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Author Topic: BEHAVIORS: Silent treatment  (Read 7726 times)
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« Reply #30 on: April 29, 2010, 07:25:40 PM »

The silent treatment works for them, since they "feel" justified in ignoring you and they believe it bothers you. When you take that control out of their hands and refuse to allow their behavior to spoil your happiness/plans/holidays/whatever, then you are regaining the ability to control your own emotions. They can see that you are living a happy life, continuing on with your normal activities, no longer chasing after them begging them to talk to you, cajoling them to join you in activities... .and THAT is what causes them to rethink their strategy of punishing you. As long as they believe their punishment is working, they will continue to punish you... .

Does that clear it up?
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« Reply #31 on: April 29, 2010, 07:51:57 PM »

Years ago my husband gave me the silent treatment for one week. It was horrible and long before I learned about BPD. What I did once it was over was tell him that if he EVER used that tactic again I was leaving him.

It worked for me. My husband has shown that with firm boundaries he can change his behavior. He does what he can get away with. For some reason that silent treatment was something I would not accept again and made it clear that I would rather leave than him punish me with that. Later when I started to create more boundaries he accepted them too. I guess I always had more control over what is around me than I knew at the time.
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« Reply #32 on: March 13, 2011, 11:24:45 PM »

He always says "whats wrong with my being quiet, I'm not bothering anyone"!  It used to drive me crazy.  I spent days wondering what I did wrong.  Now I just enjoy my silent times but truth is, I'm the lonley one because it really doesn't matter to him. It will be my fault IF I could ever get him to talk about it. I try, but it isn't changing.  Silence is really deadly... .
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« Reply #33 on: April 07, 2011, 02:10:59 PM »

I use withdrawl/evasive and to a certain extent the silent treatment with my BPDd I know we should communicate but when she has exteme rages I would rather walk away & not give her the satisfaction of knowing I am listening to the garbage coming out of her mouth. I am primary caregiver of her 3 small children so I cannot totally exert the silent treatment. I must converse with her about the children & the everyday care of them but other than that I only talk about those things & try not to socialize to the extreme I generally do when she is not in a rage. Am I wrong to do this? Is there a better way to not get entangled in her web? I think I am doing this to maintain some of my sanity. Any & all ideas will be appreciated. TY
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« Reply #34 on: June 10, 2011, 03:36:27 PM »

I am new here to the boards and have a question on the subject of Silent Treatment. After the last argument my possibly BPD wife had we didn't talk for 4 days. When I tried to talk to her that 4th night she went off on me again so we haven't talked again since. It has been almost 2 weeks since the first of the 2 arguments.

After reading the about the silent treatment, I am sensing that there is a thin line between the silent treatment and what I would describe as protecting myself. Since the 2nd argument, I have not gone out of my way to talk to my wife. When I saw my counselor on Tuesday I told him that my feeling right now reminds me of the old saying "How many times are you going to beat your head against that wall before you stop and say, That Hurt!" I am at that point, where I have beat my head against the wall, and get yelled at, cussed at, etc... and I really am very hesitant to even approach that wall again at the moment.

So I guess my question is, am I guilty of withholding at this point in an abusive manner? I have thought about it and I do not think I am. But if my current thinking is wrong, I would like to know so I can at least change myself.

Anyway, thanks for listening!
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« Reply #35 on: June 20, 2011, 12:40:33 PM »

The silent treatment makes me feel totally invalidated as a human and it affects all aspects of my life.  To be treated like this by the child that I love to no end is the most hurtful thing I have ever experienced.

It needs to be recognized as abuse... .it took me a long time to do that!

Hard2bhopeful
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« Reply #36 on: August 19, 2011, 10:15:05 PM »

What is the difference between "silent treatment (silent raging)" and someone just being quiet?

There's a huge difference.  Being quiet usually means that the person has a healthy reason why conversation is not desirable at the moment.  If you interrupt them or ask for something, they will politely (and calmly) let you know that they are busy.  Most of the time, they'll also let you know when they will become available again.  When someone is giving you the silent treatment, you can tell they are angry and upset.  You are on edge, but when you try to talk to them in order to rectify the situation, they become angry and even more withdrawn.  All you know is that they are upset, but you have no idea why or when it might stop.

Why is the silent treatment abusive?  How did it make you feel?

Silent treatment is abusive because it forces you to live your life on that person's schedule.  When they aren't telling you what's wrong, it's almost worse than dealing with a nonstop flood of criticism.  I remember one night, my girlfriend hadn't slept in bed with me for two nights in a row.  I asked her what was wrong, and she condescended me and snapped at me before continuing her silence.  The tone of her voice made it sound like I was obviously on thin ice, obviously a worthless piece of filth, and I should be so grateful that she was bothering to stay with me that I shouldn't even dare offend her with a question.  It made me feel like less than dirt, like I didn't deserve basic human respect.  It wasn't that I didn't want to give her a choice about where she slept, but if she was going out of her way to avoid sleeping in my bed, I wanted to know why and if I could do anything about it.  Not knowing made me feel powerless and honestly quite resentful.  I didn't know what to do and it felt like my needs, feelings, and concerns didn't matter at all.  I hated having to worry about hers when mine didn't matter, and then that made me feel guilty and uncaring.  It was a never ending cycle.   

What is the best way to deal with the silent treatment?

Honestly, the only way to deal with bullying behavior (to me) seems to be refusing to engage with it.  Don't play into it.  Don't let it work.  If you are stable enough to set boundaries and not accept the behavior, that can work.  If you are not, you probably should not be in a relationship with someone who engages in such behaviors.
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« Reply #37 on: October 25, 2011, 12:43:46 PM »

Trying to understand what motivates and perpetuates silent treatment. What is the reward they are getting from doing it? What reaction are they expecting/hoping for from us?
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« Reply #38 on: October 25, 2011, 02:32:22 PM »

Excerpt
What is the reward they are getting from doing it?

I'm really guessing on this one.  I'm wondering if it could be one of two things - either they hope for a major apology from us and we acknowledge that it was/is our fault and we are "so sorry and it won't happen again" proving our love and loyalty; or they know they have been very wrong and hurtful and by not seeing, speaking or acknowledging us, they can "pretend" their actions/words did not occur (this lets the BPD off the hook).

Of course we're talking about abandonment - the thing a BPD fears the most and yet often instigates.  Makes no sense but then again I say "you can't reason with someone who cannot reason".  Any other ideas out there?
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« Reply #39 on: June 03, 2012, 01:41:51 AM »

Unfortunately the silent treatment isn't a behavior reserved to people with BPD only.  It can be exhibited in a variety of mental illnesses from severe to run of the mill poor coping/communication skills.

The silent treatment, if it isn't a situation where a person needs a break to get their emotions under control and to think, can be very destructive to relationships.  It's punitive and hurtful.

It's a form of ostracism, bullying, and a social injury.  Psychological studies ostracizing can cause cognition deficits and emotional regulation problems.  So basically, when someone gives us the cold shoulder it messes with our thinking and emotions.


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« Reply #40 on: June 11, 2012, 09:59:43 AM »

I am still confused about this... .

During initial period of marriage, we used to have fights over trivial issues and I used to become crazy while explaining my exBPDw that I am not hurting her. After initial fights I became short tempered and started getting annoyed over minor issues. To make her realize my point of view I became silent and she used come to me to say sorry or try to seduce me... .was that a silent treatment from me or just a reaction?

But when she used to stop talking to me ... .she never showed others that she is really angry because she used to talk to every other person very happily to make me more angry.

Then we had long distance relationship and generally she used to call me after finishing her work. We had huge fight over not giving enough time to me but she never bothered to listened to my feelings by saying that you are very needy. So whenever she did not call me I generally did not try to call her assuming that she does not want to talk me. But, After some days she used to accuse me that I was giving her silent treatment (If she did not call me then I should have called her... .her argument)

   After our deciding fight, she again started the silent treatment by not talking to me or giving me monosyllabic answers to show me that she does not care about me and she does not need me. Once I understood her traits (she had other traits also... .lying, accusing, projecting etc), I started keeping no contact... but hoping she will understand that she has hurt me... .Is no contact is silent treatment?

Who was really giving silent treatment?  I am just getting out of the relationship with my BPD wife (hinted by psychiatrist) , sometimes I feel that I have BPD and not her... .so was I giving her silent treatment to hurt her... .or is this other way round?
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« Reply #41 on: June 11, 2012, 12:54:29 PM »

Consider the 'why'... .why it is done.  If the silent treatment was done to punish, retaliate, control, hurt, or create continuing chaos to keep the other off balance and sabotage the other's reasonable boundaries, then whoever did that went too far.  On the other hand, sometimes the silent treatment is to withdraw, shut down, not the best coping solution.

Generally it isn't 100% vs 0%, it's somewhere in between.  Likely, yours was more of the withdrawing rather than punishing sort, often the acting-out disordered persons are more the punishing or controlling sort.
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« Reply #42 on: July 05, 2012, 06:09:24 PM »

whoa, now I'm confused because I've been using the silent treatment to disengage when my BPD goes off the rails. Shouting at her doesn't help - it only leads to more shouting, reasoning doesn't work because its just too logical, explanations seem like apologies.

As for not sharing ideas, hopes and ambitions - I learned long ago that if I share an ambition, dream or whatever I'm giving her the go-ahead to start a campaign to carefully hinder and dismantle that project - and I've given up on some really good (business) ideas due to being convinced that they would never work (and now see same ideas being successfully implemented at half my capacity).

I always thought that silence was an effective tool for restoring the peace on a win-win basis - now I'm told that its manipulative?

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« Reply #43 on: July 05, 2012, 07:12:13 PM »

I'm noticing a lot of misunderstandings about the Silent Treatment and the difference between a boundary of not communicating when someone is being abusive or taking a time out and the Silent Treatment.

If you are concerned about the difference it may be a good idea to look at your motivations in this instance.

If you value open respectful communication and the boundary to this is that you will take yourself out of a situation where the communication has broken down to the point of conflict or abuse this is a value/boundary not the silent treatment.  Communicating that you are happy to have the conversation when it is respectful of each other and open to revisiting it then is "good communication" and mature interpersonal relationship skills.

My experience was the silent treatment was a passive aggressive, or "covertly aggressive", way to punish another, to communicate dissatisfaction, or to leverage getting your way by not communicating (essentially deprivation) thus thrusting the dynamic into a non-verbal power struggle over of who caves first, or a win-lose.  This is really dysfunctional for any relationship and very immature.  

This isn't to say we as partners or ex-partners have not engaged or stooped to this level in dysfunctional dance to lash out or to express our hurt.  Who would we be if we didn't look at our own behavior too?

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« Reply #44 on: July 07, 2012, 11:27:45 PM »

It sounds like Warhar that you are using silence as a disengaging tool across the board to reduce conflict.  This isn't a judgment, when our partners are heavily triggered and we are regularly in a conflict cycle it can feel like walking on eggshells all the time.  It seems important, from your post, that you've become accustomed to keeping yourself quiet in order to not rock the boat in everyday situations thus silencing yourself unduly.

Learning the tools of SET and validation to communicate can definitely help you to express your needs and when silence (as acute conflict reduction aka taking a time out) is best.

This would be a great topic to explore on the staying board.

Hope you are doing better,

GM
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« Reply #45 on: September 12, 2013, 10:52:31 AM »

What do you think the best response is to the silent treatment, doled out as punishment/control tactic?

I'm getting the silent treatment now-well, not exactly silent but greatly reduced contact -- I think as a form pf "punishment" bc I actually stood up for myself in a recent arguments. My uBPD bf knows I like some form of daily contact esp a phone call.

This makes me chuckle. I'm trying to get my power back so maybe I need to change the way I look at it. It's not going to work as "punishment" if I see it for what it really is – acting out. Thoughts?

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« Reply #46 on: January 22, 2014, 07:08:58 PM »

Please help me to understand... . I am new to this forum and the first response in this section reads as follows:

"Verbal abuse, in general, is a means of maintaining control and Power Over. Verbal abuse is a violation, not a conflict. In describing verbal abuse it is a boundary violation, it is an intrusion upon another, or disregard of another in a relentless pursuit of Power Over, superiority and dominance by covert or overt means.

Silence a.k.a. Withholding is the most damaging and hurtful form of verbal abuse. One might think that in order for the behavior to be considered verbal abusive words need to be spoken. This misunderstanding of verbal abuse adds to the recipient’s confusion within the relationship. The recipient of silence/withholding may believe the relationship is functional because the abuser may communicate functional information, but refuses—through silence/ withholding (non-responsive)—to communicate on an intimate level.

There needs to be more than an exchange of information. Healthy relationships require intimacy. Intimacy requires empathy. To hear and be heard and to understand another’s feelings and experiences is empathetic comprehension.

Simply stated, silence/withholding is a choice to keep virtually all one’s thoughts, feelings, hopes and dreams to oneself and to remain silent and aloof toward another, to reveal as little as possible, and to maintain an attitude of cool indifference, control and Power Over.

The consequences of any form of verbal abuse may vary in intensity, depth and breadth. However the outcome of any form of verbal abuse impacts the receiver’s self-perception, emotional well-being and spiritual vitality. Verbal abuse takes the joy and vitality out of life through the distortions of reality, because the abuser’s response does not coincide with the sender’s communication."

Okay, I totally understand that; HOWEVER, please help me.  My wife is suffering from BPD!  As a result, she goes into fits of anger that is far beyond most people's wildest imagination.  I, in-turn, do not know how to respond.  I do not intentionally give her the "silent treatment"; however, I have learned that ANYTHING I say, no matter how calm and respectful, makes matters worse.  In effect, even though I am not the one suffering from BPD, I have verbally abused my wife by saying NOTHING!  Wow!  Now I'm really confused... .   When I try to share my most intimate faults with my BPD wife, she most often goes into one of her fits of rage.  As a result, I keep my most intimate thoughts to myself.  NOT EVERYTHING; but, most... .   So, how do I reconcile verbally abusing my BPD wife by shying away from intimate communication... .   I have tried to share my most personal thoughts with my BPD spouse; but, it usually sets her off into verbally abusing me.  It seems to me that I am in a "Catch-22" situation.

I would value your response... . Believe me I AM LISTENING--I desire help.  I am at the end of my rope and no longer wish to live like I am with a BPD wife.  I promised her and God that I would stay with her for better or worse and in sickness an in health; but, I will tell you, I would rather be dead right now, than to continue living like this.  I would truly value your advice.
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« Reply #47 on: January 22, 2014, 07:26:51 PM »

Big difference between passive aggressive silent treatment and the self-preservation that is behind LC / NC (limited contact / no contact)

Don't beat yourself up. You are not the abuser.

Withdrawal to regroup or recover is completely ok - indeed mandatory if committed to staying.

Bb12

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« Reply #48 on: August 31, 2014, 06:50:48 PM »

My wife told me that her disengagement and silence was for my own protection. They were preceeded by rage so perhaps it was true.
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« Reply #49 on: August 31, 2014, 09:48:43 PM »

Unbeliavable to see how many people have been subjected to silent treatment!

I was too, for years, until I realized what it was and called his bluff. Hes not BPD, though (uPAPD). When he decided to resume contact (after punishing me for months) I simply laughed and told him I knew what it was about: control. He denied, of course. But I stated that if he tried that again, he should never contact me again. It has worked, so far. But my communication level changed, I dont contact him in any way. Old habits die hard so I established boundaries to avoid being hurt. Im aware that given the opportunity, he will find ways to withold whatever he sees I want/ need and give me the ST again.

What worked for me was to put the focus on me (when given ST, I used to apologize) and stay away. He felt he was not so important, I really didnt care so he stopped it, it wasnt paying off anymore.
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« Reply #50 on: December 15, 2014, 11:52:46 PM »

Good article.  I suffered the ST from my mother growing up.  One time when I was a teenager she gave me the ST for months because I quit band practise!  I spent a lot of my teenage years very alone and very angry.  I've spent the last 4 yrs with a man who would give me days-long ST for various reasons, none of which I could predict.  I'd say the wrong thing, cook the wrong thing, talk to the wrong person, drive the wrong way... .It's been 6 mths since our BU and 5 yrs since I've seen/spoken to my mother.  Seems to be the ultimate solution to dealing with this kind of abuse.
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« Reply #51 on: January 08, 2015, 06:39:34 AM »

Yes, it's hard. But this seems to be not so much silent treatment as it is avoidant behaviour.

I saw my uBPDbf disappear when he did not have a winning case.

This magic disappearing could happen under any excuse - busy, sick, drunk, sleeping odd hours, just "You hurt my best feelings, I can't talk to you!" etc. etc.

It took me some time to figure out that all he is doing is avoiding conflict, embarrassment or giving explanations for his past behaviour

It's completely childish and can be brought to extremes where it is harmful for him. It's almost like "if I hide under the table, they will forget about me and I won't have to take a shower!"
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« Reply #52 on: January 08, 2015, 11:46:07 AM »

Hi AnnaK - you make a good point.  Yes - I think it is clearly avoidant behaviour, avoiding facing up to things, even when not responding causes problems for her as well as others, causes increased costs etc.   She avoids dealing with anything important, but wastes loads of peoples' time with complete trivialities, making unnecessary work for people etc.  It's really tiring!    Difficult to know if she thinks she's being clever, is just malicious, or really doesn't understand the impact of what she'd doing, particularly when it just delays things, and puts things at risk and creates more cost for everyone.  I will never understand how she doesn't feel embarrassed when she says and does some of the things - so much of it is clearly spiteful, weird and nasty, but just sounds so mad, and is completely irrelevant to whatever it was she was asked to do in the first place!  Oh well - onwards and upwards!
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« Reply #53 on: March 11, 2015, 10:37:45 AM »

There are times when I am silent and uncommunicative with my 18D with BPD. I only choose this route if she is calling me terrible names, trying to argue, insulting me, or engaging in some other type of aggressive communication. I either stop talking or say something like, "I really don't feel much like talking anymore", or "You know, I don't like the way this conversation is going, so I'm going to be quiet now". There are 2 reasons for this. First, if I am in an environment where I cannot remove myself (ex. the car), it helps me restore my calm so that I don't say anything I will regret later and/or cause things to escalate between us. Secondly, it helps me stay true to my inner values…I will not participate in a conversation where I am being attacked, nor will I allow myself to become so upset that I begin to retaliate against her. Sometimes, silence is my best option. It gives me time to think and allows both of us time to cool off. So, for better or for worse, I guess that makes me the one who gives the silent treatment.
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« Reply #54 on: May 22, 2016, 07:56:12 PM »

my mum did this often when I was a child. I could feel her rage. I never knew why.
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