Someone is giving me the silent treatment. It came out of the blue. They were someone I considered. a good friend and confidant. We had had a series of fun conversations over the course of a weekend several months back as theytraveled around and told me what they were seeing and doing. We had our last conversation that Sunday night….pleasant and nothing unusual, that I noticed. The last thing they said to me was “I’ll call you tomorrow.” They didn’t call, nor have they called me since.
I was first worried about them when I didn’t hear from them. I tried calling them. I left the “Are you OK?” message. I finally realized it was an intentional thing. They were ignoring me. Because that was what they chose to do.
Believing in positive confrontation, I tried to find out what was going on. Phone messages and texts got no response. I’m not naive enough to believe everyone has to be my friend. That’s impossible, isn’t it? I didn’t even want the friendship to continue if that was not what this other person wanted. I’ve blogged before about my rules for friendship….someone has to be in my life by choice and because they both like and respect me. If not, there is no need for them to be there. But this was someone I thought was a close friend. Someone I confided in. Someone I told things I hadn’t told other people. Leaving my life without a word hurt me. It threw me off-kilter. It didn’t line up with things that I thought I knew about this person. I thought they really cared about me and were indeed a true and reliable friend. Someone I could count on. The idea that I possibly had trusted and confided in someone who wasn’t worthy of that honor (and it is an honor)….it sickened me.
I questioned myself. Why? Had I done something? Examining it, there was nothing of which I was aware. Had I completely mis-judged them and they were just an insensitive jerk? Maybe…..but I’d like to think that after a period of time I would have a good grasp on a person’s character. I realize that sometimes people never let you see the real them. Maybe that was the case here. I have no clue. It remains a mystery.
Truthfully I did not question myself very long about my part in things. I know certain things about myself. I am a good and loyal friend. I am one because I choose to be. I am one because I am willing to work at relationships, confront lovingly when necessary, and extend grace and forgiveness if needed. I am not perfect, but am also not friends with perfect people. And fortunately I have plenty of wonderful friends who are faithful and true and willing to work for good.
Examining further, I am not the only person who this person has shut out of their life. They have shut out someone who was a far better friend to them than I ever had the chance to be. They say it is that person’s choice. I have never believed that. And if it was, knowing the kind of friend this person was to them…..they should have done all in their power to reconcile and get that person to change their mind. From what they told me about the situation, they were wrong…their friend wasn’t. They treaded on territory that was not really their business. Not that they couldn’t give an opinion on it, but that person did not have to agree with them or change anything in their life because they thought they should. You should be able to give friends your opinion (lovingly), but they are under no obligation to take it. Ever. Respecting your friends means you respect their right to make decisions for themselves.
In my opinion, you never shut platinum friends out of your life (I call “platinum” friends those who have been there for you in the worst of times and inconvenienced themselves for your good) ….unless they become “bad friends” and do not treat you with honor and respect. I did not see that being the case here. (Though my disclaimer…I was not there and this was not my relationship, so I don’t pretend to know if my opinion is correct. Just another thing that came to mind as I analyzed the situation.)
Being the Googler I am, I Googled “silent treatment” one day. There was a lot of interesting stuff there, but nothing that indicated it could ever be emotionally healthy for anyone involved. It is a passive-aggressive form of behavior usually used to inflict punishment. It’s a power play. It’s used by abusers and narcissists, and people scared to confront in a healthy manner. Wikipedia even said it was used to inflict punishment on prisoners in the 19th century.
An article by Andrea Schneider at good therapy.org said “The silent treatment is a form of emotional abuse typically employed by people with narcissistic tendencies. It is designed to (1) place the abuser in a position of control; (2) silence the target’s attempts at assertion; (3) avoid conflict resolution/personal responsibility/compromise; or (4) punish the target for a perceived ego slight. Often, the result of the silent treatment is exactly what the person with narcissism wishes to create: a reaction from the target and a sense of control.