You know that Simon and Garfunkel song, “Sound of Silence?”
Well if you don’t, it’s this song from the ‘60s that characterizes silence as its own entity with its own impact and noises.
Technically, silence is nothing … but a lot of nothings make noise (see: Britney Spears for details).
But the truth is this: Silence actually says a lot. If you’ve been in a relationship before, you know silence is the most deadly weapon of them all.
I’ll paint a picture for you.
SCENE: It’s a rainy Tuesday afternoon at the white tables outside of Starbucks at the SAC. A couple is sitting, looking uncomfortable.
Girl: Why didn’t you tell me you had a thing for my roommate?
Boy: I just didn’t want you to be mad.
Girl: Why would I be mad? I never get mad. Do I ever get mad?
The point is, silence can determine a lot, and being able to read it is crucial in a relationship. I mean, how do you even work with silence? The absence of words actually says a thousand, but sometimes, it’s difficult to decipher which words the silence is indicating.
But have no fear, V is here.
STEP ONE: Look at the eyes
In “To Kill a Mockingbird,” a character famously states that a concluded jury never looks at a defendant who was just labeled as guilty.
Think of it like that. If a boyfriend or girlfriend is lying, he or she probably won’t maintain eye contact with you.
Your significant other might even start twiddling with his or her iPhone more than usual.
Let’s take it back to that scene….
Boy starts twiddling with his phone. Girl asks an awkward question:
Girl: Are you even listening to me?
Boy keeps phone-fiddling.
Girl: Wait, are you re-updating your MySpace? Okay, now I know you’re ignoring me.
Step two: Ask a lot of questions
Silence usually suggests one of two emotions: anger or sadness. Either way, you need to ask questions to both break the silence and narrow its cause.
For example, “Why are you mad at me?” or “Who even uses MySpace any more?”
Always ask open-ended questions. Spouses who use the silent treatment will keep shrugging if they don’t want to answer. If they keep utilizing the classic “I don’t know,” then keep pushing. Put them on the spot.
Back to our lovebirds….
Boy is still playing with iPhone, and girlfriend is getting redder.
Girl: Do you think I get angry a lot?
Boy shrugs while simultaneously taking out some Mace pepper spray for protection.
Girl: Why do you think I get angry a lot?
Boy: I don’t know….
Girl: Why can’t you answer me?
Boy: Because I’m scared of you … because … because … your roommate said last night in bed that you get angry a lot.
Silence can be deafening, but secrets are ear-shattering. Keep prying, my friends.