Updated: Oct 17, 2022
Someone suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) may start giving you the silent treatment. Manipulation, difficulty controlling and regulating emotions, and the consequences of fear of abandonment are the most common causes of this behavior.
When you are in a position where you could not get someone to talk to you or even acknowledge you after an argument, you have experienced silent treatment. You may have even given it to someone else at one point or another. Due to BPD symptoms such as splitting, fear of abandonment, and difficulty managing and regulating emotions, people with BPD are more likely to engage in this behavior.
The silent treatment may be used in any relationship, including parents and children, friends, and coworkers. This behavior can happen frequently for someone with BPD and for extended periods.
It is situational and also is dependent on the individual. Dealing with someone who gives you the silent treatment is really challenging. The majority of people perceive silent treatment as a passive-aggressive type of punishment.
1. Manipulative and abusive behavior
The silent treatment is commonly used by people with BPD as a manipulative and controlling strategy. They want to have complete control over everything, even others. They may be abusive/manipulative because they are upset over something you did, causing them to express hatred and a desire to hurt you. They tell you to leave and then expect you to apologize, plead, or agree to their demands later on. This is a form of emotional abuse. It comes from a place of punishment rather than a need to unwind or regroup. Which is the worst form of silent treatment that someone with BPD can give you.
2. Overwhelmed by emotion
The silent treatment can be a response to a situation in which one individual is angry, upset, or too overwhelmed by their emotions. As a result, they feel forced to turn inwards. Since reacting in that emotional state doesn't end well, they try to ride out the emotional storm inside before allowing themselves to respond to the outside. In many cases, the silence breaks when the heat of the moment passes.
3. Fear of abandonment
It is well known that someone with BPD suffers from fear of abandonment. People who have BPD need constant reassurance that they are loved and needed. When this is not the case, they often push others away to not be abandoned. Sounds contradicting, but they want to be in control of the situation and get rid of insecurity.
One word, one frown, or one bad look in someone’s eyes can trigger someone with BPD to go into overdrive. Wondering what they did wrong and how long it will be before they are abandoned. Manipulative behavior is often the result of fear of abandonment.
What to do when you get the silent treatment from someone with BPD?