The silent treatment, why does a narcissist use it? How it makes us feel, and what possibly caused them to use silent treatment in the first place.
The narcissist’s silent treatment is a very manipulative passive-aggressive mind game, and it causes us psychological pain.
There are a few types of the silent treatment.
- The one where you’re in your home with the children or out with friends and they will happily talk to everyone around you. Seeming lovely and happy yet they will not look at you, talk with you, or acknowledge your presence.
- The one where they ignore you for 10 minutes a few hrs. A day, a couple of days or a week.
- The one where they disappear and you just simply can not get hold of them.
Whichever they use and if they use all three, they all have the same effect on us. It is a passive-aggressive manipulation method for a narcissist to use for whatever reason they choose to do it, as the reaction from us is often the same.
What silent treatment does to us?
You might find yourself ruminating repeatedly asking yourself, what is wrong, you might try and reach out to them and ask them “ What is wrong? ” “ What happened. “have I done something to upset you?” This is all giving the narcissist the attention they believe they are entitled to.
The silent treatment can leave us feeling many things. Self-doubt, hurt, upset, confusion, Anxious, frustration, panic and even anger and resentment, therefore we might react to them and give them our attention, we might try to talk to them, we might call them, email, text, we might also get in touch with their family and friends, to find out where they are and if they are ok.
We might end up ruminating continually asking ourselves, what did I do? What happened? Was it me? Could I have done this? Why didn’t I do that? We can end up going over everything analysing everything we did, everything we said and everything that happened in the lead-up to the narcissist’s silent treatment. We over analyse everything we did, rather than question their childish behaviour. We question ourselves wondering if we’ve hurt or upset them in some way.
We are left looking for solutions as we have object constancy, meaning we still care for them if there is conflict, distance or disagreements, we want to communicate, come to a mutual understanding, we want to help them, make it up to them, many narcissists will use, ”my mother said if you can not say anything nice, say nothing at all.” which as there’s some truth to it, we accept it, however, it doesn’t mean fall completely silent and manipulate another, saying this is a form of triangulation for the narcissist to rationalise their somewhat irrational behaviour as they often lack object constancy as well as empathy, meaning if it’s not all about them, they don’t care for us. We live in the hope we can resolve the situation, and settle for those crumbs of the excuses they make as we are hoping that the situation will lift, so we can think straight as to what is happening, we can end up actually providing them with suggestions of what we may have done, we might keep apologising to them not knowing what it is we’re actually saying sorry for, hoping the painful silent treatment will end, trying to find any way we can to end the pain within our mind. Also, because of those times, the narcissist offers intermittent acts of being nice to us during the relationship, and we end up questioning and doubting ourselves more by thinking, What if this is it? What if it’s over? What will I do then? What did I do to cause this? Was it them? was it me? This can then cause us to panic, and our panic attacks can hit hard. We then pick up our efforts to get them back, as we’re left trapped in fear, fawning at their behaviour to avoid those painful silences.
Why does the narcissist use the silent treatment?
Most narcissists know the silent treatment gets them attention and their needs met, which drives them to do it all the more, seeing us so hurt, angry and confused. Us having the inability to see what’s happening gives the narcissist control, power and supply, helping with their beliefs that they are superior. They recognise this usually gives them further power and control over us. They know when we chase them for answers they can use this in their smear campaigns against us, by claiming that we are stalking them. As they show those around them our missed calls, as we reach out to their family and friends, they’ll be telling those it’s over and that we’re crazy or obsessed with them.
It’s harsh but, a narcissist is merely enjoying and taking great pleasure in playing with our feelings, we mean nothing to them. Not, in the same way, we think about others, we are just supply to them, and when we’re not supplying them with what they believe they are entitled to, they simply no longer care, they hold resentment and seek to cause us pain.
The narcissist enjoys the reactions they can get from you. They believe that they are superior to us, the more we react to them, the more in control of us they see themselves to be.
To a narcissist, we are simply an extension of themselves or an appliance, for them to pick up and put down when they need to, turn on and off when it suits their needs. We are just supply a convenience when required. They have complete disregard for our feelings, and their silent treatment is because we don’t matter to them, yet we try and do anything to stop and break the silence. While all the time they are breaking us.
By not recognising their silent treatment says more about who they are as a person and questioning ourselves as a person we lose our respect for ourselves, our boundaries, our self-beliefs, and our self-trust, and we slowly lose our identity. We are so caught up in trying to help them, trying to please them, trying to resolve the issue, trying to stop the silence, we fail to see the true meaning in the message they are giving us. They simply don’t care for us, not In the same ways we do them, as we wouldn’t want to hurt them, but because of how they play all their gaslighting mind games so well we don’t see it for what it is, the narcissist’s manipulation, we question ourselves.
They could merely be behaving like when they were children, who were told they couldn’t have that last piece of chocolate, sat sucking until the parent felt sorry for them and gave in, most children with empathy towards others will grow out of this. The narcissist sees this as a power trip and control they have over others to get their needs met, they love the attention and how they can use it to wrap people around their finger. They do not know as a child the lesson they have just learned and how they will go into using this when older to destroy others, keeping themselves at the top.
To realise what they are and why they do this, can help you to heal and move on from your self-doubt.
What can you do?
What you need to realise, see and believe is when the narcissist is doing this, it’s nothing you’ve done, just because you didn’t cut the sandwich right or add enough mayo, isn’t any reason to give the silent treatment, normal people that have emotions and empathy simply do not do this to people. Don’t react, don’t reach out, don’t beg, don’t plead, learn to enjoy their silence and see it for the game it, leave them to their silence if they want to be quiet that’s up to them, if you’re going to get on with your life that’s up to you, it is not your job to chase those who ignore you. Be careful, some narcissistic people will up their games when one’s not working, so it might be wise to see the game for what it is and play along. ( only if you can not go no contact.)
If you have children with them.
If your children have limited contact, it helps as the children don’t get too used to the other parent so when they don’t meet the other parents’ demands and get the silent treatment, it will not have such a significant effect on them. Also why it’s a great idea to have backup plans for your children if the other parent fails to show up on the day’s set. Keeping your children’s minds occupied with great fun activities and knowing they have one person, they can always count on. Knowing they let the children down to get a rise out of you, they want your reactions so they can use them against you.
The narcissist’s silent treatment.
Narcissists use your emotions against you.
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