When You Get the Silent Treatment

Updated 05/16/19

Nicole Mason/Stocksy

So you've called your friend, sent an email, and wrote on their Facebook wall, and still not received a response. What gives? Are they giving you the silent treatment?

Friends can respond in all different kinds of ways when they're angry and hurt, from screaming to silence. You might wonder which is worse. If they scream, at least you know what's bothering them. If they're silent, you have to guess, and this in and of itself can lead to more problems.

Before You Start Panicking

Just because your friend doesn't appear to be answering you doesn't mean he or she is necessarily angry with you. It's very easy to let your mind wander into a dark place when you imagine that your friend is mad, but until you hear from them you don't know for sure.

Give your friend some time to respond. Perhaps he or she is really busy and just doesn't have time to get to you. There are times in each of our lives where we're suddenly swamped and find it hard to dig out from emails and phone messages. Or, perhaps your pal is dealing with a delicate personal issue that you don't know about, and that's why he or she hasn't been able to communicate.

If your friend doesn't respond the first time you send an email, try a different means of communication. For example, if you sent an email the first time, try sending a text or calling the next time. Be careful about your tone when you send the second message. Don't accuse them of being angry or say something like "What's your problem?" or even "Are you mad at me?"

Your Friend Refuses to Talk to You Because of Anger

If your friend still won't communicate, they are probably either angry or hurt. Then it's time to look back over the last few weeks and months and get a sense of why. This is where most of us drive ourselves crazy trying to figure out something without the benefit of help from our friend.

Perhaps your friend stopped talking to you immediately after you made a comment or acted rudely to them. Maybe they've brought it up in the past and you shrugged it off. In this case, your friend has actually tried telling you to knock it off before but you didn't listen. The silent treatment probably means that your friend is tired of your behavior and no longer wants to be friends with you.

The Silent Treatment After Being Hurt

Some people become silent after a friend hurts their feelings. It may take them a long time to come to terms with things so they can talk it out. At first, your friend may even feel a bit silly for being hurt, and their silence is just time away so they can recover.

Once again, look back over your actions and words to see if this could be the case. If it is, wait for your friend to finally respond. They might respond in anger, and if they do, hear them out to see if what they say is true. Until then, give them the space they need.

Learning From the Silent Treatment

If your friend suddenly won't speak to you (as opposed to just being busy), it's a good time to become more self-aware. Everyone handles conflict differently, and perhaps your friend has tried telling you "no" to situations you insist on or has told you in the past that you've upset them. If you didn't pay attention, the silent treatment is a prompt for you to do better with them (if they give you another chance) or any other friendships you have.

If you honestly don't get why your friend is angry, there is the chance that perhaps it's just them. Maybe they didn't communicate their feelings properly and don't know how to deal with conflict, so they shy away. In this case, just move on.

However, what usually happens is that a friend will try to give you small clues here and there when you upset them. They might forgive over and over and finally get sick of whatever it is you're doing. The silent treatment either means they are contemplating ending your friendship, or they already have moved on.

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