The Mating Grounds

The Devastating Effects of Silent Treatment on Relationships


Negative Effects of Silent Treatment in a Relationship

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you refuse to talk to someone, usually after an argument? This behaviour is called the silent treatment, and it is a form of emotional abuse that can have severe negative effects on a relationship.

In this article, we will discuss the definition of silent treatment, its negative effects, and the right way to use it.

Definition of Silent Treatment

Silent treatment is a kind of emotional abandonment where the person who is upset refuses to communicate with their partner, family, or friends. It can be incredibly hurtful, especially when it comes without an explanation or any sign of forgiveness.

The silent treatment usually occurs after an argument, but it can last for days, weeks or even longer.

Negative Effects of Silent Treatment

The negative effects of silent treatment can be severe. It leads to fear, lies, loss of trust, and emotional scars that can take a long time to heal.

Here are some of the ways silent treatment can impact a relationship:

1. Fear

When silent treatment is prolonged, it can cause fear in the relationship, leading to anxiety and stress.

The person who is being ignored no longer feels safe to communicate their feelings, and they begin to develop a sense of discomfort and a lack of trust in the relationship. 2.


Silent treatment can also lead to lying and dishonesty. A person may lie about their whereabouts or what they are doing to avoid upsetting their partner further.

These lies can damage the relationship’s foundation, leading to a lack of faith and further misunderstandings. 3.

Loss of Trust

Silent treatment often leads to a loss of trust within a relationship. If one person is being ignored, they may feel unwilling to open up and communicate their feelings out of fear of being rejected or ignored again.

This lack of communication can lead to a breakdown in trust and ultimately, the relationship.

The Right Way to Use Silent Treatment

Silent treatment, when used correctly, can be helpful in a relationship. It is essential to understand that it is not meant to be a long-term solution nor a way to punish someone.

Instead, it should be seen as a way to take a break from a situation that may have become too heated. 1.

Effective Use

Silent treatment should only use sparingly and for a short duration of time. It should be done in a way that allows reflection instead of hurting, allowing time to think and process emotions.

2. Duration

When using silent treatment, it is recommended that it lasts no more than 24 to 48 hours.

Anything longer than that can cause further harm to the relationship due to the stress and emotional turmoil it creates. 3.


Once the silent treatment period has ended, it is essential to communicate openly with your partner. Take the opportunity to express yourself honestly and share why you needed to take a break and how it helped you process your emotions.

Using the silent treatment effectively means using it as a tool to take a break and reflect. It is not meant to be a form of punishment or an effective way to communicate that you are angry with someone.

Instead, it can be a beneficial way to take a step back and better understand the situation without causing further harm to the relationship.

Duration and Effective Use of Silent Treatment

While silent treatment can be helpful when used correctly, it needs to be used sparingly and effectively. Here are some tips on how to use it:


Duration Guide for Silent Treatment

The silent treatment should only last 24 to 48 hours, giving both parties time to cool off before coming back together. Any longer than that can cause significant damage to a relationship.

2. Using the Silent Treatment Effectively

The best way to use the silent treatment is to allow reflection instead of hurting.

It can be a time to think about what was said and done, giving each person space to consider why there were upset and process their emotions. When done right, it can be a useful tool to help ease the tension and repair the relationship.


Silent treatment is not an effective way to resolve disagreements in a relationship. If used as a tool to take a break and reflect, it can be helpful, but it needs to be done sparingly.

Communication is key when using the silent treatment, and both parties should be open and honest about their feelings. Remember, silent treatment can have serious negative effects on a relationship, and it should not be implemented lightly.

When used correctly, it can be a beneficial way to take a breather and process emotions.

Things to Avoid While Giving the Silent Treatment

While the silent treatment can be an effective way to cool off during an argument and take time to reflect, it can also be emotionally damaging if not done correctly. Here are some things to avoid while giving the silent treatment:


Ignoring Partner

One of the most important things to avoid while giving the silent treatment is complete ignoring and disappearing from the partner’s life. This behaviour can create fear within the partner and damage the relationship.

Instead, it would be best to give some space to your partner by avoiding constant contact but still being available through texts or phone calls. That way, your partner knows that you are not ignoring them but taking time to process your emotions.

2. Leaving Partner in the Dark

Another thing to avoid is leaving your partner entirely in the dark.

This means not communicating the issue and just leaving your partner to guess what happened. Leaving your partner to guess can cause further confusion, and you might end up making the situation worse.

Instead, explain that you need some time to process your emotions, what caused the situation, and have an open conversation about why the silent treatment might be needed. 3.

Walking Away

Walking away in the middle of an argument is another thing to avoid while giving the silent treatment. It might be tempting to escape a situation that feels uncomfortable and confrontational, but it can be hurtful to your partner.

Instead, listen to your partner first, and then explain that you need some time to reflect so that your partner knows why you are stepping back. It provides clarity and a way forward for when you return to the conversation after some reflection.

4. Verbal or Physical Attacks

One of the most harmful things to avoid during silent treatment is verbal or physical attacks.

It is essential to stay calm during an argument or when challenging emotions arise. Your partner could say something that triggers a hostile response, and lashing out in anger can cause irreparable harm to the relationship.

Instead, hear your partner out, acknowledge their feelings, and avoid any derogatory remarks or emotional blocks.

How to End the Silent Treatment

Ending the silent treatment can be challenging, but it is crucial to repair the relationship. Here are some ways to end the silent treatment:


Talking About Feelings After Silent Treatment

After taking some time to reflect, it is essential to communicate with your partner about what caused your desire for space. Use reflecting statements and avoid blaming language.

It would be best to describe how the situation made you feel and what you could have done differently. At the same time, let your partner express their feelings and understand their perspective without judgement.

By acknowledging one another’s perspectives, you can work together to move forward in a way that benefits the relationship. 2.

Apologizing After Silent Treatment

It is essential to offer a mutual apology as both parties might have contributed to the argument. Be specific about what you are apologizing for and avoid using the word “but,” because it cancels out the apology’s sincerity.

A sincere apology can lead to a better understanding of each other’s behaviour and can be a start to a stronger relationship. Ending the silent treatment can be a delicate process but can lead to a stronger and healthier relationship.

By acknowledging your feelings and being open and honest with each other, you can move forward in a positive direction.

Learning from the Silent Treatment

While the silent treatment can be a challenging time for both partners in a relationship, it can also be an opportunity to learn and grow. By using the silent treatment as a learning lesson, you can reflect on ways to improve your communication, better understand your partner’s perspective, and bring each other closer.

Here are some things to keep in mind when learning from the silent treatment:

1. Silent Treatment as a Learning Lesson

Silent treatment can be a time for reflection.

Instead of using the time just to cool off and gather emotions, use it as an opportunity to understand what led to the conflict or misunderstanding better. Reflect on your own actions and how they may have contributed to the situation.

Use this time to think about how you might approach the situation differently in the future. Additionally, the silent treatment can offer insight and perspective into your partner’s feelings and behaviours.

Take the opportunity to examine the argument from their viewpoint. Try to understand their perspective, why they are upset, and consider how you can communicate and behave in a way that will better support them in the future.

2. Avoiding Power Struggles or Petty Fights

One of the most important things to avoid is getting into power struggles or petty fights.

Mutual respect and understanding are essential in a healthy relationship. It is important to understand that disagreements, misunderstandings, or even silence arise with any healthy relationship.

Focusing on the mutual love and respect you have between each other helps to create a safe space to communicate and process any negative feelings. By trying to understand each other’s motivations and feelings, it is possible to build a stronger and more meaningful bond.

By approaching the silent treatment as a learning lesson, you can understand the situation better, eliminate small disagreements, and improve your communication skills. With time, reflection, and constructive communication, you can resolve any issues and bring each other closer in your relationship.

In conclusion, the silent treatment can have both negative and positive effects on a relationship. It is crucial to use it sparingly and effectively, only as a temporary break to process emotions.

Avoiding harmful behaviours such as ignoring, walking away, and verbal or physical attacks are crucial for a healthy relationship. Instead, using the silent treatment as a tool for reflection and understanding can bring partners closer and improve communication.

By learning from the silent treatment, relationships can grow, and mutual love and respect can be strengthened. Remembering these key aspects and utilizing the silent treatment in the right way can lead to stronger and healthier relationships.

Popular Posts