Narcissist’s Silent Treatment Can Be Really Damaging: How to Recognize It and Learn to Cope

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Do you know what’s worse than outward narcissistic abuse? The narcissist’s silent treatment can cause loads more damage, hands down.

Although there are many levels of narcissism, one thing is common in all forms. The narcissist’s silent treatment is present no matter how severe the narcissistic characteristics. For many of us, we find ways to resolve conflict or share things, but as for the narcissist’s silent treatment, it’s created to retain power, pure and simple.

Recognizing the narcissist’s silent treatment

Although the narcissist’s silent treatment can be subtle, there are ways to figure out what’s happening. When the narcissist feels like they are losing power, they will use the silent treatment to gain it back. So, these signs will show when and how the narcissist is utilizing this toxic treatment.

1. Silence

Well, the obvious indicator of the narcissist’s silent treatment is silence. A sudden silence from the one you love, especially if they already exhibit other narcissistic traits, is a sure sign that they are giving you the silent treatment. And how do you cope with this?

Well, in order to successfully cope with this type of behavior, you have to understand what they are doing and not let it get under your skin. Yes, it’s easier said than done, but when you learn to do it on the first occasion of the silent treatment, it will greatly reduce the number of times they use it in the future. While this isn’t a sure thing, it has helped me in the past.

2. Short statements

Right before the narcissist uses the silent treatment, they will usually resort to only short statements as answers to your questions. If you press harder, they will hold fast to this tactic.

This is only the beginning of the lengthy silent treatment, which can even go on for days at a time. When this happens, it’s better to stop asking questions, stop prodding them to talk, and just let them go through the motions of their actions.

3. Used to get their way

You will know the narcissist’s silent treatment for what it is if they use it every time you tell them “no”. A narcissist never likes to be denied anything that they want and will give you the silent treatment to send a clear message of dissatisfaction.

If you give in, they will start talking again, but it will tell them that their tactics worked. This is never a good thing because they will use the silent treatment, even more, to get their way in the future.

Although it’s hard to walk away when a narcissist is giving you the silent treatment, it can be the best thing to do in certain circumstances. When ignoring their ploys, you also send a clear message. You’re telling them that their actions will not work and they still will not get what they want.

4. Sudden isolation

The narcissist’s silent treatment will be noticeable by their desire to be left in isolation. The reason why isolation or seclusion is a big indicator of this type of treatment is that the noted person will usually be talkative and social at other times. A sudden desire to stay away from people will let you know that this person is practicing the silent treatment.

A way to combat this is to make sure you include them in social activities with others. Most of the time, the narcissist will not continue the silent treatment around others because they don’t wish for others to know the depth of their actions.

Unfortunately, some of this will continue after others have left. The good thing is, forced sociability at this time will lessen the intensity of their silent treatment and allow you to get through to them.

5. Lies and defamation

While the narcissist gives you the silent treatment, they will sprinkle lies. You will know what they are doing when you hear about lies being told to others about you. As the narcissist refuses to speak with you, they will be speaking plenty with your other friends and family. No, the narcissist is not just being quiet, they are scheming and planning your downfall, so beware.

When you start to hear lies from friends, or things start to happen that are targeted at hurting you, you can make sure to tell your family and friends that these are definitely lies and someone wishes to shed a negative light on you.

Other than that, you will have to let the lies fade away and hold firm. Eventually, the narcissist will see that their plans failed and they are losing more control. Yes, it will anger them, but you will know for yourself that you dealt with them in the right manner.

Damages and ways to deal with the silent treatment

Unfortunately, enduring people who consistently give you the silent treatment can cause damage to your mental and physical health. It’s true, the narcissist’s silent treatment does cause problems that cannot be easily fixed in the long run.

That’s why it’s so important if you wish to stay in contact with the narcissist, that you learn how to effectively deal with the problem or ignore it completely.

I was married to a narcissist, and for years I endure the silent treatment. I also endured outright abuse as well. Either way, my mental health plummeted over the years causing me to attempt suicide on two different occasions. The good thing is, I grew older, and with this age came a bit of endurance and wisdom. Eventually, there was enough wisdom to leave him, and I did.

Damages from the narcissist’s silent treatment can really be so bad that they leave horrible scars on you, both inside and out. It’s important to understand your worth and grow stronger. The only way you will see the truth is by being educated and knowing the signs. I hope this has helped.

References:

  1. https://www.goodtherapy.org
  2. https://pairedlife.com
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About the Author:

Sherrie is a freelance writer and artist with over 10 years of experience. She spends most of her time giving life to the renegade thoughts. As the words erupt and form new life, she knows that she is yet again free from the nagging persistence of her muse. She is a mother of three and a lifetime fan of the thought-provoking and questionable aspects of the universe.

4 Comments

  1. Susan M Erbe October 27, 2018 at 4:41 pm - Reply

    This article is exactly what my daughter needs to read and it may help her get out of her toxic relationship. Will be forwarding this to her.

    Thank you, her Mom

    • Sherrie November 1, 2018 at 7:17 pm - Reply

      Susan,

      Oh, I am so glad that this helps. Sometimes, all we need is to hear the truth. When I was married to a man who did this to me, I had no idea what narcissism was nor the manipulation tactics that were used. So, for years, I struggled with the same issues over and over. I even started going to therapists and requesting medication so I would stop confronting my ex-husband as much and just be a “good wife”. Because, every time I did confront him, this is what he would do – he would utilize the silent treatment as punishment.

      The truth is, many people use this just to get what they want. Sometimes a person can innocently forget something, and in response, their mate will use the silent treatment. It’s almost as if they are training you to be their slave. I don’t know if this is what your daughter experiences, nor do I know the severity of the situation, but I hope she can catch an epiphany from the things she reads. I wish you both the best.

      Sherrie

  2. CJ November 5, 2018 at 9:10 am - Reply

    My mother does this. She has severe personality disorder. My entire life has been hell due to her – however, I still unconditionally love her. I’m now in my mid-40s and have had to be close to home again due to my dad having cancer (I’m the only one of my siblings able and willing to help). My mother, a narcissist, is so needy of attention and control. If I were to speak out against her control or tell her that I’m in the middle of something when she’s looking for attention, I will get this silent treatment. If she somehow feels betrayed by me, it will last for days. I fear that when my dad finally passes, she won’t have the ability to respect my grieving. She’ll likely try to control that too. She will be utter hell at a time when I’m already going through utter hell.

    • Sherrie November 5, 2018 at 7:49 pm - Reply

      CJ,

      Just always remember, there is a reason why she is like this. Few people act the way they do because it’s fun to be malicious. Most of the time, people have been through horrific things in their lives where they feel betrayed, abused, neglected and so forth. Over time, these hurts harden into something horrific as well. It’s a pattern. If you carefully learn how to stand firm, and yet in a way that lets her know you love her, this can possibly pull away some of the layers she has created to protect herself.

      I do feel for you. It is difficult to help someone who uses narcissistic weapons to fight. YOu can actually see a wonderful soul deep underneath those tangled vines of neediness, depression, vindictiveness – yes, there is a person there that loves you. Unfortunately, getting through those vines is some of the hardest work you will ever do. It takes intellect and wisdom to find a way in. I send love to you and your family, in hopes that you can break through to her. Don’t give up. After all, she is your mother.

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