Character is what distinguishes an individual from another. Character is an overt quality, which can be manifested in one’s words, actions, thought, and relationships with others.
One’s strength of character is tested in relationships, especially your reactions to your friend’s, family, or partner’s flaws.
While many may choose to be vocal about their feelings, to show their resentment for their partner’s shortcomings, others would rather prefer to give their partner the silent treatment.
Furthermore, silent treatment is not limited to a particular age or gender. It cuts across different spheres of life, it is seen in families, religious organizations, workplaces, etc.
From a toddler who gives her parents the silent treatment for not buying her favorite toy to the man who ignores his wife for not preparing dinner on time, down to the employer who gives his/her staff the cold shoulders for coming late to work.
Wherever human relationships exist, that is various personalities existing together, there’s bound to be a case of someone using the silent treatment against an offender.
This shows the character of the person involved, it shows how he/she reacts to external conflicts, pressures, or irritation.
In the light of the above, it would be safe to say that giving someone the silent treatment speaks volumes about your character.
So, what does the silent treatment say about a person?
Does it imply that you are a Manipulator? a coward? or a Self-conceited person?
Nonetheless, the motive behind the silent treatment doesn’t change the fact that giving someone the silent treatment speaks volumes about your character.
Hence, to justify this statement ‘giving someone the silent treatment speaks volumes about your character’, here are some questions we will be finding answers to in this article;
What is the Silent treatment?
What is the psychology behind silent treatment?
How long should the silent treatment last?
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What is the Silent Treatment?
Many professionals have given several definitions to the silent treatment. It has also been called different names like ghosting, shunning, disregarding, stonewalling, etc.
However, it is not every evasive behavior that should be called the silent treatment, some persons may choose to ignore their partner’s calls, or texts because they have a lot going on in their lives.
Thus, for one to conclude that the partner is giving him/her the silent treatment, the first question to ask is What is the Silent treatment?
Wikipedia defined Silent treatment as the refusal to communicate verbally and electronically with someone willing to communicate. It may range from just sulking to malevolent abusive controlling behavior.
The silent treatment can take different forms, some of which includes;
i. Ignoring the victim’s calls and texts.
ii. Avoiding every form of contact with the victim.
iii. Walking out on him/her in the middle of a conversation.
iv. Withholding something of value from the victim, this can be sex, money, or attention.
While there may be various reasons why people mete out the silent treatment to their partners, it doesn’t change the fact that silent treatment leaves the victim depressed, confused, and mentally stressed.
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Psychology Behind Silent Treatment
“I am tired! I just want to end it all and move on.
Nicole blurted out those words before her counselor.
Before her visit to her psychologist, her relationship with her fiance has been a turbulent one.
Whenever she fails to do his bidding, he gives her the silent treatment.
This can last for weeks, and this leaves her grappling with lots of questions that she couldn’t find answers to.
To bridge the communication gap between the two of them, she makes several apologies, before her fiance would consider breaking the silence.
This has been going on for 2years since their engagement, but she couldn’t take it anymore.
Her fiance made her a prisoner of emotional abuse and her only way of escape is to end the relationship with him.
Mrs. Bloomerg, a 43yr old high school teacher, wrote to a Newsblog about her frustrations in marriage.
The reason for her frustration is the silent treatment she’s been receiving from her husband.
According to her, whenever she offends her husband, her husband would talk to everyone in the family about her offense ( including the family dog), but will rather keep her in the dark and give her the silent treatment.
This act of his made her depressed and lonely, and she’s considering divorcing her husband.
These and more are some illustrations that show the ravaging effects of the silent treatment in relationships.
The psychology behind silent treatment hinges more on the perpetrator than the victim of the silent treatment.
Some persons resort to silent treatment to avoid conflict.
It is also a way of telling their partner, family member, or friend that they are not happy with them.
On the other hand, it is also a form of abuse and a manipulative tool targeted at the victim to make him/her submit to the dictates of the perpetrator by making him/her feel guilty.
It is a form of mind control that enables the initiator of the silent treatment to condition the mind of the victim to feel guilty and make apologies, even when the reason for the apology is not justified.
The victim is forced to reconcile with the initiator of the silent treatment, not because is the perfect thing to do, but as a way of bringing the silent treatment to an end, thereby liberating himself/herself from mental stress caused by guilt.
However, the effects of the silent treatment are not restricted to the receiver, the initiator of the silent treatment is not left out of the impacts of the silent treatment.
Yeah, the silent treatment is an addictive behavior. The initiator of the silent treatment can’t get over the anger and resentment he/she feels for the victim and this will make him to keep justifying his actions.
This anger and resentment that he/she feels steals his peace and leaves him/her depressed. Yet, the initiator of the silent treatment can’t give in to the victim, even when he/she is aware of the damages.
It can be likened to a chronic Smoker, who is aware of the health implications of smoking, yet he can’t give up smoking.
Most Silent treatment that lasted for weeks, months or even years was never intended to last that long.
However, the addictive nature of it makes the giver of the silent treatment to always find reasons to continue with it. It becomes worse when the victim is not willing to surrender either.
Yeah, it is a game of who will give in first, and in most cases, it is always the victim.
In addition, the psychology behind the silent treatment is that of the influence of the mind. The perpetrator influences the victim to do his or her bidding without exerting physical force.
Regardless, the silent treatment is abuse. It is emotional abuse, which leaves the victim devastated, injured, and traumatized even without the use of physical weapons.
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How Long Should The Silent Treatment Last?
It’s been two days, now weeks and you are still receiving the cold shoulders from your partner.
Your heart is troubled because you don’t know what to make of his recent cold attitude towards you.
Then, you are plagued with lots of questions like;
Have I been dumped?
Is my relationship on the brink of destruction?
You both pretend like all is okay, but deep within you, there are lots of questions yet unanswered
You are already tired of the whole charade, and you just want to confront your partner head-on.
Since you know how to confront someone giving you the silent treatment, you should also take time to ascertain the reason for the silent treatment.
Therefore, if this question ” how long should a silent treatment last? has become one of the questions bothering your heart, then you should look out for the following factors;
Intentions of the initiator: knowing the timeframe for a silent treatment will largely depend on the intention of the one who gives the silent treatment.
Yeah, it might be a silent treatment to end a relationship.
One who has lost interest in a relationship and is no longer bothered about commitments can use the silent treatment to show a loss of interest in the relationship.
In this case, the silent treatment can last for years till the victim finds the courage to move on.
1. The Personality Involved
The silent treatment can last for an hour, days, or months depending on the personality of the one giving the silent treatment.
When you are dealing with a narcissist, the silent treatment becomes history once you give in to his/her demands or make apologies for doing absolutely nothing.
On the other hand, if you are receiving silent treatment from an emotionally immature person, you might like to straighten things out with him in the most diplomatic way.
An emotionally immature person can barely think for himself/herself, and he/she is also unsure of his/her feelings.
Hence, the duration of the silent treatment will depend on your ability to handle the situation, while being mindful of his/her immaturity.
2. The level of understanding between both parties
When two parties understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses, they will be willing to let go of whatever is a hindrance to their communication.
Let’s say, Mr. A has a bad temper and is married to reserved Mrs. B. Mrs. B understands her husband’s weakness, and won’t like to get on his nerves, and if she eventually does, she gives him some space to get hold of his emotions.
Once he is pacified, they get to talk things through.
On the other hand, Mr. A takes cognizance of his wife’s reserved nature.
He won’t like to hurt her feelings, knowing that she will prefer to keep to herself when hurt.
When his wife gives him the silent treatment, he understands he’s hurt her feelings and won’t hesitate to apologize to her.
In this situation, the silent treatment doesn’t need to last so long, as both parties are willing to identify the cause of the silent treatment and isolate it as soon as possible.
3. Bond/intimacy between the parties involved
Man is a social being, and will always need interaction with others.
The level of intimacy between partners will determine how long the silent treatment will last.
The silent treatment won’t last long when partners have a strong connection with each other.
This is because they can’t stand any gap in communication between them.
However, when there is no bond between partners, the silent treatment can go on for days, months, or years without any of the parties involved being bothered.
Finally, the silent treatment can last as long as you can tolerate it. Whether it lasts for some minutes, days or months, what matters most is how you react to it.
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Why Do Guys Give the Silent Treatment ?
Why do guys cheat?, why is it so difficult for guys to say sorry?, why do guys love Sex? and then the big question “Why do guys give the silent treatment?
The internet is filled with lots of the above questions, people trying to figure out(especially the female folk) why guys behave the way they do.
The silent treatment may not be restricted to a particular gender, however, guys tend to use it more in relationships. Here are some reasons why guys give the silent treatment;
They use the silent treatment to get hold of their emotions. In order not to lose their cool and inflict pain on their loved ones, they would rather give silent treatment.
Therefore, when a guy resorts to giving his partner the silent treatment, he is trying to protect her from harm.
Guys also use silent treatment to protect their egos. When they are hurt by their partner, they build a wall over their emotions by using the silent treatment. The reason is that they don’t want to be called weak, soft, or fragile when their partner eventually sees their tears.
Yeah, Men do cry, but they wouldn’t want you to see their tears. They want the female gender to always perceive them as the “MAN”, who is always in control(his emotions inclusive).
It is said that Men talk less and act more.
While women can nag and rant about their resentment for their partners, men would rather keep mute and show through their actions that they are not happy with their partners.
Their partner may feel invincible by this decision, but it’s just their best medium of expressing their anger.
Financial pressures, family pressures, sexual pressures, emotional pressures, etc. These are some of the pressures guys get to face throughout their adult life, and most times they don’t like to talk about it.
Giving their partner the silent treatment is a form of escape for them to think through the maladies they are faced with.
They use the silent treatment to avoid being responsible for their actions.
They shut their partners out with the silent treatment, so as not to face the consequence of their mistakes and decisions.
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How To Win The Silent Treatment
As stated earlier, the silent treatment is a game, and for every game, there is always a winner.
It may take a longer time or a shorter time to win the silent treatment, but it still doesn’t mean that it can’t be won, once you take the right steps.
While giving someone the silent treatment speaks volumes about your character, winning the silent treatment also says a lot about a person.
It shows a high level of emotional maturity and if as the recipient of the silent treatment, you know how to handle the silent treatment with dignity, then there’s a likelihood of you winning the silent treatment.
That said, I have provided some suggestions on how to win the silent treatment.
- Identify the reason for the silent treatment.
There is no action without a cause. People don’t just wake up and start giving their partners silent treatment.
So, the first step to dealing with the silent treatment is to identify the reason for the silent treatment.
You can do this by initiating a discussion with your partner. Let him/her know how you’ve been affected by his/her recent behavior, also give your partner room to express his feelings.
Get to know from your partner the reason for the silent treatment, maybe you hurt his/her feelings, he/she is dealing with lots of personal issues, he/she needs some time alone or he/she is just sulking to manipulate your emotions.
The reasons for his action will determine your next line of action.
- Make amend. If you’ve discovered the reason for your partner’s cold behavior towards you is because of an action of yours, then you should not hesitate to make an apology to him/her.
Any further delay in apologizing to your partner will aggravate the issue. Therefore, do not make excuses for your mistakes rather apologize truly for your missteps.
However, if your partner needs more time alone, gently ask your partner the amount of time he/she needs and give him/her the required time and space to think things through. Do not force it, rather be considerate and patient.
If the reason for the silent treatment is to manipulate you and make you feel inferior to him/her, then you should make your stand known to your partner, be firm about your decisions, and do not act all desperate.
- Give your partner time to consider his actions.
If the relationship between you both is of great importance to your partner, he/she won’t hesitate to bridge the gap between the two of you, regardless of your partner’s selfish desires.
- Suggest helpful ways to enhance communication.
You can also suggest ways to improve communication between the both of you.
It can be a date night, doing volunteer work together, a weekend trip, or assisting your partner with some tasks.
Do not hide how you feel about your partner, always show through your words and actions that you truly care.
Nonetheless, for a narcissist or an emotionally immature person, you can suggest a counseling session with a professional or someone he/she respects.
- Take Care of yourself: being at the receiving end of the silent treatment can be frustrating, most times the recipient gets to neglect her mental, emotional, and physical health.
Nevertheless, being the recipient of the silent treatment shouldn’t be a death sentence.
This is because winning the silent treatment begins with the mind, how you see and value yourself will determine how you will be treated by your partner.
So, whether your partner accepts your apology, needs more time alone, is being manipulative or you’re dealing with an emotionally immature person, your mental health and peace of mind are of great importance.
Therefore, be in charge of your emotions, get busy with a hobby, learn from your mistakes, let go of the past, cut yourself some slack! and embrace other good happenings in your life.
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Giving Someone the Silent Treatment Speaks Volumes About Your Character and Mindset.
Regardless of the motive behind the silent treatment, no one deserves to be given the silent treatment.
Giving someone the silent treatment doesn’t just leave your recipient confused and hurt, it also says a lot about your person.
To be precise, Giving someone the silent treatment speaks Volumes about your character and mindset, here are some reasons why;
It shows that you do not respect your partner’s feelings. You are more concerned about your feelings and desires and that makes you a self-centered person.
Your inability to communicate your feelings to your partner, when offended by him/her shows that you are an emotionally immature person or one who lacks communication skills.
When you use the silent treatment to pass a message of hurt and resentment, rather than voice out your feelings to your partner, it shows that;
- Your feelings are not valid enough to be articulated.
- You do not trust your partner enough to tell him/her how you feel.
Every relationship thrives on healthy communication between partners. When you give your partner the silent treatment, it implies that you do not know the importance and place of communication in relationships. That makes you an immature person who is not ready for a relationship.
If you are using the silent treatment using the silent treatment to avoid escalating an impending conflict with your partner, you are simply telling your partner that you lack conflict resolution skills, you are afraid of his/her outbursts or you are a coward that can’t face challenges squarely.
Using the silent treatment to get your partner to submit to your desires makes you a manipulator.
It entails that you are taking advantage of your partner’s feelings to get what you want.
Feelings and emotions are meant to be expressed, there are more diplomatic ways to show that you are not happy with your partner.
You can decide to pen down a note to show how you feel or talk to a friend.
The silent treatment may be justified in some cases, but it’s not always the best approach when your feelings are trampled upon by your partner.
That said, have you ever received the silent treatment? how long did it last?