It takes courage and determination to ignore a manipulator. If you ignore a manipulator, what happens now? Will they choose another victim or start harassing you?

Manipulators want to control. They use tactics designed to undermine your confidence and self-esteem, making it harder to break away from them. So, what happens when you ignore a manipulator? Here are eight things manipulators try to regain control.

What happens when you ignore a manipulator?

Control underpins everything a manipulator does. If you ignore them, they have temporarily lost control. There are several ways they can get it back. They can control what others think of you, how you behave, how people perceive a situation you’re involved in. Even your financial status.

Let’s look at how manipulators act when you ignore them.

1. They start a smear campaign against you

If a manipulator can’t control you, they’ll exert their influence on people that know you. Manipulators are prolific liars. They are not ashamed about spreading untrue rumors or badmouthing you. This creates distance between you and your support network.

Once you are isolated, they can regain control once again. Manipulators also like to denigrate your friends and family members. They might say a certain person is a bad influence on you and you should cut them from your life.

2. They guilt-trip you into contacting them

Typically, what happens when you ignore a manipulator is that they escalate their behavior.

Guilt-tripping is on page one of the manipulator’s playbook. It’s a way of gaslighting you to believe you have done something wrong. One tactic is to remind you of everything they’ve done for you. How they tolerated you when no one else would.

Or they might blame you for their circumstances; saying they’d be better off if they hadn’t met you and now you owe them something. It’s your fault they are in the mess they’re in.

3. They create an emergency

what happens when you ignore a manipulator

If guilt-tripping doesn’t work, the next stage is coming up with an emergency you cannot ignore. Narcissists are manipulative, and they cannot stand being ignored. Narcissists must be the center of attention. They’ll take drastic action to get your attention back.

Creating an emergency can involve:

  • Threatening suicide or self-harm and then not responding to your calls.
  • Start dating a close friend of yours.
  • Tell you they are being evicted, and they have nowhere to go.
  • Bingeing on drink or drugs and calling you from the hospital, blaming you because you weren’t there to stop them.
  • Criminal behavior and asking you to bail them out.
  • Show up drunk at places they know you frequent.

4. They bombard you with texts and calls

In the film Fatal Attraction, Alex Forrest tells the married man Dan “I won’t be ignored, Dan!”

Narcissists and sociopaths hate losing control. How dare you refuse to answer their messages? Who do you think you are? Who do you think you’re dealing with?

The messages may start off in a cajoling and loving manner, but if you ignore a manipulator, they’ll soon turn nasty. The messages often follow a pattern, for instance:

  • Pleading: “I miss you so much, please return my call.”
  • Matter-of-fact statements: “Look, I just want to talk, call me.”
  • Threatening behavior: “Listen you stupid b****, pick up the phone right now or you’ll be sorry.”
  • Saying sorry: “Please forgive me, I didn’t know what I was doing.”

It will all start over again when they don’t get a response. Using Fatal Attraction again as an example; Dan relents after Alex calls him 20 times. A detective tells him that what he’s done is prove to her it takes 20 calls for him to answer.

5. They’ll use inventive ways to contact you

If a direct approach doesn’t work, the manipulator will resort to covert methods of contacting you. This might include ‘liking’ or commenting on social media posts. Posting anniversary photos to your Facebook wall or asking their followers to comment on the situation.

Manipulators have no qualms about approaching your friends and family members. As a result, you may get a call from one of them. If they are vindictive, they can go through your place of work, knowing that constant interruptions could jeopardize your career.

6. They bring in a third party (triangulation)

Triangulation is where you bring in a third party to a dispute to get that person on your side. Manipulators sometimes brainwash a family member or friend to square off against you.

For instance, if they get on with your parents, they might show fake concern about your career or love life. Now your mother and father are involved and instead of you battling the manipulator, you’re taking on your family members.

Of course, the manipulator will use charm and persuasion to convince your parents they only have your best interests at heart.

7. They act as if nothing is wrong

What happens when you ignore a manipulator? Sometimes they go on as normal. You might think the relationship is over and you’ve made your feelings clear. Then, out of the blue, a few months later, the manipulator contacts you with a message like

“Hey, how are you doing? Fancy catching up later?”

You’re shocked. This person may have cheated or broken up with you; they may have bombarded you with texts and calls and you’ve never replied. In the end, you blocked their number and went on with your life. Now, out of the blue, they pop up as if you are BFFs and nothing has happened.

8. They punish you for ignoring them

narcissistic rage

There is nothing as scary and dramatic as narcissistic rage. But rage is not just a trait of narcissists. When certain manipulators don’t get what they want, this turns into an uncontrollable rage. They will punish you for ignoring them.

A manipulator will lash out physically or verbally, or both. They’ll attack your reputation, your relationships, and your new partner; they’ll even go after your finances. The moment you leave a manipulator for good and they realize control is gone is the most dangerous time for victims.

Final thoughts

I’ve talked about what happens when you ignore a manipulator, so what should you do? It is best to maintain no contact.

You can’t reason or challenge a manipulator. They are not looking to resolve an issue with an honest conversation. You are under no obligation to explain your actions with a manipulator.

Manipulators are like bullies. If they don’t get the reaction they want, eventually they’ll get bored and move on to someone else.


  3. Featured image by wayhomestudio on Freepik

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Eddie

    As always a great post Janey!
    I have unfortunately experienced all the 8 stages and details you wrote, personally.
    The sad part is that – more than often – they always have an exit plan and will make sure they themselves will eventually lead a happy life while they have caused immeasurable and often permanent damage to their targets!
    Perhaps they think “Success is the best revenge” as their final act of narcissism or perhaps their goal was always to CONTTOL others to ultimately get what they want or both.
    In any case it is very important to find a support group who are aware of the situation and will not be effected by the narcissist’s controlling strategies to isolate you.
    This problem can be a 100 times more complex and damming if you were unfortunate enough to have a family member as the narcissist, harassing you.
    No matter who it is -as you wrote- you have to ignore them as much as you can praying their next target is not someone you love and care for. Was I ever tempted to go after them with a NONE violent vengeance? I sure was! Did I ever do it? NO! Unless you absolutely are forced to, the best solution is to shut them out like a bully, knowing they will have no choice but to look for new targets – as you wrote. DO NOT let them change you or your life while you are trying to live a peaceful happy life. As I wrote above if you do not shut them out and find a support system, they have the potential of destroying your life and then blaming you for it all! As far as support systems, make sure you do not go from frying pan into the fire! When seeing an injured deer, some people will help the deer and some will look for their shot gun!
    There are plenty of people who were able to lead successful, happy lives despite having to fight off controlling narcissists and psychopaths . Just add this to the list of your life challenges, but keep in mind that the worst part of the damage is waste of precious time and opportunities, and losing your way, so fast action is of utmost essence, but it is never too late! Can you help and cure a controlling narcissist? It is like trying to teach an scorpion not to bite! I am sure it can be done, I just don’t know how!!

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