Tag Archives: silent treatment

Dear Captain Awkward.

You have advised that a person does not “owe” anyone else their time, friendship, or anything, and I agree with this.

However, I am struggling with being on the receiving end of this. My mother in law stopped speaking to me. And I feel SO MUCH anger and hurt over this; I have been obsessed about it for a year and a half now.

A little background: I hit it off with my MIL the first time we met, and we had a great relationship for 8 years. We spoke on the phone at least weekly, having long, fun. and close conversations, and always enjoyed seeing each other. All visits/plans/holidays were coordinated with me, and I was included in everything. We were good friends!

That ended after a visit to help them with an upcoming move. We had a bit to drink one evening, and the conversation turned a bit heated. I went to excuse myself from the table, and my FIL yelled at me, twice, “Fuck you!” My MIL was horrified and yelled at him to stop; he regretted it immediately and apologized profusely, with tears. I forgave, and thought all would be fine.

Following that, she stopped speaking to me. I thought a “cooling off” period would be good, but it never ended. It’s as if I am not in the family any more. I have made many overtures to my in-laws that I hold no grudge, and to try to get things back to normal. I have called, attempting friendly conversation (and get blown off). I have offered to travel to family events with her. I have shared pictures of trips, and sent nice holiday cards. My husband and brother in law have asked her why she no longer talks to me (her answer, “I don’t know”). Nothing changes. All the calls, texts, emails, Facebook posts, etc. that are exchanged amongst the family leave me out.

I HATE this. It makes me so angry and upset! I hate being excluded. I hate that the close relationship we had apparently meant nothing to her. I hate visiting them, where they all act friendly with each other while I sit there quietly. I hate seeing her be nice and friendly to everyone but me. And now, I hate her too. I want to punish her, and never see them again (which I won’t do, because that wouldn’t be fair to my husband). And, I hate feeling that way. I don’t want to have all this anger and hurt. Please help me deal with this. I know she has a right to do this, but I can’t seem to accept it.


Sad and Angry

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Dear Captain Awkward:

Quick backstory: my mom and stepdad babysit my daughter for free one afternoon a week while I work (I telecommute the rest of the time). My mother offered to do it right after my daughter was born and I was thrilled. I’ve checked in with both of them a few times to make sure they’re still ok with it, and they’ve responded enthusiastically every time.

Lately things have been weird. A few weeks ago I had an appointment before I went into work and I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to take the baby, so I asked Mom ahead of time if they could take her a bit earlier and she said yes. I told her I’d let her know for sure if it would be at the usual time or earlier, but forgot to call when I’d promised, and then my phone died just after I left my appointment, so I ended up showing up at the usual time (without calling) and apologizing profusely to both of them for making them wait around for me. I was expecting them to be annoyed, but I don’t feel like it was a HUGE deal – it was an honest, though inconsiderate mistake on my part, and I promptly apologized for it. 

When I got there Mom berated me for half an hour until I finally got a word in edgewise to ask her what she wanted me to do, other than apologize and not do it again. She told me that she needed to vent at me because she was angry, and she needed me to show more remorse. I apologized again and prepared to leave, but on my way out Stepdad confronted me (he’d been in another room, not out of earshot, for the preceding conversation) and began an identical tirade. I cut him off almost immediately and told him that while I was sorry for inconveniencing them, I really couldn’t stay to talk right that second because I had to get to work.

Ever since that afternoon, Stepdad hasn’t spoken a single word to me. I tried to talk to Mom about it, but she simply said that Stepdad is angry for good reason and that I should apologize to him more. I feel like an asshole, but also kind of unfairly treated, and I’m not sure how to move forward, or how to deal with this should something similar arise in the future. Though obviously I will be more considerate going forward.

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Dear Captain Awkward,

I’m a single woman that just got out of a 1 1/2 year relationship. I’m not very relationship savvy (who is?) and this was my first *real* relationship, but I have always made a point of having clear boundaries and been all about enthusiastic consent. If I wasn’t in the mood I wasn’t in the mood and I never had an issue telling someone no.

My ex was another story.

Whenever I would say no he would get upset with me, go very cold and ignore me. He would give me the silent treatment and when I *could* get a response out of him he would be very short and snappish and moody. This treatment would last well into the next day. This behavior upset me and started to make me feel like I couldn’t say no without incurring the cold shoulder. I talked about it with him and told him how it made me feel and he would respond by telling me that I was always allowed to say no and he would respect that but he was also allowed to feel disappointed. This made me feel like I was crazy for being upset with his behavior because of course he’s allowed to feel disappointed and I shouldn’t police his feelings. I would tell him that the problem was not that he was disappointed but how he treated me. Sometimes he would apologize for how he acted but the behavior never changed.

Nevertheless, every time the question of sex came up and I wasn’t in the mood, I always had to weigh my options: have sex to make him happy and maybe get into it or stand my ground and deal with the poor treatment. Treatment he had convinced me was reasonable because who was I to tell him how he should feel?

The relationship is only freshly over but I still feel crazy and unreasonable for feeling how I did.

I guess the question is where is the line? He said I was allowed to say no and he would respect that, but he was allowed to feel disappointed and I should respect that and I was policing his feelings when I brought up my issues. I know I should just get over it since the relationship is over but it’s made me nervous of dipping my toes into the dating pool again.

Thank you for your insight,

The Feelings Police

School’s back in session, so posting will be light as I find my feet with my new schedule, but I had to answer this question.

Dear Feelings Police,

Your ex boyfriend was a doucheloaf about this. It is not normal, and I am very glad you are not with him anymore. He is correct – he is entitled to feel any way he wants to about whether you will have sex with him. He is not entitled to sulk and freeze you out and punish you for his feelings as a form of pressure. The silent treatment is a sign of contempt and a fight for control. Everything about this behavior is threatening and coercive. It says “Do what I want to, or else I get to treat you like shit and tell you that it’s your fault.” It stems from a giant sense of entitlement on his part.

Fuck that fucking guy in his abusive asshole fucking fuckface.

The good news is that most people do not behave like this. You are correct and smart to be watchful for signs of it in future dating partners, though, because it is The Worst. If you have a counselor or some close friends on Team You, talking through this with them might help you process how very,VERY angry you’re going to get when the full extent of how he treated you sinks in.

Maybe invest in a stretchy pair of purple shorts just in case.

Edited to Add: Any time in a relationship any of you feel yourselves thinking “Well, I should probably have sex with now or else s/he’ll be mad and mean to me,” take it as a giant sign that something is Not Okay, and start thinking about how to get yourself to a safe place that is Away. Even if Away is the next room by yourself with a door closed where you can hear yourself think.


Dear Captain Awkward;

When I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband and I made a deal: he picks first name, I pick middle name, and then should we have a 2nd kid, it would be vice-versa. We decided at the time to name our daughter after his (late) maternal grandmother and my maternal grandmother.

I heard no end of grief from my mother about the chosen first name for literally months. Every day, my mother would tell me how much she hated the name, how her friends hated it too, etc. Each time I calmly explained that the name was chosen and that was that, and to please stop criticizing it. This happened over and over again daily for months until I finally lost it and there was a huge blowout. Thank God that seemed to end it, and I named my daughter as planned with no further drama.

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