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How to Respond to the Silent Treatment & Stop Being Power-Played

In a relationship fueled with games, learning how to respond to the silent treatment coming your way will give you back your power.

How to Respond to the Silent Treatment

The silent treatment in a relationship is a form of emotional abuse. It’s that simple. It’s designed to infuriate you, create panic and worry, make you question everything you said before the episode happened. Designed to rob you of control and self-esteem, you apologize for something you never did. But learning how to respond to the silent treatment will help you take back your power.

From a personal point of view, there is nothing more childish or annoying than someone who refuses to speak to you, simply ignoring you out of a power play.

It’s designed to get you to keep talking, literally begging them to say something. In the end, you want to scream  “say something!” All you get is a wry smile. [Read: Don’t overlook these important signs of emotional abuse]

Power play gone wrong

If your partner is a regular mute when things don’t go their way, turn the tables and learn how to deal with it. If that doesn’t work, wave your hand and walk away. Childish power play has no place in an equal and loving relationship. So, learn how to respond to the silent treatment in a strong and healthy way.

I speak from experience when I talk about this because I was once with a partner who loved to go silent when he didn’t get what he wanted. One particular time he simply didn’t like the fact that I went out with my friends. I texted him while I was out, just a regular ‘miss you,’ nice kind of text. It was met with silence. I text again, ‘what you up to.’ No reply.

It might sound trivial, but it ruined my night. I’m ashamed to say that I ended up going home early. Of course, that’s what he wanted.

Can you see how the silent treatment can be a tactic to regain power and punish someone unfairly? It’s a narcissistic trait, a form of manipulation. You should not have to put up with. [Read: How to spot manipulative people and stop playing the victim]

Is the silent treatment always manipulative?

Of course, we all give the silent treatment in a non-serious kind of way sometimes. For instance, you might have a small argument about the tiniest of things. Instead of listening to what your partner has to say, you might simply sit there and ignore them for a few minutes.

This isn’t the type of silent treatment I’m talking about. I’m talking about a tactic designed to punish and assert control, not something we all do when we simply want to be a little childish for a few minutes. [Read: The right and mature way to give someone the silent treatment]

How to respond to the silent treatment in a strong and healthy way

Want to know how to respond to the silent treatment? Face it head on. Do not let it make you reconsider your actions or your words. Remember, this is a tactic designed to manipulate. By giving in to it, you allow your partner to use it against you time and time again. Believe me, they will do this if you let them.

Firstly, try not to let the silent treatment bother you. It’s hard, I know. Realize what it is. Your partner probably isn’t going quiet because there is something wrong, their phone has broken, or they’ve lost their voice. They’re on mute because they’re trying to control your actions and make you apologize or not do something.

If this is the first time your partner has gone quiet in this way, give them the benefit of the doubt and explore the reasons why. Ask them what is wrong, but firmly explain that you’re carrying on with whatever it is you said you were doing which caused them to go quiet. [Read: 23 signs of narcissism people overlook until it’s too late]

Approach them with calmness and kindness; smile, say ‘hey, what’s wrong?’, and when they don’t respond, reply with ‘well, when you’re ready to talk you know I’m here to listen.’ Then go about your business. It’s a powerful tactic, and one which is far healthier than the one they’re trying to push onto you!

In addition, try and pretend that their actions aren’t really bothering you, even though deep down you’re in a state of turmoil. Don’t let this show, be strong and keep it inside, and then when you’re outside, scream, shout, do whatever you need to do in order to get it out!

Keeping this frustration inside for too long will only mean you explode at some point verbally, and probably start an argument. [Read: How to stop selfish people from hurting you]

Learn the signs in your relationship

From my experiences, I know now that when my ex was trying to punish me with the silence for going out with my friends, learning how to respond to the silent treatment in that case should have been one text saying ‘miss you, hope you have a great evening.’ Then to put my phone in my bag and enjoy my night.

I should not have sent that second text, and I certainly should not have gone home early and allowed the whole experience to ruin my time with my friends. Learn from my mistakes!

Make sure you set future boundaries

If this has happened more than once, make sure that you set clear boundaries and explain them to your partner. This is a show of strength, not defiance. It gives you back the power in the situation. If this type of treatment continues, setting boundaries will give you clear reason to end the relationship, if they aren’t respected.

It will be hard to walk away. Remember, dealing with someone who goes silent on you to control or punish you, isn’t something you deserve. A good example of setting a clear boundary is to sit your partner down and calmly explain that you aren’t going to be in a relationship with a partner who simply goes silent to manipulate the outcome of a situation. Explain that if it continues, it’s a deal breaker for you and you’ll walk away.

It’s likely that your partner will be a little shocked. They might even ask you what you’re talking about, but be strong. You’re the one in the right here. [Read: How to set boundaries in a relationship for a healthy love]

Taking care of number one

You need to look after number one. It’s very easy to end up going along with what your partner wants for an easy life, and because you want them to show you love and not anger. It is a huge mistake, because you lose yourself in the middle of it all.

Instead, focus on yourself. Do the things you enjoy. Spend time with friends, exercise, get plenty of fresh air, enjoy nature, read books, watch movies, eat healthy foods, and give yourself the inner strength to deal with, and possibly walk away, from a manipulative partner.

Surround yourself with positive influences, so maybe try positive affirmations, yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and be around people who lift you up, and not those who drag you down on a regular basis.

[Read: How to surround yourself with positive people]

Learning how to respond to silent treatment in the best way possible is all about standing firm and holding your ground. At the end of the day, if this is a continual cycle, it’s better to wave goodbye to the relationship.

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Nicky Curtis
Nicky Curtis
Having stumbled from one relationship drama to another throughout her 20s, Nicky is now somewhat of a guru in the crazy world of life and love. Telling it how i...
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