The Silent Treatment : 7 Causes, 7 Things to Do

Hey there.

If you’re reading this, you’re a girl (or guy) in a being given the silent treatment or you know someone who’s experiencing something of the sort or… Maybe you’re just curious about this post or whatever.

Silent treatment is the refusal to communicate verbally with someone who desires the communication (that’s Wikipedia). The silent treatment aims to hurt a person without physically bruising the person and for real, it actually hurts just as much (Yeah, science backs this up). Sometimes, even hurting the ignorer.

People go into relationships because of the good times and the lovey-dovey, but it’s also a fact that the bad times are inevitable and no matter how you try to work your way around it, it still works its way around to you. The bigger challenge now is how you handle it and what actions you take when those times pop up. Most times, people turn to their old friend the silent treatment.

And it works.

The big idea behind the silent treatment is that you or him (oh yeah, I’m writing this to women because… Don’t ask me) wants to be the one with dignity and take the high road by not yelling and arguing or whatever, so you choose to build a high throne of silence and sit on it. The results are usually the opposite really.

The silent treatment is not the same as taking time to chill and reflect when there’s a problem and shouldn’t be confused with one another. It is responding to a partner’s requests, complaints, and criticisms with silence and emotional distance. Many people also choose this because its the most powerful weapon to get away with since theres no physical or verbal abuse and one can easily deny ignoring another.

A lot of times, if you’re on the receiving end of such emotional violence, you start to wonder what you might have done wrong to deserve being treated with such harshness (yeah, its harshness) and here are a few reasons among many.

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Desire to inflict emotional pain

Physical attacks hit the body. These can heal quickly, but many leave scars. Similarly, the emotional attacks hurt but on a much deeper level, hitting your core, and getting at your inner self. When this happens, even though you have done nothing wrong, you naturally begin to wonder what you did, and thereafter wonder if theres something wrong with you such that communication with you is not desired. In short, the aim is to make you hate yourself.

Inability to communicate

Personally, early on, I like to believe this is actually the problem. A person might not know how to efficiently something they think about or a problem they might be experiencing. This means something has severed the communication in the relationship and openness is now a challenge.

Need for manipulation

People want to be accepted and loved and what better way to show that you accept someone than to give that person love, time, and attention. Reversing this, refusing to communicate with someone says to the person that you do not at that moment, accept him/her. This here is usually exploited using the silent treatment, making you feel unworthy and lose your sense of self, making you willing to do anything to please your partner, usually in behaving and acting as they want you to. This way, they gain control.

Fear of temper

Many people bottle up their emotions because they feel if they let it out, they might express it explosively, lose control, and probably get violent. Oh well.

Need for attention

In peoples desperation for attention, they tend to act in a manner that forces people to give them what they crave by acting in a way that makes you want to know whats wrong and how you can solve the issue. Sometimes, they actually believe you are the problem and you are the one whos been ignoring them so they want you to feel what theyve been feeling instead of just trying to communicate.

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Feeling of not being taken seriously

People often feel like their partner(s) are ignoring them and their actions and concerns are not being considered serious. Sometimes, we might not realise that our words or behavior might be offensive or misinterpreted to our partner.

Wanting to seem like the victim

If someone stops talking to you, people usually assume that you did something wrong. In this case, youre the victim and people still see you like the devil. You lose, no matter what you do, even when you try to defend yourself because the quiet person cant say anything wrong and is taking no actions that can be judged.

Given all these scenarios, there might still be other weird or vague reasons why someone might want to cut off communication. However, when this happens here are some things you should do in response. These are not guaranteed to solve the problem, but are definitely the right courses of action. Lets go.


Think about whatever it is that you may have done or said and if you are truly sorry, acknowledge your wrong and apologise sincerely.

Do not apologise

If you dont believe you have done anything wrong, do not apologise for nothing. It would be you doing what the other person wants even though you think its wrong. A relationship cant be real when you act falsely. Instead let your partner know that you understand how they feel and you want to work together to resolve it.


Someone is upset and isnt saying what the problem is. You cant magically read his or her mind or anything, the person might just need time to figure things out, like learning how to directly express their feelings.

Space for yourself

You need time to cool off. Time to ponder on what might have led to the silent treatment situation. Was it an emotional explosion, an argument, or a fight? Are you on the receiving end? You might want to take a breather and calm down.

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Consider personality

When things get heated, introverts usually need time to process feelings and most of the time, retreat to a shell if they feel theyre being shown aggression or attacked in one way or another. Approaching the person with kindness and giving such a person some time to think might be a good idea provided that he/she would be ready to talk after a while.

Dont beat yourself up

When you receive the silent treatment, you might get knocked off your feet and begin to harbour dumb thoughts like your responsibility is to help someone who isnt ready to behave maturely. If the person seems willing to change, by all means, help. Otherwise, leave it be. Its just a manipulative tactic and if you do not take care of yourself, youll lose more than you can imagine.

Professional help

If you have already become anxious, depressed, or angry due to the emotional abuse you put up with, seek professional help. Especially for yourself and for best results, with your partner.

I cant state enough that the silent treatment is manipulative, cruel, and unfair. If your relationship is getting ruined because of this and the things above have failed to solve the problem, you might want to go all out and state clearly to your partner that you cant be in a relationship with someone who shuts you out and tries to manipulate you and you might just have to break up if things continue that way.

The person might consider this and change, but if the passive-aggression comes up again. Please break up. It doesnt make you a terrible person.In times like this, you need to put yourself first. You deserve kindness, respect, honour and love.

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