Radhika Sapru (name changed) discovered the benefits of silent treatment early on in her relationship with Rohit. That was the only way she could tackle her hot-tempered boyfriend who was actually a gem at heart, she felt. But when Rohit got angry there was no point trying to show him any kind of reason. Usually at times like that Radhika chose to stay silent. Sometimes on a date or even on the phone, if Rohit flew off the hook, Radhika just kept her mouth shut letting him cool down first.
“I realised if I started talking as well we would end up in a heated argument and the situation escalated badly,” said Radhika, adding, “I realised the benefits of silent treatment in dealing with Rohit. If he didn’t get any reaction from me he would automatically cool down. Then come around and even apologise.”
Why Is Silent Treatment So Effective?
Silent treatment is a controversial topic, there is no denying that. While prolonged silent treatment could lead to emotional abuse and is said to be as lethal as physical abuse having long-term psychological effects, it is often regarded as an effective tool for conflict resolution.
While communication is the key to a fulfilling relationship, sometimes silence is also needed to put across a thought.
But how long should the silent treatment last? Prolonged silent treatment in a relationship where a partner does not talk for days on an end and looks through a person when they try to communicate can be a harrowing experience. This is what we call stonewalling and is totally uncalled for. But spurts of silent treatment when you want to convey to our partner that you are upset through silence, is not a bad thing.
When should I use silent treatment in a relationship? This might be question that is on your mind. Some people use silent treatment all the time and that has an adverse effect on a relationship and on your loved ones. Using silent treatment in marriage is also more common than you think. However difficult, if you use it once in a while it could be beneficial to your relationship.
Paul Schrodt, Professor of Communication reviewed 74 relationship studies and the findings of his in-depth analysis revealed that silent treatment could be tremendously damaging to a relationship and it diminishes feelings of intimacy and reduces healthy interaction says this article.
But there are some benefits of silent treatment if used intelligently, says psychologist Kavita Panyam. She says, “The silent treatment can help revive connections that have been fairly healthy, in that it allows both partners to list out their differences and introspect. When communications are laced with more of opinions and less of facts in healthy connections, giving each other space for a while may help in rekindling the connection and setting a new equation. But this is about giving space and not shutting down on your partner. It may help bring about effective communication and has to be used carefully being aware of the goal at all times.”
8 Benefits of Silent Treatment
Can silent treatment in a relationship be justified? It can only be justified if it brings any positive returns to the relationship. There are certain times when silence speaks more than words and if a partner is willing to listen to this silence they can reap the benefits of silent treatment. We write 8 benefits of silent treatment.
1. Silent treatment could dissipate tension
Silent treatment in marriage is thought to be a way of punishing a partner and is akin to passive aggressive behavior. But it is not always as mean as it is made out to be. When there is heightened tension and one person is extremely angry and aggressive then silence on the part of the other person can help to dissipate the tension.
Many people say they just leave the room and lock themselves in the bedroom telling their partner that they would only interact when they are in a better situation to talk. This helps to diffuse the aggression that one person is feeling.
Related Reading: How to respond to the silent treatment – Effective ways to handle it
2. You can understand your partner better
People who use the silent treatment as a method of punishing their partner can stay silent for days building a wall around them and behaving that their partner doesn’t exist. This is terrible for a relationship. But if a partner becomes silent after you came home really late after an office party or forgot your partner’s birthday, then it’s their way of conveying that they feel hurt.
Maybe an apology or a tight bear hug could bring them around. Sometimes silence teaches you more about your partner’s feelings than then screaming and shouting and them telling you that they feel hurt. This is the biggest benefit of silent treatment. You get to understand your partner better.
Reema says that as she starts fighting with her boyfriend over the phone she makes an excuse and hangs up but she usually calls him back within half an hour and she apologises if she is wrong. “He calls up too, within 10 minutes often, saying where he had gone wrong. Silence does work for us, always.”
3. Treat silence with silence
A narcissist uses the silent treatment to abuse their victim. This is one of his most preferred methods of harassment. But if you are using the silent treatment back on your partner who is trying to use it as a weapon on you, then silent treatment is actually beneficial to you.
Instead of fretting over why your partner is silent and wracking your brains about what you could have done to push them into that kind of behavior, you can also ignore them. Give them a dose of their own medicine. Every time a narcissist uses silence on you use it back on them. And see the results. It would tire them out and they would want to open a dialogue.
And if you want to end the relationship then just use the silent treatment as an opportunity to move on.
4. Process your own feelings
Sometimes when you go silent it helps you to process your own feelings. Instead of accusing your partner for making you upset you can ask yourself why you are becoming so upset. Dialogues don’t help in every situation but silent treatment on the self could have a more positive effect.
Taking some time off from your partner you could try to look deep within yourself. Most people realize the mistakes they are making this way.
Sunita and her boyfriend did not talk for a week after they had a heated argument. “But in that week we went back to all the good things about us and realised we were being extremely immature. When we made up after a week our relationship was stronger. Silent treatment had benefited us, we felt.”
5. Benefits of silent treatment in a long-distance relationship
While some believe that in a long-distance relationship silent treatment is even more detrimental to the mental well-being of the partners but in my view it could have a positive effect if used over a short period. Angry hurtful words and fights over Skype could be worse than silent treatment in a long-term relationship.
“We developed such instincts that through a single message we would know that there is something wrong in the other end. The dead giveaway would be the monosyllabic answers on text, the silent treatment of a long-distance relationship I would say. Then we would try to resolve the issues,” said Ashish.
Related Reading: How To Deal With A Gaslighting Spouse?
6. Silence can be a good response to hurtful comments
Does silent treatment work on guys? It can work on everybody but the extent of this treatment should be managed effectively. Sometimes hurtful words can damage a relationship more than silent treatment.
Because once the words are uttered it cannot be taken back. So the hurtful things being said keep building can be terrible. But if you respond to hurtful words with silence then it will help you disengage.
No matter how much you are provoked if you decide not to retaliate with hurtful words no one can force you. Retaliating with silence is a good idea in a situation like this.
7. Silence can help you do away with the negative emotions
If you feel negative emotions about someone instead of shouting back at them or coming up with counter allegations you use your silence to focus on positive things. While your partner might try to suck you back into negativity you could focus on positive things if you are silent. This will be better for your mental health and you will reap the benefits of silent treatment.
There are people who become silent when in a negative environment and transport themselves mentally to a serene place like a meadow or a beach and deal with their negative emotions accordingly. Sometimes this kind of silent treatment is used by kids who are surviving toxic parenting.
8. Reach a compromise through silence
Why is using the silent treatment in a relationship so effective? Because it helps you to reach a compromise often. If one person falls silent and disengages from the argument this not only helps in breaking away from the cycle of angry arguments it also helps to open a dialogue and reach a compromise.
When one partner wants to resolve the situation you should readily get out of the silence and start talking about the issue. If you do not, then your silent treatment will become abusive.
Silent treatment in marriage or in relationships does have its benefits if used in the right way. But ensure that silence does not get prolonged then it will become detrimental for the relationship. But the benefits of silent treatment are many and by now you know how to work on the benefits.
How to give silent treatment in a relationship?
They key to giving silent treatment in a relationship is to manage and balance it perfectly. While you want to disengage and let the bad feelings dissipate, you also do not want to hurt your partner in an irrevocable way.
The silent treatment is not a war of egos but is rather a conflict resolution strategy. You must use this technique effectively so it does not cause more harm than good. Dissociating is not always a bad thing as long as you have the right boundaries and reasons for it.
The silent treatment can work wonders in relationships but interestingly it can resolve tensions with exes too. Why the silent treatment works with an ex is something you might be wondering. When one has newly broken up, there are abuses and blames that are hurled at one another without a second thought.
Why the silent treatment works with an ex is because it gives both people time off to think about the consequences of their decision. The no contact rule after breaking up can do wonders. When one can step away and view the situation more holistically, one processes it much better and can make peace with it.
The silent treatment is a slippery slope. If used at the right time in the right way, it can solve a lot of your problems with your partner. However, if prolonged too much, it can be aggressive and hostile which will not end well.
If someone has committed a mistake, the silent treatment helps them take a step back and process the situation. It allows them time to reflect and think about the actions that they have committed. A lot runs through one’s head during this time.
For some time, it may appear so. However, the one undergoing the treatment may eventually realize that this time off is essential and actually helpful. Be careful about who you use the silent treatment on because not everybody may understand it.