One of the most common situation you will find yourself facing in any relationship is when your partner refuses to talk to you. This silent treatment is what happens when one person in a relationship (friend, family, or romantic) refuses to talk to the other person.
The silent treatment is often considered to be a very damaging and destructive behaviour. Though not always the case, its often associated with emotional abuse and can be very damaging to relationships. Since relationships rely on honest and open communication to flourish, a partner that stops communicating is actually doing harm to that relationship, whether they know it or not.
How you deal with your partner giving you the silent treatment depends on the context.
If your partner is temporarily withdrawing, it’s useful to find out if they are doing so because you’ve done something wrong, they are feeling hurt, or if they just need some time to work through their emotions. Apologising, if you’ve done something wrong, signalling you’d like to make amends, and having some patience go a long way to drawing the person to communicate.
When the silent treatment is part of a pattern of behaviour that they inflict on you for days or weeks at a time, it is abusive. It can be a passive-aggressive technique to exert emotional control over you or used to drive you towards acting in a way your partner wants.
In such a case, you have to set up clear boundaries about your expectations for open and honest communication; something that is key to a healthy and sustainable relationship. Talk to your partner about how to communicate and about voicing their concerns or displeasure. Your expectation should be that you both keep the lines of communication open in order to talk through your issues together.
While temporarily withdrawing is normal as you try to get a handle on your own thoughts and emotions, you have to make sure you properly communicate your intentions to prevent the issue from becoming worse, or triggering your partner into doing something rash in a fit of anger or frustration.
Often, it’s good enough to just say, “I’m very upset right now. We’ll talk later once I’ve calmed down a bit.” This should keep the situation from escalating and spiralling out of control.
Though it may not be easy, remember not to respond in anger or to apologise unnecessarily just to try to resolve the situation. Situations like this can tend to trigger one or both, and having some patience, understanding, and self-control goes a long way towards being able to ensure your relationship stays healthy and thriving.
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