Has the Narcissist Disengaged Or Is It A Silent Treatment?

HAS THE NARCISSISTDISENGAGEDOR IS IT ASILENT TREATMENT?

I am often asked how somebody is able to distinguish between being subjected to a silent treatment or whether they have been disengaged from (discarded in old money) ?  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 disengagement?

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 disengagement.

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 disengagement? 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 disengage 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 disengaged from.

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 disengaged from, 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 disengagement is whether you can contact us (albeit not actually get a response) if you can it is silent treatment. If not, it is a disengagement.

There will also be occasions where the absence starts as a silent treatment and then becomes a disengagement. 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 disengaged from and the blocking will begin. The silent treatment shifts to become a disengagement through the period of absence.

A further way of determining whether this period of absence is a silent treatment or a disengagement  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 disengagement, you will have a greater idea that you have been disengaged from 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 disengaged from.

For those who wonder why I state disengage rather than discard, well,  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.

 

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34 thoughts on “Has the Narcissist Disengaged Or Is It A Silent Treatment?”

  1. I got curious: why are you providing all this information about how narcisssists function? Which is your real motivation to do so? Aren’t you saying what narcissists wish would be kept hidden from the general public?

  2. Would you say narcissists are cruel and only see people as objects they can use, never being able to love a person for real? Would you say they are emotionless and have a heart of stone, like psychopaths?

  3. I’m confused….my ex told me he is with someone new and then blocked my personal Facebook account. He blocked then unblocked my phone. I’m as certain as I can be that he’s been checking my business page regularly since then (I’ve had a notification of a view almost every day since he told me his news – though obviously there is no definite way to tell it’s him, the timing would indicate it most likely is). So is this a disengagement? Or a silent treatment, because I have a method of contact him if I wanted to? Is he just keeping tabs on me in case he feels like hoovering later? Or trying to provoke me contact him first?

    1. I need more information concerning your dynamic to provide you with an accurate answer and therefore recommend that you organise a consultation.

    2. I Had the exact same thing happen. I personally feel it is disengagement but they are not willing to completely disengage only disengage from expending the daily energy of maintaining you. You just have been a valuable source of supply

  4. MY husband is a narc he thought I didn’t know what he was…
    I left him before he could discard me he was furious
    Then he thought he could hoover me by text messages , instead of replying to his text I simply wrote “thank you for the flowers the text were lovely “ (of course he didn’t get me flowers no one did)
    I gave him a taste of his own medicine, I didn’t stick around to see if he liked the taste as I continued to go no contact

  5. Hg I was long distance with my ex boyfriend and I don’t think I was ever given a silent treatment in the year we dated. Is it possible for a mid ranger to not give silent treatments? We texted non stop and saw each other every weekend.

  6. HG is a mid ranger aware of the fact he pretending to be a good guy or does he genuinely think he is a good guy despite his bad behavior.

  7. My Covert Narc. husband usually uses the silent treatment, which can last for weeks at a time.
    He was diagnosed Bipolar, which to me is a major crazy making combination. I was wondering if the bipolar diagnosis causes the silent treatments to go on for so long, or is his thinking jumbled up instead of having a particular motivation for this action.
    ,

    1. I do not use the term covert – it is too broad brush.
      He sounds most likely Mid Range with such extensive silent treatments. I cannot comment on the impact of his bipolar condition.

      1. No, Tudor, not broad brush at all.

        It is very simple. If the Narc creates the façade and false personality for “external world” and protect it, he/she is covert.

        I’ve seen the overt Narcs and they all were Lessers. The Mid-Ranges and, especially, Greaters know how to hide themselves. You guys are smart as hell. Lol.

      2. i believe (from experience), bipolar is a diagnosis when uninformed mental health professionals know not of NPD… they are similar Sx…. however, Rx for BPD do not diminish the underlying NPD….

      3. I know know, Tudor, that you don’t use those terms. It took me for a while to accept your terminology (schools, cadres). Plus, I’ve accepted the term “Narcissist” as a general term for all types of ASPD here. Initially, I started to write about my first husband and Patrinarc, because they are the Narcissists exactly. My other Narcs are Sociopaths and I didn’t mention them as irrevelant. Now, I write about all of them here. Lol.

        But many people read other sources and they operate with covert/overt and Narcissist, Sociopath, Psychopath terminology and that causes some confusion when they find your blog.

        I’m not saying, whether it is good or bad. It works successfully and that is the main goal, I guess.

  8. Really insightful and good to know. Those silent treatments were the worst for me. I never could fathom how a grown man could act that cruel and just disappear off the face of the earth for an extended period of time. Now I do.

    Mine always did tell me beforehand what was the matter though. He accused me of something ridiculous and mean and then off he went, leaving me without any opportunity to defend myself. Powerless. When he did return he didn’t want any discussion, I was to blame for his broken heart and I should be grateful that he returned at all given the horrible person I was. In some cases he used the silent treatments to isolate me and control my behaviour in specific situations as well. We could be texting happily and when I told him I was off for a few glasses of wine with my friends all communication suddenly ceased. I would call, I would anxiously text him, and nothing. Often for a few days until he suddenly appeared out of the blue pretending nothing had happened. If I did ask and demanded an answer as to what had happened the story was always something about the phone not working or such. A blatant lie. So I did learn that seeing my friends for example was not a good idea without him ever having to forbid me doing it.

    I knew even back then, entangled in my confusing relationship, that he was manipulating me, that it was all about seizing power, holding power over me, but I made up all these idiotic excuses for him in me head all the time. If I did confront him and told him I was sick of his games of power he of course denied everything, was utterly stunned that I could be so viscous to him, and then there was hell to pay for it. Another prolonged silent treatment could commence.

    You can never ever win with a narcissist I’ve learned the hard way, except for leaving him and staying the hell away from him.

    1. Oh the phone not working!!! I’ve lost count of the number of times I heard that. My favorite was “my phone broke and I lost all my numbers from everyone I added to my phone after Feb 2016.” (Which was when I he first texted me). 🙄

      1. Oh, yes, the excuse of the phone not working seems to be a favourite. Mine once told me that he dropped the phone, the display thereby being shattered so he couldn’t see to read my texts. For a week!!

  9. This is a really good article, H.G.! Thank you.
    One of the most insightful things I learned from you is that there is no discard, just dis-engagement, but I had not yet been able to quite distinguish that from a prolonged silent treatment. These little bits of info are so precious. Thank you.

    1. You are welcome. Gaining understanding of various parts of the dynamic means you will alleviate confusion, reduce control, build your logic vessel and ultimately seize the power.

      1. Yes, how many times did he threaten to block me and then didn’t. How many fights he provoked and then when I predictably reacted, told me to just take a break from him… for now. Over and over tbis repeated. I learned enough here to somewhat flip the script. Poured on the fuel on purpose, begged, pleaded… let him do his denigration thing, tell me I had no self respect. Then I flipped it and told him I used him to work out my stuff. Did he really think I was that naive? I thanked him for letting me work out my abandonment issues even though he is too shallow to get it. Said I had done it all on purpose and he has no idea how to love and is a sociopath.

        I then went dead silent. Closed my old accounts he had me blocked on, reopened new ones, never added friends in common but 4 and that’s that. I am pretty sure he has seen my new accounts. I will never ever use them to contact him. A month later after that, he opened a new business account and blocked me on a new account, but he left the other accounts unblocked. The why now makes sense. He thought he disengaged and left it as he being in control but I think I took that from him. He will never, ever get a chance to threaten me again. If he blocks me now on the other accounts without any contact after 8 months, it will be nothing but a negative hoover and instead of being hurt by it, it will make me smug because I now know what it really means. He still “cares” in his fucked up way. But it will mean nothing. Its not caring.

        Thank you HG, because without your posts, which I read non-stop last fall and winter, I would not have figured out how to pay him back and take back my power. Every other normal attempt failed. You can win with your types as long as you really get the game and play it. But it takes immense work to get to that point and its monumental work and involves alot of pain to work through it all and requires a willingness to truly walk away and to not keep the narc around in any shape or form. I came out the other side and only faint echos of what I went through remain.

  10. HG, I do not know what kind of defenses to take up. My Upper Mid range ex had/has a malign obsession with me. I have mentioned a little bit of what our situation was. I am a Magnet Empath. So naturally, some of the manipulation tactic would be to abuse by proxy, smear, or harass my people/family. He was starting to lose big time, but I believe he finally got a Primary Source vs. multiple secondaries. i still deal with harassment on the days our child visits him.But now, they are usually petty, and short lived. He is very secretive, he wont share a whole lot about what he does with our child when she visits. what it does look like, is that he is in a new golden period with a supply source + he is Disney Land Dad (all fun, nothing serious with parenting), so obviously they all do a lot of fun things and take pictures. I do not ever ask what they do, I know he is trying to stay mysterious and I don’t want to look like I care. This honestly doesn’t get to my ego, I have been praying for him to move on for sometime. While all of this has been happening, I have been doing damage control. I am cleaning up the mess he made while he was around. Trying to make amends with the people he cause drama with, getting rest, peace and quite. But I also have this glow about me again, that empath energy is really lighting up like a like house again. People are flocking to me for no reason more than ever, and I even started a new job that i never expected and am excited about, In the back of my mind, I have a little bit of CPTSD.I feel like this is all too good to be true. I feel like all is a ticking time bomb, and at any minute now the Narcissist will come swinging in with an ax, breaking down my door with a “here’s Johnny!”. That is just a metaphor, but you get the picture. How do I keep this moment lasting longer, and how can I stay protected if he comes back with a vengeance. thanks

  11. Disengaged. Its finally over. It feels quiet, done with and over. Its really quiet. I finally cut the cord and nothing will ever reconnect it. Not him or me. Though I asked him last we ever talked last April how many people he has gone through. I think that is why he a few weeks later, made his social media friends list public after it was private the entire time he had that account. AND also why he made a point of later sharing those memory posts of how long someone has had a FB frienfship. Seems such a coincidence otherwise.

    But quiet. Over. Just sometimes I am amazed at how much it was all an incredible lie and that keeps him there in my head as I still can’t believe sometimes what he did. But all the angst, all the profound hurt, all of the anger on my part is gone. I left 2 public IG attacks about him which he may never see (I did not tag him) but I will never, ever delete them. My comments calling him out with no emotion as a sociopath will stay forever.

    I feel like my old self again and over it all finally. I severed all mutual online friendships but 4 though none of them are close to him and at least one of the 4 knows what and who he is. At least all I got from the experience was a chance to lay his hatred to rest even if it took 3 years for his hate to stop hurting so incredibly badly.

  12. HG- my ex fiancé broke up with me 7 months ago when he called off the wedding. Before I found you and realized he was a midranger and I am a super empath, I texted him twice about one month after discard and we texted back and forth and he was super nice like nothing happened. He then tried to Hoover me by stopping by my house (thank God I was not there) about 3 months after he left. I have been no contact for 6 months and he hasn’t tried again (that I know of) Is this disengagement or silent treatment?

      1. Thank you for the response HG. I am pleased that it is escape because that’s even better for wounding him. I am proud to be the only ex he has ever proposed to as well as the only ex who has ever escaped him.

        Now the score is:
        mid ranger – 3439745 super empath- 2

  13. What about “threatening” to block saying “it’s the best thing to do for both of our interests” but then not actually blocking at all?

    Also what if none of the things on the list of why you disengage is happening? Is it possible that one of your sources just gets stale and you need to taste some new fuel so to say? What if we didn’t wound you? Or is our fuel becoming boring a form of wounding? Even though we don’t realize it?

    1. That is done to provoke you to gain fuel, then confuse you because you have not been blocked and for you to feel grateful it has not happened. It is akin to dangling you over a chasm but not letting go and you become relieved for not being dropped (thus you provide fuel and become bound tighter) when really you should be kicking off for being dangled over the chasm to begin with.

      The staleness of your fuel does amount to wounding.

      1. “…when really you should be kicking off for being dangled over the chasm to begin with.” This phrase gives the message clearly enough with so few words..

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