The Silent Treatment: Signs and How to Overcome It

Sandra Malco

By Sandra Malco

Est. Reading Time: 15 Mins

The Silent Treatment: Signs and How to Overcome It

Someone who gives the silent treatment in their relationship is usually a narcissistic individual. They are thirsty for attention, and even though when they’re giving you the silent treatment, it makes you think they’re not looking for attention and would rather be ignored, they know that the silent treatment makes you desperate and alert to what they’re doing.

Narcissists also find it challenging to be compassionate or sometimes even to care about others, even if it is someone they are in a relationship with. Narcissism and the silent treatment really go hand in hand.

What Is the Silent Treatment?

When you are being given the silent treatment, it means that your partner is not talking to you or acknowledging you. Some people will act like you don’t even exist when they’re giving you the silent treatment, but this is a bit extreme and not the most common occurrence.

Usually, your partner will just avoid talking to you or interacting with you for the rest of the day, but sometimes it can even be longer. The silent treatment is a result of your partner getting upset at you, but it shouldn’t be used as a punishment.

It’s only acceptable when they need some time to process what happened before talking about it. Keep in mind that if they go beyond 24 hours of giving you the silent treatment, it’s not fair to you.

8 Signs You’re Experiencing the Silent Treatment in Your Relationship

Signs you’re experiencing silent treatment in a relationship.

The silent treatment can look very different depending on the person, their usual temperament, and the issue at hand. The following signs are examples of the silent treatment; not all of them may be experienced simultaneously. It will greatly depend on the individual.

1. He won’t look at you.

Not only does he not want to talk to you, but he also doesn’t want to look at you. There could be two reasons for this: either he can’t stand to look at you because of how upset you have made him, or he won’t look at you because he may be tempted to talk to you.

When he’s giving you the silent treatment, he doesn’t want to break it because he’s likely doing it to make a point, so looking at you isn’t an option. This is especially true in less severe cases when he rarely gives you the silent treatment.

2. He won’t touch you.

If he’s not talking to you and can’t look at you, don’t expect him to touch you either. You’ll probably notice that he isn’t giving you any type of physical attention when he’s giving you the silent treatment, so don’t be concerned if he doesn’t kiss you before he leaves or if he doesn’t want to hold your hand. These specific signs do go together, and he’s not going to do one and not the other.

3. He ignores you.

If the previous signs haven’t made it clear that he’s going to ignore you altogether, you haven’t been paying attention. Expect him to ignore your texts, calls, and attempts to talk to him. It’ll be difficult to get in touch with him while he’s giving you the silent treatment because he’s actively trying to freeze you out and ignore you as much as possible. Only push for attention if it’s absolutely necessary, or it could make the silent treatment last even longer.

4. He spends the rest of his day somewhere he normally wouldn’t.

He’s trying to run away from his problems and avoid confrontation, which is why he’s giving you the silent treatment. You may notice that he’s spending as much time as possible away from you, going to places he usually doesn’t go, such as his parents’ house.

This is most likely a ploy to get you to ask him where he is and what’s going on with him, just so he can ignore you and make you feel it even more.

5. You can tell he gets angry over anything when he’s in this mood.

Whenever he’s giving you the silent treatment, you know he’s in a particular mood. It seems like everything bothers him, and he’s easily irritated. This is because he’s upset, and unfortunately, it’s just part of the process.

6. He tries to make you jealous.

When he’s giving you the silent treatment, you may notice that he’s more active on social media, posting more to get interaction from others. He does this to make you jealous, and he’s not necessarily seeking only female attention; he just wants you to feel like he’s not in any rush to talk to you because he has plenty of people talking to him.

7. He doesn’t take you into consideration.

If you feel like he’s almost forgotten about you and your opinion, he’s probably giving you the silent treatment. He won’t ask what you want, and he’s not being as considerate as he usually is.

8. He refuses to do anything for you.

Usually, if you need help with something or want to ask for a favor, he’s your go-to person. However, when he’s giving you the silent treatment, he won’t be interested in helping you with anything.

What’s the point of helping you if he’s trying to ignore you? He’ll refuse to do anything for you while he’s giving you the silent treatment, so don’t bother asking.

5 Steps to End the Silent Treatment

How to approach someone to end the silent treatment.

When he’s been giving you the silent treatment all day, he might not even think to talk about what happened or fix any issues between the two of you until the next day. He’s already gone the whole day without talking to you or giving you any attention, so it might be up to you to end the silent treatment.

1. Confront him.

Tell him that you realize he’s been treating you differently and that you feel he’s been giving you the silent treatment. Don’t beat around the bush; be direct and confront him.

2. Ask him about the reason behind it.

Don’t let him just shrug it off or say that nothing happened. He’s giving you the silent treatment for a reason, and if he says that there’s no reason, that’s even worse. There has to be a reason to choose to ignore, avoid, and not talk to your partner for an extended amount of time.

3. Explain that it’s not okay for him to treat you that way.

Chances are, he’s not going to understand on his own that what he’s doing isn’t right. You need to explain that it’s not okay for him to treat you that way and that instead, he has to be able to talk to you about what bothered him.

Having these conversations is crucial for the longevity of your relationship, as the person receiving the silent treatment probably won’t put up with it for long.

4. Give him attention.

When someone is hurt and they don’t know how to talk about it, they may hurt those around them. Hurt people need attention and affection too. After talking about it and once he has understood that his behavior isn’t acceptable, give him some attention and be affectionate with him.

5. Let him know that this behavior is unacceptable.

Make it extremely clear that this behavior is not acceptable and that if he continues to act this way, you won’t accept that treatment. Remember, it’s not a good idea to lash out and get angry with him because he got angry with you. Communication is still key.


These are some of the most frequently asked questions about the silent treatment. 

Can the silent treatment cause a breakup? Yes, the silent treatment can significantly affect your relationship and potentially lead to a breakup. If it’s a recurring issue, the likelihood of a breakup increases. However, if it’s the first time it’s happening, the other person may forgive the person who is giving them the silent treatment.

Is the silent treatment considered emotional abuse? It depends on the situation. At its lightest degree, it may be considered bad behavior, but at its worst, it can definitely be a form of emotional abuse. It’s better to avoid it altogether, as it can harm the relationship and the people involved.

Can you win a silent treatment? No, the silent treatment isn’t something you win or lose. The relationship suffers as a result of the silent treatment, including negative emotions and a lack of communication.

What is the purpose of a person giving the silent treatment? People give the silent treatment when they don’t know how to communicate their negative feelings. While taking time to process and think is okay, giving the silent treatment is a way of proving a point or expressing negative feelings in an unhealthy way. It’s important to address the issue and communicate effectively in a relationship.

In conclusion, the silent treatment can have significant negative impacts on your relationship, and it’s crucial to identify when it’s happening and take steps to address the issue. Whether you’re the one giving or receiving the silent treatment, communication is key to ending this unhealthy pattern and improving your relationship. As soon as you notice the first signs of the silent treatment, it’s important to start working on ending it for a healthier relationship.

Our Chat Line Categories