General Question

MilkyWay's avatar

What's the longest you've ever given someone the 'silent treatment' ?

Asked by MilkyWay (13723points) July 6th, 2011

I was messing around and this thought came into my mind. Whoever it was, friend, S/O, sibling blah blah blah, how long was it for?
Was it really serious, because you were hurt by what they did?
Or was it because of a stubborn streak?
After how long did you make up and become friends again?

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42 Answers

KateTheGreat's avatar

6 years and counting. :)

Jude's avatar

An hour.

It’s silly.

everephebe's avatar

About 5 years.

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Coloma's avatar

I don’t do silent treatments.

Taking a little space in a conflict is good, but not for days and weeks and months, IF you want to work out the issues and salvage a relationship.

The silent treatment is a bad habit of passive aggressive peeps and solves nothing, and, it is a form of emotional abuse and manipulative behavior a lot of people use to ‘punish’ others, and especially when they are called out on their own bad behavior and they sulk and pout instead of being a big boy or girl and taking responsibility.

I let go of a ‘friend’ a few months ago that gave ME the silent treatment for a month after I confronted her about a bad habit she had of not asking and changing plans without consulting the other parties, speaking for others, etc.

Her reactions told me she wasn’t someone I wanted to call a friend anymore.
See ya.

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redfeather's avatar

What the heck. I answered the question.

My longest silent treatment is 6 years and counting. I’m bad with holding grudges.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@redfeather The mods went crazy on this one for some reason
I rarely remain “silent” for long. I prefer to burn off the steam by letting the emotion of whatever occurred go. Maybe a week could go by at most, before I’d call or face to face visit with someone to let them know exactly what I thought.

tedibear's avatar

45 minutes. And he didn’t even know he was getting the silent treatment, so it wasn’t really worth it!

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athenasgriffin's avatar

When someone gets me angry, it is hard to make me stop talking. Especially when it is a guy. I think it kinda makes them happy if you shut up.

josie's avatar

I don’t do it. It takes too much effort to sustain it.

plethora's avatar

I don’t engage in passive-aggressive behavior of any kind. I think it is stupid and childish.

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Bellatrix's avatar

It depends what you mean by ‘silent treatment’. I have cut people out of my life that I feel are toxic and there is no way of resolving that toxicity. There are people in that category that I have had no contact with for years.

If you mean just not talking to someone because I am miffed, I went a weekend with my dad once. He wouldn’t talk to me and I wouldn’t talk to him (I still think I was right!). Then I realised I was stuck in my bedroom in the cold with no TV ignoring him while he was in the lounge room watching TV and had a fire. So I went down and ignored him in the same room and eventually he said “good programme this” and I said “seems to be” – silence over. Dignity intact.

Generally though I am much too outspoken and bolshie to hold my tongue. I find it passive aggressive too. If I have a problem, I will speak up and tell people what is on my mind or why I am upset.

aprilsimnel's avatar

11 years and counting. Unfortunately, a request for mature adult discussion of the main issues I was having with this person was met with accusations of selfishness for not playing ball by that person.

I don’t have time for anyone who insists I have to, in essence, behave in total obedience and fear towards them like I did when I was 6, or else I’m an ungrateful bitch.

plethora's avatar

Amended answer: Cutting a toxic person out of my life, as mentioned by @Bellatrix and @aprilsimnel is something entirely different. That’s final and there is nothing passive aggressive about it. It’s up front and in their face.

Coloma's avatar


I agree 100%, nothing passive aggressive about saying ” who you are doesn’t work for who I am.”

Bellatrix's avatar

I should qualify that I meant being miffed and silent is passive aggressive. Not deciding it is unhealthy to have someone in your life. When that has happened in my life, the people know and they know why and it most definitely wasn’t a passive aggressive situation.

I just don’t think being silent is effective. Sure the person may get you are pissed off, but unless you express yourself, they may not know why. I am far too lazy to waste my time that way. “You did this… I don’t like it… etc. etc.” Then move on.

Jeruba's avatar

Seven months. My mother. It took me that long to reach a point where I could stand to see her and speak to her. And it took me another fifteen years to reach a point where it was no longer a daily active battle for me. I’m still not sure what it means to forgive someone who never asks for it.

linguaphile's avatar

I work at a place where silent treatments are a frequent norm, sadly, for coworkers to control and intimidate others, so after trying many times to figure things out with others, approach them kindly, open things for discussion and making the silent treatments worse, I’m an unwilling participant in a 5 year long silent treatment “thingie” with one large clique of teachers/aides and myself. I feel I’ve been the one to step up and try many times, so I’ve gotten so used to it that it no longer has an effect on me. I like @Coloma‘s “Who you are doesn’t work for who I am-” but in this case “who they are doesn’t work for who I am.”

The longest silent treatment I received was from one branch of my family- it started when I was a wee little 7 year old and with a few brief attempts at reconciliation when I was 16 and 24, it lasted until I was 36 years old—27 years total.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I did give the silent treatment in an immature way to someone who is now an ex-co-worker. He made fun of my inexperience around computers in front of a room full of people, in the way that only incredibly smart people such as himself can, and instead of being an adult about it and having a chat with him privately, I simply never spoke to him again.

Coloma's avatar


Mmm…in that situation, with a basic stranger, I wouldn’t say that was passive aggressive necessarily. I’d say you made a wise choice in sizing up the guys rude and classless behavior as someone you wouldn’t want to talk to again.

Not the same as a more serious relationship or friendship when it is used as a punishing power ploy to guilt someone into compliance.

I would have steered clear of that jerk too. ;-)

Bellatrix's avatar

@aprilsimnel and @Coloma I agree. I would call that sensible. Just note the behaviour and move on. There are times when saying nothing isn’t the silent treatment but the right strategy.

I think the OP should perhaps specify what is the “silent treatment” but for me it is in a close relationship when you get cranky and choose to say nothing rather than speaking up. The situation you describe is, to my mind, different @aprilsimnel. I would have done the same.

aprilsimnel's avatar

@Coloma – Our office was too small for me to pull that, though, and, as the only IT guy, if he spoke to me with regard to something my boss needed to get fixed on his computer, I’d ignore him. He thought he was being funny with his comments, not rude. I totally should’ve said something.

But to give the silent treatment to, say, a boyfriend until he begged me to tell him what was wrong? No, I’ve never done that. I can’t help but yap.

Coloma's avatar


Got’cha. :-)

boffin's avatar

I haven’t talked to my sister since 1985…

filmfann's avatar

I haven’t talked in a significant way to my former best friend in 27 years.
Right after I got married, he said some very mean things about my new bride.

Coloma's avatar


That’s not the silent treatment either, that’s the full blown, head in a basket, guillotine cutoff. lol


That’s too bad. Sounds like your friend couldn’t just say ” Hey dude, I’m bummed out because I’m afraid I won’t see you as much anymore” or whatever…instead, it sounds like he scapegoated your wife for his feelings of jealously or rivalry. People, sometimes!

MilkyWay's avatar

Thanks for answering everyone :)

blueiiznh's avatar

i really don’t get the mod on this. I stated the same as other posts.
The longest would be a couple hours to take some space to think. After that I would attempt to communicate my feelings.
Holding a silent treatment on someone is passive aggressive and I simply don’t think it is productive at all.

Jeruba's avatar

People who are passing judgment on those of us who said yes all seem to be assuming that not speaking is meant as punishment, intended to manipulate, etc. Have you considered that it might have simply been too painful to deal with the person, that no results were intended or expected or hoped for—because nothing could be done—other than just protecting oneself against further injury? I’d like to know why you think self-defense and removing oneself from the source of the pain is childish and immature. Sometimes the only thing to do is walk away. If it’s a partner, you can divorce them (and none of you have ever done that, then, right?); if it’s a close blood relative, perhaps you want to find another option if it can be done.

As a young person in my twenties, I was left to deal alone with a situation that would have floored anyone. The only reason there was ever any reconciliation is because of the work I did to get there because ultimately the relationship still mattered to me; no concession was ever made on the other side. Say what you will, I was not being passive aggressive. I was surviving.

Coloma's avatar


Of course, all situations are different. Removing yourself from a toxic and/or beyond hope situation/relationship is not the same as a defiant, manipulative, passive aggressive counter from someone who is unconscious of their immature defenses.

Ideally though, one would be able to simply speak up and say ” this isn’t working for me and I am not able to communicate with you anymore, maybe never.”

My sharings are based on truly passive aggressive types that are still behaving like sulky children and using their silent treatments as a manipulative tool to avoid taking any responsibility for the problem, partially or fully.

In the case of any kind of serious abuse, walking away and refusing any further contact is not passive aggressive, it is self protective and going “no contact” is perfectly understandable.

Plucky's avatar

I haven’t answered this question because I’m not sure what is meant by the “silent treatment” in the OP. I thought silent treatment was simply not talking to someone because you are upset with them – or ignoring them for a certain amount of time. I did not think it meant ending an unhealthy relationship or cutting off ties to someone. To me, that is different than the silent treatment. Or do I have it wrong?

Jeruba's avatar

@Coloma, I agree that those are different things. And so I am asking why so many seem to be assuming that they’re all one kind of thing and condemning the behavior without making any distinction.

(“Abuse” is not the only ground for withdrawal either. Again I do not understand creating such small pockets and then trying to stuff everything into them.)

In my case it really was silent treatment—I stopped speaking or communicating or having any contact for seven months, and I did not offer any notice or word of explanation, because mine was not the precipitating event and I had no control over it—but I did not attempt to put an end to the a priori biological relationship.

Coloma's avatar


I think it is in the wording of the question perhaps.
“Silent treatment” is, maybe not always correctly, assumed to be of a passive aggressive nature, because it IS, a lot of the time.
There is no “one size fits all”, but speaking for myself, I associate that term with the pathology of a passive aggressive persons dysfunctional and obstructive behaviors that prevent healthy communication about an issue.

I think the key is in the intention, as always.

If one intends to evoke some sort of reaction form one they give the silent treatment to, that would fall in the manipulative category.

On the other hand, if one truly just doesn’t care and is done with a person or situation, the passive aggressive label wouldn’t apply IMO.

I once did not speak to someone for a month, it was not passive aggressive in the least. They KNEW how I felt about a situation and I told them, up front, I needed space.

It was true, and I had no hidden agenda of manipulating them in any way.

I think this is key. The difference between manipulation and just plain, I don’t give a damn. haha

Jeruba's avatar

And in my case it was emphatically neither. But never mind, I’m not arguing or justifying. I just thought a little latitude might be nice for others who have found themselves in a place similar to mine.

Coloma's avatar


I think it’s opened up the discussion. It’s all good. :-)

talljasperman's avatar

12 years to a family member… and 12 years (to me) from the one that got away.

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