The silent treatment

Yes, I’m sure she knew the person in question was prone to give the silent treatment from the word go. :rolleyes:
Say it with me: Everyone is responsible for their own actions. She is not at fault for Harpo’s silent treatment. He is. If the relationship is important to them, they will work through it.

Geez, calm down.

I thought Captain Amazing’s comment was intended as a joke.

In which case, I apologize, Captain Amazing. I need to spend more time away from the Pit, obviously.

Wasn’t that a joke?

Err, yeah. I was kidding. Obviously, if the person is ignoring you in some sort of passive-aggressive sort of way, that’s bad, and he should tell you what you did that bothered him so you can discuss it.

I was just making an absurd little statement to lighten the mood. You know, since Teller doesn’t talk in public, the idea that somebody would team up with Teller on something and then be upset that he didn’t talk, is funny. Or maybe it’s not. :slight_smile:

No, it is. Like I said, I need to step away from the Pit for a while and get some perspective. Apologies again.

Well, we’ll see if I’m going to talk to you for a while!

I kid, I kid.

flounces over to the corner and sits with her back to the thread

I used to give a certain boyfriend the silent treatment all the time, but only as a “defense” of sorts against verbal abuse. I would transgress (by doing something such as burning dinner), then he would scream, hurl insults, call me names, etc. Me: “…” If asked a direct question, i.e., “Are you fucking stupid?” I would answer, “Yep.” Of course, he would get absolutely infuriated and scream all the more, which was no fun, but the important thing was that I could make him look like a huge jerk and really really piss him off at the same time with a minimum of effort.

Eventually I realized he was just a minor-league asshole, so I moved on, and a few years later married a major-league asshole. This man could take the silent treatment to undreamed-of lengths. We’d have a minor disagreement, he’d give me the silent treatment, and three days later I’d decide we’d wasted enough of our lives on some stupid argument and cave in.
This jewel of man also did not like to answer direct questions, whether asked by me, the kids, my grandmother, co-workers, etc. Any time he was asked a question, even something as innocuous as, “So, when are you getting off work today?” he would shut right down. Instead of saying, “I don’t feel like talking about that,” or anything sane, he would just stop talking and stare right through the person asking the question. Usually people would get flustered and try to smooth over the awkwardness, by saying something like, “Guess you don’t know yet, huh?”

Er, so, in conclusion, the silent treatment can be a groovy part of your dysfunctional relationship!

There is a psychological condition in children called “elective mutism.” The child has the ability to speak, but chooses not to do so. It’s usually the sign of a very disturbed child controlling the one part of their life they can. You can abuse the hell out of a child, but you cannot make them talk.

In grownups it’s very immature. Or, like me, they might just have a speech defect that gets worse under emotional distrees.

My mom mentioned that she tried the silent treatment on my dad a few times just after they were married. He pretty much put a stop to that by being unreasonably reasonable and direct. Turns out it was one of the few coping mechanisms she had for dealing with her mom. It just didn’t carry over so well into marriage.

I won’t say I’ve ever given someone the silent treatment as an adult on purpose, but there’s been more than one occasion when I’ve been angry enough that I didn’t want to see, speak to, or deal with a particular person and couldn’t trust myself to stay civil if I had to.

My ex husband was the King of Passive-Aggression, and the silent treatment was one of his favorite tools. Except, in his case, he’d kinda pretend that he wasn’t doing the silent treatment. So that if I asked straight out - “Why am I getting the silent treatment?” He’s claim he wasn’t doing it. It was my faulty world perception (yet again) that made something of the fact he hadn’t spoken to me for hours or days.

I came across a dog training technique that worked very well to “cure” him of the habit. It’s called extinction training and, in a nutshell, you ignore the behavior but not the person. So if he was ignoring me I’d ask him a point blank question about some unrelated thing - “Do you think it’s going to rain?” I did this in a light and cheery voice, as if I had no idea that I was supposed to be in his dog house. When I stopped giving him the reaction he was looking for, he stopped doing it.
I have one very funny story about this (At least I think it’s funny) on this tipic. Most of the time ex was too “tired” (i.e. drunk) to drive. So what usually happened was I drove places while hearing a non-string commentary on my driving. The route taken, speed driven, etc. etc. were all fair game for criticism. Well, one day the family was at the local county fair when hubbie got angry because I wasn’t keeping the 2, 4, and 7 year old in line and it was taking longer than he wanted. By the time we got in the car to get home, he was officially pissed and not talking. I deliberately drove in a way that would be sure to elicite comment. (Guess I can be passive aggressie myself :slight_smile: ) I took a longer route home (by about 5 minutes), went the speed limit (not 15 over), and waited meekly till all the traffic was long gone before turning onto roads. When I merrily went past the “short cut” turnoff he made a squeak - then remembered he wasn’t speaking to me and made no more noise. By the time we got home he was about to explode. It still brings a smile to my lips.
So that’s something else you can try - if somebody is giving you the silent treatment, challenge them a little bit. Test their committment to not talking. See if they stay silent when you pour ice water down their back or pull in to get gas at a station that is a penny more expensive than the one across the street. (yeah, I know this is terribly immature. Just joking- sort of).

I’ve been getting the silent treatment from a former supervisor for three years now. Let me repeat, three years . When I say “good morning”, she literally turns up her nose at me and sniffs. If I come face to face with her, she gives me a frozen faced glare and pretends I’m not in the room. The only time she will speak to me if there are other people around who would notice her childish behavior. I ignore her for the most part but sometimes I like forcing her to be publicly polite. I know it is childish of me, but sometimes it just feels so good.

We have a winner.


I do this to my S.O. all the time, but not because he’s giving me the silent treatment, I do it when he starts obnoxiously back seat driving. Drives him nuts and greatly cuts down on the driving comments. :smiley:

The best defense for the silent treatment is just ignoring it. The person doing it wants to hurt the person being ignored; it’s a power trip. If you don’t even acknowledge the game being played, it loses all fun for the player. You can call them on it, or just live your life as though you aren’t even aware you’re getting the silent treatment - what are they going to do? Come up to you and say, “I’m ignoring you, you know.”

It’s amazing how many of us have had silent-treaters in association with abusive or disfunctional relationships.

With mine (15-17 also), he would use the silent treatment whenever I was questioning our (very abusive) dynamic. It put him in a position of control, and would send me into a panic of placation and appeasement.

I can’t beat three years, but my ex-husband once gave me the silent treatment for 30 straight days because I (brace yourself) didn’t thank him enough for washing dishes one day. I really should have made more out of this household chore event because he rarely ever did any, but apparently I missed the big moment and had to pay. The funny thing was that this was not in his usual repetoire. In nearly 16 years of marriage he had never done this before. Worse yet, it took me a few days to realize that we were actually in the silent treatment. I was just glad for the peace and quiet at first. Then he started to make it obvious by doing the “tell your mother…” thing with the kids. And then it got embarassing when he kept it up in front of my brother…that was truly tacky. After two weeks I decided to just enjoy the quiet as much as possible. I think he learned this behavior from his girlfriend at the time. By the time he finally started talking again, I had lost so much respect for him that nothing he did after that surprised me. And when it all turned out to be about something so petty and childish…and I had absolutely no recollection of the offending incident. At all.