Questioning the Silence – FAQs Re The Narcissist’s Use of Silence Treatment


Many of our victims find the implementation of a silent treatment one of the most troubling and upsetting manipulations that is applied. In part, it is its sheer simplicity that has such an effect. We do not have to expend much energy, we can implement it in an instant and it is something which is used by all three schools of narcissist, though of course it is the calling card of the passive aggressive Mid-Range narcissist. This oft used tactic of ours leaves people bewildered, hurt and upset. Whether it is a present silent treatment where we act as if you are invisible even though we are in the same room as you or an absent silent treatment where we disappear without notice and to who knows where, you are left trying to contact us, worried, angry and frustrated.

Accordingly, this gives rise to those who have been affected by those silent treatments and those still suffering the iciness of their implementation now having a number of questions about this silent killer. Here are some of the main questions and the answers you require.

How long will a silent treatment typically last?

This depends on whether it is a present silent treatment or an absent one. The former will last for a shorter duration. It may just be half an hour, it may be a few hours. It is rare for a present silent treatment to extend into the next day following an overnight hiatus, but it can happen. The reason it usually does not is that because of our tendency to compartmentalise when sleep intervenes it is as if the reset button has been pressed. We rise and leave behind what had happened yesterday and we will greet you as if nothing has happened. You can therefore usually rely on the fact that it most cases the present silent treatment, unpleasant as it is, will only last until we fall asleep.

A present silent treatment may well end before that because its primary purpose is to gain fuel from you. We want you to follow us around, repeatedly asking us what is wrong, we want you upset, we want you demanding answers, flapping about us and apologising for things you have not done. It is all fuel and once we feel fuelled then we will snap out of the silent treatment and speak to you, lapping up the relieved fuel that you provide to us since it is at an end. Usually the silent treatment will be applied because you have wounded us and therefore it will take until the wound has healed and the ignited fury has abated before the silent treatment will end. Accordingly, if you lay on the fuel thick and fast, the silent treatment is likely to end sooner.

With the absent silent treatment, this serves a dual purpose. Firstly it is to gain fuel but it is also used to allow us to spend time with or cultivating through telephone calls and texts a prospective replacement for you. The dual provision of fuel from you as the worrying incumbent primary source and the secondary source (or sources) which we are engaging with should result in any wound we have sustained being addressed fairly quickly. However, the absent silent treatment will continue because of the need to interact with other sources, most notably the one which is being cultivated as a replacement.

You should also keep in mind that if your narcissist is a Mid-Ranger or a Greater, then the absent silent treatment will lengthen each time it is used. If it was three days last time, it will now be more than three days. This is done in case you become complacent and think

“Oh he has gone off on one of his sulks. They usually last a weekend. I will just get on with things until he returns.”

accordingly, if you are not trying to contact us, then we will push the silent treatment for a longer period so you become concerned and begin to think

“It is four days now, he has never done this before. I should find out if he is okay.”

and thus you contact us and begin to fuel us once again.

How long do we expect the victim to run after us?

This is a straightforward one to answer. We expect you to run around after us at all times. You belong to us and you are under our control and obligated to us. We expect you to be texting and calling us, asking our friends where we are, trying to locate us, appearing at our house (if we do not live with you) knocking on the door and doing all you can to speak to us. We regard you as the ones who are in the wrong and you are obliged to chase after us in the forlorn hope of putting matters right.

What happens if the victim stops his or her reaction to the silent treatment?

This is certainly the way to deal with a present silent treatment. If you do not react to it and get on with something else, we see that it is not working and as a consequence we will halt the present silent treatment. In some instances this will cause us to shift tack and seek to draw positive fuel from you and therefore we will be pleasant to you. We may completely forget we have just been stood glaring at you as we lay on the charm again, but not reacting can cause this shift in our response.

Alternatively, we will just move to a different manipulation in order to draw the fuel from you because the wound that you have caused has not yet been addressed. The nature of the manipulation may increase in intensity. On other occasions your refusal to provide fuel (either from the present silent treatment and/or the shift to a different manipulation) will cause us to withdraw and seek fuel elsewhere. Thus you may find that there is an absent silent treatment instead.

If you do not react to an absent silent treatment, we will soon come slinking back. Whilst there may be a prospective primary source to court, we also want you chasing after us and as a consequence of that if you are not repeatedly calling us or trying to reach us, after a day or two of not hearing from you, we will want to know what you are doing. We have a need to know what is happening because we equate knowledge with control. This means that once you stop chasing us, we want to know why you are not doing so. Your halting your chasing will not cause wounding because we have gained fuel from the other sources we are interacting with and instead we want to return like the regal monarch we believe we are, sweeping back in and expecting you to fall to your knees in grateful deference to us.

Accordingly, if you want to bring an absent treatment to an end, simply do not react. Do not chase after us, do not ring or text, hard as it may be and we shall re-appear soon enough. You have stopped providing fuel and we want to know why.

Do we expect the victim to remain faithful even though they have not heard from us in weeks?

But of course. You are our property. It is perfectly permissible for us to vanish and gad about with other people and ignore our commitment to you, but you are not allowed to seek comfort and solace anywhere else. This again accords with our sense of compartmentalisation. We will carry on with what we want to do and expect time to stand still with you so that when we do decide to reappear, everything should be as we left it.You are bound to us and expected to respond when we return to you, lavishing us with positive fuel in accordance with our inflated sense of importance.

Do we think about you during an absent silent treatment?

We do of course when you are contacting us because we are drinking up the Proximate Fuel from the emotional content of your text messages, voice mails and seeing you knocking haplessly at the front door as we stand watching you through the spy hole. We also gain Thought Fuel from considering that you are missing us, wondering where we are, crying yourself to sleep and so forth.

Even if you fail to respond during an absent silent treatment and we are engaged with other sources, we will be wondering why you are not responding. This is not a discard, hence there is no deletion of you from our minds, but rather the need to be considering what you are doing for the purposes of both fuel and control.

What if the tables are turned and you give us the silent treatment?

This is ignoring us. We hate that. This is a criticism, we are wounded and our fury will be ignited. The Lesser will lash out at you to break the silence, the Mid-Range will dole out the pity plays and the guilt trips to break it and the Greater will lay on the charm. If you resist any of these responses we will be forced to withdraw and seek fuel from another source to address the wound that you have caused through ignoring us as a consequence of your silent treatment.

16 thoughts on “Questioning the Silence – FAQs Re The Narcissist’s Use of Silence Treatment

  1. jenna says:

    The last time we texted was 9 days ago. I ended it saying i have to go. So him not texting since – is it a silent treatment by him or a silent treatment by me? Thank u.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      By him. You don’t do silent treatments, you are not one of us. What you have done however is implement 9 days of no contact (assuming you haven’t contact him in any other way, been looking at his social media etc).

  2. Lisa says:

    Hi HG, I’m in a position I’ve never been in . I was devalued again so I digarded and he turned nasty this was after 10 months back together. He’s hoovered after 2 months silent treatment first an email then a phone call withheld number then followed by 3 big texts , he wants me back he’s going to get treatment he loves me. For the first time in 2 and a half years I ignored everything then I finally sent a text saying you’ve had 2 and a half years I’ve heard it all before I’m not interested. He then text saying he loves me but he respects I’ve moved on he won’t contact me again. This is new territory because I’ve always gone back when he’s done this. Now I’ve ignored and said NO. This has never happened before this is 2 days ago. Due to my refusal to get into conversation with him and saying no and ignoring the pity plays will he actually go now. He knows this is different as I’ve never done this before. I don’t know what to expect and he ended by saying he does love me but will not contact me again ? I did not respond. This has always worked for him before so I’m sure he’s a little shocked.

  3. RS says:

    So if we learn to recognize the mind-fuckery they do to us and we don’t participate, does this keep us safe from them and their antics? Can we be around them if we don’t play?

  4. Star says:

    Hi HG was wondering if you could answer a question or direct me to a specific blog. I’m wondering what is is that draws us empaths into a Narc? Even if we are through, even if we are logical, even if we understand, even if we find him pathetic and disgusting and unattractive …there still seems to be this energetic pull( best way I can describe.) Instinctivley one wants to run away and feels ill around him, but there is still this energetic field of sorts that after every run in with him I still feel depleted depressed sad and desperate after wards. I even sometimes feel insecure and powerless, like my soul has been sucked out of me and replaced by darkness. I need to not feel this anymore.thank u:)

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Please see the book Sitting Target.

  5. Thanks for shedding more light on the Mid-Range Narc and the Absent Silent Treatments. You have answered many questions.

  6. Mona says:

    Sorry, new word creation. slingering= slinking

  7. Mona says:

    He indeed came slingering back, when I did not to react to his silent treatment. He interpreted it wrong. He thought it was a silent treatment by me to punish him. I had a different intention. It was a “Good bye.” He could not understand it. I noticed that he was surprised. And I could not understand, why he thought, I am still interested in him, when I did not react for two weeks. I thought it was clear. Total different ways of thinking.

  8. Chanty says:

    I know this is sick and unhealthy. I have been experiencing this hell for 5 years. The silent treatment gets longer and longer. I dont know what is wrong with me. I finally discarded him in March. I felt strong. I blocked him and went nc. I unblocked him in June like an idiot and made up some weak stupid excuse in my own mind to justify messaging him from my new cell number. Of course no reply. I let it go but its bothered me. So in on a emotional night i braved it and called. He had mozt deffinetly blocked my number. Which now leads me to believe maybe i was wrong. Maybe he isnt a narc. He isnt gaining fuel if he isnt reading my msgs and blocked them. What are your thougjts / predictions HG ?

  9. M. says:

    It is always troubling at the beginning. When you don’t know the person and the sudden shift to silence worries you a lot. You are afraid you have hurt him, you blame yourself. Then, gradually, you learn. Then you may even start the silent treatment yourself. Or, it can happen simultaneously. For me it comes naturally with him now, and I am never the one to break it. Sometimes I thought, why did I just stop responding or trying to reach him, why didn’t I say this and that? Now, especially after all the lessons about fuel, I totally vote for silence.

  10. Scout says:

    An excellent blog that demystifies the silent treatment and how to handle it. I only wish I’d known about you HG, and this blog when he went absent for over 3 months last year (I found out who he was with). It’s feels odd to learn now what I needed to know then…
    Thanks all the same for passing on The Knowledge.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      You are welcome.

  11. Silence says:

    Oh, yes!!!
    My father used so much silent treatment that when the narc I was involved with did it, I knew very well what to do. Silent treatment back and let him wondering what is happening, that you are not chasing such God of love :)))
    HG Tudor, you inspiring me with each of your article and I will waiting the next heat with my, returning for more, player. You give us knowledge how to smash bones 🙂 Thank you for your existence.
    P.S. I have a feeling that some of your kind are not only sadists, but masochist as well.

  12. Mary says:

    Excellent post, HG.

    Still trying to figure out if my hub is a narc or what kind. He uses the silent treatment if he feels like I disrespected him or when he thinks I’m being arrogant. It tends to follow a rage, particularly if I bark back. He is present in that he goes about his routine and doesn’t vanish, but he’s gone up to 3 days without speaking to me while living in the same house. The first time it happened was over a smoothie that he overturned or spilled in anger. He was making the smoothie and I thanked him, but he was being snappy and cruel in demeanor so rather than wait on him to finish, I told him I can’t be around him right now, and went on to work.

    When I got home, the smoothie was overturned and drying on the stove top. (It hadn’t splashed or anything, was in a neat, contained puddle.) He did not speak to me for 3 days. I didn’t want him to, because this felt like mindfuckery and I was in shock. His mother was soon arriving to stay with us for a week, so I finally asked him when he plans to clean up the mess. He said “I was going to ask you the same.” I said no, I didn’t spill anything. He said, “You MADE me do it!!!” Said I had been ungrateful and arrogant to just leave at that moment. He said I abandoned him when he needed me most. I had gone to work rather than wait on the smoothie because he was being a dick and yelling! I still wish to this day that I had just left it alone and let his mother see the spilled drink and then I could have told her to ask her son. But she would have just cleaned up after him anyway. I don’t know how long that silent treatment would have continued if we hadn’t been expecting her arrival and had to get to acting like things are normal.

    He does a lot of shorter silent treatments, and like HG said, they tend to resolve when he wakes up. Sometimes he goes into the bedroom and pulls the covers over his head like a toddler. I have learned not to run after him asking what is wrong. If I do, he will rage more. I don’t give him that ammo or he will be even nastier. He rages, but stops just shy of hitting.

    HG, do mid-rangers have rage that leads into silent treatments? Or is that for a lesser only? Like I said, it’s a controlled rage most of the time, and I think he knows if he hit me or the dog outright, the police would be called and I would not stay.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Mid Rangers tend to use Cold Fury most. Please read the book Fury for more.

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