Does Giving A Guy The Silent Treatment Make Him Miss You?

Before a breakup, it’s common to unleash a lot of ugly words on your partner: blaming, criticizing, name-calling, yelling profanities at each other… And to detox from the fighting, silence can be your best friend while recovering from the breakup. A no-contact rule is often recommended when trying to move on from an ex, but there’s an added benefit of using the silent treatment. Your ex may actually miss you and want you back. Here’s a timeline for what to expect when going silent on a guy.

  1. He may not notice at first. You’ve decided to use the silent treatment and you’ve promised yourself you won’t contact your ex. But just because you know your intentions doesn’t mean he does. Your silence may initially go completely undetected. This is especially true if your relationship was one-sided to begin with. If he wasn’t thinking about the relationship much before, he likely isn’t now either.
  2. But if you were clingy, he may notice right away. On the other hand, your ex may immediately notice a change in your behavior. You may have been highly invested in the relationship, which made you come off a little clingy. If you put a lot of effort into messaging, setting up dates, and offering help, he might immediately notice when you’ve gone silent.
  3. He may assume you’re angry. When a guy does start to notice you’re giving him the silent treatment, he may assume you’re angry, and chances are, you are. But even if he’s starting to figure it out, don’t expect a text from him right away. To him, you’re the ferocious dog, and he doesn’t want to get bitten.
  4. Time alone may help him reflect. You were always available before, but now you’ve gone MIA. Now, those late-night phone calls or weekend days together are spent alone. And this time alone may be just what he needs to reflect. He may have been taking you for granted before, but now, he’s scared of losing you.
  5. Eventually, he’ll likely reach out. In many cases, a guy will finally contact you again after you’ve given him the silent treatment. Fear, curiosity, and perhaps a hurt ego will drive him back to you. Even if he’s noticed your changed behavior, he probably won’t directly mention it when he messages or calls. But even if he plays it casual, he’s hoping for confirmation that he still has a chance with you.
  6. Other guys will only reciprocate the silent treatment. Depending on your relationship and breakup circumstances, some guys will choose to never contact you. They’ll likely notice your silence and they may even miss you, but they avoid reaching out. This could be because he’s too proud to put himself out there and risk being rejected, or it could be that he’s trying to move on. Either way, you don’t need to try harder or use a different strategy to win him back. Instead, take his passivity as a sign: he’s okay without you, and you’ll be okay without him too.
  7. Sometimes, the silent treatment should last indefinitely. You may use the silent treatment with the hope that it’ll trigger your ex to miss you. Then, he’ll come running back, sliding into your DMs or calling you at night. But even if your hopes come true, that doesn’t always mean you should take him back with open arms. Sometimes, the silent treatment should last indefinitely. Think of it this way: he may miss you now, but that doesn’t mean he values you. Some guys simply want what they can’t have. And when they get what they want, they fall back into lazy relationship habits yet again. Ultimately, it’s your call if you accept him back or not. But remember, your relationship must be built on more than missing each other. A guy must be willing to put in the work long after the silent treatment has finished.
  8. Try an alternative to the silent treatment. In short, the silent treatment can make a guy miss you, but that’s often not enough to have a thriving relationship together again. Not only that, but the gratification of having your ex respond to your silent treatment will likely be short-lived. Though it may not work for all breakups (because after all, some breakups aren’t meant to be mended), there is an alternative to using silence. That alternative is the polar opposite of the silent treatment: clear communication. Take some time to process what went wrong and what you really needed from your relationship, and if part of you still believes there’s a chance to repair your breakup, talk to your ex about where you stand. If he’s open to a discussion, talk about what it would take to get back together. Make sure you’re both ready to start over again. And if you do, you’ll know it was based on transparency and intention, not just because he missed you.
Relationship educator, writer, host of the Relationship Reminders podcast, and mental health advocate hailing from the US and currently based in Tokyo