The Surprising Truth Behind Silent Treatments, Sarcasm, And Sulking, And What To Do Instead To Feel Understood

Is your partner frequently moody and sulking? Are you?

Do you or your partner avoid conflict and walk away from arguments, only to give each other the silent treatment for hours or even days?

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It can make you tense and anxious when you’re in a relationship with a person who likes to punish you with their pouty attitude and refusal to “talk about it” when you want so badly to get things back on track.

You want to work things through, get to the bottom of the misunderstanding, get them to see your side of things and hear what they have to say.

It would make you feel so much better if they would just say something…anything.

Instead, they bury themselves in their smartphone or project, occasionally releasing long, weary sighs that let you know they’re still not happy with you.

It provokes you. Without thinking, you blurt out a biting, sarcastic comment.

You know it was mean, but you’re just so frustrated!

Maybe you see your partner as self-righteous, pig-headed, and lacking in listening skills.

They might see you as chronically dissatisfied, pushy, and mean-spirited.

And you would probably BOTH be wrong about each other.

That’s because the truth behind sulking, silent treatments, and sarcasm is that it has nothing to do with your character, or whether or not you really love each other. It has nothing to do with communication skills or the lack thereof.

It has to do with something that’s far more systemic and has greater implications for you than just the unpleasant after-effects of an argument.

The truth about silent treatments, sarcasm, and sulking is that these are all signs that you and your partner are trying to control each other.

But how can that be, you might ask? You don’t consider yourself a controlling person, and maybe your partner is much more passive than what you would consider controlling. What’s control have to do with anything?

Keep reading and you’ll find out what’s really behind all the sighs, sulking, and sarcasm, and what you can do to stop engaging in these unpleasant dynamics with your partner and start connecting on a heart-to-heart level.

The Not-So-Obvious Ways We Try To Get What We Need

In relationships, the kind of control I’m referring to above isn’t the kind of control you think it is.

Most of us think of control as trying to get someone to either do or stop doing something, whether through coercion or through manipulation.

I call this the overt type of control. You’re trying to tell someone what to do, how to do it, or what to feel.

We might tell our partner to pack a healthier lunch because we think they need to lose weight. Or we may compose logical arguments about why they shouldn’t take a promotion if we think they’re already working too many hours. Or that they shouldn’t feel upset, or angry, or sad about something, because we don’t like to see them hurting.

When I say that in being silent, sulky, or sarcastic you’re trying to control your partner, I’m referring to another form of control, which is more covert.

That means that it’s not obvious or apparent. It’s a form of control that doesn’t look like control.

It’s still a form of control because instead of trying to tell someone what to do, say, or feel, you’re trying to control how they respond to (or feel about) you.

You probably haven’t even considered that you’re being controlling if you blurt out a sarcastic comment, or if you’re the one who is so hurt by a disagreement that you refuse to be in the same room with your partner.

But you are.

And it’s nothing to feel ashamed of, because we have all, at one time or another, tried to covertly control another person with these kinds of behaviors:

  • Pouting and being overly dramatic when our partner refuses to see things our way
  • Going behind our partner’s back and doing something/buying something they don’t want
  • Giving our partner advice when they don’t ask for it or playing therapist to get them to see their issues clearer
  • Bringing up things you’ve read, heard about, or studied to make a point and prove that you know more, therefore you’re right and they’re wrong
  • Complaining that they’re not stepping up or paying attention to something you deem important

These are all covert ways of trying to control how our partner or another person responds to us or feels about us. In doing these things, we’re trying to get them to:

  • accept us
  • have compassion for us
  • be loving toward us
  • understand us
  • give us companionship

But there’s an irony behind this, and here’s why:

The More We Do It, The Less We Get

The more we engage in covert control such as silent treatments, sarcasm, and sulking, and the other kinds I described above, the less love, compassion, and understanding we get from our partner.

That sets up a pattern where we’re hungry for something we’re not getting, so we do the things that prevent us from getting what we want—even more.

If you say sarcastic things all the time and your partner sulks in order to “punish” you, you’re not getting closer, and you’re not in a state of compassionate acceptance or understanding. What you really want and need is for your partner to open up, listen, be loving, and have compassion for your issue.

Your manipulations and covert behaviors aren’t going to give you that. They’re going to put a wedge between you. You’re going to drift further apart, growing in contempt for one another, until one of you decides you’ve had enough abuse and leaves the relationship.

There’s a better way to handle these needs for love and understanding. And it’s NOT by trying to control your partner with deception, snarky-ness, or drama.

You can get what you need, and the good news is, you don’t have to wait for your partner to give it to you.

How To Counter Our Tendency To Control Others And Find Inner Peace At Last

The reason we use covert ways to try to control others into giving us the attention, love, understanding, and compassion we crave instead of just asking for it, is because this subconscious strategy was ingrained in us from childhood.

When we were little children, there were times when we couldn’t get what we needed from our parents, no matter how kind, loving, and generous they were. That’s a fact of life for everyone.

Heartbreak, loss, anger, disappointment—it happened, and we were too little to manage it. These feelings scared us, and we tried whatever we could to feel better.

Some of us rebelled, some of us conformed. Either way, we were trying to control other people in order to feel loved and avoid pain.

We didn’t have tools to handle our emotions, so we coped by learning other ways to get the love we craved—such as pouting, arguing, being dramatic, etc.

Now, every time you are in the intention to control, you are actually trying to get love from someone else in order to feel safe, loved, understood, and accepted.

You’ve essentially handed over responsibility for your feelings to someone else, like your partner. Another person, no matter how much they love you, can’t fill you up completely.

They can’t make you feel safe or loved if you’re devoid of self-love. They can’t make you whole if you feel like something is missing. You have to find a way to give yourself what you are trying to control others into giving you.

That’s why I created my program, Wildly, Deeply, Joyously In Love—to show you how to take care of yourself within the context of a relationship, so you can finally have the connected relationship you’ve always wanted AND feel deeply at peace and loved.

This 30-day program starts with a 6-step process that will help you stop the painful patterns that keep you stuck in covert forms of control with your partner. You’ll learn how to give yourself the loving care you can ONLY get from within, so you’ll no longer feel compelled to prod your partner when you’re feeling unloved or misunderstood.

You will know what to do to feel more at ease in life, and you will do it, without needing to control or manipulate anyone else in your life into giving it to you.

That’s what makes this program so powerful and transformative. When you learn my unique process, you’ll feel more secure within yourself and you’ll find it much, much easier to reach out to your partner in a heartfelt way—instead of sulking, stonewalling, or being sarcastic.

Which will make ALL your relationships so much better, because you’ll understand yourself better and understand why people respond to you the way they do. You’ll have greater compassion for those who have previously gotten under your skin, and you’ll get the kind of perspective that makes it much easier to feel calm and centered, even when someone IS trying to control or manipulate you.

You can start the program right away, here:

Start Day 1

Sometimes all it takes is a little perspective and understanding to start to feel lighter and freer about our challenging relationships.

When we understand the secret (but common) motivations within ourselves and others, it can be life-changing.


Margaret Paul

P.S. What if you’re ready to do what you need to in order to be loving to yourself, but you don’t want to be mistreated any longer by your partner?

That’s where it’s important to learn how to effectively speak up for yourself and set appropriate boundaries. Most people don’t know how to do this in a way that WORKS. I’ll show you how in Wildly, Deeply, Joyously In Love, including the right and wrong way to communicate to your partner that you’re not going to tolerate their behavior so they listen.

Find Out More

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