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Girlfriend's silent treatment speaks volumes

Silent treatment says a lot about girlfriend

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Philly: How should I deal with my girlfriend's silent treatment? We usually get along great and have very few arguments or even serious disagreements. But when we do, she is content to go the rest of the night into the next day without saying anything. She'll come around if I start to bring up the subject, but she says she won't apologize if she doesn't feel sorry about something. We've been dating about 18 months and I could see myself marrying her. I just don't know whether I could play a lifetime role of peacemaker.

CAROLYN: Don't marry her! Don't! No no no!

Silent treatments are very controlling, strictly for the punitive and immature, and you do not want to be on the receiving end of that particularly toxic combo for the rest of your life.

It's fine that she doesn't want to make empty apologies. However, even people who are at the pinnacle of rightness, whose arguments are clean enough for use in surgery, can still find a way to speak civilly, if only to say, "I need time before I can talk about this."

Since blamelessness is pretty rare, that makes it even more important that the people involved be mature enough to make at least some concessions. Beware the mate who won't budge.

Don't take ex's moves too personally

chicago: I'd been dating a woman for four years. We were in love and talking marriage.

Then she bought a place in town and started going out with her younger, single girlfriends. She was open about her girlfriends' desire to get out and meet guys. After a couple of months, my girlfriend suddenly broke up with me, saying she was having too much fun, and wanted to be single and free to date.

One hand — I understand the thrill of meeting new people and being flirted with. On the other hand, I'm deeply hurt, and feeling betrayed. She walked away from a real, loving relationship to be a "party girl"?

carolyn: I can see how you'd see that. You were ready to settle down, so you place little value now on partying.

But if she wasn't ready to settle down — maybe it wasn't the right time, maybe you weren't the right guy — then she wouldn't have been choosing something of little value (partying) over something of great value (you). On the contrary, in that context what you dismiss as "partying" would be, to her, nothing less than freedom. Obviously, that would have tremendous value.

I see a hint of this in the progression you describe — she started to venture out with friends, then suddenly she was breaking up with you. Sometimes people don't realize they're in the wrong place until they go somewhere else, often by accident — and it's only the sudden blast of oxygen that tells them they've been suffocating.

I know it can be hard to believe, but at least try to see it this way: Often, breakups are not personal. They hurt, and they sure feel like personal slights. But this might just be about who your ex is. And if her nature doesn't align well with yours, then her departure would be a necessity, not a slap in the face.

Girlfriend's silent treatment speaks volumes 08/10/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 12, 2008 2:25pm]
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