Silent Treatment

Silent Treatment

To break this destructive relationship habit, both partners must take responsibility.

            The silent treatment, one of the most common forms of conflict within a relationship, especially a romantic one, is what researchers call the “demand-withdraw” pattern.  It happens when one partner repeatedly approaches the other persons with a request, whether asking for attention or change- or giving a criticism- and is met with avoidance or silence.  Frustrated by the lack of response, the person who made the demands makes more.  The person who withdrew retreats further. This becomes a vicious cycle, soon you are no longer addressing the issue at hand, and you start arguing about the arguing. 

            The demand-withdraw pattern is one of the most damaging types of relationship conflict and one of the hardest patterns to break.  It is often a predictor of divorce.  The damage is both emotional and physical.  Researchers found people who engage in the demand-withdraw pattern had lower relationship satisfaction, less intimacy, and poor communication with their partner.

            Each person has a hand in it, yet each blames the other.  The demander feels the partner won’t open up to them and that their emotional needs aren’t being met, while the withdrawer feels they are being hounded.  To break the cycle each partner has to become aware of the pattern, of his or her role in it and the other partners point of view.   The person making the demands feels abandoned; the silent person protecting themselves.  Each partner needs to ask why am I behaving this way?  How does my behavior make my partner feel?

If you are looking for help in your relationship, feel free to give me a call at 631.692.9689, or send me an email to [email protected].

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