on Wednesday and he surprisingly answered and tried to make small talk to see how everything was going with him and he just answered with one responses. I asked him why he hadn’t been replying to my messages and he said “Because I didnt want to”. Then i proceeded to ask if we could hang out this week and he said “idk idk idk”. He seemed annoyed by me calling and obviously didnt want to talk to me but this seems so childish and completely uneccessary and I dont know what to do. Please someone help

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Nikki

He definitely trying to pick a fight. Maybe because you graduated and he’s scared you will go on to better things. He sounds like he’s being mean though

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Mechelle

I appreciated your article, thank you. Your article helped me to understand and put words to something that I could not understand very well. I knew that the treatment that I was receiving was not my spouses cooling-off period, but did not know what else it could be.

I have been married for 27 years and have always been on the receiving end from my husband. The reasons and scenario are always the same: There is disagreement, I try to explain my plight and he does not let me talk, he talks over me, he walks away, and the silent treatment begins, for days or weeks, until he needs something. Then he acts as if nothing happened at all, life is normal to him.

In the past I tried the normal, give him his space and then try and talk about it, let him know it hurts me, but I learned that the process would just begin again.

I hope to continue learning more about this, how I can respond appropriately, and decide what I want to live with.

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Nan

I’ve been married almost 41 years and am now on the receiving end of the silent treatment. You cannot have a battle if you do not know what the battle is about. I think the silent treatment is a form of manipulation and abuse. For the life of me, I have NO idea why he’s treating me this way. He’s always assumed I can read his mind. I think I’ll give it a little more time before I address the issue with him, but it’s very hurtful.

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Phosphorus

I’m sorry you’re going through this. I’m sorry you’ve had to tolerate this selfish behavior for that long. This relationship has probably almost always been a one way street, and almost always to his benefit emotionally. Most likely you’ve probably been living separate lives for many years. At least emotionally. All I can say is that his choice to remain an emotional retard and child will stay firm and put.

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Nan

My question now is how do I handle this silent treatment? It’s about to happen again and I’m just sick of it. Do I call him on his selfish behavior? Do I let it ride out? And btw, your response was spot-on…We HAVE been living separate lives for years and have grown farther and farther apart. But what do I do? I do not want marriage counseling, yet I don’t want to go through the hassle of a divorce at this stage of my life.

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Vee

A coworker and I started talking back in January 2019, it started really organically, I could tell there was attractiveness between eacho other, with really strong eye contact and little gestures and teasing. We made plans to hang out and long story short a horrible incident happened in early Feb where she was on her way to work driving and a man had walked onto the streets out of no where and was killed. When i found out about the tragic news my heart sank, cause shes is the most innocent person ever shes a vegetarian and wouldn’t even hurt a fly. As days/weeks went by i sent her texts and letting her know i want to be there for her and be her support system to help her get through the whole tragic. We started seeing each other, slowly dating. She wasn’t being as reciprocating and it was just really hard for her and i understood it but i also told her we dont have to rush into a relationship but that’s where we’re leading towards, i wanted to tell her this so we can all be on the same page and not just it being 1 sided. Next day she texted me saying she wants to just be friends and shes not ready for a relationship and dont want to lead me on and its really difficult for her emotionally to get into a relationship, i told i totally understand and i will give her time and space to heal. That being sad i stop talking to her because i didn’t want to get more attached and me telling her how i felt about her just made me feel like i was shot down. A month later she texted me and we talked a for a bit and she told me when i said lets be friends i didnt mean for you to ignore me, and i told her why i didn’t talk to her was because i was hurt. It caused us to get the silent treatment and i noticed towards the end of June she was giving me the cold shoulders really bad. I texted her saying i know you probably hate me and etc but it doesn’t have to be awkward at work and its unhealthy. She replied she doesnt hate me but lately shes been really mad at me and herself, we set up a meet up to talk everything out. After the talk i found out she sees me as a liar, and a person that she let in and i ignored her when ive told her ill be there for her and her support system but i stopped talking to her after she kind of i would say friendzoned me i was hurt and i felt it was best to just let her be, i know im a dicked for ignoring her, but i didnt know what else to do. And i was also disappointed at the fact that we didn’t even get passed the dating stage and won’t be able to see the better side of the relationship and its all tremble down. I am still unsure of what to do after the talk we’re better at work now but not texting anymore, we decided to be friends and friendly to eachother but im still unsure of the situation if i should still talk to her slowly and take things slow, and i keep telling myself to just give it up and move on but im getting anxiety something keeps telling me to text or talk to her still and now we’re at the silent treatment where its just work, and i can tell its one person respecting the other persons boundaries. Sorry if this is really confusing, but i am just typing this from what im feeling, ive gotten passed these similar situations with other women before but with this one im deeply hurt because it was never my intentions to hurt her i only wanted to see us together and be happy, everything flipped upside down and now im just consider a liar and it really hurts when i know i wanted to be that boyfriend for her but it wasn;t what she wanted at the time. When i was unsure about the whole thing i asked her do you like me? cause she never said it to me but i knew all the signs and eye contact and flirting texts and talks lead me to ask her out, im just so lost and confused please help anything or opinions to help with my anxiety i never cried but after a night of a few drinks last friday night i found myself tearing up beacuse of this, and i really do want to move on but i dont know if im over thinking it or its my gut instincy telling me not to give up on her.

Reply
Vee

She did answer and said she do like me she just wasn’t as reciprocating and that what made things difficult for us or for me at least. Sorry forgot that part.

Reply
Allan

i have been dating a Filipino lady for 6 months and she went to the Philippines July 3 and we were talking all the time until one day she started asking me to send her money i sent her what she said she needed but it took me a couple of days because i was very busy and i did tell her that, immediately after i told her that she stopped communication with me, after i sent it she opened up again, then a few days later she wanted a substantial amount of money sent and i said i cant do that at this moment but i will try, to most people 3000.00 is a substantial amount of money, and when i told her that she stopped all texting she is coming back on July 28, what on earth is she thinking because i certainly dont know.

Reply
J

I too am sadly going through this. I’ve been suffering with this treatment from my husband for 13 years. We have three children together 5, 3 and 10 months. I’ve tried to get him to change but it is a never ending cycle. I am always hesitant to make plans with friends and family and RSVP for 2 when it’s 80% chance that he will be mad and ignoring me when the time comes so then I have to lie and make up excuses why he didnt show. It’s a terrible way to live but at the same time there is love there between us… And when we are in good times, it is good. He is a good father but now I just don’t know what to do. A week ago he walked out on us after two months of the silent treatment. I got so frustrated I told him to get out and that we didn’t need him if he was going to be acting this way…so he left. He hasn’t texted or spoken to me or the kids…nor helps financially. Part of me wants to try to reconcile…part of me doesn’t. I would rather continue suffering with his silent treatments then bear the thought of splitting time with my kids 50-50. Does anyone have recommendations to help? Is there any chance he will ever change? Feeling just so numb at this point. Help!

Reply
Tom

Sounds like we have very similar situations . My wife and I have 3 kids as well and I’m on the receiving end of silent treatment. It’s been going on for 15 years and I highly doubt it will ever end. It usually starts when I make plans with friends and family. When I tell her, she’ll usually give me a disgusted look (feels like I committed a crime). I will usually invite her as well but she’ll just ignore it. As I’m about to leave to see family or friends she’ll blow up on me saying I didn’t invite her (gaslight) and make me feel guilty. She’ll give me the silent treatment for weeks or months. We did see a counselor but didn’t help. She says it’s all my fault for not showing enough affection. I have told her how much this hurts me but she has never even apologized. I don’t believe she’ll ever change or your husband as well. It’s not easy to divorce but I think that’s really the only option or if you’re willing to live in a crappy marriage

Reply
K

Married 25 years. Husband diagnosed with ptsd 10 years ago. Walking on eggshells ever since. The verbal abuse along with the constant ignoring.. just eats me up. He has been in therapy.. gets better but there is always the ignoring, the blame.. always my fault that he ignores me. Always something I did. Even if I didn’t. Always. A “competition”. He says I mowed so I have to do nothing else. If I ask if he can do dishes after I cooked.. he ignores me for weeks. Mind you he doesn’t work. He stays home, plays golf once a week, plays video games, doesn’t clean the house, doesn’t do projects. I own a business, that I work constant, I clean, I cook, he mowes. So this current ignoring for a week is literally over asking if he would do the dishes. Big argument right? Nope. Just one question. Which in turn he doesn’t talk, doesn’t lift a finger for the house… drinks, spends money (we don’t have a lot). And I can’t say anything for fear of the attack of verbal abuse. Crap life. My means of leaving are not there. Can’t afford another place to live which I would need for my daughter. Circle never ends. What to do? I have no idea. It’s unhealthy to be here yet I can’t seem to get out as much as I try. Sucks when the money isn’t there to leave.

Reply
Alma

I’ve been in a relationship for 10 years, out of which 6 we lived together – I never felt love like this, we fit great in all possible ways, he made me laugh, I felt safe and protected. And then life hit. He is a freelancer and he started lacking work, so all the financial pressure was on me. Plus the house stuff – which, honestly, he didn’t touch much, also him being a foreigner he kind of used it as an excuse of letting more for me to sort out. I never minded that – but now I see it was a mistake. We used to attend these expats meetups and made new friends. Including a girl who loves hockey (he’s Canadian). He met her only two or three times last year. Then, in the beginning of this year, while I was having weekly business trips, he started going out with her for a coffee. I am not a jealous person, I trusted him – besides, I was certain there mare more important things keeping us together, so I didn’t mind. But then, the |Thursday coffee became also a Sunday coffee, which bothered me. But hey, 2 or 3 hours didn’t mean much. Then I noticed small chats on FB – which grew longer, and I started to be annoyed. I said that out loud – to no avail though, and besides, I kept on being busy and I admit my attention to him got reduced, because I was so occupied with so many things and in the evening I honestly wanted an hour or so for myself. In the beginning of April she had an operation and my partner went ballistic with worry. Hey, is a friend, is normal to worry – and I held his hand and morale… Long story sort – the last week of April was madness. I was so furious and every time I tried to speak to him (with or without fury), I got nothing. Well… I did get something… on the 30th of April, when he moved out. Just like this. Only a “I can’t deal with you when you’re like that and I am going away for a couple of days”. Still, a week later he took all his stuff. He said he didn’t sleep with her while being with me – and I kind of believe it (or so I am telling myself). Still, the emotional betrayal is worse. However, in 10 years we never fought – not once. There was this rule of never going to sleep upset on eachother. There was also the rule of if there is a problem, we’ll discuss it. This one was broken – by him, who made me promise it over and over again. Since then – we have a pet (a rabbit) that he visits every week. There are a million little things that puzzle me: when you get a new “toy” you should be glowing and do whatever you can to be with that person as much as possible. Still, the few times I saw him, he looks worse than the last. When he visits the bunny, he spends long hours with him. I went out on a Sunday trip – he came at 8.00 AM (??) and left around 22.30. I don’t get it! I tried to discuss it with him – well, in the first weeks it was kind of impossible, because I was sick to the core, having panic attacks several times a day and being pretty much completely nonfunctional. Oh, I forgot to say he left 2 weeks before my 50th birthday! He wanted several times to go out for coffee or lunch, he came to help me set up the new washing machine… Now I see that he can actually do the dished (which he never did before) and buy groceries for the bunny without complaining. It all hurts – I see it was my big mistake to pamper him endlessly and forget about myself. But no matter what I do, he doesn’t speak – because he hates any type of confrontation. I need a reason, an explanation, something… I want him back, but I honestly don’t know what to do. There were moments when I was calm and able to explain my side – and other moments when I was pretty much “bitchy”. And I hate it! I don’t understand how at 53 y.o you can throw yourself into a relation with someone you can’t know properly in a month… is it a proper base for a lasting thing? With someone 13 y.o – and honestly, the “clingy” type? For the past few days I am giving him the silence treatment – no reply to FB messages, no posts on FB (that’s how he found out I threw up my back once and the next day he ran to me with a brace and painkillers), no reply to phone message (he announced a visit to the bunny on Monday, if it’s ok with me and I didn’t reply). I know how hurtful it is – and I am aware I push him further away, but I really don’t know what else to do. I still want him back – and on the other hand. I don’t know how to move forward.

Reply
JoAnna D

Live life with no Regrets..Take care of you…you can’t be there for someone else if you are not there for yourself first..if you want to go have coffee then go have coffee with or without him even with someone else..it’s ok to not answer everytime, you are allowed your feelings too. Only you can set your limits… Pick and choose for yourself..and if you find you want time with him. Then spend time with him.. Simply Love to be Loved in Return . To thine own self be true…

Reply
Isabel

@Alma
I hope you will not grow aggrieved with me for commenting on your lines not knowing each other in person, but all you wrote stirs such rhymes with my life…
Oh Dear, you don’t know to which extent I can comprehend this, both the betrayal issue and the silent treatment.
Suffered both, the betrayal in my previous relationship (engagement!) and the silent treatment from the victim’s side, in my childhood.
With all my heart, I would like to encourage you to move forward.
Past is past, both of you made mistakes but clearly he made muuuch bigger ones. Cheating on you with that other one was the largest faux pas at all. As you write, emotional betrayal is even worse than physical. Nothing, I repeat, nothing, no mistake from a person can ever justify a betrayal. You do not deserve this.
Free yourself from the captivity of this man. A vivid relationship includes confrontation sometimes (this means that you are not with the carbon copy of yourself but another also interesting and unique personality with their own values!), if he refuses to undergo confrontation it means for me that either he cannot tolerate human personality differences or he does not deem the relationship important enough to invest the psychic strength and time and energy to deal with the problems, both of which are a deadly demeanour.
Yes, Dear, you forgot yourself in this process. Resume the control over your own life. Set your boundaries, saying NO is a very basic, strong, efficient and protective thing. I am aware that 10 years mean a long invested time, but this man apparently cannot give you the stability, faithfulness, peace and future perspective you need.
Stop the silent treatment. It is humiliating and toxic and leads nowhere. I completely understand what a humiliation you were exposed to by this man, but you are a much better person. So do not stonewall by your silence. It only aggravates the problem.
If the situation offers, speak up. Honestly. Show who you are, how do you feel, how this story left you, what it did to you, your self esteem, and show your needs and your interests. Do not feel embarrassed. Up to now, you went to great lengths to please this man, without communicating what is good for you.
Now it is your turn. Tell everything. Or, if the situation does not permit talking, finish the relationship altogether with silence and as much grace as possible.
Heal. Embrace who you are. You are worth it. It is time to let him realize whom he had lost.
You have nothing more to lose. (You have already lost him who was anyway not worth you.)
First be good to yourself.
Know whom you deserve. Someone who genuinely loves you, cherishes you, respects you, someone who – for the sake of the relationship – is willing to address problems, who is faithful to you, who would rather suffer harm than to harm you in any way. Sadly, this man lacks all these qualities. But there will be out there someone who contains all these characteristics who deserves you. You will find him after you have healed.
You are much better and stronger. You deserve someone much better.
I wish that you can get free and become happy again in your life.
Although we do not know each other, I send you warm hugs and my best wishes.
Isabel

Reply
Don

I wad friends with this girl for over 25 years. For the first 10 years we was just friends very good friends. Then things got sexual and towards these last 5 years it all went to hell. And just like a snap of the fingers she started all the clasic things that is done to ruin the relationship. All of a sudden she had to work so much, and then cant get a hold of her by text and she stop calling and would only communicate through text, ignoring me for days or weeks , and if i were to ask her whats up with all this distance should started saying to me that i am the one with the problem she doesnt think there is anything wrong. It went from her saying yes i would marry you to this. And here is why , she met one of my friends and started having an affair with him. So 9 times out of 10 unless your a jerk in the first place it all stems from them cheating. So dont rack your head wondering what the hells going on because that is the last thing that your going to be dealing with. The hurt is hell someone that has always had your back is now stabbing it. I rather her just tell me she was sleeping with someone else , dont even need to tell me who rather than put me through hell. I am still heart broken and lost. Good luck to all who also had this happened.

Reply
Dorothy Treadwell

Its better that you found out all of this before your relationship went any further. From friends to lovers to marriage, THEN WHAT? Only to find out she wasn’t really serious about being with you and having a long time relationship. You are better off. You might not see that now, but believe me you will see everything for what it is and what its not. Best wishes to you. You will overcome this but it will take some time!?

Reply
Bethany

Hey. My boyfriend of only 3 months was promising me marriage. He named our kids together. We talked 24/7. He quickly became my best friend and rock. Then, after I expressed a need to him about our relationship, he denied that he isn’t meeting my need. He tried to prove he was meeting it. He also didn’t give me his jacket when I was cold. And starting withholding love from me. After expressing to him that there were a couple concerns I had. He literally ghosted me. He was supposed to come back home that weekend and meet my entire family and he didn’t even show up to the airport. He never gave me any reason. Never have me a resolution. I am crushed. Confused. And bewildered. But from the beginning I felt like he was coming on too strong. I wish I would have listened. No one can sustain a relationship built off of words.

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Separation anxiety can come with a tail whip - not only does it swipe at kids, but it will so often feel brutal for their important adults too.

If your child struggle to separate at school, or if bedtimes tougher than you’d like them to be, or if ‘goodbye’ often come with tears or pleas to stay, or the ‘fun’ from activities or play dates get lost in the anxiety of being away from you, I hear you.

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Access to the recording will be available for 30 days from the date of purchase.

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The more we treat anxiety as a problem, or as something to be avoided, the more we inadvertently turn them away from the safe, growthful, brave things that drive it. 

On the other hand, when we make space for anxiety, let it in, welcome it, be with it, the more we make way for them to recognise that anxiety isn’t something they need to avoid. They can feel anxious and do brave. 

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I’ve loved working with @sccrcentre over the last 10 years. They do profoundly important work with families - keeping connections, reducing clinflict, building relationships - and they do it so incredibly well. @sccrcentre thank you for everything you do, and for letting me be a part of it. I love what you do and what you stand for. Your work over the last decade has been life-changing for so many. I know the next decade will be even more so.♥️

In their words …
Posted @withregram • @sccrcentre Over the next fortnight, as we prepare to mark our 10th anniversary (28 March), we want to re-share the great partners we’ve worked with over the past decade. We start today with Karen Young of Hey Sigmund.

Back in 2021, when we were still struggling with covid and lockdowns, Karen spoke as part of our online conference on ‘Strengthening the relationship between you & your teen’. It was a great talk and I’m delighted that you can still listen to it via the link in the bio.

Karen also blogged about our work for the Hey Sigmund website in 2018. ‘How to Strengthen Your Relationship With Your Children and Teens by Understanding Their Unique Brain Chemistry (by SCCR)’, which is still available to read - see link in bio.

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I often go into schools to talk to kids and teens about anxiety and big feelings. 

I always ask, ‘Who’s tried breathing through big feels and thinks it’s a load of rubbish?’ Most of them put their hand up. I put my hand up too, ‘Me too,’ I tell them, ‘I used to think the same as you. But now I know why it didn’t work, and what I needed to do to give me this powerful tool (and it’s so powerful!) that can calm anxiety, anger - all big feelings.’

The thing is though, all powertools need a little instruction and practice to use them well. Breathing is no different. Even though we’ve been breathing since we were born, we haven’t been strong breathing through big feelings. 

When the ‘feeling brain’ is upset, it drives short shallow breathing. This is instinctive. In the same ways we have to teach our bodies how to walk, ride a bike, talk, we also have to teach our brains how to breathe during big feelings. We do this by practising slow, strong breathing when we’re calm. 

We also have to make the ‘why’ clear. I talk about the ‘why’ for strong breathing in Hey Warrior, Dear You Love From Your Brain, and Ups and Downs. Our kids are hungry for the science, and they deserve the information that will make this all make sense. Breathing is like a lullaby for the amygdala - but only when it’s practised lots during calm.♥️
When it’s time to do brave, we can’t always be beside them, and we don’t need to be. What we can do is see them and help them feel us holding on, even in absence, while we also believe in their brave.♥️

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