Around three weeks ago, my boyfriend and I got into an argument and have been on “silent treatment” since then. I was very hurt by what he said and neither one of us has made the gesture to apologize. We still hang out, but it is definitely not the same and sometimes it feels like there’s a big elephant in the room. Is he expecting me to break the silence and bring us back to normal? I want to talk about it and resolve it, but I don’t want to be the one that initiates the conversation. What do you think I should do? — Emotional Esther
Dear Emotional Esther,
Egos can be a tricky thing, huh? It sounds like you both aren’t willing to step up and make the first move — not even necessarily to apologize first, but to just bring up the situation. The longer this goes, the more awkward it’s going to get.
The sad truth is you need to get used to this, because this is exactly the way marriage would be, it seems. Your guy hasn’t learned the moral of life, which is that he is always going to be in the wrong. Have you stopped to think that maybe you’re blinded by being hurt by one thing he said that you might be overlooking something hurtful that you told him?
I’m not saying that you need to confront him with an apology right at the beginning — or that you even owe him an apology. I’m just saying that if you want to move past this “silent treatment,” which in itself is childish and immature, you need to at least buck-up and start a dialogue with him. After you address the situation and talk through it, you will either naturally come to a mutual apology or, in the worst scenario, break up.
Wouldn’t even breaking up be better than spending your time awkwardly hanging out with your boy? He’s backed into a corner because he knows that you are the keeper of the goodies and he is walking on eggshells around that. Truthfully he’s not going to make the first move, so it’s up to you.
Good luck and remember, there’s always Judge Judy to work everything out.
HCXO, He Said
Dear Emotional Esther,
I’ve been where you are one hundred times over and I’m here to tell you what none of your girlfriends will: STEP UP. Pride KILLS relationships. Understand that. Internalize it. And if you want to keep your boyfriend, put your ego aside.
I understand that you do not want to initiate the conversation but come on…he’s a guy. At this age, if you’ve gathered any insight at all about the male species, it’s that they can be pig-headed. Charge it to his Y chromosome and not his heart and be the bigger person, at least this time around.
Ask him to hang out at your place. You will be in your comfort zone and feel empowered as a result. This sense of security is critical because you will be feel more confident and therefore, better equipped to effectively communicate how you felt about what was said in the argument. Note that I said “what was said” and NOT “what he said”. In relationships, there is the tendency to minimize personal fault and exaggerate the scope of what the other person did. Be totally honest with yourself and really examine how what you said could have hurt him – dig deep! He is more likely to be receptive if you recognize and account for your mistakes as well.
Be careful not to trivialize your feelings in this process. Whatever the dispute was over, I am sure that your feelings are valid. However, the way in which you articulated those points to him may have been wrong. Own up to this. Then, calmly (without choked sobs) explain how what he said hurt you. Resolving arguments is all about finesse and negotiating both what statements hurt you and how your statements may have been hurtful to the other party. If you manage to successfully acknowledge both perspectives, then hopefully, he will be more willing to engage in an open and honest conversation with you about the argument.
Assuming that you are able to resolve the conflict, you may also want to talk to him about having more open communication in the relationship in general. Pridefulness is a deep-seated character trait that is not easily overcome (trust me, my boyfriend and I have both struggled with this as well!). However, if you approach the problem by emphasizing the need to be more honest in the relationship as opposed to attacking his ego, you may be able to slowly overcome this hurdle without seeming overly critical.
Best of luck!
HCXO, She Said