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  1. #1
    Junior Member Sally111's Avatar
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    Question Unusual silent treatment

    Hello everyone I'm a little taken aback by my ISFJ partner of 5 years & hope that you can help me with your insight

    Due to the long distance we can't hug it out for now and are limited in little actions of affection which would help the situation.

    It started with a friendly and genuine email in which I explained how little words of affection did wonders for me. He apprectiated it and over the weeks our conversations went on, but my message seemed forgotten.

    When I mentioned it he reacted annoyed and it turned into a 5 day silent treatment.
    I sent a photo of a family get together,just to let him know everyone was thinking of him. He didn't respond,but I knew he needed some time to himself so I let him be.

    Today I got a family video of his with a neutral comment. I'm glad he seems to be doing better. However the sudden cut of communication for several days has never occured before and I would be very hurt if it happened again.

    1. How can I have a constructive conversation about a serious issue (only if absolutely needed) without him avoiding me? I keep in mind that everyone has something that makes them deeply uncomfortable.

    2. What would an ISFJ expect after getting back in touch? I catch myself being a little guarded due to the unusual behavior.

    3. How can I be supportive while making clear that another days long silent treatment would greatly shake my trust?

    Thank you for taking time
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  2. #2
    Forged in Fire Luminous's Avatar
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    I have no advice, but wanted to say Welcome to the forum.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Frosty's Avatar
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    My philosophy has always been that- you can only do the best you can do. If someone wants to give you the silent treatment, well, thats on them. Everyone needs space sometimes to work out their feelings so I usually can understand the necessity of the silent treatment sometimes- but I guess what my advice is is... dont take it personally.

    If it really bothers you talk to him and tell him how you feel. Communication is always a good thing.

    Sorry I dont hve better advice. I know this hurts and it sucks- but Id just say that you are there when hes ready to talk and then try to put it out of your mind. Its hard when its someone you care about but... lots of times I feel thats all you can do.

    Sorry this advice isnt super great. But yeah. Welcome to the forum.
    The only kinds of fights worth fighting are those you’re going to lose, because somebody has to fight them and lose and lose and lose until someday, somebody who believes as you do wins.
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  4. #4
    abcdenfp Abcdenfp's Avatar
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    i used to do this but have come to realize its unhealthy, i would punish / push away the person by creating a void with silent treatment. My ISTP was really affected by it and his response was so out of the norm that i had to take a step back and look at it , its a kind of cruel punishment and can feel abusive, now when i go silent he will persist and reminds me not to shut him out and i snap out of it. i trust him tremendously. he doesnt let me get away with stuff like that anymore , even when i self sabatoge he is standing at top of the hole with a hand to help me up.


    i think it is totally normal to feel a bit guarded after that experience and hurt, but i would address it right away, its a protection mechanism but doesnt make it right. start with your point three and then ask how he likes to communicate and address difficult issues moving forward.


    Quote Originally Posted by Sally111 View Post
    Hello everyone I'm a little taken aback by my ISFJ partner of 5 years & hope that you can help me with your insight Due to the long distance we can't hug it out for now and are limited in little actions of affection which would help the situation. It started with a friendly and genuine email in which I explained how little words of affection did wonders for me. He apprectiated it and over the weeks our conversations went on, but my message seemed forgotten. When I mentioned it he reacted annoyed and it turned into a 5 day silent treatment. I sent a photo of a family get together,just to let him know everyone was thinking of him. He didn't respond,but I knew he kneeded some time to himself so I let him be. Today I got a family video of his with a neutral comment. I'm glad he seems to be doing better. However the sudden cut of communication for several days has never occured before and I would be very hurt if it happened again. 1. How can I have a constructive conversation about a serious issue (only if absolutely needed) without him avoiding me? I keep in mind that everyone has something that makes them deeply uncomfortable. 2. What would an ISFJ expect after getting back in touch? I catch myself being a little guarded due to the unusual behavior. 3. How can I be supportive while making clear that another days long silent treatment would greatly shake my trust? Thank you for taking time
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  5. #5
    Junior Member Sally111's Avatar
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    Thank you Luminous, Frosty and Abcdenfp for both your warm welcome and advice.

    I understand that certain issues can be overwhelming and that your mind needs a little time to process. Since it is the first time I think he didn't see any other way to either get some quiet or show that he does't feel understood.

    You know I would like to write him that I am here when he is ready.

    But after reading through endless posts ISFJ
    either need absolute peace and quiet in order to process without being pressured into maintaining contact

    or

    expect the person to recognize their need and figure out what is hurting them in order to show you care.


    I am saddened that I can't seem to make him feel understood.We are talking about a truly genuine person. I am an ENFP that still has some blind spots and is grateful for any insight.

  6. #6
    Forged in Fire Luminous's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sally111 View Post
    Thank you Luminous, Frosty and Abcdenfp for both your warm welcome and advice.

    I understand that certain issues can be overwhelming and that your mind needs a little time to process. Since it is the first time I think he didn't see any other way to either get some quiet or show that he does't feel understood.

    You know I would like to write him that I am here when he is ready.

    But after reading through endless posts ISFJ
    either need absolute peace and quiet in order to process without being pressured into maintaining contact

    or

    expect the person to recognize their need and figure out what is hurting them in order to show you care.


    I am saddened that I can't seem to make him feel understood.We are talking about a truly genuine person. I am an ENFP that still has some blind spots and is grateful for any insight.
    If I were you, I'd just try to be completely honest. Say that you are here, but are not pressuring him to respond before he's ready. And that you are confused, and don't understand the situation. Sorry you've only gotten NFP advice. Hey, ISFJs, where are you? I do have an ISFJ friend who has been very hurt at not being responded to; I think it was more of a reversed situation.
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  7. #7
    Junior Member Sally111's Avatar
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    Thank you Luminous, your suggestion is just as much appreciated

    It is exactly what I would do, which is what makes me nervous as it has not gotten me far lately. I'm quite embarrassed to be this clueless about what my person needs.

    As I was about to type I got very nervous.I fear it will somehow indicate that using the silent treatment is an acceptable / effective communication tool. Could I blame him for using it again if it had gotten a reaction?

    I really feel for your friend. Not showing it and try to live my everyday life, but it comes close to being physical pain.

    For a moment I thought of sending him a link to this forum. Personally I'd be pleasantly surprised if someone tried to understand me a little better. Unfortunately,apart from having taken the test, he is not keen on reading into mbti.

  8. #8
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    Sally111, This is my very first post.
    I am an ISFJ and an Enneagram type 6. I am not sure if your friend is also a 6, but as I understand MBTI and Enneagram correlation, there may be a very good chance he is also... I've done more research on my Enneagram type then my MBTI and relate to most of the research I have found on type 6. As a 6, I recognize that we absolutely cannot handle being told we've done something wrong. If someone gets upset with me for something I should have know better not to do or to do, I can unravel. In the past, the silent treatment worked not only as a punishment for the other person, but was my motive of trying to keep from an emotional outburst. Sixes tend to be reactive. Usually, within a few days I could come back around and be a civil companion. It's a crazy way to live and I'm relieved to have found the enneagram to help me understand my motives and self correct. I am not sure most sixes would be able to articulate the real reason for the anger in many situations, so learning about your Enneagram type can really help. It basically comes down to our fears. If we are reactive and angry, it's usually because we are afraid. So, why the fear or what's to fear in your situation? For me, if I were your friend, it would have been the fear that I was not being supportive; basically being told I was not doing my proper DUTY as a significant other/friend. You had already told me once before how to be more supportive and now you have to tell me again because I forgot. Fear and duty are the two buzz words in the life of a six - whether they recognize them or not. When it comes down to it, I am always more angry at myself than I am the other person, but in the past could not see this as the reality of most situations. As 6's we often do the exact thing we are most afraid of doing - pushing our loved ones away.
    Before my enneagram research and self exploration, given a few days, I may have been able to be confronted, talk about the situation, apologize and move on. However, if I was still in that irrational angry phase, the situation could have been compounded by telling me that I hurt them immensely by the silent treatment. Again, telling me I did something else wrong. So sorry to say, you may have to tread very lightly and reassure him you are still a support structure through thick and thin.
    Fortunately, I am married to a 3 (ENTJ) who can read me very easily, continually reassures me our relationship is on solid ground, and has been patient with me for 29 years! He has always known I was a fearful person with a big heart even when I would have argued endlessly concerning my fearlessness and lack of caring(I am a counter phobic 6).
    If your loved one is a 6, I hope this has been helpful.
    If he is not a 6, my apologies for the ramble.

    And yes, Luminous' reply was spot on. Reassure and not pressure!!
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  9. #9
    Junior Member Sally111's Avatar
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    Hi LilAbner, thank you for your thorough reply and welcome from newbie to newbie Though I don't know if he is a six,I took in every word.
    It does sound familar, criticism and conflict is avoided in order to keep up the peace.
    This big problem that was swept under the rug before, sadly always reappears. And hits us both.

    He puts tremendous thought into everything he does, always calculating how his actions effect the people around. It means being strict with yourself and I assume it takes a good amount of energy. Would you avoid criticism because it often leads to conflict which is incredibly draining?

    I think he fears that it might all become too much.We yearn to be understood,especialy by our partners. Informing myself on the ISFJ is like saving up for a pair of much needed glasses.

    I'm happy you have a partner who truly gets you LilAbner
    It feels good getting so much insight from all of you. Thank you
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  10. #10
    Senior Member tinker683's Avatar
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    Hello!



    Male ISFJ here

    Quote Originally Posted by Sally111 View Post
    Hello everyone I'm a little taken aback by my ISFJ partner of 5 years & hope that you can help me with your insight

    Due to the long distance we can't hug it out for now and are limited in little actions of affection which would help the situation.

    It started with a friendly and genuine email in which I explained how little words of affection did wonders for me. He apprectiated it and over the weeks our conversations went on, but my message seemed forgotten.

    When I mentioned it he reacted annoyed and it turned into a 5 day silent treatment.
    I sent a photo of a family get together,just to let him know everyone was thinking of him. He didn't respond,but I knew he needed some time to himself so I let him be.

    Today I got a family video of his with a neutral comment. I'm glad he seems to be doing better. However the sudden cut of communication for several days has never occured before and I would be very hurt if it happened again.
    Oy vey. Red flags abound already! I'll answer your questions and then add my own thoughts/comments/questions among them

    Quote Originally Posted by Sally111 View Post
    1. How can I have a constructive conversation about a serious issue (only if absolutely needed) without him avoiding me? I keep in mind that everyone has something that makes them deeply uncomfortable.
    By telling him exactly that. Tell him there is something on you're mind, you'd like to chat with him about it when he has a chance, and then when you do, tell him how him giving you the silent treatment makes you feel and that if he has a problem with you, about anything he needs to talk it out with you.

    I used to engage in the silent treatment with my INFP-ex but that's because it was a mutually emotionally abusive relationship and I would go for a few days without talking to her because it was the only way I would feel any sense of control after she would ignore me or dismiss me. I learned after we broke up why this was destructive and self-defeating (more on that later)

    Quote Originally Posted by Sally111 View Post
    2. What would an ISFJ expect after getting back in touch? I catch myself being a little guarded due to the unusual behavior.
    A normal, healthy ISFJ would expect exactly what you want to give him: Affection! You're being guarded is the logical result of his withholding.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sally111 View Post
    3. How can I be supportive while making clear that another days long silent treatment would greatly shake my trust?
    This question lacks some context (Why and what are you being supportive about? Your OP didn't state why you were apartment right now and why he needs your support. I'm assuming some sort of family tragedy) but to start with: He needs to knock this shit the hell off yesterday. The 'silent treatment' is a form of whats called, "withholding" and it's an emotionally abusive and manipulation tactic. It causes your partner to feel like they're walking on egg shells around you and that they need to be careful of what they say and what they do, lest you disappear on them (which is why you're feeling guarded). Your partner can't ever safe and secure around you if he or she is constantly worrying that you're going to vanish on them for whatever reason.

    As I mentioned earlier, your post lacked a lot of context but generally speaking I can think of a few reasons why he's behaving the way he is:

    A) Things between you two are a lot rockier than you let on in your OP and his withholding is a symptom of larger problems with the relationship itself which needs to get addressed.

    B) He's got issues that he isn't resolving and he's taking them out on you. To that I would say, you and he need to have a serious sit down about mutual respect and conflict resolution. You're his partner, not his emotional punching bag. You're a team, facing life's challenges together and you need to know that he always has your back and vice versa and his withholding erodes that trust, and you deserve better than this. He needs to come to grips with whatever he's going through, or he's going to lose you, because sticking around with someone who is going to keep making you feel like you don't matter isn't good for you..

    C) Both.

    I hope you two can work things out. Things with my INFP-ex ended very, very badly and I'd hate to see that repeat itself.
    "The man who is swimming against the stream knows the strength of it."
    ― Woodrow Wilson
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