Not speaking to a friend or family member can sometimes feel petty. The phrase ‘sending someone to Coventry’ used to apply in the playground when we didn’t want to talk to our friends over something silly, but what about when you’re an adult? We look at circumstances when silence really is the best option.

There have been a number of recent high-profile examples of this scenario, including Thomas Markle publicly speaking about his strained relationship with the Duchess of Sussex and Cardi B who faced a similar dilemma when her ex, Offset, gatecrashed the stage at one of her gigs, begging her to take him back. Clearly these are efforts to gain the attention of someone who isn’t talking to you.

Silent Treatment
The Duchess of Sussex during a visit to the Kiwi Breeding Programme at Rainbow Springs in Rotorua, New Zealand, on day four of the royal couple’s tour of New Zealand.

While we can’t comment on these relationships, we believe there can be very valid reasons why cutting contact with someone can be a course of action worth taking, and continuing, even if you’re being put under pressure to forgive, forget and pick up your relationship again.

There are circumstances when it’s definitely OK to stop speaking to someone…

When you’ve tried

Often, not speaking to the person is a result of a long time talking, falling out, re-connecting and making up. Your silence might be born out of frustration, or a realization that there is no more talking to be done. If you’ve tried your best but your reasoning falls on deaf ears, sometimes not speaking to them any more can become the only option.

When other people are involved

There’s nothing worse than being piggy in the middle with an argument between your mates or other members of your family. Even when work colleagues fall out, it can be embarrassing and hard for others to know which side – if any – to take. So if you decide to stop speaking to the person you’re arguing with, it can actually be better for those around you.

When you need a break

Not speaking to someone doesn’t have to mean you’ll never speak to them ever again. Your decision to cut verbal ties can just be a way of you stepping back from an argument or confrontation that is weighing you down. If, like Meghan, you have a lot going on in your life (she’s approaching her first Christmas as a newlywed, and pregnant) then it can be utterly exhausting to rake up old feelings over and over again.

When you need an emotional break, it can be helpful to talk about the fact you don’t want to talk for a while. Explaining to a friend or family member that you need space means they don’t just feel ghosted. And you can test how it feels to step away from the friendship or relationship without the noise of you both talking.

When you’ve moved on

It’s tricky when one party has moved on and the other hasn’t. If they won’t listen to your reasons for wanting to split or not speak, then ignoring them can be the only option. If you’re moving forward with your life, opening up old wounds by speaking to the person who hurt you can be detrimental. Sometimes the only way is to go cold (silent) turkey.

When they’ve made it public and you don’t want to

Someone could try and break your silence by speaking out in public. For people in the real world who can’t use a TV show or stage, this could be writing on your social media, coming to a place where you’re having a night out, or getting a friend to ask you to talk.

While they think they’re making an attempt at reconciliation, your heckles rise further because your space and privacy has been invaded. If you’re not ok with their behaviour, sometimes not speaking is best, to avoid a war of words, with you looking heartless when they look like they’re trying to make amends.

Silent Treatment

When it’ll just lead to an argument

Similarly, if you know that speaking to the person will just end up in a shouting match, keeping your counsel is best. “All families are the same,” Thomas Markle said on Good Morning Britain. But there’s an argument to say that’s not true: And if your family have upset you, you have every right to decide how to react.

If you don’t want to get into a debate with them over the ‘same old stuff’ then not speaking at all will avoid that.

When you’re not ready

It could be that you just need some time, some space and silence, before you feel able to reconnect. It’s a risk that they’ll not want to speak further down the line, but if you’re willing to take that risk, then it could be that in weeks, or months, to come, you’ll be ready to break your silence with dignity and poise. And remember, most of all, it’s up to you if you speak to them – nobody else.

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