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.

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. 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

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  6. 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