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Author Topic: BPD BEHAVIORS: Silent treatment  (Read 128175 times)
Linda Maria
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Posts: 178

« Reply #110 on: January 08, 2015, 06:02:25 AM »

Hi all!  I found this such an interesting thread.  The pwBPD in my life is my sister and we live about an hour apart, so she hasn't been able to give me the silent treatment in the way someone you live with can.  But when she turned really nasty early in 2013 after my Mum died, sending me hate mail, telling horrendous lies about me etc. at first I wrote to her - always nice letters, or neutral ones, trying to get things back on an even keel - initially it triggered even worse communications from her.  When I got a solicitor involved, as I couldn't cope with it - so the letters would go to him, it seemed like she realised she couldn't get to me any more, or not so much, so now anything from me is completely ignored, as is anything from my solicitor.  But she also ignored all calls from solicitors, estate agents, Buyers etc. dealing with the estate, sorting out properties etc.  These were people that she had chosen to work with (I went along with her choices as I knew she would refuse to coo-operate with anyone I suggested), and she gave them the silent treatment as well, pretending not to have received documents, and only ever communicating by leaving weird out of hours voice mails with ridiculous stories about why she hadn't answered her phone, her phone wasn't working, she'd been assaulted blah blah.  We nearly lost the sale of the properties because of it, it was only when I actually started court proceedings that things finally moved.  Now my solicitor has written to say the court case is dropped as the properties have completed their sales.  I was going to claim for rent and all my costs if I'd had to go to court, but I have dropped these claims as I just want it over now.  But she is still giving my solicitor the silent treatment and refusing to acknowledge letters.  It seems likely he will therefore have to go to the hearing anyway to see what mad stories she comes up with!  Even though there is now no claim for her to defend!  It will involve more cost - which she could end up paying - where's the sense!  So it seems anyone even remotely connected to me gets the silent treatment - everyone - even a couple of mutual friends who love her dearly and would never take sides, - are also getting the silent treatment and have been split black.  It's so hard to fathom.


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Gender: Female
Person in your life: Romantic Partner
Posts: 236

« Reply #111 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!"
Linda Maria
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« Reply #112 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 #113 on: March 06, 2015, 11:01:49 AM »

My wife has never been diagnosed with BPD, however, I have been in counselling for over a year. I accept my wife is an invisible BPD, because as I review my marriage of 28 years, I realized that the behaviours and the challenges I faced were not entirely my fault.

My BPD wife was a master of controlling me and my children, and as they now are almost grown completely and on their own, when I tried to address our unhealthy relationship by expressing how I felt and why, I was met with anger, rage and the silent treatment. I had experienced this many times over our time together, but I always rationalized her behaviour, giving my wife a free pass, despite her aberrant behaviour. In fact, it was me that was always wrong it seemed, and even when I took responsibility for my mistakes, there has never been forgiveness. When I point this out to my wife, I get gaslighted, despite the fact I can explain the situation very well. Then I am accused of rewriting history. So I ask her to describe to me what she recalls. the she does one of 2 things, she cuts off the conversation and goes silent, or she becomes angry.

There is no resolution, it seems, even on issues of little significance.

The silent treatment is very damaging. Now we are living apart. there was no discussion about separating. SHe announced she got an apartment, temporarily. Now its been 10 months, and she now informs me she will not be running our relationship or marriage anytime soon. No real explanation, except that counselling has turned me into a psychotic, And that I am mentally abusive.

Keep in mind, we have been together for 30 years. Her father dies when she was 6, and her brother and her were raised by her mother. She was a victim insest with her brother, who is 5 years her senior when she was 12 or 13. She has never given me any details apart form saying that it happened and she is over it. When I got over the shock and tried to asked questions, she got angry. We never discussed this in detail, because she refuses to talk to me about it. She was also sexually assaulted at least once, had multiple sexual partners as an adolescent, one abortion, as well as drug use, marijuana and cocaine. Much of this only came out after we were married, but the CSA only a few years ago.

Now that we are apart the silence continues. No resolution, just silence. I know that my wife has few friends now, as our joint friends know that something is terribly wrong. My wife thinks it is because I have poisoned all the relationships around her.

Any thoughts on how to deal with this?


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« Reply #114 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 #115 on: March 11, 2015, 12:13:49 PM »

been on the receiving end of the silent treatment for some time now. I am finally trying to not let it bother me, or more accurately not let my uBPDw know that it effects me. I am starting to try and take care of myself for once... Anyhow, the other day I remained relatively quiet and unassuming in a respectful way. My attempts at conversation were met with the typical 1 word answers and or complete silence. So I decided to not let it bother me. The next morning she tells me she senses some kind of tension within me. I respond with the "I am fine" attitude and went on my way. Not sure what the next few days will have to offer but it cant be much worse than its been lately. Anybody faced a similar situation where you are asked about tension or stress ? I find it hard to believe that they dont realize the scope and immaturity of their actions.. ( i know this is an illness and all, still is frustrating as all hell)

searching for serenity
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Posts: 2580

« Reply #116 on: August 28, 2015, 07:05:47 PM »

My BPD boyfriend does the silence thing. We live 300 miles apart so its worse as he turns off his mobile or won't answer it if its on so I do worry. We talked about this and he says the same things that Chili says.  He doesn't deal very well with negative emotions, feelings of anger, feeling hurt or being sad as in general he is a 'glass is half full' person, so he retreats into himself as a 'coping strategy' He builds a wall around himself until the feelings go away. Being a BPD he knows that these feelings wont be there forever and they often go as quick as they come. When he is like this he often just goes to bed to sleep his 'dark mood' off. Perhaps I am exceptional in the fact that I understand this and 99.9% of the time I don't blame myself for causing him to "start the silent act" and I know it is his way of coping.  I read one of the articles on this website that stated the following:

"One way of looking at borderline personality disorder is to look at them as being a two year old trapped in an adult body. The throwing of tantrums, oppositional defiance, black and white thinking and so forth that are normal in a two year old are in the arrested personality of many with borderline traits"

We all know children sulk when they are hurt or angry and the silent treatment is the same sort of thing in our BPD partners and relations.  I think we just have to get out of the mind set that it is our fault and either except it as one of their behaviours or, as I try to do when the dark mood is over, sit and talk to my parner and explain how I feel and that he has to try and trust me more (as trust is a difficult thing for them) and express his own feelings. Remember also BPDs don't learn from their mistakes or the error of their ways in the same way us non-BPDs do. It seems to be working as he is becoming more open with me and does try not to give me the silent treatment as much.

You make it sound like BPDs are just control freaks and this is not the case as they often don't know they are   reacting in the way we see it; it is a defence mechanism for them, not a deliberate act.             

It sounds to me like you are ok with being given the silent treatment?

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« Reply #117 on: April 11, 2016, 08:53:48 PM »

Verbal/Emotional Abuse - Silent Treatment

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.



Thanks JoannaK - I needed this so much today.  It is crazy making to be in and out of a relationship with a BPD!  Since i left mine, I keep thinking I am the sick one---it was not externally abusive but it TORE ME UP inside.  This kind of behavior was the norm.  Hated that!

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« Reply #118 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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« Reply #119 on: May 26, 2016, 05:30:52 AM »

What is the difference between silent treatment and no contact? 

I have had to withdraw from my BPDD after prolonged rages and meltdowns directed at me.  My withdrawal is complete, no contact.  I have done this after making clear to her that I am going to go away now because I need my space while I figure things out.

She sees this as abandonment and abuse and calls it passive aggressive behavior on my part. She hates it, but that is not why I do it.

I call it self-protection. I would be willing to own it as "avoidant" behavior, but not passive aggressive.  Not when I have attempted to communicate my feelings, think I am stating them clearly, and not only does she ignore them, she claims she doesn't understand what I am saying (she has a master's degree but she can't understand the sentences coming out of my mouth- ) and then throws more accusations at me while I am explaining that I am bleeding here and how it happened. 

So, to me, the no contact/silent treatment is emotional recovery time.  And it takes as long as it takes.  Am I wrong?

"Tell your heart the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself."  ~Paulo Coelho
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