Check out the full episode: When a Narcissist Goes Silent
Dating a narcissist or worse yet being married to one is one of the most challenging and unfortunately heartbreaking experiences you'll ever encounter in your life. You just never know what toxic behavior you're going to be dealing with from one day to the next. Perhaps you're thinking this is the week you'll receive copious amounts of love bombing from your partner, which isn't always too bad because at least he's giving you some form of attention even if that attention is fake or forced; but, on the other hand you also realize that the love bombing you've been conditioned to look forward to is just the narcissist manipulative tactic to keep you in check while also maintaining control over the relationship, which I spoke about in my previous article The 8-Warning Signs of a Toxic Relationship. However, what about when a narcissist goes silent in the relationship AKA gives you the silent treatment for no apparent reason? Why does this happen and how do you deal with the silence.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, the playground of a narcissist exists within the minds of their targets. The silent treatment is a strategic, manipulative, psychological tool used by the narcissist to covertly persuade the target into believing that they've done something terribly wrong despite the target walking on eggshells whenever around the narcissist to avoid any altercations. The purpose of love bombing is to extract supply (emotional and material currency) from the target by way of financial support, sexual gratification, and adoration. Love bombing is used whenever the narcissist feels they are losing a grip over you and the relationship. Furthermore, Love bombing can be experienced from the narcissist through gift giving to the target for no apparent reason, receiving nauseating amounts of compliments, as well as overt, displays of attention. The end goal, however, is to be able to switch you on and off as they please and that is the sole purpose for why the narcissist goes silent without warning in the relationship which is to control your reactions and watch you scramble for more of their love bombing poison.
So, why do narcissist and other toxic personality types engage in giving their targets the silent treatment? Simple, because they enjoy watching you squirm uncomfortably while also trying in vain to figure out, yet again, why they've turned cold towards you, which in turn makes you jump through hoops attempting to fix a problem, that doesn't even exist. What narcissist don't want you to know is that their ego constantly needs a boost for them to feel confident and comfortable in their own skin and the only way they know how to do that is to resort to engaging in the silent treatment; hence why they feel that they must resort to emotional manipulation within the relationship to feel important, significant and in control because they don’t know how to communicate and express themselves in a healthy, non-confrontational manner.
When I was dating the covert narcissist, his silent treatment became so routine I looked forward to when they would happen because I felt a sense of release and peace not having to be around or worry about what he was up to during the periods of when he was giving me the silent treatment. But he knew that eventually I would get anxious and worried about where he was and what he was up to which he enjoyed because his goal of making me focus my energy solely on him was accomplished every time. However, I soon realized that once the silent treatment was over and I was back in the narcissist good graces the cycle of love bombing, devaluation and discard would happen all over again; this is what is known as Intermittent Reinforcement which I have spoken about in this article, Trauma Bonding with a Narcissist.
There are 6 manipulative reasons why the narcissist goes silent:
(1) To make you doubt where you stand in the relationship. Are you on shaky ground with the narcissist and if so, why? The point is to make you question everything about the relationship.
(2) Immediate gratification and instant ego boost knowing that they can emotionally switch you on and switch you off, which empowers them knowing that they have that influence over you.
(3) Putting you on pause using toxic silence gives them time to do other things on the side, like dating someone else while you're at home anxious and worried as to why the narcissist has stopped talking to you for no reason.
(4) To covertly devalue you and make you feel insignificant as if they have more important things to do with their time; essentially to make you feel like a burden.
(5) It's a twisted fun game for them. How many different reactions can they illicit from you if they stopped acknowledging your existence. Remember, the playground of any narcissist is in the minds of their target.
(6) Keep you enmeshed to them and their toxicity. If they can keep you in the cycle of love bombing it becomes easier for them to eventually devalue and discard you when the opportunity presents itself.
How you choose to react to the toxic silence of the narcissist is important
Any reaction towards the narcissist when they decide to go silent will only serve in boosting their fragile ego. When I started taking my own healing journey seriously after the breakup from the covert narcissist, I realized that the only way for me to take my power back was to STOP obsessing over the fact that he's decided not to talk to me anymore and to also acknowledge the fact that the relationship was highly toxic and emotionally destructive. Not an easy thing to do, but what I've learned on my healing journey is that you've got to expose it for what it is and label it in bold letters within your mind - YOUR RELATIONSHIP IS TOXIC. By doing this, it forced me to accept what I couldn't change about my toxic ex and the toxic relationship I was enmeshed within. I knew that the only person I could change was myself and from that moment of making the decision to stop putting the covert narcissist I was dating on a perpetual pedestal of god like status is when I began to reclaim my power and truly see the narcissist for who and what he was.
Next, I needed to enforce my no contact rule because the only way that I was going to heal and recover from this relationship was to sever all ties to my ex and start rebuilding my life one brick at a time. The no contact rule is somewhat of a controversial topic among targets and survivors of toxic relationships that are emotionally abusive because if you are not enforcing your no contact rule correctly you are destined to relapse and want to be with toxic ex again due to all of the conditioning and enmeshing you've endured while dating or being married to this person. Enforcing the no contact rule can be a confusing and often torturous time for targets of toxic relationships because you are basically deprogramming months and years of being emotionally manipulated and devalued within that relationship. Within my No Contact, No Joke! 5-Day Audi Course I speak about the importance of holistically preparing to enforce your no contact rule because if you are attempting to enforce your no contact rule haphazardly you will, unfortunately, most likely relapse, due the fact that you were not mentally, spiritually and emotionally prepared for the true commitment of what it actually means to go no contact.
6 reasons why you shouldn't react to the narcissist when they decide to employ the silent treatment
(1) Most likely if you are reacting to your ex's silent treatment you are most likely going to be coming from a place of anger, worry and doubt and this is exactly what they want from you, for you to bow down at their feet and succumb to their toxic silence. By doing this you are giving away your power and your respect.
(2) By negatively reacting to your ex's silent treatment you are showing them what you are willing to tolerate within that relationship, which in turn sets the standard for future mistreatment and other forms of emotional abuse to occur. If you are unwilling to address the silent treatment from a non emotional, logical point of view your ex will continue to resort to utilizing toxic silence to get under your skin and into your head whenever they choose.
(3) Narcissist and other toxic personality types absolutely hate being ignored. When you negatively react to your ex's toxic silence you are reinforcing to them just how significant and important they are to you. What I've learned on my own healing and recovery journey after dating a covert narcissist is that you have to starve them of the attention they are accustomed to receiving from you and the only way to that is to correctly enforce your no contact rule.
(4) If you don't impose consequences for how they have treated they will always attempt to push you as far as they can until you finally explode and when that happens that is the ultimate supply source, which I spoke about at the beginning of this article, that they crave and need from you for them to feel validated and important.
(5) When you react to your ex's toxic silence you are giving them valuable space in your mind that takes away from your ability to think autonomously and without fear, this is what is also known as mental terrorism. As I stated before, the playground of narcissist and other passive-aggressive toxic personality types is in the minds of their chosen targets.
(6) You are making them the master over your life through their ability to constantly corner you and make you squirm for their attention by simply switching you on or off by employing the manipulative tactic of toxic silence.
What you must understand about when the narcissist goes silent...
Is that this manipulative tactic is just the primer, the beginning for more sinister, emotionally abusive mistreatment to unfold within this toxic relationship. Narcissist and other toxic, passive-aggressive personality types will test your tolerance levels to see just how far they can push you to the edge and when they've got you at the edge of a mental and emotional breakdown they will eventually push you off the cliff as one last discard before moving onto their next big conquest for new supply and energy; and if this hasn't happened as yet, please recognize that you've probably been so conditioned by the narcissist to accept their emotional destruction of your inner self that you don't even realize that the discard has already happened and that you've already been pushed off the cliff. Unfortunately, what you fail to realize is that you're, however, still holding on to the edge of hope that some day things will eventually change - get out while you can.
I hope you enjoyed this week's article and have gained some valuable information to help you move forward with confidence! As a Breakup and Wellness Coach, my work in this world is dedicated to supporting and helping women such as yourself to HEAL, RECLAIM and TRANSFORM your life after leaving a toxic relationship. Do reach out if you would like to discuss how I can support you on your journey of recovery, healing, and transformation.
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