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How to Handle the Silent Treatment without Falling Apart with Guilt

You screwed up or you didn’t, but you’re still in the dog house. Not sure how to handle the silent treatment? Here’s what you need to do to survive it.

how to handle the silent treatment

We all make mistakes and depending on who we’re dealing with, those mistakes can land us with being ignored. Everyone knows what the silent treatment is. I’m pretty sure everyone around the world has experienced it. But you might not know how to handle the silent treatment and survive. Don’t worry. I’ve got you covered.

How to handle the silent treatment

If this is your first time experiencing the silent treatment, let me tell you what you’re going to go through. Suddenly, the person you had a disagreement with stops talking to you and pretends you don’t exist. You basically become a tree. Silent treatment is usually the most common *and ineffective* way people fight.

You’re basically punished for whatever it is that you did. Now sometimes you deserve some time on your own to think about what happened, but, for most, it becomes an easy way to punish the other person and a go-to move in arguments.

The silent treatment types are not easy to handle, especially if this person is a family member or partner. But listen, you’re going to pull through and make it out alive. I’m going to help you out and give you some tips on how to handle the silent treatment because we’ve all been there. [Read: How to use the silent treatment the right way when you don’t see any other way]

#1 Ask yourself why. Your partner isn’t giving you the silent treatment because they want to, they’re doing this for a specific reason. Now, you need to do some investigative work and ask yourself why they’re doing this. Many people struggle with expressing their emotions, so rather than talking about them, they shut down and create distance.

The silent treatment may be a way for them to protect themselves. However, it can also be used in a manipulative manner as well. They’re not getting what they want, so, instead, they give you the silent treatment until you give up. But let’s not jump to conclusions. Instead, ask yourself why they’re giving you the silent treatment. [Read: This is how you know there is manipulation happening in your relationship]

#2 Avoid allowing the silent treatment to get to you. It’s really uncomfortable when someone ignores you. They do it because they need a reaction. Whether they’re scared of confrontation or being manipulative, the silent treatment is meant for you *the ignored* to approach the issue. Now, you can approach them and talk about the problem, that’s fine.

However, don’t allow their behavior to get into your head. Don’t let it to take over and occupy your thoughts. [Read: How to express your feelings in a healthy way]

#3 Don’t react negatively. Many people react negatively when they’re confronted with the silent treatment. They become upset which makes complete sense. However, you need to confront the silent treatment in a different way.

Instead of becoming angry or upset, approach them in a calm manner and let them know that you’re available if they want to talk to you. That way, you acknowledge that something is wrong, but put the ball in their court when it comes to talking about it. If something is bothering them, they should come to you and express it.

#4 Eventually, talk to the person about the silent treatment. If they’re not willing to confront you, then you should confront them. Give them enough time to approach you though.

If you decide to talk to them, do not approach them aggressively. Instead, be completely calm and ask them if they want to talk. If they do, then talk to them calmly about the incident and why they’re giving you the silent treatment. Ask them what they were feeling and what they need from you. Then, you tell them how you were feeling and what you need from them. [Read: 23 dos and don’ts to remember in a relationship argument]

#5 Remind them of how it makes you feel. In the conversation, remind them how their behavior affects you. The silent treatment isn’t effective when it comes to communicating because it’s doing the complete opposite. You’re not talking to them when they’re giving you the silent treatment so how can you resolve anything? Remember to use “I” statements and express how they make you feel.

#6 Talk about your boundaries. It’s time to create some boundaries. I know, who likes boundaries? But honestly, they’re there for a reason. If someone starts with the silent treatment, it’s emotionally harmful to you and them. So, you need to state your boundaries.

Are you willing to put up with this behavior again? If not, then tell them that, in a nice way, of course. Being shut out won’t result in a positive relationship. [Read: Tips for how to set boundaries with difficult people]

#7 Talk about effective communication. Okay, so you told them your boundaries, but that’s not enough. Now, you need to work on building up effective ways to communicate. Set up rules for what you both should and shouldn’t do if you’re upset. If they’re angry, then maybe it’s best for them to calm down and approach you when they’re able to talk and vice versa.

#8 Write it down. If you want to track the progress of the relationship between you both, write it down. When you have a disagreement, write down how you were feeling, what it was about, and how you to resolved it. That way, you track not only their behavior but your own. Maybe you’re doing something which triggers the silent treatment, etc.

#9 Focus on yourself. The silent treatment can throw the strongest person off balance, that’s why it’s so commonly used as it is highly effective in mentally breaking down people. But, now is not the time to allow yourself to be thrown off balance. Now, you focus on your own mental health.

If you’re receiving the silent treatment, remember that this is behavior of an immature person. Keep your routine, exercise, meditate, and be around positive people during this time. [Read: How to focus on yourself and create some sunshine]

#10 It takes two. Remember, a relationship, regardless of what kind it is, takes two people to make it work. If someone gives you the silent treatment, it’s your responsibility to keep yourself healthy and safe. Take charge of your life and make sure that they understand this isn’t going to fly with you. But this also means you’re going to have to help them work on healthy communication. It’s a team effort here.

[Read: How to take a stand in your relationship and fight the silent treatment]

Everyone makes mistakes. Right now, you’re in the dog house. But that won’t last forever. Use these tips for how to handle the silent treatment and get back on track.

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Natasha Ivanovic
Natasha Ivanovic is an intimacy, dating, and relationship writer best known for her writings on Kiiroo, LovePanky, Post Pravda, and more. She's the creator and ...
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