Communication is something I personally think Millennials have gotten really bad at. We communicate through our devices and over social media more than we talk in person, so when we do talk in person we often struggle with grasping the feelings behind certain types of verbal and non-verbal communication.
One of the most misinterpreted is silence. Most relationships has moments of silence. It happens. Sometimes one or both partners are busy or tired or just don't feel like talking. That isn't a bad thing. Sometimes silence is a good thing. It is often said that a healthy relationship will have plenty of comfortable silences.
Just because you are with your partner doesn't mean you need to be talking 24/7, and you can enjoy each other's company without even saying a word. Sometimes it's nice to just sit there quietly and listen to music together or read or whatever you choose to do besides talk.
That being said, there is silence that is bad. There are types of silence that can predict the end of a relationship or contribute to its failure. Below are four types of silence that most commonly have a negative impact on relationships.
1. You give each other the silent treatment.
You've fought and you're still mad so you're not talking. You think that by avoiding the other person and avoiding the situation, it will either blow over or it will make things better. It won't.
The silent treatment is never a good thing. This type of silence makes your partner wonder, causes confusion and stretches out a negative circumstance. You are not only punishing your partner by giving them the silent treatment, you are punishing yourself. Say what you need to say and if you have nothing else to say, at least say that much.
Don't make your partner beg you to speak to them and don't fuel the anxiety that already exists when a couple is at odds. Just speak. Hopefully, you and your partner will come to a common ground or they will at least have heard your feelings. The silent treatment never solves anything.
2. There is nothing left to say.
This type of silence likely can spell the end of your relationship. When you get home from work and you sit down for dinner and the two of you have nothing to say to one another, you have to ask yourself why?
It's a miserable existence to go about your life with your partner in silence. We all need to speak and we all have something to say. If you don't want to tell them about your day and hear about theirs or if you despise them so much that their voice in any tone simply annoys you, then you should probably end things or at least seek counseling to try and figure it out.
Communication is so important in a relationship and when it dies, your relationship dies with it.
3. You're both shutting down.
There are times in a disagreement where nothing is getting accomplished, no common ground exists and you've reached the point where you're beating a dead horse. This is the point where you retreat. You shut down and close off. You start to agree with them, just to shut them up or just completely go cold all together.
This is the point where you are not at all open to continuing the conversation and that's OK, but you need to express that properly. Let your partner know that you need some time to consider what they've said. Tell them you need a moment to soak it all in. If they are reasonable, they will understand and allow you to have it.
Just don't shut down without saying something. Don't do so without letting the person know that you need to exit the situation. With that said, don't ever go to bed mad. You don't sleep well and you wake up in a really awkward situation the next morning. That isn't fun at all for either of you.
4. You're not responding to text messages for an extended amount of time.
This one is a little broader. There are plenty of reasons why it may take you a while to respond to a text from your partner. Maybe you're busy at work or with family or friends or whatever else you might be doing. The key in those situations is to give your partner a heads-up that you will be unavailable for an amount of time.
If you're texting with your partner and you just suddenly disappear, it leaves them wondering where you went and that opens the door for negative thoughts. Communication is huge, just do your best to make your partner aware if you will be away from your phone for a while or if you can't text back right away at the moment. It takes two seconds to say “Hey, I'm going to be unavailable for a bit, but I'll be thinking about you.”
Problem solved, nobody is wondering and everybody is happy. You can do what you do and they aren't sitting there waiting for you to get back to them.
Silence is the most misunderstood and misinterpreted type of human interaction, but it's easy to understand and accept if we communicate ahead of time.