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The One Thing You Can Do Guaranteed to Destroy Your Relationship

January 18, 2015 in Blogs

By Erin McKelle Fischer, Bustle

One of the quickest ways to doom your relationship is disturbingly one of the most frequently used.

This post originally appeared on Bustle.

Have you ever been in an argument with your partner where instead of talking through the issue, you decided to give him or her the silent treatment? Yeah, we probably all have. Sometimes just ignoring the person who is making you want to lose your mind is easier than hashing it out!

Interestingly, this relational response has been documented by clinicians since the 1930s but hasn't been thoroughly researched until recent times. A meta-analysis (when a large body of research on a topic is analyzed to find common threads and patterns) was conducted on this current research. Collectively, these studies showed that giving your romantic partner the silent treatment is one of the quickest ways to doom your relationship. Disturbingly, it's also one of the most frequently used responses to conflict in romantic relationships. Yikes!

The silent treatment is part of what is called the demand-withdraw pattern, which happens when one partner makes constant requests of the other and is met with frequent repudiation. Typically, the way the refusing partner expresses their denial is by ignoring their partner, which is of course what is known as the silent treatment.

Exactly how destructive is the silent treatment? One study showed that it can bring about relationship dissatisfaction, and even divorce. Partners who engage in the silent treatment generally have worse communication than their non-silent treatment practicing counterparts and have less intimacy.

Why do we practice the silent treatment, anyway? “The silent treatment is caused by a combination of hurt feelings and an inability or unwillingness to talk about them,” an Oregon counselor told the Chicago Tribune. Another therapist told the Tribune that “Ultimately, it has nothing to do with the argument but needing to feel like you are in control of something when everything else around you is spinning out of control.”

Basically, we go silent when our partner makes constant demands of us, because we want to grab hold of control in the …read more


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