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Is the silent treatment ever ok?

(26 Posts)
outmyhair Mon 17-Apr-17 11:40:01

I'm on the receiving end of the silent treatment today. I hate it. I've been told they won't speak to me until I apologise. Minor offence where they've got insulted (irrationally in my view - and I think gaslighting something else they've done tbh), nothing catastrophic.

It's driving me nuts. Are they being unfair or am I by not just apologising?

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 17-Apr-17 11:43:29

Who is the "they" you are referring to in your post?.

Silent treatment is never about silence either; its about power and control. Whoever is doing this emotionally abusive behaviour wants absolute over you. The silent treatment is a form of emotional abusetypically employed by people with narcissistic tendencies. It is designed to (1) place the abuser in a position of control; (2) silence the target’s attempts at assertion; (3) avoid conflict resolution/personal responsibility/compromise; or (4) punish the target for a perceivedegoslight. Often, the result of the silent treatment is exactly what the person with narcissism wishes to create: a reaction from the target and a sense of control.

And do not apologise either. Bad behaviours like this should not be at all rewarded.

Moussemoose Mon 17-Apr-17 11:43:56

No - it's a form of emotional abuse. Withdrawing affection to punish a partner, refusing to communicate is vile behaviour.

My DP does this, but denies he is doing it, it is a major source of tension in our relationship. I am asking him to seek help to overcome this.

MidnightVelvetthe7th Mon 17-Apr-17 11:44:24

You don't think you are in the wrong so why should you apologise just to keep the peace. Its fucking childish behaviour that stops a reasonable & adult discussion. Go out for the day & leave them to it.

lottieandmia Mon 17-Apr-17 11:45:40

Yes, the silent treatment is definitely emotional abuse. It is a technique frequently used by psychopaths.

Moanyoldcow Mon 17-Apr-17 11:45:57

That is vile. My mum used to do that to me and it's utterly awful.

It's fine to have disagreements and ask for an apology but they sound manipulative and unreasonable.

Is this common? Is it their way or no way most of the time?

INeedNewShoes Mon 17-Apr-17 11:46:46

No. Silent treatment is never ok.

lottieandmia Mon 17-Apr-17 11:47:31

I'm not saying that everyone who does it is a psychopath but it's an abnormal and unhealthy way to approach conflict

ZaziesPaws Mon 17-Apr-17 11:49:47

No, it's not ok.

Being too upset to be able to speak/scared to say the wrong thing is different. That can be ok e.g. someone can say something like "I'm angry and I don't want to say something I'll regret later and don't really mean" or "I need some space just now". Usually the other person is visibly upset though and it doesn't last as long, just until they get their thoughts straight/feel calmer or safer.

This doesn't sound like that though. It sounds like they think you're a naughty child and they are the parent/teacher. So it's a power trip.

millydoodle Mon 17-Apr-17 11:51:59

No, the silent treatment is never acceptable in this context. It is a form of passive-aggressive emotional abuse and contempt. The aim is provoke guilt or fear while avoiding a resolution.

Simply keep out of his way until he's ready to speak to you like an adult. Do not allow yourself to be manipulated in this way. It's his choice to behave like this.

outmyhair Mon 17-Apr-17 11:52:44

I don't want to out myself by saying too much! But yes this is a frequent thing. They'll never apologise but will use the silent treatment 'until I apologise'.

jeaux90 Mon 17-Apr-17 11:55:58

How is blackmailing you into a specific response ok? Because that is what it's designed to do.

TheNaze73 Mon 17-Apr-17 13:23:50

I think it is appropriate at times. If someone has been a grade A wanker & I have nothing to say due to anger at the situation, id turn my phone off for a few hours

AndTheBandPlayedOn Mon 17-Apr-17 13:44:32

Is it possible to end your relationship with them? They have given you an ultimatum. Call their bluff and walk away. Then their silence will be golden, and I bet you will feel no small amount if relief.

ponyprincess Mon 17-Apr-17 13:57:51

thenaze73 having a few hours distance when upset is very different from a silent treatment that lasts for days weeks etc until the receiver capitulates and conforms to the silent one's demands

Darbs76 Mon 17-Apr-17 13:59:45

No, this was how my relationship was, once it lasted 6wks. Needless to say it's ended

outmyhair Mon 17-Apr-17 14:00:13

It's my DSis who I live with in adulthood. Moving out is an option but not one I really want to explore for various reasons I can't go into as she knows I'm on here and reads these forums (not for any untoward/controlling reason - she introduced me to MN!). She's very on edge today and I'm walking on eggshells. Obv when I've said the 'wrong thing' today she's reacted with the silent treatment... we're now speaking but it's very stilted. I can tell there's more going on in her head than she's letting on and it's making me uneasy.

intravenouscoffee Mon 17-Apr-17 14:02:59

Silent treatment is known in our family as sulking. It is childish, manipulative behaviour and should not be tolerated.

Withholding anything 'until you apologise' is terrible behaviour and would have me walking out the door (I'm presuming this is an adult not a DC).

intravenouscoffee Mon 17-Apr-17 14:04:31


It's still manipulative behaviour and should be addressed. My flatmate was like this. I moved out after 3 months.

AhYerWill Mon 17-Apr-17 14:29:23

I think if someone has genuinely upset you, withdrawing can be the lesser of two evils. If the alternative is losing your rag and saying/doing something you'll later regret or which will escalate the conflict, taking some space to calm down and get perspective is ok.

Refusing to speak to someone for days until they perform a specific action (apologise/agree with you etc) is stepping over the line into abusive behaviour, particularly if it is a frequent response to any kind of difference of opinion, and is used to control the other persons behaviour.

I guess the question here is do you feel like she is behaving this way to try and control you, or is it an attempt to control her own reactions and stop herself lashing out?

outmyhair Mon 17-Apr-17 14:47:24

Okay, my DSis is a fair bit older than me, and I am living in her house after a breakup. I pay rent and clean/buy food etc so I do not take advantage. It was my birthday a few days ago and I was given a bottle of wine by a customer. I don't really drink wine and was intending to save it to bring to a baby shower both DSis and I were invited to. She does drink wine (very sparingly) and then she took it and opened it while I was out. I then went out the next day, left my phone in a cab and now she is on at me all the time, 'I'll find out where your phone is, I'll pick it up' etc etc. I'm in my 30s and she is older than me. Okay she is the elder sister but what caused today is I said the words 'stop interfering' and I could get my phone back myself'.

I then added, 'you didn't even get me a bday present, why don't you go back to drinking my bday present that you stole'. Not very nice which I suppose is why I feel the guilt in posting this...

So she gave me the silent treatment for the whole lot I suppose. I feel mean and I suppose I need MN to tell me I was mean so I can regain peace again blush

pallasathena Mon 17-Apr-17 15:37:59

No, you're not mean, you're hurt by the fact that she didn't care enough o buy to a birthday present.

AndTheBandPlayedOn Mon 17-Apr-17 16:18:15

It sounds like she doesn't respect you. She is minimizing and degrading you (regarding phone retrieval) and without being too subtle about it- dismissive towards you (regarding no bd present and wine snatching).

You noticed. You told her to back off.

So she is doing exactly as you said (in her mind) but she will redefine it (because it has to be her idea) and has taken it too far.

She needs to be superior and this comes at your expense.

Just guessing, of course, but does any of this ring any bells?

Are you paying market rate rent while she is doing you this "favor" of letting you live with her? Not much of a favor then is it? Do you have dc or pets that you brought with you? Is there some reason for her to have resentment towards you?

Maybe she wants you to move on but doesn't know how to tell you?

AndTheBandPlayedOn Mon 17-Apr-17 16:22:17

I just want to add that I am not defending your sister! I am no contact with one of my sisters because of the Death By Ten Thousand Cuts campaign she did to me.
If you can know the lay of the land so to speak- find what is driving her actions, you may be able to process/respond to preserve your self respect...and know with metaphysical certitude that this is about her and not you.

Is it sibling rivalry?

ZaziesPaws Mon 17-Apr-17 16:32:14

Sadly, if you can, I think you need to move out. It's a power thing.

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