The silent treatment is a way to inflict pain without physical violence or visible wounds. It actually activates the part of your brain that is responsible for registering physical pain. It can present itself as taking the “high road”, but it’s not. Excluding and ignoring are tactics used to punish and manipulate. It is very damaging to relationships and can be part of a broader pattern of emotional abuse. Here is what you can do when you are getting the silent treatment.
The silent treatment is a poor choice of communication strategy and it is not your choice or your fault, no matter what your partner tells you. You are not responsible for their behavior. Even if you “did something wrong”, it is never fair for your partner to punish you.
There are no winners in the silent treatment game. Don’t be tempted to use the same tactic in retaliation. Your goal should be to try to resolve the issue once and for all. It takes far too much energy to ignore and be ignored at the same time. Doing the same thing is not a productive solution.
Better communication skills can eradicate the needless emotional cutoff. When intense feelings and thoughts are too much in the moment, give each other permission to calm down. Separate for a period of time until you are both relaxed enough to talk it through. Acknowledge the other person’s feelings and share your own.
If this becomes a pattern, it’s emotional abuse. You may become anxious or depressed because of the way you are being treated. If possible, ask your partner to go into therapy with you. Should your partner refuse, schedule appointments for yourself anyway.
No problem can be solved by ignoring it. Do what you can to get your partner to open up. But, if it is clear this behavior is not going to change, it’s time to put yourself first. You deserve love, respect and kindness. Never let anyone convince you otherwise.