The Narcissistic Silent Treatment

silent-teatment-narcissistNarcissists will invoke the silent treatment upon a partner for days, weeks, and even longer, often with no explanation, as a way to control and demoralize their victim. Narcissists are fond of using the Silent Treatment as a cruel (but not unusual) punishment for you doing nothing wrong at all and, from experience, I can tell you that the affect of this method of passive-aggressive control is sheer torture. The first time it happened to me, I felt as lost, sad, and helpless as the puppy in the picture. Little did I know that that particular silent treatment was the first of literally hundreds to come. I simply couldn’t believe that anyone could do something like that to a person that they supposedly cared about.

My ex-N of 12-years executed a narcissistic silent treatment, on an average, about every 3-6 months (and, during one stretch, even every two weeks),  depending, I assume, upon how his other sources of supply were faring. Each silent treatment would last anywhere from two to three days to six weeks to six months before he hoovered back or before my begging at his door and endless onslaught of desperation letters forced him to give in. The Silent Treatment, for my ex and for many others, is a powerful narcissistic ploy and/or tactic and it gets the point across.

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No matter how he goes about it or why it happens or when it happens, the Silent Treatment always sucks. The fact that the victim of a narcissistic partner rarely knows why they are receiving the silent treatment only compounds the mental torture. I remember reading an article where the writer described the narcissist’s silent treatment as particularly demoralizing because the N is clearly making a statement – in unspoken terms, of course – that you, the recipient, aren’t even worth acknowledging…aren’t worth a moment of his time…that, in fact, you are a worthless piece of shit on his shoe.  How true that is? We all get the point and fast!

“How long will the Silent Treatment last?” is always the big question. Will it go on for a day, a week, a month or even longer? Keeping us in the dark about when it will end (or even why it’s happening) is an intentional strategy designed to create as much anxiety as possible in the recipient. And it does. The longer it lasts, the worse the separation anxiety becomes and the more likely you are to feel depressed, jealous, confused, isolated, unworthy etc. The more desperation we feel, the harder it is to follow the no contact rule and to give up the need for closure. We become the puppet and the Narcissist, the Puppeteer.

The silence is meant to hurt you. It is meant to teach you a lesson. And, make no mistake, the silence is always a way for the narcissist to buy himself some free time for being with someone else or for hustling up new sources of supply.

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Most victims  – myself included – will describe the days and weeks of silence as an agonizing torture that leaves us broken and desperate, willing to try anything and everything to get a response. If this means apologizing for the sole purpose of apologizing even though we know have done nothing wrong, then so be it. When you’re in the thick of it, the pain of the silence is far worse than the pain of being a doormat. Meanwhile, the narcissist goes on about his/her business until, for whatever reason, he feels his victim have been punished enough or the girl he’s seeing does something he doesn’t like. When this happens, he will usually return offering no explanation – or at least no logical explanation – and he will expect to pick up right where he left off and as if he’d never been gone.  So dismantled and dejected, the victim often demands no answers anyway, keeping her mouths shut and choosing, instead, to revel in the fact that her anxiety has passed. This particular response, by the way, is an intended result of the silent treatment so that the N gets away with the entire debacle. This is just another narcissistic strategy for managing down our expectations so that we expect less and less and he gets away with more and more.

READ  Is the Narcissist Happy Now? (A Reality Check)

Understand that a partner using the Silent Treatment for any type of punishment – let alone one for a crime not committed – is not normal under any circumstances. When a narcissist uses the silent treatment, it is just one more requirement he has filled in the overall pathological relationship agenda. No one ever deserves to feel unworthy of attention or undeserving of love and loyalty. No one …not even one time.

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In my book, Stop Spinning, Start Breathing, I devote an entire chapter to a step towards recovery that I call Silence Appreciation. By learning to actually appreciate the silence given and by using the time wisely as yet another step towards mentally freeing oneself from the narcissist, you’re life will begin to make miraculous changes. It did for me and I know it can for you as well….

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  1. Hello Zari,
    I have been married for 13 years now and the problems with my wife started at the time when our first child was born, almost 7 years ago. At that time I believed that I had nice, mutual understanding marriage, but when our son was born she started blaming me that I am not a good father, yelling at me in the hospital as I turned the diaper up side down, criticizing me that I do not stand up at nights when child woke up (when few times I stood up she told me to go to bed as I only “disturb the child”) , calling me certain names, criticizing if I went to see my father and friends (“what kind of father are you”?) in another country for day or two, controlling almost every aspect of our life, changing the position of some things in the house later on criticizing me that I am stranger in my own house etc… I started having bad sleep, nervousness, strong heart beats etc.

    Around that time she started also with her silent treatments, her endless criticizing whatever I do (“why did you purchase nutella for kids if I gave you a list what to buy?”, “Did you also for kids buy 500g of tooth paste if you already purchased 500g of “nutella”?), humiliating me and requesting apologize from me every time when I said something what was, according to her opinion, not acceptable.

    One month ago we went all to visit my father who is 73 years old and who lives alone in another country. First thing she did when we entered his house at 01.30 am (night flight) was not to put together with me the kids in the bed, but to start cleaning around showing her clear unsatisfactory that the house of my father is “not clean enough” although he keeps hygiene in his house at the very decent level. At that moment I exploded as everything that happened before came to the surface. We spent there 5 days and for these 5 days she didn’t even go out of her room, refusing fully to communicate with outside world. You can image that ever since she has been giving me a silent treatment, she prepares the meals for her and kids, but not for me, she ignores me in every way clearly demanding apology from me as “reacted improperly”.

    I think I am slowly losing my mind and afraid to get seriously sick. If we divorce there are big chances I won’t live with my children and they will be left with her problematic behavior. Even our son who is almost 7 now comments that “there is something evil in her brain”. By the way, she rejects going to psychological treatment.

    What can I do?

    Thank you.

    • Hi Peter,

      Wow…I am so, so sorry that you are living in that nightmare. My God. However, you can’t lose your mind because there are littler minds around that house that need the wisdom of your bigger one. For them and them alone, you must stay sane. As they grow up, they will remember that you did just that. Now…what to do. I don’t know how old your children are (except for the 7-year old who is obviously beyond his years) but you could wait until they are slightly older and can make their own decision about who to stay with…old enough to make a statement to a judge. OR you could see a lawyer and get things started, fighting for 50/50 or even full custody. The truth is that narcissists can no more love their children than they can love their spouses and judges these days are seeing through this. Of course, the lawyer thing would take money and probably a lot of it – and that doesn’t even include what it will take to appease her in a divorce. The hard part would be leaving without damaging the children any more than their mom surely already has.

      While you decide what to do, you must practice DETACHMENT and INDIFFERENCE to her behaviors. We can’t control the behaviors of these creatures but we DO have control over our reactions to all of it. If she’s giving you the silent treatment, ENJOY THE SILENCE. Take the kids out and don’t let her stop you. Leave her alone at home in her silence…see how she likes it! Have no reaction to her ridiculous ways and do not apologize for anything. Be grateful that it’s only silence right now. You have to change your perspective of it to deal with it while you decide what to do. Stand up for yourself and create some boundaries…but do not lose your cool because the reality is that that is exactly what she wants. DETACHMENT and INDIFFERENCE, brother.

      Let me know how you are doing…there are many men who come here with stories just like your own. You are not alone…and I am here to support you:)

      Zari xo

      • Hi Zari,
        Thank you for your kind words and I know they make sense. Just, it is not easy, it is simply not easy accepting the fact that this person who you decided to share everything in your life with can turn to such a monster. And the worst thing is HOPE, false hope that after all it will all become ok although reality denies it. That false hope destroys the soul.
        My children are still young (7 and 3) and only my son starts noticing her behavior, but she still remains to be his mom and of course he would love her endlessly.
        I found out that she shared with some virtual online friends (she actually never met in real life) all our concerns, fights, she laughed with them about the way how I think the children should be raised, she told them simply everything from our marriage just to receive in return their opinion that sounds like “oh poor you, what kind of husband you have”. I felt very betrayed.
        She also expects that I move out from our flat in order she could continue “living normally” with the children.
        Your advise to contact lawyer does make sense and I already did it. Let’s see what will come up.
        From time to time I do take the children out, but during the week it is not easy as she works less than me and therefore at the time I get home she already took the children somewhere out. It seems I have also been somehow punished for working longer by seeing my children only 1 hour before they go to sleep.
        Building detachment and indifference I find quote difficult (but not impossible) as I entered that marriage with honest feelings. Now I need to learn to another painful lesson of my life.
        Thank you once again for your kind and encouraging words.
        p.s. I purchased your book “When love is a lie” and hope I will be able to implement some of it in my life.

  2. CONTROL. Anyone who does the silent treatment is like the equivalent of a bumbling spy on Get Smart who brings down the cone of silence leaving you feeling like a blubbering mess, spying on them and their new secret assignment, the new partner.

    These people think they are male and female James Bond types – licensed to thrill or licensed to emotionally kill. Upset their secret life as a spy who is already spying out their next victim – any anyone is a potential in these doozies immature minds, crack their secret codes, and their stupid games and secret language that makes no sense and you are up for an emotional bullet to the heart and head.

    The silent treatment is their way of covering their immature ears as they only want to listen to the good stuff from the next assignment. Who wants an immature actor or actress playing with them. An immature actor or actress, who doesnt know they are only acting a part too. That their mission is to try and gain some self worth via someone who is not worth anything at all inside.

    Don’t blame them. Hostages, heal thyself.

    • Hi Julia,

      Love the James Bond comparison! It’s perfect. Big blubbering, bungling falsely entitled idiots are exactly what they are. Thanks for the chuckle today:)

      Zari xo

  3. Hello zari,

    I read your articles and i need your opinion about my boyfriend. I feel like my boyfriend always use passive aggressive behavior on me and he seems agreed that he is passive aggressive person and control peoplej. He likes to use silent treatment on me. For no reason. Its been one year and 3 months we have been together and he used to not text or call me like 3 days-5days. I thought he is fine and busy. So i accepted the way he is.

    During November 2015 twe have got some issue which he was totally mad and he refused to talk to me 3 months. Within 3 months i saw he talked few girls and post a picture with another girl on social media. I almost gave up on him because i thought he left. So i used silence treatment for one year to focus on me and my career.

    After 3 months i texted him that i hurt so much and i dont care whatever he did even though i love him so much. I told him that he treated me like a stranger. I never thought he will reply but he did after 3 months we didnt talk and he said “enough. Forget whatever happened. Im sorry for what ive done. I never treat u as stranger”. I asked him and asked him because i need exactly answer but he didnt text me back so i remain silence again for 2 weeks.

    After that suddenly after two weeks, he asked me to meet him. I cant help it. I ignored him at first. But then he keep texted me and he keeps telling me that he had problems and he wanted to see me. So i met him. We had fun and we talked a lot. He lost his job. He said he has “time” now with me and he said he is sorry for leaving me within 3 months because he was so mad at me and he said he was so busy with his jobs but he asked me “it feels hurt am i right?”. He really wanted me to feel hurt! However, He seems like he stalked me because he knew what i was doing within 3 months.

    After we met, he asked me to accompany him for job. He asked me to meet him again and again. He was getting closer with me. I thought he changed because he keeps texting me everyday and meet me everyday. After he got his new job, he asked me to come over to see his new job at new cafe. His bestfriend also work there and Every crew there thought im his gf and i love it.

    But then, everything has changed. After he got his job, he only texted me once a week. We met only once a week. I asked his bestfriend am i doing something wrong? Is he has someone else? His bestfriend said “He doesnt have anyone else. If he wasnt comfortable with you, he will leave you long time ago and wont hang out with you. He just tired and you dont have to worry. I will watch him”

    On march 2016 Where i found he keeps talking sweet with one beautiful girl on social media. I feel hurt i talked to him when we met during his off day how jealous i was and he said “she is my friend”. After that its getting worse. There is one time he doesnt want to meet me because he got things to do. I asked him to accompany me to go somewhere but he didnt reply.

    I have disease right now where i have lumps in my breast and i talked to his bestfriend because on his bestfriend saw how sick i am. But his bestfriend told my boyfriend bout it. However, i dont see any care or worried from him. He seems ignored it. Its like “oh come on. She will not die tomorrow or now”. He doesnt care about me at all! And i saw again on his social media he posted a figure of a girl

    I am so pissed off and i texted him with long text that he should leave me if he doesnt love me. I begged him to tell me and asked him to leave me if he doesnt want me. He just read it and no reply at all! I asked his bestfriend to be honest with me because i will go away if he has someone else. I told him that i saw a figure of a girl on his social media because he never put my picture on his social media. So why she got on his social media? What so special about her?

    His bestfriend pissed off at me and said “why you always think negatively about him? I told you many times i will watch him and if he has someone else of course i will let you know but however, he doesnt have anyone else! That girl is his friend and my friend too. If you dont believe me, i will bring that girl to meet you. Can you please be chill? I told you i will watch him”
    After that i remain silence for awhile. If there is important msg i need to ask them such as job interview, he will reply me. But just few text and then he will be silence. Until now its been 6 days. Tomorrow is his off day. Im not sure whether he wants to meet me or not.

    Zari, is he really a narc?

    • Hi Aryyan,

      Well, he sure sounds like a narc to me and his best friend is serving as a Flying Monkey (someone who covers for the narc…a la the flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz who do evil deeds for the Wicked Witch). Stay away from both of these jerks – they are both liars and not to be trusted. Your boyfriend – the narc – is like my ex, using the silent treatment to by time to do other things. He will likely never kick you to the curb because it’s too easy just to string you along…to keep you in the queue.

      Go silent on him…end it by going no contact. Block him from being able to contact you. Block BOTH of them so that neither can call – not the narc or the flying monkey. You don’t owe him any explanation. He’s obviously up to no good and will never ever change no matter what lie he tells you. Go on about your life. He is wasting your life away.

      Stay strong, sister!

      Zari xo

      • Hello zari,

        Thank you so much for replying my comment. But zari, i still dont understand. Why his bestfriend are willing to cover my boyfriend evil deeds? Why my boyfriend cant just says “i have someone else. I dont want you anymore”. Why cant his bestfriend says “you should give up. I cant help you”…its much easier than manipulate me. It seems like they are “keeping” me for some reason? I didnt contact him for 3 days. Because i broke it to ask him about new job interview. After few text he didnt reply until now. However, im afraid he will find me…or he will not?

        My other friends said if he is really narc and if i want him to stay with me, i have to give him endlessly supply, keep telling him how wonderful he is, how i love him until im risking myself to be with him, how im willing to accept the way he is and always be there for him like no other girls did to him

        • Hi Aryyan,

          You’re not paying attention to the bottom line….he’s a narcissist. Narcissists don’t care about explaining their behavior and they don’t care about stringing someone along – the more they can string along the better. Your friends are wrong. It doesn’t matter how much you say you love him and all that…they don’t have the slightest clue what narcissism is about. You can say that, act wonderful, accept him for the way he is and he is STILL going to have other girls that he’s paying attention to. He’s still going to periodically blow you off, give you the silent treatment…and when he’s ready, he’ll be back to use you. IT’S ALL ABOUT WHAT HE CAN GET AWAY WITH. If he can get away with being a player and still having you waiting and wondering in the sidelines (which he obviously can), then he’ll do it until the end of time. Nothing you can do about it ever…he is what he is. As for the “best” friend…girl, the best friend has no loyalty to you. He’s a FLYING MONKEY and basically he’s as bad as the narcissist.

          He’s not going to change and the flying monkey will keep lying for him. You’re wasting your time.

          Zari:)

  4. I met a guy at a party once, he was 40years old and I was 22. We didn’t know our age, and he instantly fell in love with me. I was still seeing other people as a young individual, but soon felt the ever-lasting attention and love that he would show and make me feel. He would repeatedly tell me that he wanted to “take care of me”. He would show that he was a patient, caring, man in front of my family and friends. I felt that he was always trying to go beyond an approval and have them love him. And they did. After 7months of dating, he started to change. He started to choose me less, I was no longer his priority. The texts that used to come everyday to see how I was doing, became absent. I started to feel insecure and nervous around him. Thinking “what did I do wrong? why doesn’t he love me anymore?” I tried my hardest to gain back his attention, but he was more excited to go out drinking with his friends at a bar than be with me. He would go silent when he was mad at me or whenever i expressed that I was unhappy. He would either try to not talk about it or ignore me. It had to be on “his” terms to speak when he was upset, and as many times or test that I sent, he would continue to ignore me. I would cave in and apologize, just so that the anxiety of losing him would disappear. But at this point I was insecure and just simply sad. I was once a girl who would laugh and smile, but at the end of the relationship I became miserable. I had suicidal ideations and wanted to hurt myself. Anything was better than having to feel my heart pulsate with the stab wounds he caused on me. One night, when we attended a wedding for his friends, I was upset since he did not acknowledge me. He told me that I needed to fake a smile. I just couldn’t do it. The next day, rather than talking about it, he changed his seats for the flight and treated me as if I had some disease. He wanted nothing to do with me. I begged and cried for him to talk to me when he left me at the airport. He got more angry when he saw me cry, and told me that he didn’t care if I was crying. There would be a switch in him, where if he turned cold, he was heartless. That night I went home broken, and decided to block his number. A little over a week I got weak and unlocked him. Low and behold, I get a text from him. From that day on he subtly hinted he wanted to get back for two weeks. He started to be more direct in wanting to get me back after that. I was hesitant of seeing him and was upset with how much he had hurt me. He told me he wanted to change and that he was wrong, but that I was wrong too since I am too emotional. Wrong for being too emotional? This is where I realize he was never able to fully take responsibility of anything. I told him some harsh words out of spite and told him I didn’t want to see him. I got weak again and later texted him to see me, called him frantikly as I felt like I was having a panic attack. I felt like I had no control. He continued to ignore my texts and phone calls. The fact is, if it was done for him, he could have just simply texted me not to contact him and I would have done so. I realized that he is enjoying seeing me desperate and have not contacted him since. His friends have unfriended me, ones that I was fond of ( he had amazing friends) and that hurt me. To think about what he might have been saying and to make me look like I was crazy. I was crazy, but out of neglect and desperation. They probably think Im a crazy ex girlfriend, and that makes me cringe. But the fact is I can’t change him, Ive accepted this fact. I still do tend to blame myself on what I did wrong, and sometimes find myself waiting for him to reach out to me. This is when I remind myself how unhappy I was with him. The names that he called me… I just don’t ever want anyone to make me feel the way he made me feel; worthless. I am struggling and taking it day by day. I feel like he mentally neglected me and I feel broken. Im just trying to get through the day.

  5. wow this is really insightful and they usually always play victim when you ignore them back and not contact them when they pull away. They best is to fight silence with silence if it’s a repeated vindictive behavior.

  6. Hello, My story is a little different since we’re both women. I met this woman a year ago, we’ve been dating since June last year and she’s a few years older and a single mom, everything was going fine, hot sexually but normal pace day to day cos she has to spend time with the kid and full time job which I don’t mind. We’ve said i love you and all that, we’re both very busy but we were able to see every now and again and i met the kid and we clicked instantly. The problem started in December, i began to see sides of her i didn’t like. So many bad behavior, not directly but she became withdrawn during the holidays, the messages and calls stopped when i reached out she responded well sometimes, other times cold and mean but she used to reach out more. I got used to reaching out for the time being i felt it wasmy turn since we’re both women and feminine (sorry to use a stereotype). Anyways i kept it going through out December and in January i stopped after she became extremely cold . So i pulled back, mind you we’re both in the closet and we have problem being vulnerable. We just didn’t know how to be vulnerable all the time, just sometimes. But in January she sent me a letter and apologized for her actions said she’s angry about so much in her past and her family life. She wanted me to forgive her and that she loved me and all that. I took a few days to respond, long story short i forgive her. But nothing changed, we barely talked, when we did she complained of rough times, she has a lot of family responsibilities. Her siblings moved in temporary and there was a lot of financial pressure from her family. In February i offered to be friends because i love this woman and her kid and i wanted them in my life but she insisted she wanted to be in a relationship that i can decide what i want. So i made a decision to be there for her but we barely talked. Once in February we made plans, I called her that day, but didn’t get any response and beingthe kind of person that values self respect i didn’t t initiate any angry message or anything. However,i didn’t hear from her for 12 days. She used our picture on whatsapp 12days later and phoned me a few days later when she didn’t get a reaction after that blow off and pic’s display. Sometimes i do nothing when I’m disrespected but i picked andwe spoke. She saw me few days later with her kid. Seeing her kid made me more understanding of her and we talked about my boundaries and how the silent treatment from both of us is killing our relationship. I told her i only get silent because she never wants to talk or do anything. Honestly, she looked depressed and had lost weight so it was hard to be mad. But things went back to normal, we communicated well for 3 weeks saw once, said i love you but no intimacy . We haven’t had sex since December which i don’t mind too much, she said she has no sex drive plus all the stress is making her loss interest in everything in her everyday life but insisted she wanted us together . I asked for us to be friends again because i was worried but we didn’t break up and idecided to be patient. During the next week she complained about being emotionally down and the weekend i tried to reach out she responded and i asked to do something and i haven’t heard a word in 2weeks. This is the second time she’s done this and i haven’t reached out either after thetext asking to hangout. I have been going out and doing my thing. I guess I felt i was being manipulated and her issues is not an excuse to berude by not simply saying she’s busy at the said time. i have been patient this is not an issue of pressure. We love eachother that I’m sure but rightnow I don’t know if i want to continue and not talking to eachother for 2weeks even during easter doesn’t really make me feel better. Do you think i should keep being there for her, i must admit I haven’t really been there all round, i have been tentative about it we are both independent women and we don’t let anyone know when we’re hurt so I’m respecting her boundaries, I wish she can respect mine. On the other hand I think she’s not ready but too selfish to let go. I’d like to be with her like before but honestly I’m falling out slowly. Do you think i should reach out before she does? I honestly think she’s depressed and I’d like her to get help but my best guy friend told me to not contact her and let her come back like she usually does but its coming across like I don’t care about her issues when I’m giving her space but it seems like too much space. I’m becoming really uncomfortable, my gut tells me she’s a narcissist and she knows exactly what she’s doing. But this one is hard to let go because she’s the only woman that havn’t pressured me to comeout and vice versa. We both love our space and privacy so i think it’s a good match except we might both need people that are more open with their feelings. Maybe if she was with someone more emotional they probably be more understanding and call her 247 to deal with her issues but i can’t, i know she won’t appreciate that. Plus I have my own issues i lost a close family member 6 months ago, she was my best friend so i can’t grief and really pay attention to gfs issues but i really try. I’m really confused, my gut tells me she’s a narcissist with control issues using the silent treatment as a weapon but my heart knows she’s going through something and my head wants to let go but i think she’s a good person, I’m just not sure about the love anymore but I just don’t know because whenever she comes around i feel emotionally down, she looks so sad and unhappy. Should i be doing more? Am i right to give her space because i was disrespected, are my standards too high or threshold for BS too low ? I’ve been nothing but kind and understanding she tells me things like she wouldn’t take the same if i was in her shoes. And thanked me for loving her and that she loves me. That was before she pulled the disappearing act for the second time in a year. Isn’t ‘t that narcissism 101. Deep down i feel I’m being playedhere. I mean I’m not chasing after her or acting needy at all perhaps that’s why it’s not working, not feeding her Ego enough? I don’t know anymoreI’m conflicted. On one hand i want to be there for her through this tough time, on the other hand I feel like I’m being taken advantage of. I’ve been through dark times and I’ve never used it as an excuse to be a jerk to my people. I guess people can’t always treat us the way we treat them that’s why i set boundaries but my friend thinks I’m being too hard that i should continue to be there which doesn’t feel right considering gf is being hotand cold, using problems as an excuse to behave badly. Maybe she’s gone for good, I feel ok for not reaching out at all if she’s really gone but too chicken to accept friendship instead of behaving badly, I don’t know personally i end relationship when I’m overwhelmed and leave communication open for a reunion, i guess women are no better atcommunicating than men, I’m not perfect but in the last 4 months communication was a problem .Any thoughts?

    • Hi Karen,

      Well, I’m receiving requests for advice more and more – especially for phone consults – from girl/girl relationships with one suspecting that the other is narcissistic. To me, it is a tricky situation as well because of the female same sex dynamic and there’s no easy answer. There’s no doubt that the behaviors of this person appear to be narcissistic but I don’t feel in my heart of hearts that this is the intention. Female narcissists are downright evil and if they have a girlfriend, they can be even more even then normal because they can play this partner like no tomorrow. No one knows how to push buttons of a female than another female. Only you would know if it has been taken this far. Based on what you’ve shared with me, I see inconsideration and selfishness on her part – without a doubt – but I don’t know if I detect the evilness so typical of a textbook female narc. Now, having said that, just because a partner isn’t a narc true to form doesn’t mean a thing. The fact is that you feel disrespected and hurt and IN LIMBO and that’s never right, I don’t care what sex you are.

      Having read your post over several times, it is clear to me that you a good, caring person who is really trying to understand what’s happening here so that you can help to resolve it whatever it is. You care for her as a partner AND a friend but are not so sure if you can be JUST a friend at this point…if that’s possible. At the same time, you’re struggling with some guilt that perhaps you haven’t been a GOOD enough friend, that maybe you’re not looking at it the right way but not knowing what that right way is given that you’ve been more than friends. However, you’ve had your own troubles and it doesn’t sound like she’s been there for you and given your relationship, she should have. Again, it doesn’t matter what sex you are in a relationship, one side should not always be trying or giving more than the other – EVER. The tricky part here is that you two ARE girls…women…and women/girls are used to being “girl” friends” even when they’re not “girlfriends”. So when you suddenly feel that you might not be able to even be “friends”, it causes automatic guilt. I imagine this is especially true when others around you might not even know that you’ve been anything OTHER than friends to begin with. Or maybe they do. Either way, girls expect girls to stay friends with girls they were friends with! I guarantee that if you were one side of a hetero relationship, no one would be expecting you to remain friends or thinking you were being too hard. Know what I mean? It’s not fair and I think what you’re feeling is perfectly normal.

      You make a logical point when you say that you never consider using your own personal issues as an excuse to be mean to people close to you…it’s not your way. Honestly, Karen, I don’t believe that it’s too much to ask or expect that someone that we love have those same values. If you were the female in a hetero relationship and your guy partner was doing this, just vanishing and then showing back up, being snarky when you did have conversation, only being concerned about his own issues and not what you’d just gone through yourself, leaving you in limbo as to where you stand yet telling you he loves you when it’s convenient or when it is key to keeping you around…if this were the case, I’d be telling you to exit the game without saying a word. She should know better than to leave you hanging. This is what I see in female/female scenarios…one girl just vanishes or pulls back without explanation yet appears to want to string the other along, even saying they love her and want to stay as a “partner” but not showing this in actions at all. UNLIKE the female/male scenario, there is typically no cheating involved or another person at all romantically (which is an interesting difference actually). But what should you do? Do you demand an explanation and closure…force her to make a statement? Or do you go with your gut feeling that, for all intents and purposes, this relationship is over and you just move along. I don’t feel that you need to be there as her “friend” for crisis purposes and I highly doubt she expects you to do that. If she does call under those pretenses, I would ask “Are you kidding me? Friends don’t act like that.” It can’t always be one-way. OR you could block her and avoid that altercation altogether unless she goes out of her way to find you which narcs rarely do.

      Bottom line…don’t settle. IN FACT, my thinking is that girlfriends shouldn’t hurt other girlfriends as a rule ANYWAY so when they do…when they act this way…you have all the more reason to pull away altogether and move toward your own happiness. Some things…relationships…just don’t work out no matter what sex we are or how hard one side tries. Down the road I believe you may be able to have a friendship but only if it works both ways. Right now, it would never do that.

      Good luck and let me know what happens…

      Zari xo

      • Thank you so much Zari, the comments on this issue have really given me solace. Especially your response and i wholeheartedly agree with you about the female female scenario where you’re expected to make nice. The truth is if it were a guy i would have walked in January. Yes i know the double standard. i actually saw her as a friend and after some time i started becoming her friend instead of seeing as behavior as something a lover was doing. I didn’t blow up her fun or push her because deep down the friendship took a priority in my heart instead of the relationship. Well i continued to go No CONTACT until one day something just didn’t click, i called her and she told me she was in a car accident that’s why i didn’t hear anything in 3 weeks and I didn’t contact her either in this 3weeks because i was mirroring her actions . I was shocked because there i was saving a friendship when she didn’t consider me friend enough to tell me she was in the hospital, her excuse was she didn’t want to worry me. Maybe she isn’t a narc but she definitely cared about herself. After the conversation i decided to end all communication. Although she’s reached out to make small talk recently and I’ve been polite andanswered accordingly. On my end i want to only be with someone with emotional maturity. I don’t want that kind of behavior around. From now on like you said I’m straightening my boundaries. Male or Female i won’t be letting anyone that can’t communicate their needs like adults into my life. I mean who goes silent for 2 months and string their partner along with ‘i love you’ BS. from now on the second i sense any communication lapse I’m done. Because I didn’t like the person i became in the last 3 months of that relationship. Once she ignored me i ignored her more. And i resented her for making me cold and heartless and even as she’s trying to warm her way back in I’ll never be able to see her as someone that won’t use passive aggressive behavior in the future to hurt me. I like to talk things over but once I’m treated with silence i do way worse than the person giving out the silence and i think it’s been like that because your articles empowered me. When it first happened i didn’t understand i came online did some research and your work in the issue made me stronger and made me not to devalue myself by chasing. I know it may be childish and mean but i gave as good or little as i got. She pulled away, i dissappeared off the earth. And it gave me time to get over the romantic aspect of the relationship. Now I’m more relaxed and when she reaches out i don’t ignore but on my end all i can do is friendship some day or maybe not. Either way I’m fine and empowered. I guess I’m writing you this to thank you for this new found empowerment in my gay relationships. Women can really string you along and you go along thinking you’re friends when you won’t take such BS from any man. We always preach equality, so we should be treated as such both in heterosexual and lesbian relationships. Thanks again and I’ve recommended this page to friends. Although mine might not be a narcissist, and actually have problems she’s facing but it’s not an excuse to stop using words. We all go through dark times and the people who love you or want to be in your life should never use their problems as an excuse to be mean. Even when you forgive and take them back this is who they are, it’s a pattern and it’s not going to change until you decide you want more. So why waste year’s with someone when you get to leave them down the line anywhere. No one is perfect but right now our emotional needs should come first instead of others. Thanks Zari

        P.S

        And they usually always come back it could take a week to months but they always come back especially when you ignore them back and don’t act towards them like a lost puppy . I know it sounds childish but ignoring them is the only way to preserve your self respect and usually when they come back they act all hurt and abandoned. You don’t have to be angry about it forever or bitter just let go and when they come back either you continue to ignore them or regard them with polite indifference. Please all remember no one has the power to continue to hurt you expect you keep letting them. Eventually relationships with emotionally immature people be it narcissist or individuals who can’t or refuse to express themselves with words when they’re going through rough patches always usually end. So why waste year’s with someone when you know the relationship is going to end anyway. You can save yourself a lot of trouble and emotional abuse. No one is that special to keep hurting your well being.

        • IMPORTANT POST ABOVE, EVERYONE:)

          Hi Karen,

          What an awesome post, girl! Thank you for writing and elaborating on what I was trying to say. LOL You explain it perfectly and with much grace. Sometimes it’s hard to tell someone that, although I don’t think the partner is a narc, it doesn’t give this person a pass for not treating you like you deserved to be treated. It’s a message for which I am often at a slight loss for words. Sometimes a person just isn’t the one…and that’s okay:)

          I appreciate your insight and I appreciate YOU, sister:)

          Zari xo

  7. Hiya

    Thank you so much for this post… I’m currently going through a break up with my ‘N’ I have only recently learned about what a narcissist is and have been doing some research over the last few months . My partner (ex) seems to have traits!! He does the silent treatment regularly and has also done it last year for 12 weeks of living in the same house and just not talking to me at all! We have been together on and off for 12 years. First part of the relationship we had 2 children, he split up with me when they were very young and he moved on. I eventually tried to move on too but I missed him so much. He is the love of my life! We got back together after 3 years and have been bk together the past 4 years and have had two more babies. Oldest baby is 2 and the other 1. He has recently split up with me again as I confronted him about his weekly overnight trips to London, telling him I felt as if he were going there for girls or something!!! I had been digging at him the past few weeks he had been staying over night there as even though he and his friend were partying, I think they were also possibly up to no good . He got so angry when I bought it up again last week and told me he has had enough, he wants his space and he doesn’t want to be with me anymore … He was so so angry!!! Even told me he hated me. We are still living together as he is looking for a new place. But everyday is a struggle as when I try talking just about the kids or something . He completely dismisses and ignores me! I have been acting like I am just not bothered which is an absolute first, and I don’t know if this has wound him up even more? But today out of the blue he marched down stairs demanding I take off my engagement ring. We hadnt had any interaction at all, all day. He come and took it off my finger telling me I don’t need it anymore. It was so painful to hear those words n have him take it from me.. But I just said ‘it was a memory for me’ I then went on and said I know he has moved on, and I just want him to be happy, even if it is not wirh me. I also said I hope he can be civil with me for our kids sakes. He didn’t reply at all! But then went on to delete his Instagram pictures that I am in, after I said that?? I just don’t understand this behaviour. He acts so Cold that I actually think he can’t be serious. Because how can someone lack so much empathy. He doesn’t care how much he hurts me and had never once apologised. But your post explains things a lot… It’s just so hard to think that he will never change if he indeed does suffer from narcissism.. He has always loved partying, he loves being spontaneous which can be hard wirh 4 kids, (not for him) but he never looks at things from my point of view or puts himself in my shoes…. We have a holiday booked on the 7th April, just me and him, he has told me to cancel it! He is definitely moving out as his had many viewings. I’m just distraught that he could throw away almost 13 years. Because the good times have been great n I have so many memories. I am only 28 and I was 16 when we first got together . He is now 33. When we came bk together after the 3 year split he was so much better than he was before and did treat me better. But he just seems to have reverted back to that person he was back then. Although the silence thing has always been a regular thing with him…… Any words of advice would be really appreciated. And if u have any thoughts on his behaviour I’d love to hear it.