Silent Treatment or Discard?


I am often asked how somebody is able to distinguish between being subjected to a silent treatment or whether they have been discarded?  There are clear similarities between the two and of course, they are both instances which are common in respect of the narcissistic dynamic between our kind and the intimate partner primary source.

Silent treatments come essentially in two forms. There is the Present Silent Treatment (“PST”) and the Absent Silent Treatment (“AST”). The PST manifests as us standing and glaring at you but not saying anything, or walking away from you every time you come near us so we go to a different room or we just sit in a chair and watch television acting as if you are not there, even though we may speak to other people. Whilst the PST is unpleasant to the recipient, it is often used because it is a manifestation of cold fury. The PST is used by all three schools of narcissist, but is heavily used by the Mid-Rangers as part of their passive-aggressive repertoire. The advantage to us of the PST is that we can deploy it with very little effort (thus conserving energy) and also because you are either in the same room as us or nearby we gain significant Proximate Fuel from your upset, anger or irritation. A PST’s duration is less than that of an AST. This is because the fuel drawn from its application is strong and therefore any wounding that has been caused will be addressed sooner. Accordingly, the PST may only last half an hour and at most until the next morning after you have endured a night in bed alone as we slept in the spare room or on the settee.

The short duration of the PST and the very fact that we are in the same room as you or same building means that it is clear that it is a silent treatment and there is no discard. Indeed, the PST will not even be the precursor to discard. The PST has one function and one function alone; to draw fuel from you and it is very effective in that respect.

Turning to the AST. This occurs when we disappear and you do not know where we have gone. We may head to a local bar for the night, book into a hotel, stay at a friend’s, leave town, return to our own property or head to the Intimate Partner Secondary Source that we are cultivating. The key components of an AST are as follows:-

  1. We are not proximate to you;
  2. You do not know where we have gone;
  3. You are desperate to find us (be that because you are worried, upset, concerned or angry); and
  4. You will try to contact us.

The AST allows us to draw two types of fuel initially.The first is Proximate Fuel. Although we are not next to you, if we receive anxious voicemail messages from you, we read angry text messages demanding to know where the hell we are,  mutual friends get in touch explaining how you have contacted them worried sick as to where we are and/or we see you stood on our doorstep banging on our front door as we watch with a grin from behind the curtains, then we draw Proximate Fuel at ‘witnessing’ your emotional reaction.

Secondly, knowing that we have left you in a state of anxiety or annoyance provides us with Thought Fuel. Even if we do not answer the ‘phone, pick up the text messages or voicemails, the fact we see you are calling us will provide us with this Thought Fuel as well. Accordingly, the AST is a low-energy/high potency method of gaining fuel from you.

We revel in knowing you will be pacing up and down concerned as to where we have gone to, you will be ringing around friends and relatives to try to track us down and alternating between anger and upset. We have caused this in you and this makes us feel powerful.

There is a third fuel line to the AST as well. The reason we opt for an AST and not a PST is also because we use the time away from you to either spend time with Non-Intimate Secondary Sources (our friends and family- quite probably smearing you at the same time) and thus we gain fuel from them but more often we use it to cultivate the Intimate Partner Secondary Source that we are considering for promotion to Primary Source.

The attention from this person or these people gives us additional fuel. We are therefore edified by this triple supply of fuel. No wonder the AST is so tempting. We gain fuel and we are also progressing the seduction of the prospective primary source, working on embedding them.

How long might an AST last? It could be an afternoon, it might be a month, it might be three months. However, as the time period lengthens this is when people begin to wonder if this is now a discard. The question arises, when is this behaviour no longer a silent treatment and when does it become a discard?

Would it be a discard after one day? One week? One month? Three months? Six months?

The answer is that you may have ASTs which last those periods of time and an absence of just one day may be the start of the discard.

If we are drawing fuel from you then it remains a silent treatment. Keep in mind that the potency of the Thought Fuel will only last so long, so we will need some Proximate Fuel which means we need you to keep knocking at our door and ringing our telephone. Of course, since we are not engaging with you, how do you know that we are still drawing fuel from you and it is not in fact a discard? You could be calling us and it is actually a discard, so how then could you tell the difference?

As you know, we will often not tell you that the Formal Relationship is over. We just discard without telling you. If you are trying to get in touch with us and you find that you have been blocked from our mobile number, we have blocked you on social media and none of our friends can shed any light on where we are, then you should realise that this is not a silent treatment but you have been discarded.

Since we need fuel during a silent treatment we keep the avenues of communication open but we do not respond. Thus we let you text, ring, drop notes round, send messages through friends and knock at our door. This gives us the fuel. If you have been discarded, we have no need for your fuel anymore (indeed you may not actually be providing it – see below) because we are drinking up delicious fresh positive fuel from the new primary source. Accordingly, we do not need to or want to hear from you.

if you turn up at our door, you may be ignored but more likely you will be confronted and be told in no uncertain terms to go away and leave us alone. You will be threatened with the police and restraining orders or our lieutenants will turn up to warn you off. We don’t need your fuel anymore and we do not want you hanging around like a bad smell and posing a risk to our harmonious new relationship with the new primary source.

Accordingly, a chief determinant between a silent treatment and a discard is whether you can contact us (albeit not actually get a response) if you can it is silent treatment. If not, it is a discard.

There will also be occasions where the absence starts as a silent treatment and then becomes a discard. This is where we have doled out a silent treatment to obtain fuel and bed in the person we are seducing and that seduction has been deemed to be successful, hence we install them as primary source, you are discarded and the blocking will begin. The silent treatment shifts to become a discard through the period of absence.

A further way of determining whether this period of absence is a silent treatment or a discard is to consider what has happened in the run up to the period of absence. As I wrote in 5 Reasons We Discard You there are five primary reasons  which bring about your discard. If you can ascertain that this has happened (admittedly it is not always obvious) prior to the period of discard, you will have a greater idea that you have been discarded rather than being subjected to a silent treatment.

Accordingly if you have

  1. Worked us out and reduced your fuel provision considerably;
  2. Realised that there is a new primary source;
  3. Become broken and numb so you are not functioning;
  4. Caused a major exposure of our behaviour; or
  5. Intentionally wounded us repeatedly through fuel free criticism

then these are reasons for you to be discarded.

Of course, the reality is that there is no such thing as a discard. It is instead a dis-engagement. If you are the primary source we are no longer interested in you and it is as if you have ceased to exist and we have (at the point of disengagement) no desire to interact with you ever again (of course this attitude changes at a later point when we commence our hoovering of you when we start our devaluation of your replacement). If you are an intimate partner secondary source, you will be placed on the shelf as we focus on the primary source or another intimate partner secondary source who we think will make a better prospect for promotion than you.

We eventually come knocking and therefore this dis-engagement ought to be treated as a long period of silence whereby you can recover and build you defences. Of course, it is more usually the case that you have no idea why we have departed and in your confused and emotional state you do not know the difference between a silent treatment and a discard.

Now you do.


136 thoughts on “Silent Treatment or Discard?

  1. Emma says:

    Hi. 5 wks ago he left… again. Abput 2 or 3 wks ago I blocked him. I have once unblocked him to see if he was checking when I’m online. An I no he would msg cos he wouldnt b able to not say something. Always get the last word in. And of course he did. Nxt morning after seeing the msgs I blocked him again. I have no social media as he made me get rid of it all to prove I loved him. So I did. So now there is just calls txt msgs an WhatsApp. Blocked from all.. the fact he still watching my online means what?. It’s very early out of this relationship for me. But I no in my heart mind an soul it’s over. He repulses me. I hate what he is. And I don’t deserve him or that treatment. But y do I still want him? Y do i still feel connected to him? Is this a normal feeling to b having at this stage??

    Thanks u

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Hello Emma,

      1. Yes those feelings are entirely normal at this stage.
      2. They are powered by your emotional thinking – see
      3. He is checking because it is easy to do and it potentially enables him to assert control over you.

  2. All of Me says:

    Dear HG,
    but what does it mean when the N block is not complete (e.g. he blocks you on instagram and whatsapp but not in Facebook or others channels)?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      You are being given a Corrective Devaluation through a silent treatment.

      1. All of Me says:

        Ah ok good to know. So if I don’t respond to this provocation begging and apologizing, the next step is to be removed?
        Thanks HG.

  3. Zoya K says:

    Hi HG… so I am receiving Silent treatment for 6 weeks and I have done the same, gave it right back. I didn’t not beg, chase or run after him. Week 5 he blocked me on all social media and within 5 mins unblocked me on whatsapp only. Then I had a missed call from him on whatsapp, I texted and asked if all was OK and as expected he said it was by mistake and did not know i would get a notification.. made me laugh as you can’t call someone by mistake on whatsapp. The next day he came to my house to drop my parking permit and texted me to say I have dropped it through the letter box. Since then I am still unblocked on whatsapp, he has changed is DP to a pic in which he is wearing a polo shirt I gave him.. all is quiet again between us but i am unblocked on whatsapp and he continues to use my netflix account as and how he pleases for hours on end. Is this silent treatment or a discard? Were these hoovering attempts or what? I am confused.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      They are hoovered. I do not know what your position is in the fuel matrix as I do not have enough information from you. You appear to be receiving shelf behaviour and silent treatments, but I do need more information from you to provide you with an accurate response. You should organise a consultation with me and then I can help you properly.

  4. Fran says:

    This is diabolical and cruel, I hope that all narcissists will find a narcissist and live what they have done to others.

  5. KT says:

    Hi HG. We had a fall out caused by me. He tells me that he is going to punish me for overreacting. I text and apologize frantically bombing up his phone. He says if you text again I will block you. I need space and will talk when I feel better. What do I make of this? In the past the only punishment I got was silent treatment but never before was I ever warned that I am going to be punished. He always denied that the silent treatment was intended to punish

  6. Mag says:

    Dear HG. Thank you. Now I perfectly undetstand. My mid narc colleague is giving me a log silent treatment… I was a little dirty secret for him… Well he hoped in fact. Maybey even a potential new primary source.. So ? It is possible that he still hopes to have me ? Even he s giving me such a long silent treatment ? I wounded him.. And his toxic logic… 😉 thanx alot you re so great !!!!! Hey.. I m very aware now cause of you.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      You, of course, from his perspective always belong to him.

  7. Bet says:


  8. Caroline says:

    I dated a narcissist for 2 years. We spent every night together, at my house for the last 6 months. I knew, for the last month or so that he’s moved to the devalue stage.

    I’ve had all 3 stages may times over the 2 years. I worked out he wasn’t coming back that night (he didn’t tell me) I asked him he said he needed a couple of days ‘headspace’ to work out how he feels.

    I didn’t reply and he spent a day messaging me saying he just needed to get his bearings and he loved spending time together etc… all the usual things He was sorry for putting me through agony again, he said he didn’t know for sure about us but i did and that was the difference.

    However, i wasn’t in agony this time, i’d wised up (by reading article and wanted out. I felt a weight had been lifted. I message him and said i didn’t want to see him again, in any capacity. He said it had been a tough weekend and that everything was great in out relationship except that he wasn’t in love with me. I said it wasn’t a tough couple of weeks, it was a tough couple of years and i’m absolutely fine this time. He then sent a short message (none of the usual poetry type message) just saying ‘i hope you are’ none of the usual kisses.

    We haven’t contacted each other for a month. He has also left a lot of things at my house.

    I had also suspected he was love bombing someone else.

    He usually says that he is not in love with me and then i end it. Then he bombards me with messages. Each time i’ve suspected he was messaging someone else.

    I still feel relieved his gone and don’t feel the devastation that i have in the past.

    As he hasn’t this time, is this a silent treatment or a final discard.

    Sorry for the long message but i felt there was a lot of information needed to work it out.


  9. lost man says:

    I am 45 male & she is 40 years – been in a 2 year relationship with a her and she displays narcissist traits. she lives 15 mins from me and always comes up with an excuse to not meet. she always needs validation about herself and she says things as “i love you, i miss you & i want you” but the next day does not recall saying it. When i bring up a proper relationship she calls me crazy. she is gorgeous 10/10 however i have understood her game finally. when things don’t go her way she calls me names & criticizes me. I gave her more time than anyone else. Whenever she has issues at home I am there for her – but when i need some advice or want to have a conversation she is never there. She asks me to call and i drop everything & call her. There are days she will constantly email and the nothing for days. We have had numerous arguments on petty things and it got to a stage where I stay quiet because i hate arguments. Then she would go silent for days and I would apologize like a puppy dog and then finally she would speak and go back as if nothing had happened. Lately she is playing a lot of hot & cold games. On Friday she said to call I did – it went to voice mail. I msgd her and said i called and since it annoys her did not leave a voice mail or call back. She ignored my msg. I apologized. She ignored. On Saturday I msgd her good morning she ignored. Finally on Saturday evening I msgd her and said I don’t like this silent treatment and it is not normal behavior. if there is a problem we need to talk about it. She ignored me. Finally yesterday I msgd her said I have tried everything to make this relationship work and silence is no way to resolve things. So if you want to make this work the ball is now in your court as I cant prove my feelings to you without any effort from you. She has basically been ignoring me the whole weekend. I know she reads my msgs (an app tracks it for me on the number of times she reads them) and I have not msgd nor have i apologized. Do you feel this is the final discard stage by her or will she come back?

  10. Mark walch says:

    Ahhhh that’s all very good and all but…….we know you narcissists simply CANNOT handle it when we respond to your mind games with silent treatment using your weapon against you. It’s kinda hilarious when eventually you block us as it demonstrates incredible immaturity. Like a child throwing a tantrum because Mum or dad said no!

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Or shift to an alternative form of manipulation. It depends on the school of narcissist.

  11. Daisy says:

    Hey HG,

    So I have a classic Narcissist, who I love, and have been trying to help. I know this is probably too big of a task to take on but it breaks my heart to see the pain he causes himself. And he has shared with me a lot of deep heart felt love and compassion but also pain, I can see the pain in his eyes and I know wanting to help him is what keeps me here. I love him too, I know we could be good together if he could learn about why he is this. We are very simmilar, painful pasts with trauma. Narcissism is an adapted trait, you are not born with it. It comes from needing to adapt to survive emotionally- senses perceived in the environment and trauma. He shared with me his stories of pain, and I now these are adapted traits. It gets worse when he is stressed, the gass lighting, the AST. Every time I bring up something emotional to him he has the fight or flight response. Sometimes we fight for so long but he really really tries to be there with me, he’s even broken down sometimes and said he knows what he should say but doesn’t know how to get it out. Everything was moving forward and we were gaining trust, he does have an ex who he reached back out to- he was a masochist with her and admitted it was self destructive of him.

    However, there has been a turn of events because he is moving soon. And I know with this, Narcissists usually leave or silent treatment. He has increasingly been illogically “annoyed” at me and showing signs of doing this. The thing is we are both fairly intelligent people, and we have been able to logically talk through this. Im not sure if this will be enough to keep our relationship and his/my emotional healing and growth alive. I understand and empathize with the narcissist/masochist because I was once like that myself, having gone through trauma. However, because of my values and who I am I could not bare to hurt anyone so I chose to learn about why I was the way I was and I started healing. My boyfriend has helped me learn about myself in many ways because he is the same as me. I am just worried that I will get hurt and everything Iv tried to do will be for nothing. I truly do love him, I want to help him. But I dont want to be treated badly. Its just hard because when I stand up for myself and explain why I need to be treated better he distances himself. He likes to be in control. Gambling, Addiction, Non-empathetic are all part of this and get worse when he is stressed. I also am worried that he will never really see who I truly am. I try to share a lot with him, I am starting a business and finishing up school so I have been very excited about this but he does the bare minimum of listening and barely ever seems to care about what I am talking about. He also gets annoyed whenever I ask about dinner or valentines day plans. Is there any way around this or is it a lost cause? I really do want it to work out. Any incite would be nice, I understand this is not the typical question.

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