The silent treatment

When you get into an argument with someone do you give them the silent treatment or do you try to have an adult conversation and work things out?
Do you think the silent treatment is emotional abuse? Why or why not?
Discuss.


I will not talk to someone if I think I can’t say anything that’s not abusive to them right at the moment, but I don’t consider that “the silent treatment”. That’s just keeping my mouth shut until I can cool down and discuss things rationally. I definitely don’t keep it up for days or anything. I know someone who’s husband gave her the silent treatment for a solid year! I wouldn’t be able to handle that!

When someone gives me the option of a) have an ADULT conversation or b) anything else, I will choose anything else because the conversation is going to be anything but adult with that start.

Maybe if they said, “can we talk about it?” I would be receptive to breaking my silence.

My family used to give me silent treatments, sometimes for days. It’s awful. It’s like living in hell, and I go out of my way to not do it now, even if it means I have to swallow my pride and apologize.

Seriously, I can’t even begin to decribe the sheer agony of not having your mother talk to you or even look at you for days on end, especially when your crime did not warrant it.

Best. Simulpost. Ever.

Yes, the silent treatment is emotional abuse. There’s no justification for it.

Putting a delicate subject aside until it can be discussed rationally is not the silent treatment, as long as the people involved are otherwise talking and acknowledging each other’s existence. But freezing people out completely? Abusive, immature, and cruel.

How on earth did they stay married?

I’ve never actually known any RL examples, though I’ve read about it being done.

Typical argument with my ex-wife:

She: You (pick any little fault you may think of) all the time.
Me: Reasonable answer as to why that’s not true.
She: I don’t wish to discuss it.
Me (to myself): then why the fuck did you bring it up?
Silence for two days minimum.

I got sick of that shit very quickly and resented it for a very long time.

Present spouse: we discuss things, so rarely have disagreements.

It’s kind of hard to talk to work things out when one person is silent; if they shut down, they shut down. There’s a difference between “I’m not emotionally ready to talk about this right now and if you force me, I’ll say something mean” silence, and “I’m not going to respond to anything you say, even you are just asking me if I want a glass of juice” silence.

Can’t say I was ever subjected to the silent treatment beyond the age of 10 (by my sister, no less) but I remember working around that by just talking and talking and talking. (i.e. "Would [sister] like a glass of juice? I guess not since she’s not responding. Why wouldn’t she want a glass of juice? It’s so sweet and delicious. Oh, maybe she has a salty tooth right now. I wonder if she’d like these peanuts here? etc.) Then, she’d say “Shut up already!” and I can then say “Ah ha! You talked to me. I guess the silent treatment is over.”

But we were kids. I don’t know if it’ll work for adults who use this as a defense mechanism.

I like the sound of my own voice way too much to ever give someone the silent treatment. :smiley:

Seriously, in an actual relationship, I’d consider it petty and pointless, possibly abusive. There are acquaintances, generally coworkers I don’t interact with much, that I’ve decided aren’t worth the headache of interacting with them, but it’s not The Silent Treatment as much as I just don’t go much beyond the briefest of polite nods and quickly find somewhere else to be.

I once worked with a guy who got really upset at a minor disagreement we had. I had no idea he was that worked up over things, since he was transferred to a different area a few days later. Years go by, and one day he apologized for that time he gave me the silent treatment and I was utterly nonplussed. Had no idea he’d been purposefully avoiding speaking to me, since we no longer directly interacted. What a waste of ire for him, which apparently lasted quite some time.

I want to know what you mean by “the silent treatment”. People here are assuming a certain type of interaction, and I don’t know if I can assume that.

When my ex-husband and I would argue, I would regularly get to a point where I would stop talking. Why? Because I had gotten to the point where I realized that I could say nothing more to change the situation. Because I wanted to step back and consider the situation. Because when I get stressed, I get non-verbal. And because I knew that further argument would only be inciting further abuse, not better resolution.

And he would get angry at me for not talking, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he called it giving him “the silent treatment”.
So let me ask: what do you consider “the silent treatment”? And what are you expecting him to say? Are you putting up conversational roadblocks?

My mom is master of what I’ll call the “drive-by.” We have an argument, things get heated, and then she makes some snappy remark and flounces off in a huff. Only that’s not the end of it, because she’ll come back 20 minutes later, after having stewed on it some more, to drop yet another bomb and then storm off before I have a chance to respond. It goes like this for awhile until I finally follow her, then we actually hash it out like adults. It’s maddening. This is why I stick to e-mail and don’t call my parents on the phone.

I don’t give the silent treatment, but I have been known to say, “Look, I can’t talk about this right now. Give me thirty minutes to myself to cool off, and then we can talk about it. Otherwise I’m afraid I’ll say something I’ll regret.” And then I don’t speak again until I can be civil.

Drives my husband crazy, because he always wants to discuss things right away. I sometimes just can’t do that.

But I don’t leave him in the cold for long (a whole year!? Incredible!). Usually we’ll have things resolved within an hour.

I’m driven to work things out. I hate leaving things unresolved. I find it extremely frustrating if a person becomes non-verbal and won’t speak or answer questions. It’s just ramps me up all the more. Is it “abuse?” I don’t know. I suppose it could be if it went on long enough. I just know I find it incredibly aggravating. It’s definitely passive-aggressive. My wife does it sometimes, and it drives me nuts (she also does the drive-by thing, dropping a criticism and then saying she doesn’t want to argue about it). Fortunately, she usually doesn’t drag it out for too long (maybe hours, never days).

The “Honey, is it okay if I pee in your underwear drawer?” treatment is usually an effective response to the silent treatment.

There are definitely times I’ll get very quiet. Generally, I’m not sulky; I’m scared.

I don’t know if it qualifies as abuse unless it’s chronic and intentional, but except in the cases of purposefully calming yourself down, I do think it’s immature and a highly ineffective method of conflict resolution. I personally can’t stand it and wouldn’t put up with a friend or lover who repeatedly engages in such nonsense. Seriously, does anyone think the silent treatment is a good thing (in general, not in cases of 'omg if I open my mouth I’m gonna say something stupid/hurtful/crazy)?

I will sometimes remain silent for a while in order to cool down and think out what I want to say.

I did once give my mother the silent treatment for a few weeks when I was in my twenties, but I had told her prior to her doing something that if she did that thing I would not speak to her again. She did what I asked her not to do so I did not speak to her for a while.

My dog is always giving me the “silent but deadly” treatment but that’s not quite the same thing.