Narcissists are highly skilled at making you agonize over the silent treatment by rendering you invalid, invisible, and totally redundant.
Being switched off and treated like you don’t even exist, after everything you’ve done for this person, is devastating. Don’t I know it!
If you have also felt these feelings of despair, betrayal, and the intense panic of being discarded in this way – or if you’ve had enough of the waiting around for days, weeks or even months before this person suddenly wants to talk again – then this Thriver TV episode will be very helpful.
So, how do we know how to respond to the silent treatment? Watch the video or read the blog to find out — I’ll teach you exactly what to do.
Today, I want to explain to you why all narcissists use the silent treatment and what you can do to not be abused by it when they do.
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I’m going to start off today’s episode with the silent treatment disclaimer, because you need to know this. Before we jump into what narcissists do, I want to help you all get very, very clear about what silent treatment means, because I know that a narcissist is going to accuse you of doing silent treatment. They say it all the time, and when we pull away from an abusive other, and do No Contact, that’s not us doing silent treatment to them. That’s an act of looking after ourselves so that we can heal.
This is about self-love. It’s not an act to abuse, another.
Narcissists do silent treatment to punish you. They do it to traumatize you, and also, to make you capitulate and submit to their will.
What Silent Treatment Is All About
Let’s look at what the silent treatment with narcissistic abuse is all about.
It’s about rendering you invalid. That’s the foundation of it, and it’s really ironic that narcissists dish out to you with silent treatment, the one thing that horrify them the most, which is about being unimportant, insignificant, and invalid.
Narcissists know that being ignored or stonewalled with silence drives people crazy, and a narcissist loves to drive you crazy because it grants them the upper hand of them being able to say, “Look at you, you’re crazy, you’re the problem, you’re the abusive one.” That’s the first reason why narcissists use silent treatment, but let’s move on because that’s only the beginning.
Narcissists do silent treatment to avoid accountability. Because according to the narcissist, he or she is superior and you’re inferior. You don’t deserve any explanation, you don’t require any communication, communion, or resolution regarding your issue with the narcissist or what he or she has done that concerns you.
The narcissist is amoral, please know that. A narcissist knows that they lie. They know they manipulate, exploit, and steal. They know they twist facts and they know they make choices and pretend to be nice to get deals brokered in their favour at other people’s expense.
Or, they know that they are totally unreasonable in their treatments of others because things weren’t going their way. It’s just what they do, but they don’t care about doing the wrong thing to other people. They only care if their particular agenda doesn’t get fulfilled, or if people wake up and they get exposed. You trying to expose the narcissist by confronting them is abhorrent to them.
They may enjoy the circus of projecting, triggering you and demeaning you or abandoning you when you do that. So, you come at them and you want accountability – they’re going to spin it back on you – that is narcissistic supply.
But one of the greatest ways that they can hit you with punishment is to simply abandon you. When you try to confront and get accountability, they go missing, they take themselves off maybe into another room, they sleep on the couch, or maybe they leave the house altogether.
Maybe, the narcissist will go missing for days or longer and not answer any of your calls or messages, or maybe they even block you. This is classic silent treatment. Let’s get really real about this because even when the narcissist is arguing back at you, when they’re changing the subject and they’re twisting and turning, and they’re playing tit for tat, and they’re bringing up things that you did ages ago, that you thought were all resolved and over, all of these things that they do to deflect scrutiny – they’re still being silent because they’re being silent about the real topic.
They’re not staying topical and focused on what’s required to be resolved. They don’t want to talk about that. They’re silent about that, and therefore, there’s no rebuild of trust in the relationship at all, and they don’t care.
Silent Treatment After Narcissistic Injury
When a narcissist suffers a narcissistic injury that’s another time that they do the silent treatment – a narcissist can go silent for no apparent reason. So, it’s not even something you’ve done or maybe it is, or maybe it’s not, but they’ve suffered a narcissistic injury.
What happens is they go moody, and sullen, and quiet. They detach and they withdraw, and of course, you’re stuck getting anxious because you’re thinking, “What have I done wrong?” And the narcissist, if you try to inquire or say something like, “Is there something wrong?” well, then they could even become more sullen and withdrawn or they can deflect and become nasty. Of course, you’re wondering what’s coming next.
When a narcissist withdraws, it really does feel like there’s an ominous dark cloud that affects everyone. They can even abandon you again at these times, especially if the narcissist knows that this hurts you. As far as he or she is concerned, if they’re feeling angry, if they’re suffering some kind of insult to their ego or something didn’t go their way and they’re triggered and they’re feeling moody and angry, well, they believe that you deserve to be hurting as well.
This, for a narcissist (sadly, because they have such a fragile Inner Identity) is an every day possibility. They could be wonderful one moment, and then all of a sudden, they’re sullen and angry and they go silent. It’s because they have such an insecure self-identity.
It’s also because they have such monstrous expectations of things having to be exactly the way they want them to be. Narcissists are often going to be triggered, angry, and depressed because life just doesn’t work out like that.
The narcissist may, at this time of going sullen and silent, need only one slight excuse to kick the cat, which will be you. Projecting their anger all over you, and this will often come shortly after an unexplainable bout of silent treatment, especially when you’re trying to confront the narcissist and find out what’s going on.
Silent Treatment As An Excuse To Get New Narcissistic Supply
The next reason that narcissists do silent treatment is awful, it’s so painful, and it’s to toggle new narcissistic supply. Narcissists, you need to know, they’re always firmly looking out for themselves. The thought of consideration for others is not what motivates them. It’s not even really a passing consideration unless there’s some payoff for them. There’s no loyalty to anybody else other than serving the narcissist’s true master, which is their False Self, which is a fictitious construct of the ego that has to continually feed their superiority.
The silent treatment is a powerful opportunity for a narcissist to metaphorically “eat away from home,” which means to seek narcissistic supply outside of the relationship, which can include sexual supply. The narcissist may be grooming somebody else to prepare for abandoning their life with you and transferring to new supply.
Narcissists often hedge their bets while the cracks are happening, and things are breaking down. They are already getting their next drug dealer set up, the next person who they can parasite off, get a roof over their head, get provided with sex and attention and significance, and tell them how wonderful they are.
By the time you are experiencing the silent treatment, the cracks have well and truly appeared in your relationship with this person. And if you are challenging the narcissist, their cover is being blown. If you are damaged and breaking down, this means there is much less that the narcissist can extract from you, or maybe the full extraction of your resources has pretty much already taken place and possibly you are so traumatized and sick that you are going to start requiring care from the narcissist, which, of course, is disgraceful to him or her.
You’re there to be mined and exploited, how dare you expect care and energy from them. The narcissist will bail out because, now, the narcissistic supply, which is the parasiting of the energy, attention, and resources from you, is getting low and they can disappear, disconnect, contact, and maybe even block you, especially if you’re trying to demand their attention, care, and remorse, which of course is really normal for you to do that.
The truth is, you are the host, they are the parasite. The narcissist has no energy of their own to grant you, and if you aren’t supplying them with what they want, then they’re going to need another host. So, there may be a period in the silent treatments of moving between you and new supply.
So, how it goes is disappearing, silent treatment, and then they may reappear. And awfully, often this is to buy time to get their ducks in a row, and you can be sure that the narcissist is already setting things up, including financially, with the bank accounts, and they’re doing things to benefit themselves at this time to get ready for the final discard so that they can feather their nest regardless of the cost to you. It’s horrible.
Silent Treatment As The Ultimate Discard
The ultimate discard has happened to so many people. It’s especially painful for you if you’ve spent years or even decades with a narcissist. After supplying them with your love and your loyalty, such as raising the children, making sacrifices, giving up your job, supporting their businesses, and of course, coping with their narcissistic behaviour for decades. A narcissist, once they have secured new supply, has the ability to cut and run like you never existed.
It’s akin to an actor leaving one movie set, throwing the script in the bin, picking up a new script, and changing studios. It really is that cut and dried. You no longer serve a purpose, therefore, the narcissist decide you no longer exist to them and their new life now has their full attention.
Of course, you are devastated to experience that the narcissist is not offering any explanation, will grant you no closure, isn’t giving you any form of compassion, and the narcissist, possibly, won’t even return your calls. He/she won’t deal face to face, and simply starts processes with a solicitor, expecting a big chunk, if not all of the spoils and carries on with their life, with a new partner, with family and friends and even your children, like you never existed. The horror of being discarded like yesterday’s garbage after years of service and devotion is unspeakable.
So, is it guilt that causes the narcissist to cut themselves off from their previous spouse and sometimes even their families and go completely silent? No, it’s not about guilt. The narcissist has their own self-serving justifications for doing what he or she is doing, and the ex-spouse has already been degraded and reduced in value in the narcissist’s psyche to somebody who needs to be dispensed of – totally confirming the narcissist version of things. It really is that cruel and callous.
How is the narcissist capable of this, doing silent treatment at really any level, but especially that level? The reason is, because he or she is black and white. You are either providing the False Self (which is a narcissists’ true master) what it wants, or you are not. If you are, you are worthy of them sticking around, and mind you, that can also be your trauma and you’re fighting with them. That’s also narcissistic supply.
But when it all gets too much and you are not providing the right narcissistic supply, then the narcissist realizes that as far as the False Self is concerned, you need to be replaced. And you may think – which is normal -that it’s because of something you’ve done or because you’ve failed. Of course the narcissist will have you believe this, but it’s not the truth.
This relationship was never about your needs or wanting a true love partnership; much less about acknowledging that you are somebody who deserves this. And it’s no different eventually with the new partner, because the same cycle happens to them. The narcissist is a black hole, they can’t be appeased and they’re not going to stop siphoning out individuals until there’s no more to get, and then they are discarded and replaced.
Silent treatment cruel discards are very, very common in narcissistic relationships. They do it to long-term people and they do it to short-term relationships. And either one can cause you to be reeling, absolutely reeling, of course.
How To Survive The Silent Treatment?
So, how do you survive and heal from this? This is done by using space and silence from the narcissist to your advantage. There’s only one truth to this, to heal and recover, which means you’re going to have to detach, pull away, and heal in order to escape this life, which is destroying you.
This is about meeting and healing those vulnerable parts inside us, which feel unworthy of love, which feel invisible, invalid, and unimportant. When you do this, you can heal them up to fill these spaces with your own love and deservedness and wholeness, where you no longer feel hooked into a False Self, trying to get the love and approval that they never had the resources to grant you.
I’d love to offer you my free two-part Masterclass, which explains all of this in great detail to help show you how this can be done for real.
I hope that this has explained why they’re doing this to you, and I hope that this has given you hope that you can get out of this torture and recover. Check out the two-part Masterclass, it’s going to help you so much and it’s totally free.