Author: Sia Tayler & Renée shen
If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of the silent treatment, you know how much it sucks.
It’s passive-aggressive, immature, and reeks of insecurity.
Thankfully, there are some badass ways on how to win the silent treatment in any relationship.
So, next time your partner gives you the cold shoulder try a few of these!
We have to clear something up.
Whilst in many cases, you can work through the silent treatment with your partner (if they’re relatively sane), there are some cases where the silent treatment is a warning sign.
A warning sign of what exactly? It can be a sign of:
Sometimes, the silent treatment is used as a tool to abuse you.
This doesn’t mean that everyone uses the silent treatment with intent to abuse, but we have to learn to be discerning.
The biggest concern here is that when and if the silent treatment is used repetitively, you have to begin questioning whether it’s being used to create a trauma bond.
What’s more is that you’ll get sucked into such a toxic situation without realizing it (unless your toxicity radar is on point).
So, be alert and consider whether you may be in a trauma bond, because I know from experience that it can be.
If you want to learn the signs of a trauma bond, read this article on trauma bonding.
Ok now let’s get into the specifics of how to win the silent treatment:
If your partner is doling out the silent treatment, it’s not necessarily because they don’t love you or don’t care.
It’s usually because of one or a few of the following reasons:
In a nutshell, your partner basically doesn’t want to feel vulnerable, so they choose to make you the bad guy.
You will get through this and come out stronger on the other side. Stay attuned, try to feel where your partner is at (ie: are they being mean, trying desperately to feel in control or are they just hurt), and act from that place, because it will help keep you calm.
Staying attuned and feeling where your partner is at may take some courage, but it helps you respond according to where they actually are at (instead of you acting on impulse).
Also, try to stay focused on the things that matter most to you. Know that you are worthy of the best things in life so let that be your fuel to keep going.
If your partner is trying the silent treatment on for size and then decides it isn't working, you'll be back in the land of verbal communication before you know it!
Another clever method to win the silent treatment is to choose your battles.
It's important that your partner feels like they've won something or else why would they keep doing this?
So let them have their little victories here and there so that they will continue with this behavior long enough for it to become really old fast!
After all, who wants a relationship where neither person ever wins?
So be patient. If your partner is giving you the cold shoulder, just let them win something small, and wait them out!
This can be difficult if the silent treatment goes on for weeks or months but, remember that this too shall pass (eventually), so hang in there because that's one answer to how to win the silent treatment.
If you’re getting the silent treatment, write down every feeling you have about the situation. Write down how you think your partner is feeling as well.
Remember what we mentioned in the first step about staying attuned to where your partner is at? Well, this will help you do that.
This can also be cathartic and super helpful in getting you to understand the situation better and make sense of it. When you’ve finished writing, leave the piece of paper somewhere your partner will find it.
This can help your partner understand you better and what you’ve been going through. And sometimes, all we need is for the person we love to understand us and what we’re going through.
When you do this, you’ll get an idea of how serious your partner is about taking into account your feelings. It takes a truly cold (or truly hurt) person to ignore a vulnerable letter from their lover detailing how they feel.
Once your partner reads everything you wrote down, they might feel less inclined to give you the silent treatment, and is one of the easiest ways to win the silent treatment battle!
But perhaps you’re feeling really hurt or vulnerable as this isn’t the first time you’ve been on the receiving end of the silent treatment from them.
In this situation, it’s best to actually see how committed your partner is to you.
Is he or she actually serious about you? Are they emotionally committed to you and vulnerable to you, or do they just want power?
You can find out how committed he really is with our quiz:
QUIZ TIME: Is your man serious about committing to you? CLICK HERE to find out with this specially crafted quiz!
If the person is willing to talk and is open to discussing the situation, then it is the perfect time to start a dialogue and express how you felt when you were on the receiving end of the silent treatment.
In doing this, you will hopefully be able to put things on a more positive track and allow the relationship to grow even stronger.
If you’re in a relationship with someone who suffers from anxiety, you know that it’s normal for them to withdraw and go silent from time to time.
Know that this isn’t a conscious decision on their part in order to shut you out.
Rather, they may actually have an insecure attachment style. Specifically, they may have anxious attachment (or even avoidant attachment).
If this is the case, it can mean a lot of work on your part to stay connected to them. (Especially if you also have an insecure attachment style).
If you are not 100% sure of your own attachment style, it’s a good idea to find out:
QUIZ TIME: Anxious, avoidant or secure attachment patterns? Which one do I have? CLICK HERE to find out with our specially crafted women-specific 10 Question Quiz!
(Why is this important? It is because your core attachment style largely dictates and influences what happens in your relationship. Thus it’s imperative you understand your core attachment style!)
So if you know your partner is the anxious type and they’re giving you the silent treatment, know that they’re doing it because they’re feeling anxious and uncertain about how to manage their anxiety.
(It’s actually a very hard and overwhelming job to manage your own anxiety if you’re an anxiously attached person).
This is because your nervous system is already wired to go to anxiousness super quickly - and often!
And after a while you get sick of trying to manage it, so you shut down or avoid conflicts and problems with your partner (hence perhaps the silent treatment).
Once you realize that their silence isn’t malicious, you can start to bridge the gap. Be patient, but also take steps to let them know that you’re there and that you want to be a part of the solution.
MORE: 11 Anxious Attachment Triggers: Causes & How To Manage Them.
When you find yourself on the receiving end of the silent treatment, it’s easy to feel hurt and react in a negative way. Resist the urge to lash out or say something you’ll regret. If you need time to yourself, take it.
If the silent treatment is getting under your skin, take a few minutes to calm yourself down before approaching your partner. If all else fails, set some healthy boundaries for yourself.
Decide that you’re only going to put up with the silent treatment for a certain amount of time, then cut off contact completely until you feel like speaking to them again.
The silent treatment is a form of emotional abuse - it’s important to remember that.
And even though your lover may have some justifications for using the silent treatment, remember that when they do it over and over again, it’s not okay.
When you are on the receiving end of the silent treatment, set healthy boundaries. Here’s a couple of options for how to set a boundary:
If you’re the one receiving the silent treatment, be receptive to your partner’s efforts to reach out to you.
It may take them an enormous amount of courage to actually get the conversation ball rolling with you.
Even though you might be going through a tough time, you can always still be there for them when they need you.
Let them know that you’re always open to talk if they need someone to just listen to what’s on their mind.
Also, let them know that you’re concerned about them and that you want to help them get through whatever it is they’re going through.
Even if communication isn’t easy due to the difficulties of the situation, actively work on it. It is the best way to help each other through a trying time.
And let them know that you are there for them if they need your love, attention, appreciation, and respect and that nothing they do or don’t do will change that.
(Sure, their actions may be emotionally abusive, but you can still try to be there for them).
Ultimately, it’s through this type of emotional generosity that you’ll expose more about who they are and what their patterns are in a relationship.
Your willingness to be there for them will actually make it easier for you to leave them if that’s ultimately the right decision.
If you really want to know how to win the silent treatment, especially when you're on the receiving end of it, remain as authentic as possible.
This will help keep your self-esteem up and help things go back to normal more quickly.
So what does it mean to be as authentic as possible? It means to:
No matter how tempting it might be to yell or shut the conversation down, it’s important to remember that these are not good ways to communicate.
Instead, try to take a few deep breaths and remember that you can’t control your partner’s actions - but you can control (at least to an extent) your own reaction.
When you’re feeling angry or vengeful, it’s important to remember that there is no benefit to saying things you might regret later on.
Easier said than done, but you have to be the one to remind yourself of that, because it’s likely that no one else will.
Trusting that your partner is trying their best, even if you don’t understand their actions, and communicating clearly are important steps towards working through any issues you might be facing together.
Ultimately, being authentic is the best way to inspire more emotional commitment from your partner.
If you’d like to learn more about inspiring emotional commitment from a man, I’ve made a video on it…
Want to find out The One Specific Emotional Trigger Within Every Single Man in this World That Inspires Him to WANT to Commit to One Woman, Want to Take Care of Her, Worship Her and Only Her? CLICK to find out.
The final step in understanding how to win the silent treatment is good old fashioned patience.
If you’re trying to resolve an issue with your partner and they just clam up instead of talking through it with you, let them be.
Silence doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re done talking, and it doesn’t mean that they’re not interested in resolving the issue with you. It just means that they’re not ready to talk yet.
When trying to understand how to win the silent treatment, it’s important to recognize the different signs that your partner might be giving off when it comes to stress, frustration, and anxiety.
If you notice that your partner has become more withdrawn or silent, give them some space. This can be especially helpful if you know that your partner is prone to being anxious or stressed.
MORE: Anxious Preoccupied Attachment Style: Beware the 8 Signs You Have It.
Be sure that you are taking care of your own needs and not just focusing on what your partner needs from you.
If it helps, schedule time for yourself to do something fun or relaxing every day so that you aren’t waiting around for your partner to be ready to talk about their feelings with you.
The silent treatment is a form of communication that’s best left in the annals of history.
There are so many better ways to communicate, and if your partner keeps doling it out even when they know it’s hurting you, know that you don’t have to put up with it.
It’s ok to have boundaries around what you wish to tolerate from them, but always try your best to communicate with respect and remember to care for your partner.
There may be something about them you don’t quite understand yet!
So, go ahead and use these tips and win the silent treatment in any relationship.
Empath, animal lover, and elder-millennial with a penchant for writing. Born and bred in South Africa, I'm a jack of all trades and a master of none.
Author & Editor For National Council for Research on Women. Founder of the popular women's dating & relationship advice website, The Feminine Woman.
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