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 …

  • Nancy Willis

    May 30, 2016 at 8:05 am Reply

    Grand question of the morning! This has been bothering me for weeks. Has anyone ever noticed a male who has gone into a rage, Full blown, flat out, scary, narcissistic rage, have a change in affect to a feminine quality? Not extreme, but noticeable? not only voice but gestures/mannerisms? While I am not an advocate of breaking all the good stuff in the house but when you snap and go into a rage from narcissistic injury, it would seem that it’s fullbore, flat out, get thee behind me Satan…. Thank you!

    • Zari Ballard

      May 30, 2016 at 8:14 pm Reply

      Hi Nancy,

      No, but mine liked to pretend I was another dude. He once put me in a headlock because he mistakenly thought I was looking at his cell phone (I was looking at MY cell phone) and another time he got so mad that he started bouncing around in front of me jabbing the air like he was fucking Rocky Balboa going into Round 3. I just stood there looking at him and then calmly walked out, leaving him there bobbing and weaving.

      I’m sure SOMEONE here has seen their narc do the effeminate thing. Sounds hilarious to me!

      Zari xo

  • Nancy

    May 10, 2016 at 11:59 pm Reply

    With each passing day I envision the moment I tell him that from that moment on we’re, he is – no more. A 22 year relationship. 18 married, The depths of hell would be a club med vacation after the last six or seven years – my sense of time sucks out loud so let’s just say it’s been a long time. Determined not to let all that time go to waste – I have to admit I have learned a lot. I’m a spineless pussy and afraid to speak up. Oh wait! that was yesterday!! I’m not a spineless pussy anymore. I am a force to be reckoned with. Damn this is Fun! He dumped me for some young chick, he is 65 years old, he found some young girl on craigslist that he could work his charm on (and trust that he can be a magnificently charming !) his love bombing on, he essentially re-created a person, re-created himself once again and even gave himself a different name – the same name he had with a girlfriend he had 30 years ago! hey thank you Jesus or Craigie, whoever, whatever your name is, because I felt about ready to drive into a bridge abutment at about 110. Not really – but foolish thoughts like that crossed my mind.. that’s just not good. He lies to her about me to create a story lines and situations where he can pull her further into his trust and she can take him into her deepest confidences, he creates drama bombs all over the place – lol, I was trying to say trauma bonds, and AutoCorrect turned it into “drama bombs”, but damn, he does that as well!!! Maybe AutoCorrect is on to something!!!! I sure wasn’t expecting this Load of shite, and I’ve tried my level best to make lemonade out of it and meatloaf and Château Briand, but I just have to let the calendar pages turn, let this time go by and truly understand that it will all settle down, for chrissakes I’m 60 years old, lol! File this under shit you thought would never happen – hey, I fell madly in love with and I married a covert malignant narcissist psychopath, Whose sadistic streak is long and wide, well holy shit, you’re not going to find that on a Hallmark card anytime soon…. Presently I have two broken arms, you should see the little smile on his face!! Happy as a pig in shit! so yes, the day, the moment I get to tell him – after this moment, after today there will be no phone calls no emails no presents, no happy birthdays, no happy Mother’s Days (oh my God) it will be as though we drove to the cemetery and lowered your casket into the ground.
    It is a blessing to find these sites where people read one another’s stories and understand that they are not alone, that they have not been singled out. It hurts. It stings almost as bad as a white face wasp. Nothing hurts as much as A white faced wasp, not even a broken heart. Let’s keep our heads up, that way we won’t miss anything.

    • Zari Ballard

      May 14, 2016 at 2:33 am Reply

      Nancy wrote…It hurts. It stings almost as bad as a white face wasp. Nothing hurts as much as A white faced wasp, not even a broken heart. Let’s keep our heads up, that way we won’t miss anything. Let’s do that!

      Hi Nancy,

      Thank you for sharing here and I appreciate you:) I pray that you break completely free…so free that you can fly. But first…two broken arms? Do tell how that happened, girl. How do you break just your arms? I want to know and I will be waiting to hear back with worry:(

      Zari xo

      • Nancy Willis

        May 30, 2016 at 7:55 am Reply

        Hello Zari ~
        Those two pesky broken arms! Both of my casts are off, replaced by these lovely black braces with metal sleeves. Think: goth meets rehab, we’re styling ‘! I was just giving a few swift kicks to negative thoughts this morning and about to be more mindful about approaching tasks and finishing them and I found that I had not answered your question about how in the name of God do I end up with two busted limbs. You do realize I have to climb back into the pit of hell and actually remember things about him to do this – but what the heck, I’ll do it in a reasonable amount of time because you know — those of us trying to heal need to take their finger off of the stove and keep it off. Grrr
        Almost 90 days from my first fracture, and I just realized something. Maybe breaking my left arm helped my distressed brain for those first two weeks and beyond. Why? Here goes.
        After a long day in the emergency room the orthopedic doctor asked me when I had eaten last. Might he wish to run to the cafeteria and grab me a good warm snack? Probably not. He told me that if they decided to do surgery they need to know if I had eaten and also could they call my husband. Hmmm. Informed said Dr. that I will be deciding if we do surgery tonight and you cannot call my husband because he is on a plane to South America with his married girlfriend that he got off of craigslist. Having worked in psychiatric nursing for many years I knew immediately–as soon as the words were out of my mouth, that it sounded a lot like the kind of stories we’ve heard: you can’t make this stuff up. Welcome to my world.
        But I broke it the good old fashioned way, and believe me, what a mood breaker that is!! I was actually moving my husband’s clothing and a bureau on the second floor the house out to the garage. My mood however was bright, I had not just spray-painted GTFO onto the bureau, I actually had music on (very unusual for me) I was singing! George Thorogood – it’s fun to change the lyrics from “I drink alone” to “I live alone”. During my somewhat hypomanic, goal oriented moment, moving like a whirling dervish, came waltzing around the corner of a worktable and then it was lights out, but for a second. Perhaps it was the full body slam against the cement floor and striking other parts harder than the forehead allowed me to regain consciousness quickly.
        Funny – there is within a matter of minutes a whole body response to fractured bones. Your mind may move ahead very quickly, you will assess, have it iced, splinted and elevated above the heart before your blood pressure takes a dive, your face cool, clammy – you quickly assess your surroundings and realizing while sitting in the chair that you may go headfirst on the floor – because you’re going down sister. You can still see the kitchen, better not waste any time, you’ve about five seconds to make it about 8 feet to lay down on that kitchen floor and raise your legs up against the cabinets and get your blood pressure back up to where it needs to be. You were in “get it done mode” before you even broke your arm now you’re in “really get it done right now” automatic mode.
        I need to get to the hospital. Where’s Husband when you need one? Oh yeah that’s right. Check the neighbors yards, who’s home? Part of your brain begins to recognize that this is too much at once, emergency room takes precedent and you push that feeling of being overwhelmed to the side. and don’t drop that left arm, OK?
        Two bones fractured and immediately we have a whole body response that makes us stop and address the problem. Our psyche gets screwed with for years on end and we get up and go about our business. We would do well to respond to emotional abuse the way we respond to a couple of broken bones! We could just say to stop the show, nobody’s going anywhere until this shit is taken care of! Aargh! Yeah those were 2×4’s I tripped over; a blessing that I have so many expletives in my repertoire.
        Three weeks later…. Let’s remember folks, I live alone (why I was just singing that, wasn’t I?!) and still need to get bags of pellets downstairs to the pellet stove and keep the fire going. So why don’t I just reach forward with my good arm and scoop up these stray pellets in the corner and … Glass flying, headlong into the floor I go, what the Christ was that? I still don’t know. But if I thought I sounded like a psych patient when I told the doctor where my husband was three weeks earlier…. I really sounded like I lost it when, in seconds, I saw that my right arm was broken and yelled, “this isn’t real!!” and that was the easy part. There were two incidences of abuse that day but I cannot presently address them, regarding a sadistic narcissistic pathological liar – he left no stone unturned. I will write it later as it truly puts forth with glaring clarity, the horrid thought processes and The lengths a person will go with their cluster B, for fun and pain, the other for fun and for gain.
        Look at the bright side, I know how to open up 2 L bottle of soda with a hacksaw!!

        • Zari Ballard

          May 30, 2016 at 8:22 pm Reply

          Nancy wrote…Two bones fractured and immediately we have a whole body response that makes us stop and address the problem. Our psyche gets screwed with for years on end and we get up and go about our business. We would do well to respond to emotional abuse the way we respond to a couple of broken bones! We could just say to stop the show, nobody’s going anywhere until this shit is taken care of!

          Thank you for explaining about the two broken arms! Good God girl! I too would have yelled “This isn’t real!”. I’m sure you would have slapped yourself to try and wake yourself up if you could have!!! The chances of having two broken arms in anything other than a horrific car crash or a free fall roll off a mountain cliff is LESS than slim and none, you do know that. LOL You need to write a book…you’re descriptive prose puts the reader right in it:)

          Zari xo

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