Research indicates that children would rather be yelled at than ignored. When prisoners are being punished, they are put in isolation, because being isolated is one of the harshest punishments there is — other than physical abuse. Likewise, the silent treatment is a form of punishment, a way of attempting to control your partner or others into doing what you want them to do. It is a withdrawal of approval, and can cause much fear in people who are vulnerable to this.
You are giving people the silent treatment when you shut down to them, closing your heart and refusing to interact with them or acknowledge their presence. You act as if they are invisible, not responding to them at all or giving them a very minimal and withheld response. Your hope in treating them this way is that they will get the message that they have displeased you. They have done something wrong in your eyes and deserve to be punished, deserve to have your "love" taken away.
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Of course, what you are taking away is not love at all, since love is unconditional. What you are taking away is your approval, and for approval-dependent people, it is a powerful form of control. Secrets Of A Spiritual Relationship: 3 Real Truths About Love
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While it may seem to you to work for the moment, there are huge negative consequences following the silent treatment. While your partner may scurry around to try to please you and get you to reconnect with him or her, the fact that you have so deeply disconnected creates feelings of heartache in your partner, that may eventually lead to the end of the relationship. What seems to work for the moment may lead to exactly what you don’t want in the long run.
What goes on inside you when your partner shuts down to you?
- Do you tell yourself you must have done something wrong?
- Do you feel a sense of loneliness and heartache that feels unbearable?
- Do you feel alone and abandoned inside?
- Do you feel anxious and scared?