I came across this article on the internet and reflecting on it I realized that many people in our churches behave this way too. It is good to take note of this issue and prayerfully consider what the best Christian response should be in dealing with people who are emotionally abusive and immature. At this stage I think a spiritual-cognitive method will be best whereby we lovingly and with compassion educate the offenders concerning what they are doing and how detrimental it is for their own growth and how it hurts others.
If someone suddenly cutting off all contact in an attempt to get you anxious, fearful, feel rejected, doubt your own desirability, confused and depressed is not acting with love – and you need to recognize it for what it is. Emotional abuse.
When someone uses “silent treatment”, the “cold shoulder treatment” or “no contact” to get you to comply and do what they want, or give them what they want, it’s a behaviour learned from childhood with a parent or key caregiver. A parent or caregiver denies a child attention, affection or love as a way of punishing, hurting, manipulating or controlling him or her; young, innocent and vulnerable, a child gives in or does as told to regain the parent or caregiver’s attention, affection or love.
A child repeatedly exposed to this kind of emotional abuse grows up thinking it’s the only way to get others to do what you want and give you what you want. But the effect of this form of emotional abuse cuts deeper and creates scars that are far more lasting than most people realize. Most people exposed to this kind of emotional abuse live with separation anxiety, are needy and clingy, have low self-esteem, don’t trust themselves, have problems telling whether someone is interested in them or not, never ask for what they want, are passive aggressive etc.
Sadly, they repeat this pattern of parent-child relationship in their adult relationships because it feels familiar and even comfortable to them. Most don’t think there is anything wrong with with-holding attention, affection or love to force someone to give in to what they would not give in to if they were not emotionally manipulated into giving in.
Some grown-up men and women even believe that with-holding attention, affection or love is how you prove that someone really loves you. The more threatened, anxious, rejected, jealous, clingy or desperate he/she feels, the more proof of their love. That’s how unhealthy this is!
A person using “no contact” to make you feel anxious, jealous, clingy or desperate is not doing it out of love. He/she is doing it because he/she needs to emotionally break you to feel in control – just like in the parent-child dynamic they’re so familiar with. The sad part is, many people using this unhealthy and dysfunctional relating pattern are not always necessarily bitter or vengeful people out to hurt the person they love. They often honestly believe that because it was done to them and it worked, it will work with you too.
The policy of breaking off totally with people, “No Contact” is immature, manipulative and undermines any efforts to have a healthy relationship. If he/she doesn’t see what’s wrong with this approach to resolving conflict, then it’s best that you both move on.
You can’t change someone else. The only person you can change is you. Saying “NO!” to emotional manipulation and/or abuse is taking care of your own emotional health, and cleaning up your emotional energy so that you will be ready for a relationship in which you will be treated with the respect, affection and love you deserve.
Keep in mind that not everyone who suddenly cuts off all contact is doing so to break you. Some people use “No Contact” because they believe isolation is the best way for them to handle their pain. You may not like that this is how they choose to move on, you may not agree that it is best for them, but it is their choice so respect their wish. Some day you’ll want someone else to respect yours too even if they do no agree.