When a narcissist goes quiet, it’s usually because they’ve decided to use the silent treatment. But what’s going on behind this silence?

Those who have narcissistic disorder use all sorts of tactics to manipulate and abuse you. They use gaslighting, outright name-calling, and even the notorious silent treatment. And yes, this silent treatment is used to hurt you, as they assume you will constantly ask them what’s wrong or try to placate them.

However, there’s an even deeper meaning beneath this silence. There are several things hidden there.

What’s hidden behind the narcissist’s silence?

The silent treatment takes something from you and gives it to the narcissist – the spotlight. With this silence, they’ve become the center of your life, as they are withholding speech and attention. They are basically just existing to stay in control.

Here are a few intricate things that hide behind that toxic silence.

1. Gaslighting

When someone with a narcissistic personality disorder starts stonewalling, they are attempting to gaslight you. Although you can tell that they are ignoring you, they will still say that everything is okay. Then, they will say that the worries are all in your mind. Meanwhile, their actions will speak differently.

In case you’re not aware of the term ‘stonewalling’, it means to ignore someone, even someone you live with. It means not looking at them, short texting them, and simply answering with little emotion.

You know when you’re being mistreated in this manner, and yet, the narcissist will try to convince you that you’re imagining the whole thing, thus gaslighting.

2. Control

When a narcissist goes quiet, it’s not just a simple matter to them. What they want from this whole ordeal is to have ultimate control.

You see, sometimes what’s hidden behind the silence is the feeling of losing control and being insecure. This is how the narcissist feels, and so to gain back control and feel secure again, they go silent.

Silence, to those who aren’t familiar with this tactic of the narcissist, could be a cry for help. Unknowing victims of the narcissist may ask if there’s anything they can do to make the silence stop.

You want to help. You want the relationship to go back to normal. And while you’re feeling this way, the narcissist is waiting for the ultimate sign that they are back in control. In a way, it’s a game.

3. Punishment

If you’ve ever caught the narcissist cheating or something else wrongful in your relationship, then they will use the silent treatment in this situation. Why?

Well, because the goal for them is to always look innocent, and they cannot possibly be innocent when they’ve been caught. So, the first thing they do is maneuver the situation to where you are the guilty party instead of them.

How do they do this? Well, they first may tell you that it’s your fault for catching them, and then they act wounded. After that, if you’re still able to use common sense, they will ignore you – Insert the silent treatment.

What’s hiding behind this form of the silent treatment is the narcissist’s punishment. Here’s what they’re saying,

“How dare you figure out what I’ve been doing. It’s going to be a while before I can forgive you for catching me.”

How ridiculous does that sound? Well, many of us fall for it every day. I have fallen for it many times before when I was younger.

4. Repairing damage

When you start to see the narcissist for who they are, they will panic. No amount of narcissistic rage can cover up the truth when you’ve finally come to the real conclusion. And so this can cause the narcissist to use the silent treatment to disappear.

They won’t just stop talking to you, they will stop talking and posting on social media too. It’s a form of lying low because they feel like their mask is about to fall off.

Here’s the kicker. While they’re staying out of one spotlight, they’re usually creating a fake persona and gathering a new following or new victim. This person will be someone that has no idea who they are.

So, while they’re giving you and others who know them the silent treatment, they’re advertising their fake persona somewhere else with a new group of friends. It’s truly insidious. They are repairing damage by becoming someone else yet again.

5. Rekindling attention

It’s okay if you’ve survived the narcissist. They can be quite convincing, especially with all the love bombing and such.

Well, if you remember at the beginning of the relationship with the narcissist, they did seem like the perfect person. You even hung on their every word. But as time went by, you started to see more and more inconsistencies. And whenever you confronted these inconsistencies, the narcissist would rage.

Then the silent treatment emerged. As you see, this treatment has several things hidden behind it. One other hidden thing is the rekindling of attention.

Being silent is a narcissist’s desperate attempt to rekindle attention from you that was provided at the beginning of the relationship. Sometimes it works, but for those of us who’ve caught on to all the lies and deception, it’s just kind of funny, infuriating, but funny.

What to do when your narcissist goes quiet?

If you live with a person who has a narcissistic personality disorder, don’t try to walk in their shoes or understand them. They do not think in a logical manner.

Everything in the world revolves around them, and they don’t care about how you feel. While in rare cases, narcissists have become better, they usually don’t change for good.

I hope this information helps you understand what’s happening when a narcissist goes quiet. If you’re enduring such things, try not to let it bring you down. It’s best to ignore it and honestly, get as far away from it as you can.

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Ray

    Hi, thanks for your article. You have, I suspect, known what like to be with a narcissist. I live next door to this type of person, and have front row seat to their behaviour. Very instructive! I have also met people who have been in relationships with narcissists, and their relationship never ended well, (Usually the woman). One common theme I have noticed, is the survivor presents as if their life force has been completely drained out of them. I have worked in Mental Health for many years and would advise people to safely remove themselves from their destructive relationships. Its a game you can`t win.

    Regards Ray McGrath

  2. Sherrie Hurd, A.A.


    You’re right about the seriousness of this issue. Unfortunately, there are so many people who have no idea how intricate the manipulation can be that comes from those with narcissistic personality disorder. Yes, I’ve been in relationships more than once with someone like this. Where it used to be confusing and hurtful, now it’s transparent and easy to see. And it is usually best to get away from them because they rarely change. If anyone thinks they are a strong person, however, and they wish to spend their time trying to help a person like this, that’s a decision they must make on their own. Thank you for reading. I appreciate you visiting Learning Mind. 🙂

  3. Sunshine

    My sister-in-law gives the silent treatment; unless, she is around her followers. She knows our family sees through her antics. I ignore her silence and continue to socialize within the group that is at the party. My question is this: When they refuse to speak when you enter a room to anyone in your party, is it because they feel like you are superior to them. My psychology classes taught that those that were in charge usually speak first.

  4. Christine

    I was raised by a mother w narcissistic personality disorder and bipolar that refused to take meds . It took me awhile to figure out what was going on . I kinda figured it out after a psych class.
    I experienced this ” wonderful ” Rollercoaster most of my life . My sister has a milder form or the disorder ………

    The year before my mom passed ….my mom got breast cancer. She hit an all time narcissistic rage. She wouldnt talk to me or tell me she had cancer the last year if her life . I heard about it from my sister.

    I decided that i would not engage her and respect her choice and not chase after her. I was done w the abuse . I decided to try to heal and walk away . Intold her i love her and dropped it in her lap and walked away.

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