My partner stops talking to me when mad. This happens with boyfriends, girlfriends, spouses, and even other family members. Let’s see why and what we can do about it.
Relationship advice video featuring Linda Nusbaum, a couples counselor in Long Beach, CA.
This is one of the worst pains for couples. It’s called a cut-off. When two people fight, they go at it and get their feelings hurt, and then one person will cut off. “I can’t take it any more. I’m going to leave.” “I can’t take it any more. I’m not going to talk to that person.” That’s called a cut-off.
Cutting your boyfriend or girlfriend off that way leaves them dangling, and frustrated, and drives them crazy, because they have to deal with all these feelings that don’t get resolved.
Now, I know the person doing the cutting off feels terrible too. No one wins. This is a situation following an established pattern, in which no one wins.
When there’s a fight or a miscommunication, one person cuts off and the other maybe pursues and says, “Come on, you have to talk to me, you have to talk to me,” and will chase that person.
Counseling can help break that pattern. Therapeutic intervention helps the couple really see their pattern and disconnect from it so that they can address it.
Understanding How It Feels to Get Cut Off By a Partner
It’s very challenging to suffer someone’s cut-off. Can you imagine what that feels like, if your husband or wife isn’t talking to you, and walks around the house ignoring you or just leaves the house?
It’s daggers. It’s so painful, because the worst thing that you want is to think that the person doesn’t love you any more, and that’s what a cut-off feels like: “that person doesn’t love me any more.”
Why Our Loved Ones Give Us the Silent Treatment
It’s probably not the intended result. The person who did the cut-off is probably not saying to him or herself, “Well, I don’t love her. I’m leaving.” He’s probably thinking, “I can’t talk to her, I’m really mad.”
Let’s talk physiology. When we get mad, our adrenaline gets pumping, our cortisol surges, and we get trapped in this anger zone where we can’t think clearly. It takes about 20 minutes for that to subside.
Now, that 20 minute period of surging fury is the wrong time to talk to somebody or try to figure things out.
A Better Way to Establish Some Necessary Space
So, okay, sometimes it’s helpful to cut off. If you’re in a relationship and it’s better for you to not talk when you’re really angry, fine. Take care of yourself. Go talk that walk.
But first, here’s the thing. If you’re in a relationship, be kind to your beloved and tell him or her, “I can’t talk to you right now. I’ll talk to you when I calm down.”
That’s all you have to say, because it tells the person you haven’t left. You haven’t left them, you haven’t broken their heart.
It’s hard to articulate feelings you haven’t processed them yet. When anxiety’s running high, you’re pumped full of negative energy, and really angry, you can’t process much until you calm down. I get that, because that’s how I am.
When I get mad, I usually just stomp upstairs and close the door and then act entitled for about half an hour, and then feel like an idiot.
That’s me. I don’t know about you, but that’s what I do. I can’t really stop it when it happens, and it kind of engulfs me. But, I do know that I don’t want to leave the person I love. I don’t want to leave my husband. Never, never! I love him.
So, I’ve had to work on my own anger issues. Hopefully, if you have anger in your own relationship, you’re going to work on that too, because it’s not fair to the mate to take our anger out on them.
It’s just not fair.
It’s better if you learn how to communicate your anger. Sometimes. we need to sit with it, not talking about it, so that we can calm down and then talk about it. That’s when I’m usually good at it, and maybe you could be better at it too.