It used to be my signature “big fight” move. If I had a disagreement with a boyfriend, friend or family member, they’d give an impassioned speech about their point of view and I’d respond with…silence. I’d try to get out of the house as fast as I could, then spend hours (or days) trying to cool off and decide what I wanted to say. Once I had it figured out, I’d come back, apologize and calmly state my side of the argument. It was a conflict-free fighting technique that prevented me from saying anything I’d regret, I thought.
But it wasn’t until my now husband called me out early on in our relationship that I even realized I was doing something wrong. “Do you know how hurtful it is for you to just disappear, when I have no idea what’s going on or how you’re feeling?” he asked me. I hadn’t even thought about that. What I thought was defusing the argument turned out to be stonewalling, an extremely toxic habit it took me years to break.