Withholding, commonly called “giving the silent treatment,” is a type of passive-aggressive behavior and a form of emotional abuse. Withholding is distinct from “needing some space” and taking a break from a conversation or conflict, which is a healthy coping strategy with the goal of reaching a point where healthy communication and resolution can take place. Withholding describes situations in which one person in a relationship holds back their communication, their authenticity, and their love and affection as a way of being in control of the relationship or punishing their partner, whether intentionally or unintentionally.
Being in a relationship that is devoid of emotional support is difficult. The person who doesn’t receive what they need often feels isolated, rejected, and unloved. It’s easy to pinpoint the problem when you are the victim, but what if you are the withholder?