9 Harmful Ways Silent Treatment Can Damage Your Relationship

Silent treatment is one of the most common tactics people use after having a heated argument with their significant other. While it might seem like retreating, not talking to the other person and letting things cool off is the best approach, giving someone the silent treatment can have serious emotional consequences and can shake a relationship to its core.

It is a passive-aggressive method that leaves both partners frustrated and unhappy, although some might find it useful because they manage to avoid discussing important things in the heat of the argument. Relationship experts think otherwise. With that in mind, read on to find out 9 important consequences of silent treatment in a relationship and how to deal with it and preserve a healthy relationship, according to experts.

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Harmful Consequences of Silent Treatment On Your Relationship

  1. Communication breakdown

Communication between partners is the first one to be impacted by one of the partners adopting the silent treatment. When you avoid talking openly about what really bothers you, you stop yourself and the other person from finding solutions and ways to move forward together.

The silent treatment consists in one partner not talking on purpose, to make the other person feel isolated and unseen. As a consequence, the person receiving the silent treatment will do the same next time you argue, thus creating a toxic cycle that will eventually destroy your relationship.

To prevent communication breakdown, experts recommend having an open dialogue with your significant other, really listening to what they have to say and empathizing with them. If you manage to listen and understand one another, you are on a sure way towards a healthy and thriving relationship.

  1. Feelings of rejection

The person receiving the silent treatment may start feeling rejected and not good enough for their partner. When you adopt this passive-aggressive tactic, your partner might feel abandoned, unwanted and unimportant. These feelings, in turn, cause other negative emotions such as insecurity, sadness, anxiety and low self-esteem.

In time, the person feeling rejected might even become resentful and angry, causing them to want to distance themselves even more. In the end, all these feelings and emotions will affect the relationship’s foundation.

The best approach to repairing a relationship is addressing these negative feelings, communicating and strengthening your emotional connection instead of destroying it brick by brick.

  1. Escalation of conflict

The silent treatment method will add even more injury to insult rather than helping you de-escalate a conflict. By deliberately not communicating, important matters will remain unsolved. The negative feelings will still be there, lurking just beneath the surface, waiting to be let out.

Lack of dialogue increases anxiety in partners and increases tension, giving way to misinterpretations and misunderstandings.

Instead of burying the hatchet of war completely, you’re only playing a cat-and-mouse game that will eventually cause even more frustration and conflict. Lack of open communication destroys any chance of getting to the bottom of things and solving the real problem in a constructive manner. Recognizing the adverse effects of silent treatment is an important step in avoiding such behavior and promoting open and healthy communication between partners.

  1. Increase tension and anxiety

A lack of dialogue and a silent environment is not healthy for either partner in a relationship. No communication can cause feelings of uncertainty, and generate even more unspoken feelings which in turn increase anxiety and stress.

One of the most common effects of the silent treatment is causing feelings of abandonment and insolation in one of the partners, amplifying tension and anxiety. The person with the growing anxiety will start overanalyzing and developing increasing feelings of frustration and unease. In time, it will impact their mental and emotional well-being, and might even take a toll on their health condition. After all, no one likes to live in an environment where they feel isolated and tension is felt through their every pore.

See also: 9 Most Common Causes People Get a Divorce

  1. Negative impact on intimacy

For partners to connect on an intimate level, they need to allow themselves to be vulnerable and to build an emotional closeness first. The absence of dialogue prevents couples from connecting on an emotional level and building an unbreakable bond based on trust, respect and understanding.

Intimacy is built through open communication, support and empathy. If these three factors are hindered by the silent treatment, then partners will not be able to create an emotional connection. This, over time, will cause an erosion of their relationship, caused by feelings of isolation and detachment.

The solution? Accept that silent treatment is not an efficient way to solve any conflict and realize its negative consequences on a couple’s dynamics.

Learn more about 7 Quality Time Tips for a Stronger Connection With Your Partner !

  1. Long-term resentment

Another important consequence of silent treatment is long-term resentment. Even if you’re closing yourself to dialogue, this doesn’t mean there won’t still be issues left open for discussion. It will only make unaddressed matters accumulate and turn into even bigger problems than they really were in the beginning.

The partner receiving the silent treatment will feel dismissed, unimportant and unjustly isolated. As unsolved feelings and emotions accumulate, the partner subjected to the silent treatment will grow even more resentful and frustrated for not being listened and understood. The relationship’s foundation will soon start to crack and from there on it will only be a matter of time before the couple bids their farewells.

This cycle of negativity and resentment can be broken if the partners don’t withhold communication. Discussing the problems arising in a relationship and addressing them together, as a team, will prevent feelings of frustration, isolation, and growing resentment. A positive approach will help the struggling couple to build a deeper connection and strengthen their relationship.

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  1. Erosion of trust

Silent treatment in a relationship can also cause the erosion of trust between partners. When one intentionally refrains from communicating, the other person might feel betrayed and start questioning the silent partner’s credibility and reliability. One might think that their partner has something to hide, causing them to doubt every aspect of their relationship and eventually distance themselves from an emotional and physical point of view.

As unaddressed issues pile up, trust and honesty in a relationship take a deep plunge. This distrustful environment can prevent partners from working towards a compromise and save their relationship. Recognizing the awful effects that silent treatment can have on the level of trust among partners is essential to reconnecting and restoring trust and honesty in the relationship.

  1. Miscommunication and misinterpretation

When partners do not communicate clearly, it’s easy for misunderstandings to appear. When one partner opts to remain silent, the other may try to understand the reasons for their silence. But the guessing game most often leads to misunderstandings and misinterpretations. In the absence of communication, the partner receiving the silent treatment will make all sorts of assumptions, oftentimes wrong ones, which only aggravate the conflict.

In time, wrong assumptions and misinterpretations will deepen the rift between partners, putting even more strain on the relationship. Read also: Stop Saying These 8 Toxic Things to Your Partner!

  1. Emotional detachment

Silent treatment can lead to partners becoming emotionally detached. In time, when emotional connection is absent, partners might start isolating themselves and investing less and less in the relationship. Learn how to protect your relationship by Investing in Love: 6 Easy Steps to Prioritize Your Marriage.




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