5 Tips for Dealing With the Silent Treatment in a Relationship


The silent treatment is one of the most common ways to “fight” in a relationship. Here’s how to deal with the silent treatment in marriage or any relationship – as well as help undoing some of the damage it causes.

“I love my husband, but he withdraws whenever we disagree about something big or little,” says Marianne on Does He Love You? 7 Signs Your Marriage is Over. “I know this is a ‘Men are from Mars, women are from Venus’ thing. Men have their caves and they hide whenever there’s a problem in a relationship. But what can I do? There must be some way for me to learn how to deal with the silent treatment in my marriage. I really feel like it’s getting worse instead of better. We’ve been married 6 years. Any advice for me?”

If the silent treatment is taken too far, it’s actually emotional abuse. The silent treatment is one of the most common warning signs of relationship problems because it’s so easy for couples to fall into the habit of doing. The tips in this post on how to deal with the silent treatment are geared towards couples in romantic relationships, but can be applied to all types of partnerships: work, school, family, or even neighbors.





The silent treatment is part of what’s called a “demand-withdraw” pattern in a relationship. It happens when one partner pressures the other with requests, criticism or complaints and is met with avoidance or silence. Below are the results of a research study on the silent treatment in relationships, plus tips on dealing with it.

Research from Paul Schrodt, Ph.D. at Texas Christian University shows that couples engaged in demand-withdraw pattern experience lower relationship satisfaction, less intimacy, and poorer communication. This professor and graduate director of communication studies also found that the damage caused by the silent treatment can be both emotional and physical.

And, believe it or not, the silent treatment is associated with anxiety and aggression as well as physiological effects such as urinary, bowel or erectile dysfunction.

What is the silent treatment?

The silent treatment occurs when someone – your partner, best friend, family member – ignores you and refuses to speak to you. While the silent treatment is a learned pattern of communication that isn’t easily admitted or healed, you do have the power it takes to unlearn it and create a healthy relationship.

How to Deal With the Silent Treatment in a Relationship

How to Deal With the Silent Treatment in a Relationship

It’s a hard pattern to break, but my tips for dealing with the silent treatment will help you get started. They’ll also help you see your partner’s behavior in a different light.

“Couples get locked in this pattern, largely because they each see the other as the cause,” says Schrodt in What the “Silent Treatment” Says About Your Relationship. “Both partners see the other as the problem.”

The most important tip on how to deal with the silent treatment in relationships is to own your part in the problem. Why? Because that’s the only power you have. You can only change how you perceive and respond to your husband.

Ask the wife – whom research shows is more often the demanding partner in relationships – and she’ll complain that her husband is closed off, emotionally unavailable. Ask the husband and he’ll say he might open up if she’d just back off.

How to Deal With the Silent Treatment in a Relationship

The silent treatment is when someone you love refuses to acknowledge or talk to you, no matter what you say or do. It’s frustrating and hurtful, and is a form of emotional manipulation and control. It’s an immature way to deal with hurt feelings – but if you know how to deal with the silent treatment in relationships, you can protect yourself.

The silent treatment came from early cultures long ago, when ostracism or being expelled was a form of punishment. Even today, not being included in a group or community is a terrible thing to experience. In early cultures, being ostracized meant almost certain death because people couldn’t live without the protection of a society.

Today the silent treatment isn’t about physical life or death, but it can affect the longevity and health of your relationship. That’s another reason learning how to deal with the silent treatment in relationships is so important: it can make or break your bond with your partner.

1. Learn why your partner uses the silent treatment

Sometimes people can’t express their thoughts or feelings, so they clam up. Other times their emotions – anger, hurt, fear – are so strong that they simply can’t talk. Sometimes people feel that they aren’t a match for their partner verbally, so they shut down. The silent treatment can be a way for your partner to protect him or herself. The silent treatment is a form of bullying, and it’s often used to get what is wanted in the relationship. This type of passive aggressive communication might be all your partner learned as a child – it may be how your partner controlled his or her world.

Why do you think your partner uses the silent treatment in your relationship? Understanding the reasons behind his or her behavior can help you move forward in your relationship. If you feel like you’re somehow contributing to this pattern of relating, read How to Heal Codependency in Your Relationship.

2. Talk about the silent treatment with your partner

You can’t deal with the silent treatment when your partner isn’t talking to you, but you can bring it up after the storm has passed. Tell your boyfriend or girlfriend how much you care about them, and how important they are to you. Share how it feels when you get the silent treatment, and how it affects your relationship. You might even discuss other examples of verbal abuse in relationships, so your partner sees how serious it is.



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Avoid “giving as good as you get” when you’re on the receiving end. It doesn’t help to deal with the silent treatment in relationships by giving the silent treatment right back to your partner! This just increases hostility and negative feelings, and puts more of a wall in between you and her.

3. Accept your partner’s unwillingness to talk

I admit that I’m guilty of giving the silent treatment to my husband. It seemed like a good idea at the time – it seemed to be an appropriate way to deal with him! But it’s not appropriate. It’s actually very harmful to a relationship, even though it seems like “just” the silent treatment.

The reason I tend to fall back on the silent treatment as a way of communicating – and it is a method of communication, believe it or not – is because I’m too scared or insecure to share how I really feel. Something is threatening me. It may be real (eg, my husband has legitimately pointed out something I’ve done wrong) or perceived (eg, I  mistakenly thought my husband was still attracted to his ex-girlfriend, so I was jealous).

One of the best tips on how to deal with the silent treatment in relationships is to ignore it – depending on the reason your husband has clammed up on you. Walk away and leave your partner alone during an actual episode of the silent treatment. If you sweet talk, beg, or threaten your partner while he or she is giving you the silent treatment, you’ll only make it worse. It’s better to just let your partner’s anger and childishness run its course. Eventually she’ll come back to you, ready to end the argument and start talking again.

4. Learn the pattern of the silent treatment in your relationship

Sometimes people who give the silent treatment need their partners to make the first move.

Dealing With the Silent Treatment in a Relationship

How to Deal With the Silent Treatment in a Relationship

After you’ve given your husband time to cool down, maybe you have to be the first to apologize. It doesn’t seem fair, but often the giver of the silent treatment is the one who needs to be approached.

What’s the pattern of the silent treatment in your relationship? If you can identify it, then you’re in a better position for dealing with it. If your partner needs two days to cool off, then don’t approach her before that. If your partner refuses to talk until you apologize first, then you need to meet her where she’s at – if you want to stay in this relationship.

5. Quick tips for dealing with the silent treatment in relationships

Remember that getting more talkative or vocal when you’re getting the silent treatment won’t help your relationship. Here are a few strategies for dealing with the silent treatment with someone you love:

  • Remind yourself that the problem can’t be solved until your partner tells you what is wrong. It’s not up to you to fix the problem
  • Don’t try to read your partner’s mind – it’s impossible!
  • Don’t give the silent treatment back
  • Let your partner know that you care about her and want to know why she’s upset, when she’s ready to talk
  • Invite your partner to explain what is bothering her, when she’s ready
  • Don’t engage. Don’t play your part of the game. Instead, go about your business and try not to get angry. She will eventually have to change her behavior

I know these tips for dealing with the silent treatment in relationships are easier said than done! But, if you can stay emotionally healthy when you’re faced with the silent treatment, you’re more likely to deal with it the right way.

If you feel like you can’t live without your partner, read How to Let Go of Someone You Love. I wrote it to help people deal with everything from the silent treatment to the loss of a loved one.

Help for Difficult Relationships

the silent treatment in relationshipsIn Toxic Men: 10 Ways to Identify, Deal with, and Heal from the Men Who Make Your Life Miserable, Lillian Glass describes how to identify, handle, and heal from men who make you miserable. You’ll learn tips for dealing with the silent treatment in relationships – plus how to handle all types of men, from the “Sneaky, Passive-Aggressive, Silent-But-Deadly Erupting Volcano” to the “Instigating, Backstabbing Meddler.” Dr. Glass offers ten practical ways to deal with every type of toxic partner.

I list Lillian Glass’ book below because it’s incredibly important to learn how to deal with toxic relationships if your partner refuses to stop giving you the silent treatment. Learning how to communicate better or finding tips on dealing with the silent treatment in relationships won’t help unless you know you’re with a toxic person. Equip yourself with the tools you need to deal with difficult people, or think about breaking up with your partner.

You might also find How to Know if a Man is Emotionally Available for Love helpful.

I welcome your thoughts on how to deal with the silent treatment in relationships, but I can’t offer advice or counseling. If you share what you’re experiencing, you may feel better – and you might gain clarity and insight into your relationship.

May you experience healing and growth in your relationship – as well as peace and joy! May you and your partner have good conversations, and work towards building a healthy relationship that doesn’t involve the silent treatment.

If it doesn’t feel right to you, then it’s wrong for you.



xo




Your thoughts are welcome below! I don't give advice, but you can get free relationship help from marriage coach Mort Fertel.




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52 thoughts on “5 Tips for Dealing With the Silent Treatment in a Relationship

  • Ericka

    I am currently going through this. My boyfriend of 5 years hasn’t spoken to me all day after an argument last night that admittedly was my fault. I have apologized many times and he won’t respond. This is not the first time he has done this. It is a trend when we fight. It always ends in us having a conversation where he says he doesn’t think he can be with me anymore. He has never actually broken up with me for longer than 3 days. But right now I am terrified that I am going to have that same conversation again. I feel like I can’t breathe. I can’t stop crying. I have never tried not giving into the silent treatment so maybe it’s time to try it and not reach out to him anymore.
    I have no doubt that he loves me. We have a very loving and passionately relationship usually. I sincerely believe this is a tool he uses to gain control over the relationship. Honestly I’m not sure why he wouldn’t use the silent treatment and continue it for a while, based on my usual reactions, telling him how much I love him, how I can’t live without him, I’ll do anything, he is the most amazing man ever, etc. Who wouldn’t want to hear all of that. I guess I’m going to have to stop doing that if I want anything to change. It’s just my fear of losing him that gets in the way and I feel panicky and desperate. Ugh!! This is the worst. Gonna go bury my head in my pillow! Hopefully this doesn’t last much longer.

    • Tweet

      I’ve been thru the same thing and it’s constantly and i end up being wrong all the time and have to apologize for something I didn’t do. I made a song because Me and my husband fight all the time and it helps me cope with his silent treatment.

  • RR

    My wife is appsolutely controlling
    My wife is difficult complicated and a perfectionist. Everything has a place a purpose and is in order.
    My wife does not really accept my input, ignores my advise over others .
    My wife is a CEO and a financial wizard and regularly talks down to men because she has authority and seniority over most management

    My wife uses silent treatment and refuses to aclnowledge any fault. Her ego wont allow it.

    16 years of silent treatment ..

    First. I love her and still do
    Second: She loves me deeply and i know this too.
    Third: We simply will not leave each other.
    Treid a million times before marriage It didnt work so we stopped doing it.
    Fourth: There will never be anyone else. We are very lucky we both have the same moral and ethiical up bringing. and knew from the begining its an unfirgivable offence. Never happen.

    The only way we cope is i demanded an end too silent treatment after 72 hours.
    NON negotiable

    As well as not hiding away.

    .Like work or overnights at family or freinds during this period there is no seperation under duress.

    Unless its unavoidable through work or an emergency.

    We both agreed no matter how difficult if we are seperated we hug and try our best to farewell each other the best we can.

    and try not to judge each other or win points. Having to say goodbye for awhile.

    We have both lost parents so we understand last oppitunity and unsaid love and iits eventual cost.

    We both EXCLUDE family and freinds no matter what with our marriage or any of our issues

    NON NEGOTIABLE

    Why.

    I got sick of hearing our life struggle from her family and freinds before getting married.
    Its habitual…so we stopped doing it

    So we agreed to not involve others…

    I told her you can ignore me, you can retreat and refuse physical and emotional contact.
    Thats ok. As long as theres no abuse or nastiness. Civil conversation only.

    After 72 hours it stops.

    Because it use to go on for days and weeks i got sick , tired, and angry and jealous because she would be loving to everyone else just too rub it in.
    I was totally isolated in her world.

    I put my foot down to this behaviour and put our marriage on the line. She resisted and refused wanting too control and argue
    I stood my ground.

    Two hours later

    i said I love you only goodbye left and caught a plane .home too my country. Short version. Her world fell apart.

    All the work functions and dining out hiding at work did not warm her heart or he bed. Neither did her parents or freinds as they were shocked. Who thought we where so happy for so many years.

    Two weeks later my wife relented and called me a hell of a mess. We met at another location made up and set our rules.

    I hate silent treatment with a passion
    Only i love my wife more…
    Shes a pain in the ass but my pain.

    As long as she gives up after 72 hours im good.
    Right too the hour ill go to her hug her and ask her quitely …you good?…

    Mostly i get a shrug and only small acknowledgements.

    Only from there everythings open.

    From there im gentle relaxed and mostly
    LISTEN….. because weve done it for a longtime now theres little resistence .

    By this time missus silence has gone through her process . and I through mine.

    This has worked for us both. It may not for others .
    But after 72 hours its time to look at why be in a relationship with no emotional or physical connection.

    Silent treatment is emotional and physical blackmail. It is abuse.
    So difficult to heal or move foward if both parties give it tokenizim or refuse to face or acknowledge the reality that it is abuse.

    Goodluck vxox

  • Ginger

    Why do all of these sites giving advice PROMOTE kissing the silent treatment giver’s arse? What if the person giving the silent treatment is simply WRONG and cannot control his emotions, throwing out a barrage of insults, mockery and swear words at ME while I’m simply trying to communicate GENTLY AND QUIETLY my feelings? If I stand up for myself, more insults and swearing then the silent treatment. If I give in and say I’m sorry, I’m b-s-ing and I get more insults, swearing and the silent treatment.

    Then he comes to bed an hugs me and says he loves me. How in the heck am I supposed to allow this to happen and put HIS feelings first? And furthermore, how am I supposed to let it go and say “oh he loves me, he just enjoys abusing me and always needs to be right.”

    I think you need to put some bigger disclaimer on your article because I’m quite sure most women (and perhaps some men), get the silent treatment from being abused, not from something they did wrong. I got it for six hours last night after being called a b*tch and yelled at. Apparently I was “mean” to him when I asked him to move his computer so I could sit in bed. I’d been standing waiting for 8 minutes while he was getting himself comfortable. Silly me for needing to relax too. Apparently my asking him to move his computer was my “way” of starting a fight. Totally illogical.

    • Vxox

      Ginger, I totally agree about the silent treatment…the psychologists are right. What i mean is someone has to take control or it spirals way out of control .
      Mostly through subborness or habitual process or as you say .
      Why should I relent too this abuse. .its BS right
      Specially if the truth is you are innocent and its mind games and self denial.

      What i remember from all these episodes of silence. Was the after process.

      If my wife didnt regret, be ashamed or feel partly responsible and in the end take responsiblity.
      We would be over alongtime ago.

      Its painful to watch someone you love struggle with acknowledging their behaviour

      It doesnt matter how many times it happens. Thats another key. Its a reality, the silent treatment may ALWAYS happen in some relationships.

      Its whether your prepared to adapt and always take the first step towards reconciliation.

      If not you…then how is it possible without drastic action?

      Kind Regards
      vxox

  • Ian

    I think it’s emotional abuse, pure and simple. My ex-fiancée gave me two months of silent treatment last year. It was acutely painful, shocking and confusing but eventually I gathered my resources and found someone else. I figured if she could do this once she’d do it again whenever she felt the need to re-establish control of the relationship. I didn’t want to deal with that kind of manipulation and abuse so she’s now my ex, and good riddance. I thank the universe for a lucky escape.

  • Chantilly

    I read this article because Iam going through silent treatment thing. But this article made me laugh because it stated that silent treatments are associated with psychological problems, bowel,and urinary problems and erectile dysfunction lol all of which my fiancé has. But am going to use your tips. And if it doesn’t get better with him am giving him the boot.

  • Babra

    My sweetheart stays far away from me, it’s worse than the silent treatment. Our relationship is difficult because he avoids me and gives me no attention. Thanks for your advice for dealing with silence in relationships, I will take what you say and apply it.

  • Ron

    My girlfriend of 6 months is giving me the second silent treatment over my response to some drama she started herself. The first silent treatment lasted little over a week which already caused our relationship to be practically destroyed. But now she has blocked me for 18 days, I’m not even calling, texting, in fact I have dumped her but haven’t told her yet and I’m thinking about just return the favour and go no contact if she ever tries to reach back. I’ve been reading a lot about Borderline and Narcissism, which are usually the people who give silent treatments, and usually when they give you a silent treatment they are cheating.
    So I’m going on dates with new girls too, I’m done with her.

    • Amelia

      Unmmm contracdicing ya self really in my eyes. You don’t do what they do, if you think it’s mentally wrong for someone to act like that why copy it? Doesn’t that just go to show your not much different. You just break it off and explain why, you don’t put the other person in the same position they put you in, it makes no sense to do that and it’s just as cruel, plus you have no idea if she is cheating and what if she hasn’t even spoke to another guy? Your just gonna make yourself look like a complete c*nt

  • Vidhya

    Hi me and my husband is not talking for past one week.. According to him the mistake is mine, but for me it’s his mistakes.. We are not talking at all… Our conversation is jus cud reg my daughter schooling. How to deal with this…. I want my husband to come and talk to me…. I miss him much…

  • Milly

    I have had the silent treatment on and off for 7 years.
    All I said was that’s one of your cronies from the pub.
    And he gave me the silent treatment.
    I said shall I go home.
    He walked off I tried to talk.
    So I gently pushed him
    He said I was violent and I’m very gentle
    It hurt me so much

  • Lisa

    It is a second week of silent treatment from my husband of 13 years. It has happened before but now we live in long distance relationship. Our son who stays with me tried to call him to tell about his new skateboard experience he did not pick up, he left a message that he called also no response. I get it it’s done to punish me for some really stupid thing. Really stupid thing, I’m thinking of leaving him. 13 years never pick up calls when we are in an argument, once he shut me and my then baby son out of apartment. We had to stay in a hotel, I really tried to stay in this marriage but I’m feeling I can’t do this anymore. Its complicated cause I don’t work at the moment and he never wanted me to work I see it now why.

  • Aj

    I’ve gotten the silent treatment all day. Around 8 this morning, my gf asked me to go to the grocery store. I went but also stopped at a few other stores along the way to pick up some things. I got home later than she expected so now she hasn’t been talking to me all day. It’s after 10pm and she still hasn’t said a word to me. This relationship is depressing.

    • Phyllis

      I think you better be glad it’s just a girlfriend! Please take a lot of time deciding if your relationship should go further. I have been dealing with the silent treatment from my husband for the six years of our marriage, sometimes up to six months. Honestly, I knew he would get like this when we were dating, however, we always got through it because it was never for a long period of time. Trust me it is always worse after marriage. I love him but I hate being treated like this and would rather be by myself.

  • Amanda kostynyk

    I am also in a new relationship and dealing with going on 4 weeks now of silence. I have tried to reach out and was met with nothing when I texted or called. So after about 2 weeks, I emailed him and told him obviously he wanted nothing to do with me and I was going to block all contact. Well that sent a reply to me (from him) within about 2 minutes. Not a nice one. But he said “all I ask is you leave me be for a while and all you do is incessently harangue me. You seem to have trouble complying with even the simplest of requests. Good luck.” WOW! What the heck? I never once harangued him. All I know is we were talking on the phone really well and all was good but at the end of that conversation (2am in the morning and I was exhausted). I asked him where he saw the relationship going when he returned from NC (we only had one date before he left to got o NC for a month but we talked everyday for at least a few hours in the evening while he was there). Well his response was “I have to go give the dog his pill. ” I felt dismissed and said “I feel hurt and I feel you are dismissing me. Can the dog not wait?” And then he hung up.

    So I gave it a day and tried to contact him. Nothing. Then when i did get him on the phone 2 days later (which i should say were two days where I was terrified something bad happened to him and was emailing and texting so scared and crying…yet getting no response and all along he was receiving them!!) he told me I needed to go reflect on my wrongs and when he was ready he would contact me. I asked him how long he thought he needed. He said a few days. Never heard from him in a few days so tried reaching out, being gentle, apologizing if he was hurt, asking could we talk as I needed to understand what i had done. Nothing. So that was his idea of “haranguing.”

    Anyways I got him on the phone 3 days ago and I said “look just tell em if you never wish to see me or speak to me again. Just be upfront.” And he says “well no I never speak in absolutes. Call me Thursday and we will see if we can be friends but right now I am hanging up because when you call, I put my guard up.” And he hung up. So i emailed him I am not calling and if he wants a friendship, he has to put effort into this as I am doing too much. That was 2 days ago and nothing so whatever……

  • Laurie

    Sometimes friends aren’t as invested in relationships as married spouses are, so it may be more difficult to encourage a friend to deal with the silent treatment. It really depends on the friend, though, and how emotionally aware and growth-oriented he or she is.

  • Clifford

    i’m currently facing the silent treatment from my friend and its really hard to deal with, i hope these tips are going to work for me…thanks.

  • Laurie

    When you’re dealing with the silent treatment in relationships, you’re also dealing with feelings of confusion and insecurity. Silence from your boyfriend, husband, or life partner brings up all these questions that you can’t answer! It’s a weird and sometimes scary place to be.

    I can’t give personal advice and I don’t know if your boyfriend will change. But, I did write an article about how to overcome feelings of insecurity and confusion:

    5 Steps to Overcoming Insecurity in Your Relationships
    https://howloveblossoms.com/overcoming-insecurity-in-relationships/

    The most important thing to ask yourself is whether you can continue moving forward in your relationship just the way it is. I wouldn’t expect my husband to change, because change is difficult (but possible!). The only person I’d expect to change would be me.

    What changes can you make in your life and relationship, to make dealing with the silent treatment easier?

  • Ruby

    Been with my lover for a year now. This week he stopped contact with me after Tuesday, today is Saturday evening. I feel like he’s giving me the silent treatment. Even when he’s wrong, I always have to apologize first. I’m 24 and he’s 43. Is he too set in his way to change? He’s never gone this long without letting me know.

  • sisi

    I have been separated from my husband for five years. Before that here has been the silent treatment for twenty five years.. I can’t get him to talk on the phone or my text. but he talks when I visit his office. I still love him how can i reach him

  • Evelien

    My boyfriend is giving me the silent treatment right now. We have been dating for over 7 months but we have been ‘officially together’ since about a month. A new partner is exciting and fun, but when it comes to getting to know your partner when you’re in a fight… That’s stressful. We had a small argument a while ago and he didn’t speak to me for a couple of hours. At that time I didn’t really realise it, coz we’re long distance so we don’t see each other every week. He just didn’t text me. It was just now when we had our big argument, I noticed that this is what he does and those couple hours non-talking should’ve been mu first clue. He has the right to be angry with me, I said something to upset him and I know it (I already apologized, but it doesn’t seem to break the silence). It’s just hard for me that he’s not talking to me. I’m a very emotional person and I recently got out of a depression, so this doesn’t do me any good. I’m afraid to lose him over something stupid. Since this is our first fight… I don’t know how long this is gonna take and if he will come back to me. So I’m kind of a train wreck right now. He won’t return my calls or texts, we were supposed to see each other this weekend but I don’t know if that will still happen with this situation going on. I rather have someone yelling and screaminf at me, at least that way you can solve the argument… This just leaves me powerless and frustrated…

    • Linda

      I’m going to offer some advice…since he displays this behavior as a boyfriend and he is not your husband I would suggest you end it with him. Because guess what, he is going to do this as your husband as well and it’s about ten times worse when your living with someone and they ignore you for days and weeks. Like walking right by you, don’t speak to you as though you don’t even exist. It’s pure hell. If I had known my now husband would do this to me he would have been dropped immediately because I don’t play this game. We too didn’t see each other often because it was long distance so I had no idea he would act like this. You deserve better! The choice is yours!

    • Siggy

      Same here…if I say something (usually express any type of feelings) it’s the silent treatment. Relationship is 2 plus years.

  • Ben

    I’m confused. My wife will say that I never communicate with her, but when I try to communicate she shuts me down. I never give her the silent treatment. I’m just quiet and introverted and I live with two kids, my in-laws and a constant stream of visitors so alot of communication doesnt happen because we simply don’t have a chance to be alone. When I do open up I’m met with criticism and judgement rather than a sympathetic, empathetic or supportive tone. Sometimes I am so emotionally exhausted I tell my wife I just need her hugs but she still hasn’t hugged me for months. I just don’t understand how she can be so understanding and compassionate to people she barely knows but holds me to some impossibly high standard that I fear I will never meet. I know I’m not perfect but I am doing my best.

  • Marla

    What about if it’s your own mother? I set a boundary that although I love her, she couldn’t be around my children until she sobers up from alcohol abuse. She threatened to disinherit me and told me I deserved “whatever I get because of this.” The silent treatment has lasted weeks. I don’t trust myself to call because I am worried I will lose my temper and say something I regret. She has no interest in my family or my life. She hasn’t been there for me and I haven’t felt safe to confide in her for years.

  • Melanie

    Excellent article on dealing with the silent treatment in relationships. Only thing is I would say to make it gender neutral as BOTH sexes participate in this behavior. I know from personal experience. Thanks.

    • Linda

      Has anyone actually had any success in actually getting their spouse to stop using the silent treatment? I’ve been married a year and I had no idea he even did this. He never revealed this part of him before we were married or I would have never married him. He will ignore me for a week no speaking, coming home at midnight, I don’t know where he is or what he is doing. I’ve never experienced this hell in my life before. I don’t know what to do. I just carry on with life as usual until he breaks his silence. Oh and he insists he loves me so much. But from what I know you don’t ignore people you love.

      • S

        Hi Linda,

        I read your comment on this website and I can understand perfectly well what you are saying. I have a husband who is just like this. He can go on for weeks not talking and
        wont even tell me what’s going on. We have been married for 4 years now and I almost went crazy the first 2 years because of this behavior. I have never seen or experience anything like in my life before. Now, after 4 years I just ignore him when he starts this ridiculous thing. How are you coping with this? Hope to hear back from you.

      • Linda

        Hi S.—my husband has finally admitted he has a problem with giving the silent treatment and I think he will go to counseling. Fingers crossed. I am just trying not to do anything or say anything confrontational so that he doesn’t get mad. I don’t really want to live like this but it’s kind of the only choice I have I guess until he can work out why he does this and how he can stop doing it. If it’s possible.

      • Ben

        My wife has been ignoring me for over two months. In the presence of other people she will appear happy and friendly and will show me the slightest affection but when we’re alone she has refused to talk to me and completely ignores me. I don’t know what to do. We went to counseling twice but she refuses to go back. I know I’m not perfect but if I’m so terrible that she’ll ignore me for two months I can’t help but wonder if she loves me at all.

    • Joanie Condor

      Too much “gender neutral” in the world today Mels…please spare me and the rest of society of the “gender neutral” boloney. Men are men, Women are Women and each have their own set of behaviors. Though both sexes may participate in this behavior, it is mostly men that clam up simply because it’s in their nature to do so. Women are more verbal, men are more well…men.

      • Captain Psychodrive

        Well, as someone who’s had to deal with the silent treatment from my girlfriend (now ex-girlfriend), let me throw in my two cents.

        From what I’ve seen, the silent treatment heralds the end of a relationship. She and I would argue. If it was my fault, I’d man up, apologize, and ask for forgiveness. When it was her fault, she would insult me, bring up things i was sensitive about, and when that didn’t work, she’d go silent and refuse to acknowledge my existence for days at a time. She refused counseling. Didn’t want to talk to anyone about it (at least, not in front of me, I eventually found out she was spreading rumors through my circle of friends) until one day, during those silent days, I just said to her “have fun” and left.

        Cue my phone exploding five days later, accusing me of abandoning her when I was always the one trying to talk things over. This explosion lasted a month. I refused to deal with any of it, as I was done.

        To say this is a one-sided issue is a fallacy. Both sexes are doing it. For me, my answer was to leave. I refuse to love someone who ignores my existence when it’s convenient for them to do so. It just leaves issues unresolved.

  • Dee

    I’ve been my married to my husband for nine years n for nine years he’s been given me the Silent Treatment.where n the hell do they do that at they’ve spoken about letting ur husband cool off!! N not to pressure him n give him time to come Around. In some cases that may be true if it was two weeks or two months maybe but,nine years of pure hell. Just Imagine u living in a house with ur husband n He doesn’t tells u Nothing.Its unreal but Iam in the Process of getting out!! The Marriage No one should have to live like that.

  • Diane Shaffer

    Sounds like my 24 year marriage. I didn’t know I was marrying a 5 year old. I can’t do anything right. I’m constantly changing everything about myself to make him happy. No matter what I “fix” about myself he finds something else about me to blame for his unhappiness. He’s currently giving me the silent treatment because I used tea tree oil and he didn’t like the smell. But do you think he said anything about it. Of course not. It’s like pulling teeth to figure out what the problem is. I either get the silent treatment or berated for offending his space/nose. Once I finally got him to tell me what the problem was he accused me of purposely trying to ruin his day. I walk on egg shells constantly. Never knowing what will set him off. I have to be on my toes always thinking before I say or do anything as to not offend him. He thinks people in traffic are trying to ruin his day to. Slow him down. I got him to go to therapy and he said it wasn’t working because he was still waiting for her to tell him how to be happy. She wrote him a letter and told him she could not help him because he failed to do his part in therapy. Not to mention he quit showing up. No shows no calls. His time is valuable but not anyone else. Except his friends that is.

  • Jose

    My girlfriend gives me the silent treatment when it’s my fault AND when it’s her fault. I find myself apologizing for things even when its not my fault just to stop the silent treatment. It’s emotionally draining. Then when I apologize she acts like the victim even if it was her fault. It makes no sense.

    • Ben

      My wife told me she didn’t want to be married to me any more but when I packed a bag to sleep at my sister’s she accused me of abandoning her and our children. What was I supposed to do? I’ve been told by some women that it was said in anger implying she didn’t mean it…I’ve never, ever suggested a divorce but every time she is upset I am in fear that she will leave me.

  • Chris

    Dealing with it now (6 weeks of silent treatment and counting ) because I refused to deal with the fine he got for not attending jury duty, I told him my plate was full dealing with house repairs, dispute with insurance company over delays, three kids, disabled son, full time work , shopping, washing, cooking, cleaning and kids extra caricular activities. Silent treatment makes a change from being told by him I have borderline personality disorder. Which he did for a number of years.

    • Ben

      As far as I’m concerned the silent treatment is never appropriate. If things are that bad in a relationship that you’ll ignore someone for months then it would be kinder to end the relationship than to subject someone to that.

  • Laurie

    Thanks for your insight into why some men become emotionally distant in relationships, New Age Man! It’s interesting to learn your perspective of the silent treatment, and why showing emotions is dangerous.

    I hope you and your wife can resolve your differences and let go of whatever the issue was that caused the silent treatment. Life is no fun in the war zone! Especially when the battle is at home.

    May you find peace and joy, and may your marriage surprise you in healthy and positive ways.

  • New Age Man

    I’m currently in the process of giving my wife the silent treatment. I will not back down because I don’t feel I’ve done anything wrong. This is a war of wills and I’m not going to lose. She’s responded by returning the favor. Women need to understand that it only works a limited number of times with a man. We’re already non-verbal and good at hiding our emotions. We’re also conditioned by society to act indifferent and “baring your soul” to a woman is extremely dangerous anymore. The campaign by feminists to “Bathe in Male Tears” has demonstrated clearly why showing emotions is dangerous.
    Men give women the silent treatment because women will always find a way to turn any discussion around and make it the man’s fault. He could be enraged but be apologizing to her before it’s over. There is a saying that goes: A woman has the last word in any argument. Anything the man says after that is the beginning of a new argument. That’s why we clam up and become emotionally distant.

  • Mary

    I could have written this! I’m going through this now and I’ve been married 32 years. I only put up with it because my mom did this and I thought it was just a part of life. To think that I not only tolerated it, but also allowed myself to believe it was all my fault, makes me feel as if I have wasted my life. To continue in your relationship will mean a lifetime of him deciding everything from what party you will go to when you can take a shower. If you try to make a decision he doesn’t agree with he will sabotage it so there is a bad outcome and then blame it on you for not working out. You won’t get birthday cards or presents unless he is in the mood. He will complain you don’t cook dinner then when you prepare a nice meal he will find a reason to not eat. He may even be insulting to others in front of you just to prove he demands respect. He will insult you and then say it’s a joke or wink his eye. He would rather have someone feel bad about themselves then to admit he made a mistake. That will include your children if you marry this guy. His ego is very fragile and part of the silent treatment is to protect his ego and totally control the situation by withdrawing. Why put up with this? If you had a similar childhood then you should get help so you don’t fall into a pattern of being attracted to this kind of guy. Have fun and good luck.

  • Zera

    I am dealing with a partner who is giving me the silent treatment and the hardest part is that I don’t even know where I stand in our relationship because we only met when we both agreed to meet and its still a new relationship….he told me before that he likes his space so when he told me that he needs space I tried to understand. Its hard because this relationship is still new so I don’t understand this behavior or I just didn’t expect him to act like this at the early stages of our relationship….He told me that he will tell me when he wants to see me but I think that’s weird because now the space is even on the phone cause he doesn’t call nor text me and when I do….I get ignored, Is this the end cause now am already preparing myself for the worst.

    • MKDinkel

      I could have written this! I’m dealing with the silent treatment in my relationship now and I’ve been married 32 years. I only put up with it because my mom did this and I thought it was just a part of life. To think that I not only tolerated it, but also allowed myself to believe it was all my fault, makes me feel as if I have wasted my life. To continue in your relationship will mean a lifetime of him deciding everything from what party you will go to when you can take a shower. If you try to make a decision he doesn’t agree with he will sabotage it so there is a bad outcome and then blame it on you for not working out. You won’t get birthday cards or presents unless he is in the mood. He will complain you don’t cook dinner then when you prepare a nice meal he will find a reason to not eat. He may even be insulting to others in front of you just to prove he demands respect. He will insult you and then say it’s a joke or wink his eye. He would rather have someone feel bad about themselves then to admit he made a mistake. That will include your children if you marry this guy. His ego is very fragile and part of the silent treatment is to protect his ego and totally control the situation by withdrawing. Why put up with this? If you had a similar childhood then you should get help so you don’t fall into a pattern of being attracted to this kind of guy. Have fun and good luck.