The Silent Treatment – Any Time is a Good Time

silent-treatmentFrom  the first silent treatment, the narcissist gets the amazing results he had hoped for – the immense suffering of his partner at his own still voice. To the narcissist, this result is out-of-this-world amazing. The N gets to maintain total control by saying and doing absolutely nothing. This emotional abandonment is the perfect way for the narcissist to manage down our expectations of what we’ll accept to eventually take him back. And what a perfect narcissistic tactic is is! Think about it – the N doesn’t have to do a thing…I mean, literally, he does and says nothing and he has us running around in circles trying to make it all better.

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Now, the effects on us, his or her partner, is, as we know, devastating. When my ex-narcissist pulled a silent treatment the first time, I was dumbfounded. It lasted six weeks and I was simply beside myself. I banged on the door, left letters and notes, voicemails – you name it – but he wouldn’t give. It was horrible. I had never experienced anything like it ever from anybody and I had never even thought about doing it to someone myself. The anxiety and the absolute sadness that I felt at the discard was incredible and not one that anyone at any time should ever have to experience – especially after doing nothing wrong which is par for the course when one partner is a narcissist.


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Yes, to a narcissist, anytime is a good time for a silent treatment. As the narcissist’s partner, this fact becomes all too clear so we are always anxious waiting for the axe to fall. This, too, is part of the pathological relationship agenda of the narcissist, sociopath, and psychopath. The silence could come at any time. in my case, from that first one forward, whenever the N did decide he needed to go silent to assert control, the silence would last exactly six weeks or just slightly longer. Then, he would come hoovering back as if nothing happened. And, of course, his appearance was such a relief to me that I basically let it go. Thirteen years later, however, when it was becoming increasingly clear that, upon his return, I was less and less forgiving, he decided that the game just wasn’t fun any more and never returned. But it took thirteen years. Up until that point, he was just having the time of his life watching me suffer from behind his iron curtain.

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

As I work on this website, I study the analytics that tell me what search terms visitors use most often to find my information. Without fail, every day, the most searched term or phrases include the words “silent treatment” (hence, my reason for writing another post on the topic). My findings sadden me greatly because it tells me just how rampant narcissistic abuse is running right now. While it would be easy for me give the “well, why don’t you just leave” advice, I know how it is. In my book, When Love Is a Lie, I share a little process for changing that I really feel can help. It’s not a magic solution by any means but it will give you the push you need to look at your situation without the same overwhelming anxiety.

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The bottom line is that the silent treatment sends an awful message to the recipient. It sends a message that we are pieces of garbage…that we aren’t worth the narcissist’s time of day no matter how much we love him or her. The Narcissist Puppeteer, with his silence, is creating your reality. You have to, at some point, ask yourself why anyone who would do that to you…who would enjoy knowing the very fact that you are suffering…is ever worth your time of day in this lifetime.

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  1. Hi Zari, and thank you for the encouraging words. I understand that I have issues, and I truly hope that I can find out what triggers this type of behavior in me. What I have so far determined is that I have trauma from childhood buried deep inside and when I am confronted with certain stressors, my first reaction is ‘flight’. Through help gotten from conversations with the person who placed the original post and with a very good counselor I can now look back at this and other past events and recognize where I have done this and hurt others as a result. What I need help with now is recognizing these stressors (and my poor, damaging reactions) as they are happening and then cooling off -maybe something as simple as taking a deep breath or counting to ten – and then reacting as a mature, responsible, considerate adult should react. I am sorry that I have hurt this person and I would like to work on myself so that I do not hurt anyone else in any of my current or future relationships, whether it’s my children or other family members, coworkers or anyone else.

    • Hi Wattson,

      I’m very grateful for your willingness to change and I have much hope for you. Be careful not to label yourself or to allow others to label you. As I said, I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt here based on what you’ve shared. While I don’t necessarily believe you’re a full-blown narc (for the simple reason that you feel so bad about what you’ve done), I do think that there are obvious issues. We simply can’t go around hurting the people that love us. All you can do is try to the the core of the problem and try harder to do better next time.

      Thanks for checking back…Good luck to you…


  2. Over the last two days I have read many of the articles on your site. This morning I was convinced my ex was a narcopath. Tonight I think I was mistaken in a way. I guess that’s the very proof I am not, this whole ball of confusion.
    I happened upon your site on Sunday. A friend who had been a friend of my N came to see me for my birthday. She just popped in for a coffee. We hadn’t seen each for since our first meeting over a year ago but stayed in touch via Facebook. We had never discussed my N very much. He had requested privacy of our relationship until his divorce settlement had been settled and to protect his kids. He had told me this friend had propositioned him but he rejected her telling her about me and our relationship. The conversation with the friend showed him to be the liar I hadn’t previously thought he was. She told me that he used to text her late at night, even at 1am. While not being totally outright with his intentions she said the undertone was clear. When he spoke about my dogs he referred to me as a friend, never his partner. She didn’t even know if the dogs’ owner was male or female. He told me he was helping her with her final paper for her doctorate, she told me he volunteered to read it for her. She thought that it was totally strange (as did I) that after a 2 year relationship I hadn’t met his family or any of his other friends. That we hadn’t spent over the entire Christmas period, that he completely abandoned me on New Year’s Eve, not telling me until the day before that I wouldn’t be joining him and his family for their celebrations, thereby not enabling me to even make other plans as it was too late. On New Year’s Eve, I waited for the text to wish my happy new year. It was the last to arrive and was as cold as one which is sent to everyone in your phone book and it arrived at 9.30 on New Year’s morning. By this time, I was angry. When I text him to ask him if he had enjoyed his time and he replied in the positive I didn’t hold back letting him know that I wasn’t best pleased. “I’ve not been a very good partner” he replied. “You’ve not been a very good friend,” said I. With that, he discarded me. Told me we obviously weren’t happy and that it was time to stop.
    Going back to the present, to Sunday, I had recounted this to my friend. She had told me that she hadn’t heard from him in ages. I worked out it was probably around the time she and I became friends on Facebook and a little while after that he deleted his “open” Facebook account the one we were all connected on, but still had one on which his family were connected. As this friend left on Sunday I was very upset. I thought about his own admissions of compartmentalising his life and circles and decided to look it up. As I walked back to the house, my concentration awry and brimming with tears, I missed the last step and duffed up my ankle! I didn’t get to Google compartmentalisation until later that night when I was back from hospital and that’s what brought me here.
    So I expect from what you’ve read already you are screaming at me for being an idiot if I could possibly think for one minute this man is not a narcopath.
    My research even found that his best buddy in the US (he lives half the time in the US and half here, in the UK) of whom I had a bad feeling throughout the relationship but I believed him when he said they were just friends, lives at the same address as him. I believed him when he said on his return to the US after we first met and had a fabulous date, that he had told all his friends about me and how excited he was about it. This best buddy got very upset and left the table in tears while his other buddy (no.2) slapped him for being so insensitive. This same best buddy I found out shortly after our split was included on the family only Facebook page – I’d been stalking him after a spell of the silent treatment thinking maybe he was dead as he said he would call me on a specific day and two weeks had passed. When he did reappear he told me to let it go.
    There are so many times he said he phone or text and didn’t. These silent treatments didn’t feel like punishments were they just because he was living his double life with someone(s) else? When we split we said we’d be friends and stay in touch and then he did the silent treatment on me. That’s when I stalked him and found out more than I bargained for and he was angry, ignored me and while I begged him to talk to me told me it was over, that he was the happiest he had been for years and I should move on. It was quite clear that the initial break up he needed for sorting his sh*t out had turned into a very final f*ck off to me. He blocked me from even seeing that private Facebook page, he deleted all his tripadvisor reviews where I had found out he had been to a restaurant in a group and his PARTNER had bad service. I have never been to that restaurant in Washington DC. He owed me money which I continued to chase until I got it and there has been no contact since April. Every day has been a struggle for me. On Saturday it was my birthday and I could no longer resist the urge to call him. I dialled his UK number and it told me the number didn’t exist. It was too early in the morning to call his US number so I didn’t bother.
    We split on 1st January. Despite us never having a bad word, no arguments, no name calling he had made it very final. The silent treatment was never due to an argument. He just became unavailable for days, not weeks at a time. He never answered the phone when I called him. He always called me. Infuriating if you need someone in an emergency. Most of our relationship when not face to face was text. Yes, his phone was ALWAYS on silent but it didn’t ever seem that he hid his phone from me. Yes, it used to buzz all night long but so does mine with emails coming in. When we were together it seemed we were together, he didn’t respond to messages, other than his kids and then only in emergency and often by my side so if I wanted to look I could have seen, on my shift. He immersed himself in me and gave me 100%. The only reason I think that perhaps he doesn’t fit the bill is because he hasn’t tried to come back to me. Nearly 6 months have passed and it certainly feels as if I will never see him again. A week ago that depressed me and scared me. Today having read so much here and across the spectrum of articles, I am depressed and scared that maybe he will.
    I have tried to make contact with his ex-wife in the UK and the “best buddy he just so happens to be living with in the US. I don’t know why, I don’t know if it’s to warn them or to confirm what I feel I already know.
    Finally is it possible for a Narcopath to suffer depression. He was on anti-depressants 20mg of Citalapram until a couple months before we split. I don’t see how you can be a narcissist and depressed. Again, I have recently wondered if the reason he discarded me was due to this and that he would find it harder to maintain his cool, unmovable, always pleased to see me facade without the drugs.
    Unfortunately his treatment of me has ensure I have stayed firmly on my prescription of citalapram for the last two years which at times I thought were the best times of my life but in times of suffering the silent treatments and the bad gut feelings – the worst times of my life.

  3. I am the narcissistic husband in the original post. I was not aware how hurtful my behavior was in this instance. I had spent a lot of money and time preparing for what I had hoped would be a relaxing vacation, but I perceived my wife’s actions to be a disapproval of me and those efforts, and my first instinct was to run away. I too was hungry and had undergone an emergency root canal the day before. I do not mean for that to be an excuse for my poor choices. I am working on trying to recognize the things that trigger my emotions in real time so that I can avoid repeating this in the future. I cannot apologize to my partner enough for the damage I’ve done.

    • Hi Wattson,

      Thank you for writing and I’m curious to know how you happened to find her post about the cruise. LOL I’d also like to know if you’ve apologized to her in person…I hope so. You know, since you’ve written, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the fact that you feel any type of remorse and guilt (if it’s real) leans toward the possibility that perhaps you are less of a narcissist and more a guy who makes some very bad mistakes. Only your wife would truly know the answer to that. All I know is that her post struck a chord with me because I know that horrible feeling well of chasing after someone I loved…of being ignored for no reason or at least no GOOD reason…and it doesn’t feel good. In fact, it’s the worst feeling in the world…it’s so hurtful I can’t even describe it. Narcissists do it all the time but they simply don’t care. They, in fact, like it when we chase and beg and look anxious and pitiful. I hope you are truly sorry and, if so, there is hope for you.

      As I try to explain to people, although there’s a very fine line between a person (man or woman) who’s just a jerk and a person who’s a narcissist, the fact is that the line is there. In other words, every narcissist is a jerk but not every jerk is a narcissist. I can’t give you a pass based on one post but my hope is that you actually feel remorseful and will not do that again. Nobody expects perfection from another person in this life but there are things that are just too hurtful to ever be acceptable.

      I hope you’ve done the right thing…..


  4. The Cruise

    A man and woman are newly married and venture off to their honeymoon cruise. The husband had been on a cruise before so the wife is thankful to have someone with experience to “show her the ropes” and a good time. Husband had made all of the plans so wife was so thankful for this gift. The wife has long dreamed of taking a cruise by researching online. She had seen beautiful images of nicely appointed rooms with queen sized beds and sliding glass doors leading to a small balcony. The rooms seemed very much like those in a 4 star hotel in which she has had the luxury of experiencing a few times in her life. She had also seen the movie Titanic a number of times but was unaware that any thoughts of that movie were anywhere in her subconscious. She harbored only happy thoughts of new love, basking in the Mexican sun and having a great time with her husband.
    The couple has to drive a long way to get to the cruise ship port. When they are finally in the parking structure and on their way, they both seemed happy and loving. Ahhh new love! Once in the doors to the cruise terminal they wait patiently through the long and winding line that feels like an extended version of a Disney ride line. There is no food or drinks here except what is in the junk food machine so the wife drinks a bottle of water during the hour and a half wait. It has now been hours since breakfast. “No big deal,” she thinks to herself there will be all the food and beverages –“ to my heart’s desire”- as the wife was under the impression that a cruise was “all inclusive” like the honeymoon resort where her sister and brother in-law had honeymooned.
    Once finally on the ship the husband and wife descended numerous flights of stairs, further and further, down into the belly of the ship. Possibly 3-4 decks below they walk and by the time husband and wife arrived at their cabin the wife is tired, hungry, thirsty and feeling a little Closter phobic and possibly fearful, though she did not know this at the time. The fear was hidden from her conscious mind but she did feel out of sorts due to the discomfort of hunger and thirst. When husband opened the cabin door and the wife walked in she was disappointed that there were two twin beds and only a porthole as a window. The room was very small and the wife said, “what, I think we have the wrong room, that’s two twin beds!” The wife was ready to go talk to someone about the mix-up when she reached for the liter bottle of water on the dressing table. “Wait, that will probably cost ten bucks,” the husband says sarcastically, just before the wife twists off the top. “Oh, she says a bit sheepishly,” and puts it back on the dresser. Confused not only by the possible cost but also the kind of shocked feeling by the way husband had scolded her about the water. It is then that the cruise veteran husband explained how the card key worked as a kind of “tab” for anything not eaten or drank from the dining rooms on the ship especially bottled water and alcoholic beverages. They would pay the tab at the end of the cruise. As the husband is showing her that the twin beds slide together to form a queen bed, “see, no problem,” the wife complains that she is hungry and thirsty.
    At this time the husband turns on his heels, exits the room with no further explanation, door closing behind him. The wife is a bit confused and starts to follow him. He is already a ways down the hallway when she closes the cabin door behind her and checks that she has a room key. By the time she thinks that something must REALLY be wrong here she almost runs to catch up to him. Husband climbs all of those switchback stairs, up and up he goes with the wife trailing behind begging him to acknowledge her. “What is wrong, what is happening here,” she says, “talk to me please, I don’t understand. Please just stop walking and talk to me.” On and on it goes. Up to the very top deck that circles the back half of the ship. The wind is blowing and people are standing at the railings looking out at the world. To everyone else, life was going on as normal as they were setting off on a voyage. A wattson They seemed happy and excited. The wife did not care or even think that others would see her and hear her desperate pleas for her husband’s response. The ship is not yet underway, but it would be soon. The wife is confused and scared. The husband continues to ignore her pleas for connection and explanation.
    Once down the staircase on the other side of the top deck the husband finds a fast food area with hotdogs and chicken strips, budinger He grabs a tray and gets some food. There is still no verbal response from husband. The wife follows him and eats something that she is allergic to as that is all there is until the dining rooms open a few hours later. There was still no connection. Husband appears angry and aloof. The wife is hurt and confused. All that is offered is small talk about the food. No apology, no explanation, not even an acknowledgment that what had just happened was even real. Wife was lost in anxiety and discomfort about what had just transpired. Husband seemed completely unaware. Later that night as the small talk transitioned to self-conscious conversation the incident seemed “all but forgotten.” Wife wondered if it had even happened at all.

    • Hi Budinger Cats…..ahhhhh….this is a cruise that thousands have been on with the very same new husband. It’s a sad story that puts anxiety in my stomach just reading it. A book could be written on narcissism from a diary of the days on that cruise trip alone, right? In fact, take out “the cruise” as the location and add any place at all…another vacation venue, a holiday, the wedding itself, you name it…..the same behaviors repeat everywhere.
      Yikes! Thanks for sharing…..

      Zari xo

  5. Also I find out by one of her friends that she got back with her ex. I treated her great. But I have never had an answer of what I was doing wrong. When I told her she was be condescending and mean to me. She told me she doesn’t recall doing that. I was shocked. How someone who told me she loved me. Would just give me the silent treatment. Her boyfriend text me one day saying why contact her she has forgotten about me. That destroyed me when he texted me that. I was so hurt. I admit I saw the red flags but I ignored them. That’s my fault for that. I do admit it will be sometime before I date again. I feel that I can’t trust a female again after that. I am sad to say.

  6. Hello, my ex girlfriend is giving me the silent treatment. She left me for someone else. Her ex of 20 years on an on relationship. She has most of the things narcissistic personality has. I was treated better then ever at first. She love bombed me I was so shocked at first. She took me on a trip which I didn’t want to at the time. But as soon as I moved in she was a different person. Seem to enjoy tearing me down. I was walking on eggshells. I am so hurt she did this to me. I love her still even though she lied to me. I tried to contact her but I don’t get a response. Never been treated so bad in my life. But I have a feeling she will be back. Don’t know why but I do. My friends family tell me she wont. But I know she will. I’m working on me now. Got myself back together. Moving on but she is always on my mind. I want her false self back. But I know she will verbally abuse me again.

  7. I think I may be involved with a Narc. He came on strong and pursued me,months later said he loved me, we had a future. Then he got weird. He travels a lot for work and he stopped contacting me as much. I figured it was because of work, but I’m suspicious there’s a harem and he can’t juggle multiple women. When I brought it up, he exploded at me and gave me the silent treatment for a week. Just when I had recovered, he came back. I put my doubts aside and was kind to him. That was nearly 2 weeks ago and he’s ignoring me again with no explanation. I’ve never been this depressed in my life and I feel so stupid for falling for him.

  8. ive had no contact for over 2 months and no hoovering on her part than i started getting calls on my phone come up private number which is odd because i never get them, 5 in the span of an hour on one day, they would stop for a week and than i would get them again is this a tactic from my narc to break my no contact or am i just being paranoid

  9. Thank you so much for your books and articles. They have helped me immensely while I have been in the midst of dealing with my ex N boyfriend who I have known for almost a year. We dated for a few months but broke up for good about 4 months ago. However, he continued to Hoover and then pull the silent treatment. Whenever things seemed to get better between us POOF he disappeared. To make matters worse he is an alcoholic so he blames everything he does on his addiction. After the last “no response” to a random innocent text I sent him I told him not to contact me again. I felt so ridiculous getting caught up in his games when I knew better. Please continue to post as your advice is very encouraging. Another thing I
    have found helpful is to contact a close friend( who knows the situation) whenever I feel like texting him. They always set me straight!

    • Hi Lynn,

      Happy New Year to you and thank you for commenting at my website and for reading my books. The best thing that we can all do right now is accept that 2015 is our clean slate to start over and get to it! Like you describe, it’s easy to get caught up in the games that narcissist’s play even when we know better. Understand that these creatures are very good at what they do or they wouldn’t be who they are. IT IS ALL THAT DO. Mine, too, was an “addict” and blamed everything on that when it came down to it. What he forgot about was all the times that he was sober and treated me the exact same way. Assholes all of them!

      Stay strong, sister, and please do come by often to share and update!

      Zari xo