The Silent Treatment Hurts More Than Words


Closed lipsDid you know that the silent treatment literally hurts?

It happens when your partner decides that he doesn't want to continue the heated discussion or argument that the two of you are having. And he just cuts it off by not talking to you for an extended period of time. Sometimes even days.

And during that time, you feel isolated and rejected as well as physically sick.

Well, studies have shown that the section of the brain called the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) not only detects and reacts to physical pain, but also to social pain, which includes being ostracized, bullied, and given the silent treatment.

So your body's physical reactions to this mental anguish are real. Headaches, stomachaches, and a general punched in the gut feeling.

If you've never experienced this, lucky you. And if you have, I feel for you. I've been there.

My husband and I used to fight like this. Or not fight would be more accurate. And we've both been guilty of giving the other the silent treatment. Honestly, we could last a few days with just enough nods and grunts in front of the kids so that they wouldn't know.

And during that time period, I would lose my appetite and not sleep well. And always be surprised at how big of a physical effect the experience had on me.

And now I know why. I have evolution and my brain to thank for that.

The silent treatment is punishing, controlling, passive aggressive, and abusive. And can permanently hurt your relationship. To have the person who's supposed to be your go-to, your biggest fan, and supporter not speak to you? Awful.

Thankfully, both my husband and I have changed our ways. We realized this type of conflict non-resolution was just way too damaging to our marriage.

Have you ever been on the receiving end of the silent treatment?


Image via liaw/Flickr

marriage, relationships


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Megan... MeganVanSchaick

I have, many times, though not with my husband - it's a treatment I don't tolerate anymore, from anyone, even if I have to be a little confrontational to break it. That feeling of utter abanonment and punishment IS abusive, you are right. And it has long-lasting implications, just like physical abuse!

sodapple sodapple

i have and yes it hurts, even worse while pregnant. it hasn't happened in a while and we are tryign to keep it that way.

LindA... LindAngeLevi

It does have life long consequences my bf used to do that to me and now I do it to him years later and he asks why I don't talk to him anymore. I don't even realize that I stopped talking to him because it just gradually happened. Especially when he told me he thinks I cry so I can get his attention. Really?? I cry because it hurts when we argue or not argue for that matter so now I don't let him see me cry.

Wrtng... Wrtngfantasymom

I have definitely, but it has never lasted days.  Even if we stay up until 3 am to talk it out, we never to go bed angry.

nonmember avatar Karen

Yes. By my partner and she is in her own country. Today would be the 26th day of that silent treatment.

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