Saying Nothing to Tell You Everything

The Silent Treatment. One of our most potent methods of manipulation. Whether it is a present silent treatment where we talk to everyone else around you but not you or whether it is an absent silent treatment where we disappear and cannot be found or contacted, we know that this is highly effective. It does not matter if the silence lasts for ten minutes or ten days the impact on you is considerable and your reaction is always the same. That is, of course, the main reason that we do it. You will repeatedly ask us what is wrong as you fail to understand what it is that we are doing. You will hang around us, if that is possible, asking the same questions over and over again.

“What is wrong, please tell me?”

“What is the matter, I wish you would tell me?”

“What is it? Why aren’t you speaking to me?”

Your concern mutates into frustration and anxiety and even occasionally anger. All of these states suit us as we drink the fuel you are providing to us. If we absented ourselves then we will face a slew of text messages, e-mails and voicemail messages as you keep ringing every five minutes trying to establish contact with us. After a time the nature of the questioning changes as you shift from asking us what is wrong to hauling yourself over the coals. It is all so predictable. You ask yourself what is it that you could have done which has caused us such offence that we are no longer speaking to you. You analyse everything you have said and done over the last hour, the last five hours, the last day. Did you insult us in some way and not realise? Surely it was not that comment about our tie, that was a joke. Was that the catalyst for this silence? Did you fail to kiss us on our arrival home? You cannot remember but these days you often find that is the case since the days all seem to merge into one as you pad around trying not to tread on those eggshells. If only the tiredness would lift. You might be able to think straight then and be able to ascertain what is going on. You keep providing us with different suggestions and scenarios as to what has happened. You grope around, utterly unsure as to what it was that proved to be the trigger. You issue apologies and it gets to the point that you do not even know what you are apologising for but that does not matter does it? All you want is for this horrible silence, the aching absence to end. It has happened before and then it ended as arbitrarily as it arrived. You cling on to the hope that it will end as it did last time but then there is that gnawing doubt which keeps manifesting in your mind. What if it won’t end? What if this is it and we have gone for good? Surely not and for what reason? The doubt is horrible and you feel a rising sense of panic which causes you to redouble your efforts to find us and offer yourself up in sacrifice in order to get us to come back. Time after time we do this to our victims but they do not realise what our silence really means. They are trapped by fear, paralysed by indecision and this is naturally how we like it. This confusion and inability to really see what is going on serves our purpose.

What is our silence really telling you? It is telling you how we enjoy to play fast and loose with your feelings. It is telling you that we do not care about you. You mean nothing to us other than the fuel you provide. We are reminding you of how inferior you are to us. You are nothing more than an appliance which we can switch on and off, pick up and put down at our convenience. We are trumpeting our lack of respect for you and your identity. We are heralding our flagrant disregard for your well-being. We are telegraphing our disdain for our supposed responsibilities. We are reinforcing that you do not matter. Instead, you seek to eradicate the silence, you plan and arrange to do anything which you hope will dispel the absence of communication. Too caught up in trying to remove the unpleasant sensations that wrap around you, you fail to see the clear message that we convey to you each time we behave in this manner. We are behaving as we did when we were told we could not have another biscuit and we sat sulking until our worn-down parent gave in. Most people grow out of such conduct but not us. We saw the power it would wield over certain people (others of course would never countenance it and we knew never to show it to them or suffer the consequences) but everyone else would flock around us, flapping and attending to us and we realised just how we could wrap people around our little fingers so they gave us what we wanted. It was not the extra lollipop or permission to play out for an extra hour. It was attention and attention laced with emotion. Fuel. We may not have realised it then but we took this childish response and turned it into a weapon which causes you fear and frustration every time we unleash it. If only you could understand what we are really doing, then you would understand just how much we are truly telling you by saying absolutely nothing.

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54 thoughts on “Saying Nothing to Tell You Everything”

  1. Silent treatment..I’m better at it than he is because I’ve always done it for myself when someone has crossed a line vs out of punishment which I imagine is his motive. He’s always the one to “break” first and it doesn’t take long for him to show his rage again (within 24 hours usually) when I do not respond quickly enough or in ways he would like via text. I’ll usually then give him a warning such as “I suggest you block me before I hurt your feelings” which he does. Last time I accomplished being blocked by calling him a stalker and sending him a link to a prior arrest for stalking someone he was previously in a relationship with (over a month ago now).

    I would block him but can’t due to it being a corporate account and it isn’t allowed on my device. If I ignore him it gets worse (100+texts per hour previously).

  2. I think I posed this question elsewhere, but I can’t find it. So apologies for the repetition.
    It makes for interesting reading. The silent treatment is also, I believe, a form of conditioning. By the end of it, I’d be wanting it to end.
    The silent treatment in company is particularly humiliating.

    My question is;
    I was abruptly discarded after a short and intense love bombing period.
    The narc went silent. I felt shocked, stunned and sick to my stomach. (This was the first time).
    My reaction was, the next day, I was desperate. Calling, texting, trying to get him to talk to me.
    Fast forward 2 years, I’ve been relegated to ‘friend’ status, an emotional girlfriend.
    He says, ‘I could never be in a relationship with you under any circumstances’.
    He cites that one day in 2012, when I was calling and texting as the specific reason, the ‘moment’ upon which his decision hinged.
    Of course, (as he probably wanted), I blamed myself, bitterly regretted my actions, questioned myself, felt bad about myself etc, wish I could’ve gone back and changed it. (It really wasn’t that bad in the scheme of things).

    Now having been minimal and no contact for over 18 months; there have been times when his comment has plagued me still.

    But now I question whether actually what he said was ‘true’, in the sense that, could it be that he was doing, (as was his way), managing me down? Keeping me in my place? Shifting blame onto me for my reaction on that day to deflect away from his behaviour? Making me firmly responsible? Making me the ‘wrong’ one in this equation? Making me the ‘mad’ one?

    And it also seems particularly cruel to hinge everything on one day?
    Elsewhere you have written, to stop analysing and ruminating, (I paraphrase), that we got involved with a narcissist, end of story.
    Could it be that he made this comment but actually it’s just one of a million meaningless things that the narc said to me? That really it’s not because of the one day…THAT I AM NOT TO BLAME? THAT HE IS THE DISORDERED ONE? (Felt I had to emphasise for my own sake).
    That he’s doing that narc thing of just spewing out words?
    And do narc’s just like rubbing salt in the wounds?

    So rather than one question. A series….maybe I just want to be let off the metaphorical hook. To stop blaming myself for my own understandable and natural reaction to a confusing and traumatic circumstance.

    Thank you for reading Mr. Tudor, if you have got this far.

    1. Hi Gem, I have answered your question on your earlier post. Just so you know, posts go into moderation as I read everything that everybody kindly writes. Longer posts and ones with questions are often held back until I have sufficient time to dedicate to them. This sometimes means there will be a delay before you post appears and if I have other commitments it can sometimes be a few days as I get a lot of questions both here, on FB, Twitter and by e-mail.

    2. Gem I just wanted to say that I had a weekend with him when I sent him a load of texts and it was a bit over the top and it was early on in the fake relationship and it was due to his hot and cold behaviour . It was one weekend and I was upset as a friend had passed away as well. He was giving me the cold shoulder and I freaked out a bit with sending a lot of texts . He then labelled me nuts like all the rest and brought this up constantly . However continued to be with me for a further 2 years . But still always claimed it was that , that put him off me. I actually take that as a compliment because in 2 years it’s the only thing he could find to critise about me. It was some emotional texts because he was being deliberately inconsistent and a friend of mine had died . He made that into the fact that he was put off me and I was a psycho from that point on. But it didn’t stop him coming crawling back time and time again when I kept dumping him.

  3. 21 years of dealing with a narc, not because I wanted to, but because of our son. We have been apart for 28 years. More ST’s than I could count, disappearing the longest for 2 years, because I wouldn’t allow him to make his own rules of care for our child. Ie. I’ll come and go as I please. When we were together I was feeling crazy in my own home. He would not talk, would go to the basement and take the baby with him. Such a sense of entitlement. More cheating than one could believe. I doubted my own sanity for a while, and went for help. After dealing with this narc in a relationship I was diagnosed with ptsd. Even knowing the pain he was causing with his cheating, gas lighting, picking arguments so he could leave, he would never come clean, or have empathy. It was the most evil I’ve ever felt from someone. Now, years later, if I call him on any behaviour that is rude etc, the ST is immediate. If you’re with someone like this RUN don’t stick around. There is so much more, but the story sucks and I’m happier now.

  4. The silent treatment hmmm yes was the worst thing possible, my fear of abandonment was a very powerful tool for him until the night he made it a reality.
    HG you provided the why things are done not only that you reminded me of something I was told by a man I admired we would be out hunting and he would tell me you can become the hunted at any moment, always pay attention to your surroundings.

  5. The more my ex-narc dished out the silent treatment, the more inured I became. The less I reacted, the more he upped the ante, until he eventually overplayed his hand and I went no contact.

  6. As I have written before I was getting repeated texts to come back to this suck relationship. Once I was here and back in the separate room I was ghosted or ignored. That was in Jan. Nothing has changed it’s now August. What a waste of time and resources.

  7. The ST was a new experience for me. It was my narcs favourite torture weapon. I think out of all the abuse I got from him, this was the most painful. I tried to reach out to him endless times…but I was met with more deafening silence. I will never allow anyone to treat me thst way. Now I just walk away at the hint other ST.

  8. This is a fantastic entry HG…. And I say this because I cannot imagine a single person here who has been on the recieving end of a narc or alike, who has NOT recieved the silent treatment…. AND many moretimes that just once!!

    My ex used to LOVE using the silent treatment. I am sure it was her absolute favourite and the one that also provided to most entertainment for her too!! Being a Borderline myself…. I am sure HG that you are only all to aware of my severe fears around the ideas of real or imagined abandonment!!! She was VERY aware of the issues that I faced when it came to silent treatment as in my head…. silent treatment = abandonment!!! So yes…. OF COURSE….. when she deemed it nesseccary… Silent treatment it was!!! Then when she decided to end the period of silence… she would always come back with an excuse of some kind so she could do her absolute best to mae me look as crazy as she could!!

    But oh well…. She is officially a thing of the past now (reagardless of if she agrees with me or not about it being over lol!!).

    And its excellent that this is the case actually!! And i guess in some ways… its not all bad that things have ended the way that they have given the FAR GREATER things she has propelled me towards!!! People who actually have the time of day for me….. most of the time anyways lmfao!! And these far greater people are the ones that I owe so very much too as without them… I dont know if i could have done what i did with such conviction!! The told me that i had that strength…. the gave me reason per se to finally kick the b*tch to the gutter!!!

    But anyhow…. back to silent treatment for a moment before I go….. I think its incredably nasty actually to use the silent treatment on someone like myself, the Borderline…. ESPECIALLY when you consider our fear of abandonment. Its an irrational fear at times…. but a fear none the less!! It terrifies us…. It sends me into “crazy mode”. I cant think straight… I am on severe edge 24/7, anxiety like you cant imaging, constant nausea, not eating, barely sleeping, trying my absolute best to not take razor blades to my skin – again…. SHE KNEW all of this!! Yet she still went ahead and did it!!!

    Down right f*cking B*tch if you as me…. and trust me when i say thats actually a somewhnt NICE name for her considering her usual name that just rolls of my Aussie tongue!!! hahaha.

    Cheers for another well wriiten piece as always HG 🙂

    1. It is an emotional torture. As you said especially for those of us who have abandonment issues and when they know this. It is even worse that it is used against us. The ones who love them. I so agree, CJ. Thankfully, she is gone from you and subjecting you to such abusive behaviour. You know, it was the silent treatments that were the catalyst for me finding out what D was and leaving him. And is is a warning to me, any man who ignores my attempts to contact him, intentionally to creat emotional harm to me will be removed from My life ASAP. i understand that issues can occur In life for anyone, that prevents contact…but when You see them posting all over social media or in skype, or mutual friends have had communication with them and so forth and lie about it…so, family emergencies, hospitalization, extreme power outages…. If it goes past five days now with no attempt at contact, I will remove them from my life. I am referring to men. No more weeks and months for me. I would never do that to anyone, no matter how upset I was, I would always return communication. I said to D, even if it is a short message to say, miss usual, be back soon, etc….anything is better then the disrespectful nothing.
      Thanks To HG, I won’t tolerate silent treatments any longer.

      1. Touchè J!!!! Im there with you!!! Not doing this stupid silence game over again…… i would never subject someone else to it….. why should i tolerate it!!!!

      2. Exactly, I am ashamed I allowed him to subject me to that for too many times in past years. Sometimes love is too trusting, even when it isn’t blind.

    2. Agree! How sad is it that we know they are intentionally digging their claws into our worst wound over and over and we kept taking them back? I hope each person that has had this kind of experience finds a love that would rather die than hurt them this way.

  9. That’s why whenever my narcissists dished out the silence treatment on me I reversed it on them and went no contact. With me I only call once and if that person doesn’t return my call I never call again…I never chase behind people, but instead I make my narcs wonder why I am not chasing them and it causes them to investigate. I let them know that once a person pulls that on me I don’t come back to beg anyone.

    Great article as always!…Thanks for letting us know.

  10. I get one word answers or no answer although we had started a running conversation. I thought about it as it was happening. I have come to the conclusion that he is nothing and he becomes less and less in my world.
    I asked if he wanted to travel as a friend and frankly I don’t think I have a sexual attraction to him anymore, so when I said to not put performance pressure on either one of us to be kind and not outright say, no dude, you really are not that good to me anymore, he said I put to many stipulations on things and make it difficult.
    I just want a travel buddy that can go as there is not any time restraints such as family, jobs etc. with him. And he would travel in the style that he alone could not afford. He is not the brightest guy I know or he just can’t stand me.

    What say you HG? Why this behavior.

    Why ask him? Because I can stand his smell. I can dress him up and he has a bit of class. (wonder where he learned this from)

    Oh well, on to my next journey alone.

    1. You were clearly giving him less fuel and he was not prepared to apply additional effort to extract it from you. You laying down stipulations in respect of the arrangements by which you would travel together also made him feel as if he was losing control. Rather than seek to assert it again, he has withdrawn regarding your attempts at control as criticisms of him which he is has dealt with by way of withdrawal. The criticisms plus the reduced fuel were not enough even though you offered residual benefits – travelling in style etc.

  11. The relationship with the ex N has been over for a year, but the hoovers always come in between the silent treatments. The past 2 rounds I have not given her any fuel when she disappears. I do not contact her as I am well aware of the game. Is this bothersome to your kind when we don’t go chasing after you when you “ghost” us? She has new supply that’s keeping her occupied right now and has no use for me. But I anticipate that she will return as she always does.

    1. The more he goes around with others, the dirtier he becomes to me. Gross and the thought of him getting near you intimately is repulsive.

      Look at it this way.

  12. A picture is worth a thousand words….so then is a silence. I think I finally understand….He is saying I hate you. Why would I want, even beg, someone for love much less someone who tells me sometimes more than once a week that they hate me, hate my children, that I mean nothing….that I am less than dirt. I do not understand how one day he is my gentle, loving partner and the next this hate filled monster, but I have learned that I don’t need to understand. I need to escape.

    1. ESCAPE! It is hard but read his book Exorcism, but stick with it. keep reading keep reading. You will grow tired of it. I am with each contact I have with him, I get tired of the stupid stuff and I realize that I am so much more then he can ever be.

  13. How i hate those silent treatments. They were pure agony for me and as much as i was onto him and realised the game i was never able to follow through with what i had in store for him IF he eventually called. I was going to do the same in return. I just cud never do it. I needed answers. I was too dam curious to find our what the hell bought all of that on. Of course he wud never tell me the real reason anyway. He always came with ” oh i had problems with my phone or signal or whatever”. What? For a whole month? So how did u manage to change ur whatsapp pic several times or was constantly online? Deny deny deny !! Uuurg!! infuriating!! Or i wud tell myself im NOT going to send him a msg sucking his ass asking why, what , where. Nope idiot me cudnt last out longer than him. Eventually u so relieved he contacted u just let it go…. Untill next time. But heres my question. If a narc hates being ignored so much themselves why do it to others? Surely u are opening urself up for a huge silent treatment back? In my case it worked well for my narc because he had learnt i just cant do it back but thats me. There must be stronger women out there that gave it back ten fold. If u had a women do it back im curious to no the outcome of that being as i never managed to get it right

    1. The reason we do it for others is for the reasons outlined as to why we use silent treatments so often, Jewels. You provide us with fuel sometimes positive (I miss you, please talk to me) or negative (being upset or angry at being ignored), for the purposes of control, to bind you closer to us and so forth. We use silent treatments because they are easy to do, use little energy and where we deploy them through absence it allows us to obtain fuel from the other person we are concentrating on whilst we are ignoring you.
      In terms of does this then open us up to one in return? Invariably no. Firstly, when we stop the silent treatment, returning the favour is usually the last thing on your mind because you are so relieved we are back in touch. Secondly, you do not think the same way as us. You do not use such a manipulation and in the rare instances where you might, we will just apply a different manipulation to make you break the silence.Thirdly, you would be concerned by treating us this way you might lose us and indeed if you do give us the silent treatment, it is a criticism which ignites our fury and we would seek fuel from somewhere else. You are not designed to use silent treatments in the way we do. Fourthly, we do not regard this as something you are entitled to do. We are superior to you. We can do it, but you are not allowed to and therefore we would not even consider that using one of manipulations might lead to you doing the same to us

    2. It doesn’t show a lack of strength on your part, Jewels. I consider my NC as life-preservation rather than ST. Please don’t think you are weak.

  14. HG , so I now understand they don’t love they don’t care they don’t anything . But silent treatments I’ve had . But just to be clear they are not the same as break ups when you never hear from them , that is not a silent treatment is it ? Also if the silent treatment is to get attention as you state ? It’s not really designed to make us leave ? Or is it ? Are we supposed to stay and lavish frantic attention and reassurance from them or is this the beginning of the message to us to Go Away ?

    1. I have written before that the term discard or break-up is somewhat mis-leading and another poster, I forgot who, suggested dis-engagement, which is a much better description. As I have stated before, there is a difference between the Formal Relationship (which is what you regard as being together and then not) and the Narcissistic Relationship (which continues even though the Formal Relationship has ended). As we regard you as an object and not a person, you are always our “thing” that we can deal with as and when we choose. In effect therefore, when we “put you away” that is a silent treatment until we hoover you to either resurrect the Formal Relationship or just for fuel (benign or malign hoovers). The silent treatment is designed to gather Thought Fuel from knowing how it will hurt you and Proximate Fuel when you keep trying to contact us. If we completely vanish and you cannot access us in anyway, there will be a short period of Thought Fuel but then we are focussed elsewhere and not interested in you trying to contact us so we gain Proximate Fuel. This is still a silent treatment because we are not engaging with you but it may last for a considerable time (because we are focused on a new primary source) and therefore have no need to engage with you until later when you enter one of our spheres of influence and we commence a hoover. We may tell you to go away but this is done for fuel and because we want to focus on the new primary source without you getting in the way. It depends on the type of narcissist. Some want you off the scene soon enough, others will keep you around to triangulate even though the Formal Relationship is over.

      1. HG thank you for explaining this again . So me and him are broken up the relationship is over . But he has had no fuel because this time I have not contacted him or tried to talk to him or tried to stay friends with him . So he has received no fuel other than knowing that the break up will have hurt and confused me . He can’t be wanting to triangulate me with anyone as I’m not around for him to do that . I actually seen his best friend today and had a friendly chat with him I did not mention narc and his friend never mentioned him either (he doesn’t know what he is ) but I didn’t get into too much conversation just bright and breezy and moved on . This will be reported to narc . I guess it could go either way it could injure and his curiosity to see if he could still get me back may spark a Hoover or he may think she’s moved on too much trouble to try . Plus I don’t know who he’s with now . But I think I did ok ? Obviously I want a Hoover but I felt that was all that I could do ?

      2. I hated this blog article the first time and I still hate it. I think this is why I have learned through you to be able to not contact on my end and stay away and build myself up during periods of silence. But when JN initiates contact, I view these ST’s as such a cowardly approach and one of the most abusive forms of mentally cruelty I just will not dole out or participate the same way. When he contacts me, it flares my temper now. He’ll always get some kind of response.

      3. Ohhhh, it would fizzle at some point! Maybe just maybe, it’s hard not getting addicted to me? Lol

      4. 7, almost 8 weeks. He texted a long apology that was ambiguous and not really listing anything specific. And since I’ve been on here for so long and saw thru it as a weak Hoover attempt I called him out on it.

  15. this is happening to me right now – and I have reacted just as you wrote – great piece and gives some understanding to the person at the end of the silent treatment – me.

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