Decades worth of research says it’s pretty much the worst thing for your bond
The silent treatment is not something you left behind in the playground. In fact, if you’ve ever been particularly icy or unresponsive after his partner was annoyed, you are probably guilty of it, too. And unfortunately, the results can be more harmful than you think.
According to new research published in the journal Communication Monographs, the silent treatment is often seen as a pattern “of demand / withdraw”, which is basically a person demands, criticisms, or complaints, while the another is removed passively and defensively. When making a meta-analysis of 74 studies on this between 1987 and 2011, researchers were able to obtain a broader understanding of what exactly happens when this habit panorama becomes the norm.
The results were overwhelmingly negative. The study authors found that this demand / withdraw pattern was incredibly common, and linked to both psychological and physical problems. The silent treatment was associated with higher levels of cortisol, depression, divorce, and even physical abuse. Many researchers, therapists and doctors agreed that while this type of conflict may seem relatively harmless, is actually more harmful, regardless of which gender is leading the charge.
This model should obviously be avoided, but how can you fight fair and still deal with the conflicts that arise in your relationship? One study suggests looking at the problem from the perspective of an outsider (at least as much as humanly possible) for each different point of view, that can help you reach an agreement more easily.
You should also stay out of serious discussions or arguments when stressed particularly after work, as experts say this is a common cause of escalating conflicts quickly.