Why men give silent treatment after a breakup

Exactly Why Men Give The Silent Treatment After A Breakup

Today we’re going to talk about why men give the silent treatment to you after a breakup.

Specifically we’re going to be looking at the five core reasons for why they’d potentially do this.

  1. It’s An Avoidant Coping Mechanism
  2. It’s A Form Of Emotional Control
  3. They Are Looking To See Your Reaction
  4. Out of Sight, Out of Mind
  5. The Reverse No Contact Rule

First things first though, what is the silent treatment?

The Silent Treatment Vs. The No Contact Rule?

The irony of me tackling this subject isn’t lost on me.

I’ve long been a big proponent of the no contact rule for years and even though I’ve tried to be at the head of the “no contact isn’t about your ex it’s about you” movement but at its core most people believe that the no contact rule is nothing more than you weaponizing the silent treatment for your own gains.

But I do think there is a difference between a strategy like no contact and the silent treatment. Namely the fact that the no contact rule should only used after a breakup to “outgrow your ex.”

The silent treatment occurs when one romantic partner refuses to communicate with the other partner but there’s usually no defined end to it.

Perhaps an interesting insight into it is the fact that every generation has a different definition for the silent treatment.

  • Shunning
  • Stonewalling
  • Ghosting

They are all considered forms of the silent treatment and gain, each one of them have no defined end in mind. Compare that to the no contact rule and you’ll find there are typically only ever three time frames,

  1. 21 days
  2. 30 days
  3. 45 days

And what you do during that time apart is key.

Yet what if I were to tell you that the reasons behind why men employ the silent treatment are far more complicated than you could imagine.

Let’s start from the top.

Core Silent Treatment Reason #1: It’s An Avoidant Coping Mechanism

Attachment styles are fast becoming one of our “go to” psychological explainers for why men do the things they do after a breakup.

But I’d only like to focus on one attachment style to explain the silent treatment, the avoidant style.

Do me a favor and watch this,

Generally speaking someone with an avoidant attachment style exists with this odd paradox surrounding their lives.

The avoidant wants love but they don’t want to let anyone close enough to give them that love.

From a certain point of view someone with an avoidant fears getting hurt emotionally more than anyone else and if you operate with that assumption understanding why they act they way they do makes a lot more sense.

Our research has indicated that most of the women that enter our ecosystem have exes that exhibit insecure/avoidant attachment styles.

What this means is that often when a man is giving you the silent treatment after a breakup it’s because they find it easier to cope with the breakup this way. They are more comfortable being alone even though they’ll claim that they want to be together with someone.

Further adding fuel to the avoidant fire is the fact that they process the breakup at a different rate than you do.

Most of our clients will come to us complaining that their exes don’t care about them.

“How can he treat me this way after all we’ve shared? Did I even matter to him?”

An avoidant really won’t allow themselves to “miss you” or have nostalgia until after they feel safe and here’s the rub, they only feel safe if they feel like there’s no chance of a reconnection.

It allows them to keep their distance so they won’t be hurt. So, they literally prevent themselves from feeling the pain of the breakup at the beginning by using the silent treatment as a way to protect themselves.

Core Silent Treatment Reason #2: It’s A Form Of Emotional Control

A few years ago I wrote about this concept of “winning a breakup.”

It turns out that a lot of men (including myself) have adopted this mentality and use the silent treatment as a form of emotional control to do just that.

I’ll never forget one of my early breakups. After months of nonstop arguments and insecurities (mostly from me) I initiated a breakup with my girlfriend.

Yet I painted myself as the victim even though I was the one to break up with her.

Immature, right?

I rationalized it like this. Well, she made me break up with her and because of that I’m hurting so I want to make her feel the same way she made me feel. My idea was a simple one and one that I find is pretty common amongst exes.

I’ll just not reach out to her until she reaches out to me first.

As if that will have any bearing on if someone cares about you but in my head at that time it did. The reality is that I was seeking validation that she cared about me and I set up these internal parameters that, if she would hit, would prove to me that she cared.

Her reaching out first was one of those parameters.

But I’ve seen real life exes create even more ridiculous parameters.

  • If she reaches out to me first five times then I’ll respond
  • If she reaches out begging for me back then I’ll respond
  • I won’t talk to her until she apologizes because she knows what she did was wrong

What do all of these have in common?

They are literally a form of punishment for a person not acting the way you want them to. The person employing them needs some form of control because they feel completely out of control due to the fact that their emotions are going crazy.

Seriously, look at what breakups tend to do to your internally regulated chemicals,

What is cortisol responsible for?

The presence of Cortisol lessens the amount of Serotonin in the body. This means that the more stressed you become the more erratic your moods will be and the more out of control your life will seem.

So, they try to take back that loss of control by picking on the lowest hanging fruit.

I’ll simply ignore my ex because I know it’ll hurt them and inevitably they’ll beg for me back.

Core Silent Treatment Reason #3: They Are Looking For Your Reaction

There are some exes who, even though they broke up with you, will have a hard time reconciling the fact that you cared about them at all.

I briefly mentioned this in the last silent treatment reason above so technically this is like an extension of that reason but I’ve seen it happen enough in real life to warrant it’s own section.

Sometimes men will utilize the silent treatment to simply see your reaction.

While the majority of our clients are women dealing with their breakups from men I’ve seen enough of this “want” during the no contact rule within our own clients to talk about it here.

Simply looking at our private facebook group will give plenty of examples.

Take Olivia as an example,

She worries that even though she’s doing a no contact rule her ex hasn’t contacted her and worse has told her friends that they are “done” forever.

Every day women in our private facebook support group have this fear and these are women who are doing the no contact rule on their exes.

Sometimes it literally is as simple as a man using the silent treatment to test and see how much you care about him. After all, if you really cared you’d be reaching out to him, right?

Again, this is sort of an extension of the emotional manipulation I mentioned above.

Let’s move on.

Core Silent Treatment Reason #4: Out of Sight, Out of Mind

I feel like I’ve been all across the attachment spectrum with my breakups.

My very first one I was incredibly anxious but some of my later ones I became incredibly avoidant to the point that I would literally block women just so I wouldn’t have to see their faces on social media.

What’s going on here?

Well, it’s that whole out of sight, out of mind mentality.

The last thing some men want is a constant reminder on Facebook or Instagram of all the amazing stuff you’re doing without them. They find it easier to simply cut you out of their lives so they can move on.

And this brings us to the silent treatment.

It could be that you are perceiving their silent treatment as this gigantic affront when the reality is that they are simply trying to move on from you and have decided to permanently ghost you.

How do you tell if that’s the case?

Well, time is the great equalizer. If at some point they do end up reaching out to you then you probably know it wasn’t this reason that they used the silent treatment on you.

Core Silent Treatment Reason #5: The Reverse No Contact Rule

Without a doubt this is the rarest of the reasons we’ve talked about today because I’ve only seen it happen a handful of times.

And those handful of times are only possible because I own two websites, Ex Boyfriend Recovery and Ex Girlfriend Recovery.

This means that women who are trying to get their exes back enter into my orbit via EBR and men who are trying to get their exes back enter my orbit via EGR.

Twice we’ve literally seen a situation where both exes wanted to get each other back and went to the accompanying websites and literally used the no contact rule on each other. It’s fascinating because in this circumstance we aren’t legally allowed to tell the other person that they want each other back due to client privacy reasons.

But usually once they see each other on the private facebook support group,

They get the hint.

The reason I include it here is mostly because I just wanted an excuse to talk about how cool it is and the fact that technically speaking your ex boyfriend could be using the silent treatment on you because he’s doing a no contact rule on you.

Why Men Give Silent Treatment After A Breakup & How To Deal With It

There are many reasons why men give the silent treatment after a breakup.

There are times when the silent treatment is completely valid, and there are times when it's not. In the second case, the silent treatment is used as a tool for manipulation and control.

If somebody wants personal space from you, no matter how confusing and devastating it is, you have to accept it — especially if you ever hope for a conversation about getting back together in the future. 

RELATED: 4 Reasons You Should Never Block Your Partner's Calls When You're Arguing

After a breakup, it makes sense that someone would need a little space, even if he was the one to initiate the breakup. This is why communicating your boundaries is so crucial. 

"When men are giving silent treatment after a breakup," says Hypnotherapist Keya Murthy, "they are dealing with the hurt on their own. This is their way of letting the other know 'I need a time out so I can heal.'" 

The best thing to say when someone is giving you the silent treatment? Nothing.

If he's doing it because he needs space, give him space. It's possible that once he's figured out what he's feeling, he'll reach out to you when he's ready.

If he's blocking you on social media and purposely cutting you out of his life to gain power over you, congratulations on breaking up with him.

Seriously, if someone's going out of their way to inflict emotional pain onto you, then they're definitely not worth your time. 

Why Men Give the Silent Treatment After a Breakup

1. He's trying to protect himself

Sometimes people are so terrified of being hurt — or hurt again — that they assume it’s best to shut down.

To them, it might feel easier to ignore you, rather than talk things through.

2. He's trying to make you feel emotional pain.

This is the worst reason for the silent treatment after a breakup.

For some, the silent treatment is a way to hurt you right back.

Don't let it get to you. Focus on yourself and soothing your wounds. 

3. He's trying to manipulate you.

Similar to the reason above, his silence could be a strategy to inflict pain.

If you're his ex, the silent treatment can leave you stressed and confused and cause you to spiral into anxiety. This leaves you vulnerable and desperate for his attention, which is exactly what he wants.

You might not always know when someone is using the silent treatment to manipulate you, so it's worth becoming familiar with the signs of emotional manipulation. If they are or were present in your relationship, it's likely that he's using the silent treatment as a weapon.

4. He's just trying to make some space for himself. 

Another option is that he's just trying to cool down. He may not be sure about what he's feeling and either doesn't want or doesn't know how to talk to you about it.

Are you sure that he's giving you the silent treatment, or did he ask to be left alone? According to Relationship Coach Keith Dent, those are two completely different situations.

"Asking for personal space is empowering and the highest form of communication because you are showing your partner that you have needs and if you love me and care for my personal well being then you will honor it," Dent explains.

The silent treatment, however, "shows your partner that you're not willing to engage and basically will take what you need which ultimately could damage the relationship in the long-term."

RELATED: Your Only Chance To Get Him Back Is Having No Contact — Here’s How

How to Deal with the Silent Treatment

"When someone is giving you the silent treatment it is best to leave them alone and let them do the healing on their own terms, in their own time and space," Murthy explains.

1. Spend time with family and friends.

The key here is not about bottling up your emotions. 

It's about learning who to express your frustrations to.

Obviously, your ex is off-limits. Your friends and family, the people you can trust the most, will give you the green light to let it all out.  

2. Make sure you leave the house.

Wallowing in self-pity all day is not going to help you get over it, friend.

Make sure you have some outdoor time. Run some errands and meet up with your friends.

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Get your mind off of it. 

3. Stop looking at his social media

It's not helping you, just hurting you.

The more time you spend looking at your phone for answers, the more confused and stressed you'll be. 

4. Stop contacting him.

The more you try to break the ice, the more it's going to break you psychologically and push him away.

"If you have a common friend you can call and check in if you still care," says Murthy. "When someone says 'nothing' it means they do not have words right now to respond to your queries. "

Let it be. No matter how justified you are in your anger, you can't force a response out of him. 

RELATED: What The Silent Treatment Means To You & Why, By Zodiac Sign

More for You:

Izzy Casey is a writer who covers pop culture. 

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What men are silent about after a breakup: two frank stories

There is an opinion that women experience a breakup more dramatically. Nevertheless, psychologists testify that this process is painful for both parties. Just because of the peculiarities of male psychology, the representatives of the stronger sex do not show their feelings to others and do not ask them for help. Two frank confessions about the feelings of men who survived a breakup allow us to judge their inner experiences. nine0003

Paid a high price

Here is what Andrei (35 years old) said. When the man met Marina, he fell deeply in love with her. At that time, he was in great difficulty. Recently, his father passed away, and his construction business began to bring losses. The girl with her presence helped Andrei come to his senses, supported him in every possible way, brightening up his life.

But over time, the negative feelings became aggravated again, Andrey began to show anger, and sometimes even aggression, and could not cope with himself. At first, Marina tried to correct the situation, showing miracles of patience and calmness, making surprises for Andrei, for example, inviting him on unexpected trips. But he still behaved rudely to her and did not ask for forgiveness. And young people gradually moved away from each other. nine0003

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When the girl announced the breakup, the man at first did not even understand what was being said. It seemed to him that this was impossible. This was a shock to him, and he asked Marina to give him a chance. She agreed. But a month passed, and Andrei could not change his behavior, and his beloved left him. He has not seen her since. nine0003

Andrey had to get out of the situation with the help of a psychologist for a whole year. He is very sorry that he lost Marina. If it were possible to start all over again, he would do everything differently and would never let go of his beloved. However, understanding came to him too late, he paid a high price for it.

Divorce destroyed him

Sergey, who is now 45, has been married to Lyudmila for 20 years. They raised two sons. Although after many years of marriage, feelings were no longer as ardent as in youth, the man believed that he and his wife lived in love and harmony, and everything was fine with them. But something terrible happened. nine0003

My wife started an affair and decided to get a divorce. Sergei regarded this as a betrayal. After all, he gave 20 years of his life to this woman, and she just trampled on him! What is all this for? The man is now in unbearable pain, he is too confused and depressed to share his feelings with friends. Sergei notes that the divorce literally destroyed him. And it seems to him that he will never be able to recover.

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How do men cope with a breakup?

According to psychologists, the breakup of relationships is often more experienced by men than women, as is commonly believed. The former outwardly seem self-confident, strong personalities, but as soon as the woman leaves them, they turn into weak little children who have their favorite toy taken away. Thus, the stronger sex experiences the greatest stress during parting, but keeps it to itself, while the ladies are in a hurry to share their misfortune with their friends, thereby alleviating their suffering. nine0003

How can you tell if a man has broken up?

Perhaps this will be a revelation for some, but after the breakup of a relationship, one can observe that a man is crying. Yes, this does not happen to everyone due to the secrecy and restraint of the male character, but such cases do happen. Therefore, if you happen to see a crying representative of the stronger sex, you can most likely assume that he was left by his beloved woman.

Thus, one of the most terrible partings for men is a break with a spouse or partner, especially if they have a long life together. nine0003

Researchers' findings

Sociologists from the United States explain the different perceptions of divorce by men and women by the psychology of each of the sexes. Here are the differences they found as a result of the study:

  1. When parting, ladies are more likely to become depressed, and men seek solace in the use of alcohol.
  2. The stronger sex survives a divorce much longer, because it drives its experiences inside.
  3. It is more difficult for men to cope with feelings of loneliness because they complain less often to family and friends. nine0048

Found a violation? Complain about Content

What Men Won't Tell You After a Breakup: Two Confessions


A Man and a WomanDivorce

"We didn't part as friends who meet for coffee and exchange news"

Ilya, 36 9000

It seemed that Katya and I would always be together, no matter what happened. I never imagined that I would ever lose her. It all started with a strong love, I have never experienced anything like this for anyone in my 30 years. nine0003

Shortly before our meeting, my mother died, and Katya, by her appearance, helped me recover a little after the loss. However, very soon I began to understand that, having lost my mother, I was also losing my father. After her death, he began to drink. I was worried, but I could not do anything and showed only aggression and anger.

Things went badly in business as well. My partner and I had a construction company, we stopped getting contracts. I think not least because I had no energy for anything. Katya tried to talk to me, came up with unexpected trips. She showed miracles of calmness and tolerance. I walked into a dark room and closed the door behind me. nine0003

Katya and I have always loved to walk around the city, go to nature. But now they continued to do it in complete silence. I hardly spoke or lashed out at her. Any little thing could take away. Never asked for forgiveness. And she became silent in response.

I did not pay attention to the fact that she increasingly stayed overnight with her mother and, under any pretext, spent her free time with her friends. I don't think she cheated on me. I just now understand that being with me was really unbearable for her. nine0003

When she left, I realized that I had a choice: keep sinking or start doing something with my life

When she told me she was leaving, I didn't even understand at first. It seemed impossible. That's when I woke up for the first time, begged her not to do this, to give us a second chance. And surprisingly, she agreed. This turned out to be the boost I needed. It was as if I saw life in real colors and realized how much my Katya is dear to me.

We talked a lot, she cried and for the first time in a long time told me about her feelings. And I finally listened to her. I thought that this was the beginning of a new stage - we would get married, we would have a child. Asked her if she wanted a boy or a girl...

But a month later she very calmly said that we could not be together. Her feelings are gone and she wants to be honest with me. From her look, I realized that she had finally decided everything and it was pointless to talk about it. I didn't see her again.

We did not part as friends who meet for coffee and tell each other about the news - that would be too painful. When she left, I realized that I had a choice: continue to sink to the bottom or do something with my life. I decided that I needed help. And went to therapy. nine0003

I had to unravel a lot of tangles inside myself, and after a year a lot of things became clearer to me. I finally managed to say goodbye to my mother, I forgave my father. And let Katya go.

Sometimes I am very sorry that I met her, as it seems, at the wrong time. If it happened now, I would behave differently and, perhaps, would not destroy anything. But it's pointless to live in the fantasies of the past. I also understood this after our parting, paying a high price for this lesson.

“Whatever doesn’t kill makes you stronger” turned out not to be about us

Oleg, 32 years old

Lena and I got married after graduation and soon decided to start our own business - a logistics and construction company. Everything went well, we even expanded our team. It seemed that the problems that happen to spouses working together bypass us - we managed to share work and relationships.

The financial crisis that happened was a test of strength for our family as well. One line of business had to close. Gradually we found ourselves in debt, not calculating our strength. Both were on their nerves, accusations began against each other. I secretly took a loan from my wife. I hoped this would help, but it only confused our affairs even more. nine0003

When everything was revealed, Lena was furious. She said it was a betrayal, packed her things and left. I thought that betrayal was her act. We stopped talking, and soon, through friends, I accidentally found out that she had another.

Mutual distrust and resentment will always remain between us. The slightest quarrel - and everything flares up with renewed vigor

Formally, this, of course, could not be called treason - we were not together. But I was very worried, I started drinking. Then I realized - this is not an option. I took myself in hand. We began to meet with Lena - it was necessary to decide on our business. The meetings led to the fact that we tried to restore relations, but after a month it became obvious that this “cup” could not be glued together. nine0003

My wife admitted that she couldn't trust me after the credit story. And I didn’t forgive her for how easily she left and began dating someone else. After the last attempt at life together, we finally decided to leave.

It was hard for me for a long time. But understanding helped - we could not live as if nothing had happened after what happened. Mutual distrust and resentment will always remain between us. The slightest quarrel - and everything flares up with renewed vigor. “What does not kill us makes us stronger” - these words were not about us. Still, it is important to protect the relationship and not reach the point of no return. nine0003

Text: Sabina Safarova Photo source: Getty Images

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