Questioning the Silence – FAQs About The Silent 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.

40 thoughts on “Questioning the Silence – FAQs About The Silent Treatment

  1. wildviolet22 says:

    My silent treatments started relatively early (about 8 months in), the push- pull behaviors pretty much from the beginning. I had just lost the person closest to me, in a sudden and tragic death, and was really struggling to deal with both of these things at the same time.

    At first I tried to talk it out with him, like with a regular person, which sometimes resulted in improved behavior, sometimes with excuses, but then it would always eventually go back to dysfunction. Next I decided no matter how much time passed, come hell or high water, I would not reach out a second time. I broke out my Cognitive Behavior Therapy material, and started reviewing that. Also, I’d go on YouTube and watch Lisa Romano, Kris Godinez, and Shari Schreiber videos (eventually I found some HG Tudor videos, and this website, which really put it all together for me). When it got really hard, I just kept reminding myself of all of the things I have been through, and told myself I could do it. So when my crazy discard came, I had fortunately trained myself enough to be away from the person, by not giving in to silent treatments and getting used to time away, and that gave me the push I needed to block and delete him.

  2. Cindy says:

    My husband gives me the silent treatment every time I dare to tell him that I am not happy about something he has done. There have times when it has lasted 3 weeks or more. I’m tired of it and have told him so. He’s been giving me the silent treatment this time for 4 days now. It’s ok. I’m not talking to him either at this point and am considering filing for a divorce. I am tired of it.

    1. K says:

      You may find this comment helpful. Don’t tell him you are considering a divorce; read the links below. Just ignore him, pretend he doesn’t exist and he may switch manipulations.

      HG Tudor says:
      December 24, 2019 at 09:32
      That is a Present Silent Treatment and is a form of manipulation to deflect from being accountable to you. It is done to assert control over you as your question amounts to Challenge Fuel.

  3. ali says:

    I FEEL SUICIDAL today… praying God will give me the serenity to accept the things I can not change .

    1. Gabrielle says:

      You’re not alone in that sentiment. Stay strong.

    2. Yolo says:


      You have the power within you to change those thoughts and emotions. Don’t allow the devil to win. You are loved and valued more than you will ever know.

      Try replacing those thoughts with pleasant thoughts like activities yoi enjoy, think of memorable quotes that give you peace.

      Try not to judge yourself speak words of affirmation:
      I am loving, truthful, peaceful, honest, a person of great integrity.

      Remember feelings are fleeting, hope and faith is everlasting. If you need to reach out please contact the national suicide hotline.

      Live in the moment, release the desire to control.

      Be well… I have been there and the thoughts still appear.

      Peace and Blessings

    3. K says:

      I don’t know exactly what you are feeling right now but I am here for you. Please let me know how I can help you.

    4. Overthinker says:

      Please seek professional help I struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts in my early twenties do not go through this alone there’s no shame in getting help I won’t bore u telling u he’s not worth it even though he’s not u need professional assistance at this time these feelings are going to be distant memories someday but u need help today

  4. robins359 says:

    Dr Q: I have indeed!!!

  5. Dr. Harleen Quinzel PsyD. says:

    If I’m in a relationship with someone and he has the balls to silent treatment me for more than 24 hours – I’m single.

    I have never stayed loyal during a silent treatment.


    1. robins359 says:

      It nearly drove me insane. I had thoughts of suicide. Now that I know what it is, I will be just like you, Dr. Q! I will never accept this kind of treatment again.

      1. K says:

        Damn straight, robins359! Never again!

        1. robins359 says:


      2. Dr. Harleen Quinzel PsyD. says:


        That’s the spirit! There’s no excuse for silence. They wanna silent treatment us? Well…. let’s give them the permanent silent treatment.

      3. Tappan Zee says:

        Robin359— 5+ months out. still think about suicide, it’s a climb. i am not there yet.

        1. robins359 says:

          Your life is worth so much more than that. Once you are on the other side and see that, it will all make sense. Being involved with their kind makes you love yourself more in the end. You will find you will think more highly of yourself than you ever did before. . . I promise.

          1. K says:

            I have a list of people I would kill before I would even think of killing myself.

          2. robins359 says:

            Me too but I don’t think I would do prison very well! LOL

  6. Noname says:

    Hi there HG! Thank for sharing this. I responded the silent with silence. I blocked him in all social media and way of contact. When Í felt remorse (weeks later) he showed up, starter sending msgs from nowhere and when he got my attention he blocked me back. I never chased bom after that. It’s been 8 monthes already. Days ago he added me in a social media Í guess by mistake, because he cancelled that right after. I suppose he was stalking me. After so long time, does he still consider me a property? Is that possible?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      You will always be his property in his mind until either he dies or you do.

  7. Kayla says:

    My ex silence me 11 months still on going caused me nothing but trouble

  8. Kayla says:

    My ex silenced me 11 months ago still on going causing me nothing but trouble

  9. Mercy says:

    Reading the comments about mothers giving their children the silent treatment makes me so angry. I did not have narc parents. I do not know how that feels but I have children and I could never imagine them being treated this way. I truly feel horrible for those that had to grow up with a narc parent. As an adult the silent treatment is so painful. I can’t imagine putting a child through something like that.

    Engaging with a narcissist as an adult is a choice (even though it’s almost impossible to break free at times) but as a child you have no choice. I’m sad for all that had to endure that situation.

  10. Cathrine says:

    The infamous silent treatment. My mother did it to me for a week at a time sometimes, managing it that long for a present ST, talking to me if really need be through my father or sister. My ex did it to me all the time. Both present and absent. The worst manipulation of all for me! Being passively aggressive means not even being accountable for your own anger. Childish and horrible!

    1. Caroline says:

      I’m so sorry your Mom did that to you, Catherine. 🙁 I can understand how awful it was for you. The first time I’d ever experienced a ST was when I was in college. My roommate suddenly – and completely – stopped talking to me. It lasted an entire week, and no amount of pleading with her to tell me what was wrong made her stop. It totally unnerved me! I ended up hanging out with my suite mates each day until bedtime, because I just couldn’t deal with it. She initially kept talking to them, but when they intervened to ask her why she was doing that to me, she stopped talking to them also. We were all wigged out! When she finally ended the ST, she told me she was hurt because some guy she liked (on our floor) was paying too much attention to me. I was stunned! I already had a boyfriend, and I hadn’t even noticed this guy paying attention to me…I told her to just talk to me next time. I remember thinking it was such a childish way for her to handle her feelings – and thinking one of her parents must have dealt with conflict that way. But the ST is brutal…and wouldn’t ya know, it’s what my (narcissist) ex-BF used the most on me.

  11. Diva says:

    Hi Gabbanzobean……..I was truly saddened to read about your most recent meeting with your narc, however you must not dwell on him, other than to remind yourself never to repeat it. Unfortunately the past cannot be changed but your future can be…….thank you for posting your story and truth……..I am not too sure that I would have done so myself (I am not as brave as you are)…….but if your story stops even just one more of us making the same mistake, then at least something good came out of it. It certainly has helped me concentrate my mind as I was hoovered myself a couple of weeks ago………Diva

    1. gabbanzobean says:

      Diva, as much as I am hurting I am glad that I can indirectly help you. I do not think I am brave. I hoped to go prepared knowing what he is and has said and done and as soon as he touched me, hugged me, etc. I went weak in the knees and all rational thought went out the window. I was putty in his hands. Again.

      1. Diva says:

        Gabbanzobean… were brave to admit the truth and also brave to admit you were wrong, in how you envisaged this meeting would go ahead and what would ensue. It’s a hard lesson to learn, never mind share, but one you needed to go through…….I hope it is the last one for you…..only you can decide that. (It is probably no consolation to you at this moment, but I would guess the majority of those on this blog have been exactly were you are now and can vividly remember there own case history.)…………Diva

      2. Nuit Étoilée says:

        Dear Gabbanzo & Diva,

        Thank you both for your honesty – I appreciate knowing others who were caught.. again..
        i keep re-starting the counter.. longest I’ve ever managed to go so far is about a month – luckily just messages so that helps. *back to counting…

        Have either of read about the Stockholm syndrome effect as it relates to emotional abuse? It really helped me to be gentler on myself and understand the neuro side of the addiction to these oh-so-seductive narcs.. of which Mr HG is one (omg his voice!)

        This post was an eye-opener for me.. particularly glad that mine is a mid-ranger.. would not have wanted one like you, HG..

        Thank you for the warning.. I’m dreading an actual hoover… but it helps me to leave it.. you are very helpful…

  12. gabbanzobean says:

    “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.“

    So this must be what my mid range meant when he said “it feels like no time at all has passed, like we just pressed the pause button” (after five months of no contact being broken which has led me to where I am today). Sigh. Back on the horse.

  13. gabbanzobean says:

    My mid-range cerebral loves to silent me. It usually has not lasted more than 2 weeks although now having just seen him, caved and given into intimacy I am sure that shit is going to last even longer.

  14. kimmichaud1 says:

    Is it safe to say if u have not heard a peep in 3 months it’s a discard?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      No it is not safe to say.

  15. K says:

    My MMRN was not big on STs. I think his mother and nanna used them and he did not like it. In 2015 I booked a flight for New Mexico and left without telling him. I would have stayed indefinitely, however, I missed my 5-year old daughter. My trip lasted 3 weeks and I never contacted him and he ignored me. When I returned he seemed relieved.

  16. gareth says:

    My silent treatments where always used as disappearing acts. Any kind of disagreement gone for a day or more. A lot were disappearing to go drinking. I’m going to the store. She would answer the phone maybe once then stop and show up at varying degrees of the night

  17. Gareth says:

    Hi HG,

    Does a lower mid-range expect to be chased after they have discarded you, And if you do not and go along with the silent treatment is this regarded as a wounding that we have not come running back for forgiveness.


    1. HG Tudor says:

      No such thing as a discard.

      1. robins359 says:

        I think we both discarded each other. He knows that I know what he is and about all of his games and that is why I am not “fun” anymore. We both agreed that we have outgrown each other. This thing is DONE!

  18. cantevergoback says:

    I gave in to his hoovering and then I gave him the silent treatment for 2 days as he had done to me so many times before, he responded by sending me a picture of him and his new supply and said “that’s what real happy smiles look like, so you can hate that”
    I did not respond nor did I respond to his email 3 days later asking if I am thinking of him at all…my plan is to give him a PERMANENT silent treatment and I feel better everyday!!

  19. Narc hater says:

    My mother would not speak to me for 5 days, untill I said ‘sorry’ (sometimes I didn’t even know what for..). When I was angry with my own children sometimes I wanted to give them the silent treatment, but I never did, because I remembered how awful it was. My husband always ignored everything about me, but the basic things like what’s for dinner or so.. If I’d tried to speak about ‘us’, he would just ignore me and keep silent. My selfworth had completely gone. My boyfriend ignores me too and today I decided to ignore him for the rest of my life. I’m GOSO.. for ever and I’ll never ever let a narcissist ruin my life again. I was going to say thanks H.G., but I hate you too.

Vent Your Spleen! (Please see the Rules in Formal Info)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Previous article

Cheating On The Narcissist