No Contact vs. The Silent Treatment

no-contactThe difference between No Contact and a Silent Treatment is the intention of the outcome – and no one knows this better than a narcissistic partner.

About four years ago, out of the clear blue and smack dab in the middle of my narcissistic relationship nightmare, I got real strong and went No Contact on my ex before he had a chance to go silent on me. It was highly unusual behavior on my part and a shocker to both of us since it was he who typically called the communication shots. And I held on tight for quite a few weeks until his incessant pounding on my apartment door caused me to open it, letting the evil in once again for another round.

As some point before I gave in, I had even scribbled No Contact on the dry erase board that hung on the wall behind my desk as a reminder/affirmation, I suppose, of what I was supposed to be doing. And, for whatever reason, after I let the demon back in, I neglected to erase the reminder, deliberately and perhaps purposely opening myself up to ridicule and arguments as to my intention. For several weeks, there I sat and there he sat and there sat those words – No Contact – looming on the wall behind me like the elephant in the room and neither of us said a word.

Then, one day, I happened to turn around to write a date on the board and noticed that the N had made a change – albeit when I wasn’t looking – to my scribbled affirmation. With a black marker, he had drawn an angled line through the word No in No Contact and written Mo above it so that it now read Mo Contact (as in slang for MORE Contact, of course).  I have to admit, I thought it was pretty funny then and I think it’s pretty funny even now. I left that “correction” up on that dry erase board for months after and, again, it loomed behind me and we never said a word.

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How can the narcissist take No Contact seriously if his victim doesn’t? He can’t. To a narcissist, there’s absolutely no difference between a silent treatment and a little dose of no contact and, hell, he knows all about the dynamics of a silent treatment. Specifically, he knows that a silent treatment doesn’t last forever and, therefore, the same rule must apply to the No Contact Rule. This is how he thinks when we don’t show him differently…when we don’t mean what we say and say what we mean.

zari-ballard-consultMost narcissist victims, even as painful as it is, do understand that implementing No Contact is and always will be the only effective means to gaining back our sanity.  So, we spend a lot of time talking about it and trying to create new and better ways to maintain it so that we don’t do exactly what the narcissist thinks we’re going to do – give in. It’s all about the intention going in. When you make a decision to go No Contact, you have to first ask yourself “Am I going No Contact, or am I giving him the Silent Treatment?” because silent treatments, as we know, are temporary. A silent treatment – aside from being cruel and unusual and the narcissist’s favorite “punishment” – is intended to prove a point (oh… how well we know that!) or to teach a lesson or to buy time to be a cheating bastard or whatever. It’s nothing more than a dreadful narcissistic tactic intended to HURT.  The intention of No Contact should be nothing other than to END IT.  Sure, it would be nice if No Contact HURT the narcissist but this is doubtful. Narcissistic injury is not the same as the gut-wrenching feeling we get when we’re discarded. It’s not even close. Going NC actually gives us the last word – finally! NC, whether we know it or not, is the closure from the narcissist we’ve been looking for.

I was very guilty of this myself (as shown in my Mo Contact anecdote)…of not taking the No Contact Rule seriously…of not going into it with the appropriate intention. I’m certain that I went “no contact” more than once to get the narcissist’s attention. This is wrong. We can’t seriously implement No Contact yet still look at/allow texts, emails, Facebook contact, or continue to drive-by, etc. If the intention is really to END IT…to go No Contact…then all of that must stop. Numbers must be blocked or changed, emails deleted, Facebook accounts blocked or, better yet, deactivated. We can’t have it both ways.

The difference between No Contact and a Silent Treatment is the intention of the outcome.

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Now, I’m not saying any of this is easy because it certainly is not.  And I’m not saying that if you go No Contact and fall off the wagon that you can’t get up and instantly start over because you can (and you must). And I’m not saying that if you fall off the wagon, then your intention was disingenuous because that’s not necessarily true. I’d much rather that you intend to end it and mess up than go into the plan with the intention of playing the same old game with the narcissist – only in reverse. It’s a game we’ll never win.

Everything we do in life should be done with an intention. For anyone who believes (as I do) in Universal concepts such as the Law of Attraction, then you know what I’m talking about. The Universe knows your true intention and will give to you accordingly and the narcissist, believe it or not, is keenly aware of your true intentions as well. If you really want him to go away, go No Contact with the right intention and he eventually will [NOTE: the exception, of course, would be a co-parenting situation where complete NC is often impossible]. As long as we start with the right intention, even if mistakes are made, I believe we will eventually get what we really want (albeit not as quickly). When we enter NC with the intention for it to be temporary, the game continues, we remain the narcissist’s puppet, and time continues to be wasted.

It’s all up to you how you handle your suffering at the hands of the N and letting go of anything is never easy. It’s a complex situation that calls for us to be aware of our intentions (and boundaries) more than ever. Let’s be honest with ourselves and with each other no matter how hard or how painful it gets. And if we feel confused, there’s always someone on the team who understands. We are, after all, in this together.

Baby steps, everyone, and we can all hold hands.

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78 Comments

  • Sherrie

    February 11, 2017 at 1:08 pm Reply

    I am having real problems with this atm and I’m so glad I have found this page. Sometimes I feel like I am going crazy and that I am a weak person for putting up with this behaviour for so long but today I feel like I have had my lightbulb moment.

    I am currently in the middle of a ‘silent treatment’ phase because I caught him out on another pointless lie and last night I just thought ‘I’ve had enough’ and so I txt him and simply wrote ‘I’m done’.

    So, I haven’t heard from him since and even if he did call, I wouldn’t pick up.

    The one thing I’m struggling with is that he didn’t even acknowledge my txt. Usually I would get a bundle of I’m sorrys and that he thinks he has a problem but this time nothing. I cant get it straight in my head if that’s because he knows hes pushed me too far this time or that its all part of his power of me ??

    Thanks for listening

    • Zari Ballard

      February 13, 2017 at 6:14 pm Reply

      Hi Sherrie,

      You may already have your answer but my guess is that he ignored your text because he still needs time to do what he wants to do and he wants to be able to hoover you back when he’s ready. It’s another way to control the situation.

      Zari xo

  • j

    August 17, 2016 at 1:32 pm Reply

    I learned to love the silent treatment it was a nreak from his non stop babbling about how he had a degree in college (and that I didn’t) (he went to a trade school I took a photo of it as proof of the lie.) a stop from how easy it would be to dump my body in a mine pit, and other horrors and annoyances. Silence is golden.

    Im awaY from him seven years njiw but not free as we had a child. Never have a child Ns are evil and will use your children to trap you …

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