How Long Should Silent Treatment Last in a Relationship? Navigating Communication Dynamics

The quiet manner that couples use when they are mad can be a confusing and struggle-filled idea. Why does it take so long for the silent treatment in a relationship to start working? Join the quest to answer the questions about silent treatment in a relationship. You’ll discover this learning journey is tough for an individual to handle. Discovering the effects it can have on you emotionally is an amazing thing, and the way of handling it is not easy. I want to help you answer how long silent treatment should last in a relationship.


Defining Silent Treatment

The “silent treatment” is a communication strategy used when one person in a relationship purposely does not talk to the other person. The effect is that the partner receives negative thoughts when somebody does not talk to them. Then what? Suppose you are the one that is doing the silent treatment, by staying silent. In that case, you are creating tension and a sense of discomfort because trying to ignore somebody and intentionally using that non-verbal behavior is inhumane.

And, then what comes about is a communication breakdown. Essentially, instead of confronting issues head on with the person you are having differences with, you retract or withdraw. One of the key components of the silent treatment is that there is a withdrawal of yourself. And, so, you retract; the person who is the receiver experiences you having completely withdrawn from them.

And, so, they have a sense of withdrawal, which is the non-verbal component. They cannot speak, which is the verbal component, and what is left is contempt, which is the unspoken thought or sometimes spoken. So, they don’t understand why you have removed yourself from them. What’s the matter? Are they in trouble? Are they in danger? And, what happens is, because they can’t probe you and try to ask these questions respectively and honestly, they are left alone with their thoughts. Very bad. And, as a person who is actually enacting the silent treatment, yes, it is a bad form of behavior. It isn’t warm-hearted. It’s inhumane. And it’s effective. And, it’s an awful way of behaving towards somebody who probably loves you. Why do people resort to it?


They, I’m sure, because it is a form of negative reinforcement, the silent treatment, and I’m not saying it does not serve its purpose. Someone achieving a nonverbal response they seek in their partner is indeed succeeding with this particular form of communication. And what are the long term effects of this? The long term effects of this will break down. Eventually breakdown.

This is not a good way of carrying on in a relationship. And, so if you can detect it early, then good for you. What can you do to rectify this situation? What does it mean and how do you now move forward? First of all, you can address it by communicating with your partner. Try to get them to understand: one, you’ve been doing this lengthy self-introspection, and two, you were able to conclude that the nonverbal message that your partner is giving off, the silent treatment, is a deserved reaction to some form of negative behavior or some pattern that is constantly getting on your nerves.

And it would be best if you pointed that out to your partner. Because, they probably, nonetheless, do not have a clue. So, all of a sudden, when you discuss with your partner, “Listen, I’m pro all forms of communication. And because I love you so much, I want the best for you and me, and I will try to correct this behavior.” And it would help if you put yourself in a very positive, open, accepting, nurturing space so as not to provoke more silent treatment. So, you want to approach your partner calmly and compassionately to say, “Listen, from today, I am going to do my best, but for me to be able to do that, just let me know what is the matter. Great.” And then, take it from there.

What does the silent treatment do to a person?

Just because we aren’t screaming at someone does not mean we are not abusing them. When someone is being given the silent treatment, they are reached a whole new level of abuse. While this happens to them, several different emotions will go through their head. All of the emotions seem to be negative. However, these emotions may be very much different when they can get through this. The silent treatment can make a person feel they are not worthy or downgraded in that person’s life. They tend to feel isolated and rejected.


Along with all of these, they are also left with no communication, which likely leaves them confused and unable to communicate further. If someone is to go through this for an extended amount of time, they will experience more stress and anxiety. When there is no communication, there is likely no resolution as well. Being deprived of this communication makes the person feel insecure because of a lack of resolution.

Yet, again, there is absolutely no communication, trust is beginning to be deterred, and emotional distance is growing larger. This will ruin a person’s self-esteem. This is emotional abuse. This will leave a permanent mark on them. They will know the risks it plays in future relationships. Thus, it is important for them to see the consequence of such actions and to feel the importance of the well being of one.

What type of person uses the silent treatment?

Within the intricacies of human relationships, silent treatment is not unfavorable due to certain personality traits. Instead it affects almost everyone undergoing difficulties in communicating. Silence can be used for multiple reasons like inability to express emotions, control, or just out of dissatisfaction. The act of silence is a very complex behavior that can come from a multitude of motivations.

Recognizing these motivations and being empathetic towards the ones you love can only prepare you for open communication and the desire to expose one another’s vulnerabilities. Looking at the why and the what’s, it can open up a discussion to build a stronger foundation and send you sailing through the many wind storms to come, all while still as a couple.

Impact of silent treatment on relationships

When someone receives the silent treatment, relationships between humans can be affected which has a bad ending. When one partner chooses to remain silent rather than communicate openly, it can cause a divide between them and ultimately undermine the trust and intimacy building up their relationship. Isolation, confusion, and rejection make the person receiving the inequity and make the person receiving the inequity have negative feelings and bring negative feelings around the workplace.

The possibility of fostering existing issues is a realistic threat. Silently doing things shows dishonor and disrespect, which the recipient may not always appreciate but understand its effective use when one acts childishly to what you actually thought was a pointless matter. Without communication, there can be a lot of misunderstandings, which may result in serious problems and controversies. Such a response is intended to foster an open and collaborative partnership, which may otherwise be put at risk with the introduction of conflict.


Not only does giving someone the silent treatment hinder open communication, but it fosters emotionally damaging emotions of insecurity and emotional distress. This can create an environment where neither express their true thoughts and feelings, and that’s not good. As the infamous inclination continues, it holds plausibility to undermine the relationship’s general prosperity.

A reaction to the silent treatment is important to mitigate the destructive impact the nonverbal fight has on the couple, and that is done by discovering, contemplatively, about the combine and, really, speaking. The help of a professional, most notably counseling or therapy, is incredibly important in dealing with and rectifying the damages caused by a significant amount of non-communication in a relationship.

Signs that silent treatment is harmful

The knowledge of being in a healthy relationship and an unhealthy relationship by killing connections from your partner, so knowing the reasons to identify that the silent treatment occurs. 

  • Breakdown in Communication: The use of The Silent Treatment most often causes a breakdown in communication and then leads to more distance with feelings between the partners. 
  • Feelings of Isolation and Rejection: When someone is ignored, it makes one feel as though they have no importance to the one ignoring. This could lead to nothing more than ruined relationships in the future. 
  • Escalation of Conflicts: The lack of interest one shows in another will likely cling to the person being ignored. This could also be why no one ever wonders why the person being ignored had so much anger within them to be so happy in one instance, and in that same instance, they are the saddest they have ever been. The conflicts linger without getting understood through communication, causing them to escalate.
  • Tension, Resentment, and Diminished Trust: The imposition of an extended term of silence as a constructed response is an accumulation of tension, stronger grudges, and a smaller amount of reliance that builds upon and in the relationship. 
  • Individual Well-being Impact: The effects have a different overall result for the individual, but in the end, all the same end with increased depression, more anxiety, and known in addition increased suffering by all individuals.
  • Recurrence as a Pattern: As the silent treatment becomes a standard practice in your relationship, it becomes a pattern. A pattern is when someone or something behaves in a certain way over and over again. This pattern of the silent treatment is the reiterated behavior of a partner who refuses to talk to you for a few minutes, a few hours, to even a few days. If this is happening in your relationship, that is a sure sign that some issues between you are not resolved. 
  • Lack of Openness, Understanding, and Empathy: Consistently avoiding talking to your partner will reveal an air of dishonesty, lack of openness, lack of understanding, and finally, lack of empathy, the foundation for any relationship. 
  • Early Recognition for Intervention: An early acknowledgment has to be in motion to intercede the signs at an early stage. This will place the individuals being mentored in a cultivating culture of an open communicating atmosphere so that relationships remain strong and gratifying. 
  • Consideration of Professional Help: In examining and anticipating inter-functional relationships, it is usually proper to employ certified guidance from professionals to establish if there may be breakages in communication among couples and possible underlying factors or elements.

How long should silent treatment last in a relationship?

The duration of silent treatment in a relationship is just as unpredictable. There is not really a healing time for this, just like there is no obvious cure for the cold. People must communicate effectively with each other, and taking a short break in conversation to reflect can be valuable. Suppose a person in a relationship cannot go for a significant amount of time without talking to their spouse with no harm done.

In that case, this is a strong indication that there is a major problem or a void in the relationship. One must consider the nature of the issue and the fact that the issue raises emotions. When used sparingly, silence can calm a situation and help both parties think about the situation more effectively. A long silence will only result in resentment. It can actually decrease our ability to communicate. Well-adjusted couples ought to rid themselves of the walls of communication and openly share their dilemmas within a reasonable timespan.

The requirement of indulgence and understanding is of the utmost necessity in finding a solution of contention. It stands to reason that identifying the root cause and finding or trying a solution is primordial. Promoting understanding and better connection and keeping good open communication is very important. It is with discretion that it is put in conclusion as pauses in communication for a brief period may be healthy for the relationship, but going into long periods of no communication is key to the relationship’s health.

It is of great importance to recognize and realize that the silent treatment is a form of emotional abuse and should never be tolerated. If one is being punished with the silent treatment in a relationship, one is desperately supposed to communicate with the person who is giving that other person the silent treatment, and one is forced to set up proper boundaries with both individuals. The silent treatment is often difficult to resolve because the chances are that the condition is prevalent as one grows up, leading the relationship to become the norm of interaction.

It is of the utmost importance that you find professional help if you are encountering problems with the silent treatment in your relationship. A viable solution to seek if hardcore tactics do not work is to visit a therapist. Therapists can aid in helping you understand the nature and dynamics of the relationship through its duration and provide you with straightforward, effective strategies to better endure throughout it.

What are some ways to deal with the silent treatment?

When someone decides to take a breather by using a simple action known as silence, you need to back away from the simple way of taking on your relationship problems. It would be best if you were more serious in taking on your relationships.

  1. Initiate Open Communication: If we want to initiate or begin open communication, we must show our eagerness and curiosity to discover the reasons behind practicing silent treatment. The intention should be to resolve the issue, so the reasons should be discussed through continuous open dialogue.
  2. Practice Patience: Do not interrupt; instead, allow the other person time to convey their emotions effectively and acknowledge that time and space must be given for problems to be sorted effectively and properly.
  3. Foster Empathy: Empathy is best nurtured when individuals adopt other people’s position in given circumstances, explicitly engaging in sharing others’ thoughts and emotions.
  4. Establish Clear Communication Patterns: Ladies and Gentlemen, in order to preclude the vicious treatment known as the silent treatment, it is vital to the longevity of the relationship to associate ourselves together, that is, to maintain clear and open lines of communication and as well as to work hand in hand.
  5. Set Boundaries: The redefinition of relationship boundaries that consists of discussing expectations openly to clear any misunderstanding and making sure the boundaries set are clear enough for the partner to understand will build trust among the partners, thereby increasing the level of understanding between them.
  6. Consider Professional Help: If ignoring becomes common and repetitive in a relationship, seeking couple therapy can be advantageous. Couples therapy can provide outlook, enhance communication skills, and work on any issues that may arise in the future, in a relationship.
  7. Address the Issue Early On: It is pertinent to tackle issues immediately. Doing so will allow us to identify and resolve potential issues, increasing the likelihood of resolving them. Approach it with collaboration, and you will build resilience and a more robust relationship.

Conclusion: Navigating silence in relationships

In conclusion, to navigate communicative stillness, one must almost have a super-sense to detect the few aspects that spurn one into immobility, address the reasons for such a stillness, converse, have the empathy of the desert dryness, discuss to let the sediment rise, patience like a waiting game of words lurching to and from and sudden silence with the moon coming out from behind a cloud.

Time is up for you to speak, patter, quick, like snails whose the escape is interrupted by freezing cement blocks and sludgy foreboding waters and most important, establishing an agreement about what this looks like, definitions and boundaries, making it known, to actively reassure the other that they are not being crammed under the boat. And finally, if silence seems to become a recurring thunderstorm, it is and always will be a good idea to consult someone on a sullen face, such as a couple’s therapist, in a step in the right direction, in the right direction, with a hoorah after you bang the heels of your boots.


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