Emotional Abuse in Friendships and Relationships
Friends get in tiffs all the time. But when do we say, enough is enough?
I have had friends in the past that have always gotten offended, or jealous and they would give me the silent treatment. Then again, it was high school and all of us girls and boys were immature and didn't understand the impact our actions and words had on others, even those close to us.
Now, as a young adult in the real world, I have been experiencing a tiff with a really close friend of mine. And the silence they have been giving me has been destroying me quite a bit. I play it cool like I am not bothered, but it is so hard to stay quiet and act as if it isn't hurting you—because it is. It is hurting me the most in my life at the moment. To the point, I cannot concentrate on my studies. I do this to myself, though. I get attached and I feel like I actually have a friend to rely on, only for something to go wrong and the tiff explodes into something it shouldn't even have! But this must be a part of life. It may be, however, no one deserves the silent treatment. Especially those of us with mental health issues. I have OCD, ADHD, depression, and anxiety. The silent treatment alone is enough to trigger my OCD. I am constantly overthinking and obsessing over different stuff. Lately, I've been obsessing over friendships. And with my anxiety, I have been scared and down lately due to all of the endings I could think of that could happen once this silent treatment is over.
The silent treatment is defined as the refusal to engage in verbal communication with someone, often as a response to the conflict in a relationship. It is a passive-aggressive tactic and can be considered abuse. There is a really good article I will link at the end that goes into detail on this abusive behavior. I feel the silent treatment is one of those things that you can do, to an extent before it causes psychological damage to another person. The first couple of days receiving it you're like, "Ok ... We will hopefully work it out." But when days turn into weeks it is antagonizing. People who often decide to use this behavior must feel empowered. Knowing that they control the situation is like a high for them. Sure, they might feel upset, but going to lengths to not talk to someone, especially someone close and with mental issues, is not right. Eventually, you will need to talk to each other, so why wait and torture the other? Is it a way of manipulating one? So next time they do something wrong in your eyes, you know you have control and they will apologize and try not to do what you think is wrong.
Not only in friendships but in relationships too. The silent treatment is not a solution. It's halting a solution, like a pause. It can be positive, but let's be real, after several days it gets old. My abusive ex used to give me the silent treatment, especially after physically abusing me. I felt that it was all my fault and that I am the reason no one wants to be near me. Eventually, I found a safe haven and am out of that relationship. When I got out of that relationship I felt so relieved. But when there's a silent treatment in the friendship? It's hard. You don't want that friendship to end. You aren't trying to leave. And hopefully, you aren't trying to escape from physical abuse in a friendship. If so, please make peace. A real friend would never physically hurt you.
I have talked to a few people recently about the silent treatment, in general. Whether or not they think it is okay, damaging, or whatever. Most responses were that they felt it is a no-go, that silent treatments are not okay and two people in conflict should work it out. Other responses were about how their exes used the behavior. Unfortunately, I did have some who admitted that they use it. They use it to let the other one know they did something wrong. When I asked, "What if they don't know they did anything wrong?" the person would justify it by saying, "They should know." To me, this is iffy. How does someone know what they did if you don't tell them? Or y'all don't talk about it? This statement alone was stressful in its nature.
"You told me your story, now tell me how I can cope with mine,"you must be wondering. To tell you the truth, I can't tell you. But I can suggest a few things like: tell him/her that you two need to talk. Give them a limit. Don't give an ultimatum, instead list reasons why you want to talk the problem out. State how you feel and don't be afraid of the effect. Your feelings matter just as much as theirs!