Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Why Silence Makes Me Scream

The silence was driving me crazy. Where had John gone?!

Yesterday, 13 days since I’d last seen him and 10 days since his odd text, I contacted him through Facebook.

After the first time you didn't want to date me, you clearly felt that you owed me an explanation and an apology. While I appreciated that, I didn't really feel that you had to explain yourself.

While our time recently reconnecting was brief, your sudden and unexpected disappearance has been confusing and hurtful. I find it ironic - and disappointing - that this time, when some sort of explanation would've been the appropriate thing to offer, I haven't heard a word from you.

As the saying goes, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. So, I take some responsibility and ask that if you're considering getting in touch with me again, please don't.

John wrote back promptly. The long and short of it was that his job did in fact unexpectedly become unstable. He has only told his family as he started looking for jobs in the New York City area… and California?! He was going to contact me when he returned from the West Coast, if I believed that.

I absolutely believe him. (But he still blew his chances with me.) My response:

Of course I believe you. That is a lot to be handling, and I completely understand needing space and time to think. I just wish you had said something days ago. I would have been cool to reconnect when you were ready. Your last cryptic text followed by almost two weeks of silence left me confused and thinking the worst. I hope your job situation stabilizes and that any changes that might happen will be for the better.

Then, finally he wrote:
I understand and apologize for leaving you confused like that. All I can say is that I hope all is well with you, and whether my next message comes from CA or here I will let you know even if you decide to not receive it (which I'll understand).

I got my apology. Good. I told John I accepted and appreciated the apology. But more importantly, I had broken the silence.

Then I deleted his number from my phone – again.

The moral of this story – and men, please listen up:

You don’t have to say much to keep a woman happy.
Silence makes us very unhappy. Just tell us something.

All John had to do was send off a text or two along the lines of “Dealing with a lot at work. Sorry to be out of touch, but will give you a call soon.” Then at least I would have known he was alive and I was even remotely on his radar.

Maybe if John had been in touch once or twice, and then called me, say, tomorrow, we could have had a chance. Maybe we could have stayed on track then actually started dating. Instead, his mysterious retreat and silence left me questioning my own actions, which I needn’t have done.

It's possible I overreacted to the silence, but I know now why it bothered me so much.

Silence slowly destroyed my marriage. Max and I often sat in suffocating clouds of pain and secrets and rejection, but both of us too scared and conflict avoidant to speak up. When I did try to ask him about anything about his lack of desire for sexual contact (or anything else he deemed too private), he would shut down. Answers short. No eye contact. In that silence, I was left questioning and doubting everything about both of us.

In fact, one time I became so frustrated and enraged by Max's silence that I literally screamed, complete with punching my mattress and collapsing into a heap of exhausted, desperate tears.

Silence is a terrible place to live and I cannot go back there again.

These last two weeks taught me that I cannot deal with mysterious silence in the midst of uncertainty. Silence leads to resentment all around. I need to be with a man who can speak up and tell me what he needs, even if it’s that he needs space.

Does silence make you freak out as much as it freaks me out? What dealbreaker has emerged as a result of your breakup?

See also: Silence: A Relationship Killer.

Epic Mommy Adventures


  1. Silence says to me, "You are either nothing or a pile of shit, and either way, NOT MY PROBLEM, so fuck you and whatever it is you need from me; you're not getting it because I DON'T CARE ENOUGH." Pardon my French.

    There's a term for what your ex did to you: Stonewalling. It's not acceptable. People who do this aren't capable of handling conflict, and unless they get legitimate professional help, they won't change. You can either accept it about them, or move on.

  2. Silence definitely does not work for me! It tells me that he feels like he doesn't owe me any explanation and it keeps me hanging, which I hate!!

  3. Yes, it can feel like you're being disrespected. Sucks!

  4. Totally get it. The one thing that used to piss me off the most in my marriage was his inability to call me if he was going to be more than 30 minutes late after work. He would tell me he felt like he was getting my permission, whereas I always had to explain that I just wanted to be kept informed. He could do whatever he damn well pleased, just give me a heads up.

    So in a long-winded way, I got ya girl. :-p You are most definitely not alone in thinking all that!

  5. Augh!!!! So sorry to hear that Kat. You deserve better!!!

  6. Thanks Mike. It's OK... it's all a learning experience, right?

  7. That sounds perfectly reasonable to me!

  8. Oh wow - what an experience Kat! But you hit the nail on the head; silence definitely drives us nutty. It is so simple to just reach out with a simple text saying something. Silence goes from worry and concern straight to anger over a period of time. I'm glad that you recognize the reason why this bugged you so much, and I'm glad that you were able to gain some closure with John. Wishing you the best!!!

    Thanks so much for sharing on Turn It Up Tuesday! We love having you! :)

  9. "Worry and concern to anger" --> YES. Bahhh! This particular blog post gave me a lot of clarity about what was actually bothering me so much about this situation.

  10. Oh, I hear you on this issue completely. My ex was also someone who killed me with quiet - wouldn't discuss anything with me, used the silent treatment as punishment, etc. I just heard on the radio some random fact that being ignored causes a reaction in the body that's similar or identical to feeling physical pain! I'm glad you got a little closure.

  11. Silence is just so frustrating. I think we would've benefiting from a good shouting match every once in a while. I agree that sometimes you can FEEL silence.
    As always, thank you for reading!

  12. Don @ HowYouCanFindLoveApril 29, 2014 at 7:44 PM

    Great advice to the guys. I've been guilty of this in my past too. I think just about all guys are. We think what other guys would expect but forget we are dealing with women who have different needs than us.

    Kudos to you for standing up and reaching out to him. Communication is the key to any long term relationship as you very well know. If you can't communicate openly and honestly with your partner, you will have a hard time making the relationship last long term.

  13. It's the classic Men Are From Mars Women Are From Venus situation!
    I admit, I have wondered if maybe I overreacted and if I burned a bridge I shouldn't have, but if his communication was this questionable when he was JUST getting to know me, that could have been a bad sign.