For the person receiving the silent treatment, the effects can be quite harmful and even detrimental to the relationship, depending on how severe the treatment is.
The page cites a search called “Experience still flip1“for example, where mothers give young children emotionless, silent reactions for an extended period of time. In this experiment, he says, the children give constant bids to communicate. They try, but it doesn’t work, and the children get frightened and start crying. And eventually They withdraw and are attracted to themselves.
“If you want to understand the effects of deep silence, that’s kind of what we create with it,” Page explains, adding that there’s a reason solitary confinement is considered the worst prison sentence.
In adult relationships, he says, regardless of the reason behind the behavior, the person on the receiving end will feel depressed, isolated, angry, and/or confused. “The silent treatment is very unambiguous a form of abuseHe adds, noting that even subtle forms can be detrimental to a relationship.
And what’s worth, Page adds, that couples who have a “lower threshold for allowing conflict” (a.k.a. they prefer talking about things rather than letting things fester) are actually happier in their relationships than couples with a higher threshold for conflict (a.k.a. They are “let it go,” and ignore problems as well).
“We often resort to silence and avoidance as a relationship-preserving strategy – but it actually does the exact opposite – and the other person experiences your silence as absence and avoidance,” Page explains.