Best Ways to Respond to the Silent Treatment

By on February 21, 2017

There is truly nothing more devastating than getting the silent treatment from someone you love. In all honesty, you would probably rather be yelling at each other for hours instead of being left alone without a single response to all of your efforts. It is one of the most treacherous things that someone can do to another person, but there are ways to get through it- and our helpful tips and responses will ensure you still have your pride and confidence, even when you are going through something as horrible as this.

Is silent treatment abuse?

You might be thinking that calling the silent treatment abuse is somewhat harsh. After all, there is a vast majority of individuals who only consider bodily harm as abuse. And this is somewhat true- bodily harm and injury is a form of abuse known as physical abuse, but there are two other types of abuse that are just as horrible, if not worse: physical and emotional abuse. And the silent treatment just so happens to be both.

Think about how you feel when you’re getting the silent treatment from someone you love and cherish. You sit there feeling alone and sad, thinking that you do not deserve even a small response from them. You think you are completely deserving of being left in the corner lonely and miserable, because everything is your fault anyways. And aside from feeling like a worthless piece of dirt, you spend hours going through mental torture, wondering what the other person is thinking or doing during their time of absence and silence. This is why the silent treatment is considered a form of abuse.

Gain Some Confidence

We all know just how important having self confidence is, whether we are going through the silent treatment or not. But working on your self confidence will ensure you stay feeling secure, worthy, and happy, even when you’re going through tough ordeals such as the silent treatment.

You see, the silent treatment is designed to make you feel like you are undeserving or everything, even something as little as a response from the one who claims to love you. It is designed to make you feel so small and belittled, that when you come back, you are under their thumb. It is a form of manipulation, control, and of course abuse. But to a happy and confident individual, the silent treatment will have absolutely no effect.

One more thing to keep in mind is to continue to boost your confidence while the silent treatment is happening; this will help the time pass by more quickly and help you to focus on other things other than feeling upset or going crazy trying to figure out what is on their mind. Go out with your friends, hit the gym, get a massage- do whatever you need to do to keep yourself calm, happy, and most importantly, confident.

Do Not Beg for a Response

One of the most important and biggest pieces of advice anyone could ever give you is to NEVER beg for a response from someone giving you the silent treatment.

Of course you want to talk to them. It is driving you absolutely crazy that they don’t respond. You’re becoming so desperate that you’re belittling yourself to begging them for an answer. Do you know how this makes you look? It makes you look like a complete fool. It makes you look like you NEED them in your life, like you cannot live without them. They are your entire world and you can’t take another second without them. This is something you want to completely avoid in every sense. Even though it is probably killing you inside that your beloved is not answering you, do NOT beg. Ever.

Aside from looking like a weak worm begging for a response, another reason to completely avoid begging is because the narcissistic individual giving the silent treatment actually likes it. Yes, it’s sick to think about, but when you beg to a narcissistic person, it makes them feel even better about themselves and may actually prolong the length of time in which they give you the silent treatment. They know at this point they have you wrapped around their finger and they want to enjoy it even more, with the smuggest and most vile smile on their face.

Never Let Them Know it Is Effecting You

Another big piece of advice is to never let them know that their silent treatment is effecting you in any way. You see, to a narcissistic person, they feel good knowing they are getting to you. It is their main goal, and if you let them know it’s bothering you, they feel like they have won. In their controlling and manipulative head, they are the bigger and better person and they can mess with you any way they please. Letting them know that their tactics are working will only make them want to continue the silent treatment for a longer period of time, and they will want to use this treatment more often because they know it will work each and every time.

This is obviously another reason why the silent treatment is abuse: they want you to hurt, and they want you to show it to them. This, in turn, makes them feel happy. It makes them feel like they’re the most important person in the world and they ‘own’ you and your mind.

Whatever you do, do not show them that their silent treatment is effecting you. Even if it is, keep it to yourself and try to find something else to occupy you.

Do Not Try to Argue With Them

Someone who is giving you the silent treatment is probably someone who is incredibly angry with you to begin with. Whether it was something small or large, whether it was one sided or you both played a role, the fact of the matter is they are angry and the only way they know how to deal with it is to completely cut you off. That being said, trying to argue with them even further is not going to help the situation whatsoever. Sure, you may get a couple responses here and there, but they won’t be happy responses and they certainly won’t be responses that are leaning towards the two of you actually getting together and working everything out.

Although you may also be upset about whatever has gone on, it’s best to not try and argue with someone when they are giving you the silent treatment. The best thing is to stay quiet and let things cool off a bit.

Do Not Apologize for No Reason

Sometimes people argue because they disagree about something, and if that is the case in your situation, do not apology if you truly meant what you said. Apologizing when you have absolutely no reason to, just to get this person to talk to you, is a very cowardly way to fix the situation. It also lets them know that they were ‘right’ and you were ‘wrong’; so whatever you were arguing about, forget about your argument. Apologizing completely rules out anything that you have said and they will believe they were right from here on out. Just because you miss them and want them to respond, does not mean you have to let down your own thoughts and opinions. Be confident and secure in yourself.

On the other hand, there are certain times where you probably should apologize. For instance: if you cheated on your partner and they found out about it and they don’t want to talk to you for awhile, then you probably should send them a short text message to let them know that you are sorry for what you have done. But just simply state your apology and move on. Do not continuously message them with apologies. One sincere apology is enough.

Do Not Keep Bugging Them

Sending message after message is not going to get them to talk to you. If anything, all they are going to do is be completely annoyed with you and not want to respond. Instead, find some other ways to communicate with someone who is giving you the silent treatment:

-Let them know that you want to try and communicate through the problem in a different manner. For instance: maybe you demanded them to do something, and they didn’t like feeling like you were treating them as if they were a slave. Let them know you acknowledge that you approached the situation wrong and you would like to try again in a different way.

-Ask them only once if there is anything that you can do to help with the situation, or if there is any way you can help them to feel more open to communicating with you. Extending a hand can be very useful, especially if someone is used to completely shutting down after an argument.

-If all else fails, you can use a more combative move to end the silent treatment. If they refuse to say anything to you at all, then simply telling them that ‘you were right since they can’t respond’ will almost always rev up a response. However, you DO need to expect the narcissistic person to become incredibly angry when you say something like that. They will come at you in a combative way, but this will open up the line of communication. When things start to become heated, you can tone it down and try and get the conversation back to a more subtle tone so it can truly be worked out.

Find Better Ways to Communicate

If your partner is the type to give the silent treatment often, you need to find better ways to communicate. Most of the time, simply working on finding better ways to communicate at home is enough and you can almost always find a good way to communicate to replace the silent treatment. However, some people are over-the-top when it comes to their narcissistic behavior and will need more professional treatment. This can be very useful, especially if trying to find better ways to communicate does not seem to work out on your own. Also note that there are some people out there who absolutely do not want to change, and if this individual cannot stop abusing you with the silent treatment, it would probably be best to leave them completely.

Find Out the Deeper Issues

Sometimes there is a deeper issue to the silent treatment. Think about it: what triggers the silent treatment most often? Sometimes it is something as simple as the way that YOU are communicating with someone. Perhaps you’re approaching situations much more rudely than you should, and taking a different approach could avoid the situation altogether. Perhaps the two of you do not know how to work and solve an issue together, immediately going into a rage the second something even small happens. Take a good look at what  before the silent treatment begins, especially if the silent treatment is something that happens rather often. Working with the one you love can be a huge help when battling the treacherous silent treatment!

At the end of the day, the silent treatment just plain sucks. It’s mentally torturing and just an awful way to deal with any problem. The most important things to remember is that you need to maintain your confidence and dignity during the silent treatment. Do not bug them to respond, do not beg them for a reply, and absolutely do not try and argue with them. The best options are to be calm and in control, sending them a loving and caring message that intrigues them to calm down and talk it out. If nothing else works, wait it out and try and find better ways of communicating with this person.

Have you ever been the victim of the silent treatment? How did you handle it? Have you ever given someone the silent treatment? Why? Share all your stories.

172 Comments

  1. Avatar

    F

    March 2, 2019 at 6:40 am

    Hi I have s sister in law who has been giving me the silent treatment for over 6 months now
    We were very close until I realized she wasn’t wat she said she was she would say things like no body cares for me the way she does it continued until one day I saw the msgs she sent to someone about me it WAs totally against wat she would say and the moment I confronted her she changed her game became best friends with my other sister in laws who she would always say are not her cup of tea she turned them against me
    To a point wher they ganged up against me in social situations the 3 would get together and leave me out
    But soon they became ok wit me again
    When it came to go on holiday they always came with us this year I told my husband to tell them that we going on our own as I couldn’t deal with someone who refuses to talk to me wat kind of holiday would that be.
    After our holiday they went and they got back few days ago
    But the problem is we meet often at the in laws and still she only speaks if I speak to her and doesn’t reply to messages
    My other sister in laws say That I don’t speak to her and I should try hairdr but how much more can I do it’s like they only see the good in her it’s very draining as I don’t no wat to do anymore

    • web admin

      web admin

      March 4, 2019 at 8:04 am

      When you are dealing with this kind of person, there is not a lot that you can do about it. Clearly, she is not a positive influence in your life. For the sake of peace in your family, be cordial and talk to her when you are around each other in social situations. Otherwise, I would not worry too much about her or keep trying. Everyone else is still under her spell, but they will sooner or later figure out what she is really like. Don’t bother trying to convince them because it will just rock the boat–and they will eventually learn what she is really like all on their own. Good luck, F!

      • Avatar

        F

        March 5, 2019 at 12:47 pm

        Thank you for your reply

        I really needed the advice ❤️

        • web admin

          web admin

          March 5, 2019 at 5:52 pm

          Thank you for sharing your positive comment. Please share more of your thoughts and feelings in the future. Have a great day, F!

          • Avatar

            F

            March 9, 2019 at 9:34 pm

            thanks admin for the advice I’m feeling much more at peace not worrying about my sil

            I’m jus feeling abit stressed though as for the next two weeks we will be seeing each other every day at my in laws and it will only be me and her as my other sils wont be around
            It’s just soo awkward and uncomfortable

            Any tips on dealing with this

            • web admin

              web admin

              March 10, 2019 at 5:33 pm

              It seems as though you need a make a decision about what you want for your future. Decide what you think is appropriate and what type of life you want to maintain. Speak with the people in your life about your thoughts and feelings. Determine what actions you feel are viable and acceptable. Ensure that you share your kindness and compassion at all times. Avoid those who neglect or abuse you. Have a great day, F!

  2. Avatar

    Sarah

    February 28, 2019 at 11:25 am

    My husband definitely using the silent treatment as a form of punishment. If I have made a comment he doesn’t like or agree with he goes silent for days. At first I thought it was my fault but after doing research I realise it’s passive aggressive behaviour. To me it’s childish and pathetic! However I try to ‘ignore’ like a child’s bad behaviour but I find it very stressful. I need to find a coping strategy. If anyone has some advice I’m all ears!!

    • web admin

      web admin

      February 28, 2019 at 11:45 pm

      His behavior is inappropriate and harmful to your relationship. Determine what you think is acceptable for your relationship. Speak with him about your thoughts and feelings. Give him an opportunity to share himself with you as well. If he ignores you or treats you poorly, then you are aware that he does not respect you or your relationship. Make a decision about what you want at this time. Have a great day, Sarah!

      • Avatar

        Sarah

        March 2, 2019 at 8:02 am

        Thankyou for your reply. I am financially stuck as he pays all the bills. I am trying to rise above his behaviour but am failing! I have a very kind nature and often wish I could become strong minded and assertive- easier said than done! It is good to hear this behaviour is not normal/acceptable this helps a lot! He is very manipulative and can turn things completely upside down so I doubt myself! I now believe it is not me ! Thankyou

        • web admin

          web admin

          March 2, 2019 at 8:17 pm

          Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings. Since you are tied to him financially, you may be able to get yourself out of this situation by saving money or borrowing it from someone you trust. Determine what you want for your future, and take whichever actions you feel are appropriate. Have a great day, Sarah!

          • Avatar

            Sarah

            March 3, 2019 at 12:15 am

            Thankyou – there is a side of him that is lovely – only about 20%. I will start enquires into financial help. I am still young ‘ish’ and believe I deserve better. It is obvious he won’t compromise which is a shame because he will end up very lonely. It is not in my nature to be hurtful and this is why I am finding this situation so difficult. It means a lot to me being able to talk to somebody independent! Thankyou sarah

            • web admin

              web admin

              March 4, 2019 at 7:56 am

              You’re welcome! I hope that everything works out for you, Sarah!

  3. Avatar

    Peggy Chan

    January 26, 2019 at 5:27 pm

    My boyfriend and I have been together for over 2 years, we were so in love that we see each other every day and I was very clingy that I didn’t support his passion (cycling) because I wanted him to spend all his time with me. I believe he has been unsatisfied about the relationship, for other reasons too, for a few months.

    2 months ago, one day I was nagging him about leaving me alone and gone cycling (I am selfish), he got mad and I suspect he is giving me a silent treatment till now. He always doesn’t reply to my messages (we used to talk from day till night), never called (he is an introvert) and asked me out but he celebrated my birthday and attended my family gatherings. He also asked me out for rides in a group (not just us) once a week and acted like normal couples in front of others, but after that we barely talk and I don’t know anything about what he is doing on a daily basis.

    I know there are things that I was wrong so I apologized over text at the beginning and hope we can talk and work things out. I even cried telling him how I am feeling (then he asked me out once). He didn’t respond and refused to talk, at some point I saw his smile like he is having fun, acting/denying that he is not ignoring me.

    What should I do? We are not really in a relationship for 2 months. I am getting calm from panicking, not bugging him and hoping he will come back. One thing wierd though that he is not completely ignoring me as he is still going to a 10 days trip that we booked last year with me and friends over the Valentines week.

    Thank you.

    • web admin

      web admin

      January 27, 2019 at 7:16 pm

      It sounds as though the two of you have not communicated for two months. This is a sign that he is not interested in maintaining a relationship with you. He has ignored your calls and messages. Determine what you want for the future of this relationship. Speak with him about your thoughts and feelings. If he does not talk to you or refuses to maintain a conversation, then inform him that you can not maintain this relationship. Have a great day, Peggy!

  4. Avatar

    Shelby

    January 10, 2019 at 11:55 am

    My boyfriend and I live together and yesterday morning was the first time I’ve ever gotten mad at him and had an emotional outburst. Usually I’m better at reigning in my emotions at the time and then coming to him later to speak about it calmly. Since my outburst he has completely stonewalled me. I feel the reason I got upset was justified and last night, after we both had time to cool down, I swallowed my pride and tried to break the ice by asking if he would like to talk about it. He responded that he thought my reason for being upset was absolutely ridiculous and there was nothing to talk about. I suspect his silence is his way of trying to control of the situation as it would fall within his character. I would like the opportunity to calmly explain why I am upset with him and why his actions hurt me, but I don’t want to encourage his handling of this situation by appearing to “crack” under his silent treatment. Do I try to reach out to him to talk again? Or do I wait to see if he comes around on his own?

    • web admin

      web admin

      January 12, 2019 at 1:56 pm

      He has decided to give you the silent treatment. This means that he is not interested in maintaining a relationship with you based on respect. Determine what you want for your future. Decide what type of relationship you want to maintain. If he does not speak with you, then do not reach out to him. Focus your energy elsewhere at this time. Have a great day, Shelby!

  5. Avatar

    Blossybo

    January 5, 2019 at 11:28 pm

    My partner has been treating me like this for the last four months. We used to talk about everything. Not now. As soon as I dare to have an opinion or call him out on something no matter how small it is. By telling him I feel neglected or ignored during our normal times. He brands me an abusive bully while I stand there with my mouth open in astonishment. I’m neither of those things but he’s said it so many times I’ve started to question myself. Then that’s followed by the silent treatment. This is what he does he cuts me off. I’ve been through all the reasoning with him and trying to work it out. Then when he thinks I’ve suffered enough he tells me how much he loves me. Cries and tells me I’m his world. This time I’ve said nothing at all. I’ve just walked away. We can’t have an adult conversation about anything without him refusing to engage and ignoring me for days/weeks. I can’t do it anymore. This time I haven’t responded. I’ve said nothing at all and shut down. What’s the point? If he doesn’t care enough why should I?

    • web admin

      web admin

      January 6, 2019 at 10:52 pm

      It sounds as though you feel as though your partner is abusive and dismissive. He has stated that he feels that you bully him. It is possible that he is over reacting. It is likely that he is sharing his honest feelings. However, he has chosen to treat you poorly. This means that he may not be able to maintain a respectful relationship with you. You have decided to not speak with him. This is a perfectly acceptable reaction. Determine what you want for your future without him or speak with him one last time to determine what the two of you want for your future. Have a great day, Blossy!

  6. Avatar

    Spirituality vs materialism

    December 31, 2018 at 11:27 pm

    Silent treatment is a final stage and last resort to save the relation and save a person telling that mistake or action person is doing has gone too far. Usually a materialistic person or selfish person keep pushing the limits in their selfish and greedy demands that they become blinded to the rights of others and hurts they cause in their materialistic rampage. Usually after Multiple warnings and discussions are ignored then the only solution to bring that person to reality and stop hurting others is silent treatment.

    If you love your husband why do you hang around at 11pm parties, isn’t your time with loving husband more important, and when every sane person knows how much drugs, alcohol, fornication takes place in these parties yet you expect your husband to still stand by you, that’s totally selfish, people want side relation and in the same time to keep loyal person as a back up plan, shame, what a selfishness.

    • web admin

      web admin

      January 1, 2019 at 6:58 pm

      Thank you for sharing your insights and experiences. We always appreciate when members of our community share their thoughts and feelings. Please feel free to share more of your positive and supportive comments in the future. Have a great day, Anon!

  7. Avatar

    Lisa

    December 25, 2018 at 11:19 am

    It’s Xmas day. My boyfriend and I got into an argument last night. It’s 2pm and he is still giving me the silent treatment that began last night. The Xmas presents we got for each other are still wrapped. I provoked the argument we had last night. This morning I apologized, asked him if there’s anything I can do to help him feel better and asked him if he wanted to be left alone. He accepted my apology and said he’d like to be left alone.
    Meanwhile, I am reading every article I can find here on the internet that can help me deal with this situation. This article helped me the most.
    I am going about my day as usual. I’m not begging or bothering him.
    While I’m sitting here writing this comment he’s snoring away in bed.
    I’m trying to keep my self occupied but my heart is sick with worry.
    He frequently resorts to using the silent treatment whenever he’s upset with me. Other than that he’s the perfect man for me in every way. I’m not trying to point the finger at him but I looked for and found this article in hopes of putting into practice a healthy way to deal with this and respond to this. I feel guilty for starting the argument. I feel bad about ruining our Xmas. But, this silent treatment has been making me very depressed and uncertain over time. Not just today but over a course of time this frequent silent treatment makes me very lonely and sad.

    • web admin

      web admin

      December 26, 2018 at 12:47 pm

      You did not ruin the holiday, unless the argument that you provoked was invalid. He often gives you the silent treatment, which is an unhealthy way to deal with disagreements. When he wakes up, speak with him about your thoughts and feelings. You are aware that you may be at fault, so make a determination to change your behaviors. There may be things that he needs to change, so influence him to make changes as well. Ensure that you are always respectful in your conversations. Have a great day, Lisa!

  8. Avatar

    HappyEnding

    December 16, 2018 at 3:54 pm

    I have a friend (ex-friend to her) that is giving me the silent treatment. I tried to apologize and tell her that I’m sorry for what I’ve done and I learned my lesson. Even after that, she still gives me the silent treatment and I hate how it is affecting me. She literally said she accepted my apology but the way she talks socially reflect that acceptance. What is the best thing I can do?

    • web admin

      web admin

      December 16, 2018 at 10:03 pm

      She has informed you that she has accepted your apology. Of course, that does not change that fact that she feels as though she was harmed by your actions. She will treat you differently, as your relationship has changed. Your only option to salvage this relationship is to treat her with kindness and compassion. Have a great day, Happy!

  9. Avatar

    Jayne

    November 4, 2018 at 1:46 pm

    My husband spends days ignoring me and the kids after an argument. He just state in the bedroom whereas I have to continue with daily life. He refuses to take any responsibility and states that it’s all my fault and that I have issues! I can easily admit when I’m wrong but on this occasion I wasn’t. He can ignore me for days on end which ends up making me ill as I am constantly worried about what he would do next

    • web admin

      web admin

      November 4, 2018 at 8:21 pm

      He has chosen to act immaturely when he does not get his way or you explain his mistake. This behavior is neglectful to you, and it is harmful to your children. Determine what you believe is appropriate. Speak with him about your thoughts and feelings. Strengthen your relationship with your family and friends. Ensure that he takes his role as father seriously, and decide what kind of relationship you want to nourish with him. Best of luck, Jayne!

    • Avatar

      jessicanht784

      November 10, 2018 at 1:23 pm

      Your husband is an ass who is neglecting both you and your children. Please divorce him and let him know that giving his children the silent treatment is a form of narcissistic abuse.

      • web admin

        web admin

        November 12, 2018 at 8:53 pm

        Thank you for sharing your insights. It is certain that your supportive comment will be beneficial for members of our community. Please share more of your thoughts and feelings in the future. Have a great day, Jessica!

  10. Avatar

    Dvora

    November 2, 2018 at 8:46 am

    I’m an actor which at times usually requires late night rehearsals, classes, trips to LA. My boyfriend does his best to be what he calls “supportive”, but I cant help but feel that he is trying to sabotage my efforts to be successful in my career. I have been performing all month for agents, managers and casting directors, which has been exhausting, but beneficial. Last night, my acting class had a closing party to mark the end of our performances. I spoke with my boyfriend that I would be home late. He tells me to hurry home as soon as it’s all over and asks what time I expect to be home. I said I didn’t know, maybe 11 pm. Wrap parties tend to go late. Things ended up running late as they tend to do in the entertainment world and I knew I wasnt going to be home by 11 pm and I had terrible reception in my location. I texted him, but it wasnt going through. Then, he called me asking if I was coming home. I said no and that we were just starting the party, things were running late and that I was only staying for a little bit to socialize with classmates. I told him I would be home soon. He then basically told me that all I care about is acting and proceeded to give me the silent treatment. I gave him space and slept on the couch. Now I have no idea where this is going to go, because he has never done this before. His usual default is to get angry and hurl insults at me about how the things I choose to do are a waste of time unless it has to do with him. I’m not sure if hes withholding his anger because he knows I have a meeting with an agent today and doesnt want to upset me or what. I could use some support today, but I’m left with silence. Today I’m choosing to focus on performing for the agent well and not let in the negative energy from him. This isnt the first time he has tried to get me upset before performances either.

    • web admin

      web admin

      November 2, 2018 at 9:30 pm

      He is not attempting to harm your career. He is attempting to spend time with you and nourish a relationship. However, his behaviors are indications of his harmful behaviors. Determine what you want for your future. You may find that your acting career and a relationship with your current partner is not viable. Speak with your partner about your thoughts and feelings. Have a great day, Dvora!

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