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The Silent Treatment – But what did I do this time? 

Your partner is giving you the infamous silent treatment once again and this time like so many others in the past, you have no idea what you’ve done to deserve it.  Or maybe you do know what triggered your partner this time. Either way, you walk around on eggshells trying not to extend the silence or increase the unspoken anger since you know not when it will end.

The silent treatment occurs when a person refuses to talk or interact with another for an extended period of time as a form of punishment.  This passive aggressive behaviour is designed to create an imbalance in a relationship so that the provider of the silent treatment gets or maintains control.  Unfortunately, the silence can inflict both mental and physical harm to the receiving partner when it occurs regularly and over extended periods.

A form of emotional abuse, the silent treatment often creates questions of doubt in the receiving partner’s mind.  It may challenge your self worth and self confidence, increase anxiety and heighten stress levels.  You may experience physical changes as well – sleeplessness, increased blood pressure, hair loss, loss of appetite or forgetfulness.

Helping yourself to get through these silence episodes includes finding methods and approaches to increase your resilience, improve the communication levels within your relationship during the good times, increase your sense of self and inner strength and seek professional support for yourself.  Speak with your general practitioner doctor about referring you to a psychologist.

Your relationship may also be improved through third party support through counselling or a psychologist if your partner is open to it. However, the primary objective is to make yourself safe and healthy first so you can then look at your relationship and decide where you want to take it.

Delany Skerrett | CFHP
Delaney Skerrett

Delaney is a senior registered psychologist working with people of all backgrounds and with a special interest in LGBTI+ people, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and Indigenous people.

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