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.

26 thoughts on “Saying Nothing To Tell You Everything

  1. Gen says:

    Emotionally unavailable is what I meant in my last comment HG, damn typo.

  2. Gen says:

    I Approached him on his silence and he said he is in a bad headspace and not emotionally available and he said I need you to move forward whilst still leaving communication going. Hmmm what’s his play here HG?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Provoking you to provide fuel.

  3. why cant you just tell them this lol?? wouldn’t that be easier

  4. Narc Angel says:

    I remember feeling hurt as a child when my mother would not speak to me. I assumed then it was because she was containing her own pain, but In retrospect it appears she was sharing it.

  5. David Dakan Allison says:

    I’m writing a book about men and abuse. Totally love everything you write. Want to keep quoting you – a bit then I will direct to you.

  6. Nina says:

    HG, are silent treatments done also as punishment? Is the narcissist aware how much anguish and anxiety that they cause us? The first few years the absent silent treatments used to literally destroy me but when he came back I would be too relieved to question him. I would frantically call and text to find him but to no avail. He would come back as if nothing had happened, no explanation.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Yes. Yes.

      1. Nina says:

        Thank you HG!!

  7. Jane Hall says:

    HG – My husband begged me not to leave him – not to go off and live by myself because he has already “lost so much, a job, his driving licence” {due to long standing diabetes complications} and he LOVES me so much. I actually pity him. Felt sorry for him, begging me not to go live apart from him. It was actually PITIFUL. But, 10 days later – here I am being ignored. All because I came in from work yesterday {having finished 40 hours in a week on a busy, hectic ward} I asked my daughter if she was Ok. For that my husband told me to “Go back to work” and ignored me. It is ridiculous. Can you tell me HG, why would my husband do this? If he was so desperate for me to stay with him – WHY ignore me when I have worked so hard all week and over Christmas period – over something so trite?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      It is being done for fuel and control. You have done something (from his perspective) which merits being treated in this way. You, being empathic, need to find an answer based on your perception, however you often will be unable to do so. That is why you are better realising you are being treated this way because he is a narcissist and then take steps to protect yourself, rather than repeatedly trying to fathom out what it is that you have done/not done, because after all, even if you think you have worked it out (and usually you are wrong) and try to correct it, it will not work. Apply your efforts to those matters which you can control (you and no contact) and not to those matters you cannot control (the narcissist and his behaviours).

      1. o,,, says:

        like 🙂

  8. Maria-Louise Warne says:

    This article is so true. Being manipulated with silence is the clearest way of saying so much…… none of it good!

    I wait with patience, obey, accept him as he is other women and all! But it’s never enough. I am just fuel, someone to manipulate and humiliate.

    I have low self esteem but have self respect. I know I am a good, kind and loyal person but at the same time accept the silences, the violence, the aggression. Who is really to blame?

    The narcissist is just made this way and can’t help but feed off others, they have to. But do we really have to take it? What makes us keep going back for more year afyer year. It’s like banging your head on a brick wall. It hurts so why do it over and over again hoping for a different result. He rang tonight got angry so now I must be punished with silence until he calls again and wants something, mainly my heaet and soul on a plate. It’s so sad for everyone but it’s the way it is. A narcissist can’t change and not can the co dependant.

  9. cheyenne says:

    All I can say to generalize what I think.about such an utterly inhumane digusting way of treating another human being is WTF ever!!
    I don’t get how you can compare a child sulking over getting another biscuit as ST!?
    And I’d be curious as to know what sort of people would never countenance such behavoir and
    what sort of consequences would the child need to pay??!
    An extremely sick ass behavoir lasting months some narcs will execute. I wish I knew what actual way i could backlash to that MF of such horrid behavoir!! I know i personably had no trouble insulting him in every way i could after the first longest occurence of it! I’ve called him more names than he has me because I think treating a close friend/lover or family member like that is just abhorrently shitty!! So what type of empath does this make me, HG?? An ungrateful neglected childish one? I didn’t expect much in the relationship bcause I initially wasn’t wanting a relationship thus there wasn’t much of a golden period.
    And one of the commenters says this silence is not a discard??! It pretty much was in my case with a three month silence then finally a first hoover. I don’t think he expected me to blow as much steam as i did critisizing his measly pathetic ass self. It’s been four months this time. Good riddance. I’m done critisizing. But i will hear no more pity ploys etcetera. I ascertained surely what he was after first silence. Never bought into the manipulations afterward. Some of them were the sweetest he ever had said too 🙁

  10. Tracy says:

    I felt a strong urge to respond to this because I’ve been on the receiving end of the so called silent treatment from my mother. She would sulk for weeks after a disagreement, or for any reason at all. She would ignore me when I tried to talk to her or tell me to be quiet. She would talk over me but not to me. Never saying my name. I was a she or her. There was rarely any conversations in the home at all.

    After 21 years of living in a quiet household in my early years I grew to be a socially awkward woman. Painfully shy but desperate to fit in, so I had friends but I was the quiet one. Luckily I could rely on my looks to find a boyfriend because I couldn’t hold a conversation with anyone I was attracted to.

    Now I’m in my late 40s with 2 children, I’ve gained more confidence and vocabulary over the years but my biggest fear.. is being in a group of people and having to join in the chat. The fear of saying anything is overwhelming, my heart races, I sweat, get a lump in my throat, and if I say anything I’m usually so quiet so it’s hard to be heard.

    I know now that this anxiety is simply a fear of being ignored. Because the pain i felt from being ignored or not allowed to talk at home has stayed with me. I’m still frightened I’ll be laughed at, blanked or just not acknowledged at all. I’m super sensitive to people’s reactions.

    Sometimes I just don’t know what to say in social situations so people think that I’m too quiet or that I’m not interested in them.
    This isn’t the case it’s just my fear taking over.

    So to sum this up I’ve experienced both sides of it. But the fear of talking isn’t even recognised I don’t think. It probably comes under the umbrella of social anxiety.
    I would love to hear from someone who can relate to this.

    1. Nina says:

      Tracy, my father did exactly the same things as your mother and I reacted the quite the same way you did. I was a very quiet child, very shy and spoke very quietly. It took me many years to overcome this.

      Finding dates was not a problem ever because men are visual and I would have no problem communicating one-on-one and once I got to know them. Social situations and making small talk used to be so hard for me when I was younger.

      Because of my career, and being forced to interact with people, I’ve overcome most of it. It’s still nerve wracking to make public speeches but it doesn’t frighten me quite as much.

      On some level, the silent treatment from the narcissist must bring back that pain from childhood and it seems amplified. I mean he can inflict so much pain by simply not saying a word. It seems so irrational but this is how I feel.

  11. K says:

    Being an empath probably has a lot to do with genetics and environment. I don’t feel particularly spiritual about much but I think life has a lot to do with luck and survival.

  12. Mary says:

    The “silent treatment” is so demeaning and painful. My father would do that to my mom and me. Sometimes for months at a time! Perhaps I HAVE experienced another narcissist before this? Perhaps that is why this is especially excruciating? Why did I turn out to be a kind and empathetic person in spite of my abuse as a child? I keep asking the Universe what spiritual lessons I am in need of? Anyone else feel this way?

    1. Catherine says:

      Yes, Mary, me too. I’m wondering as well how I turned out the person I did after my childhood abuse. I know I was the scapegoat of my mother’s abuse while my sister was the golden child. She could do no wrong while I was constantly pushed to the emotional extremes; I turned out an empathetic person while my sister is more normal on the scale. I think I was chosen to be the scapegoat because of my high sensitivity and because she never could understand me. I’m my father’s daughter and me and my mother have nothing much in common.

      Could it be something similar in your family dynamics?

    2. Windstorm2 says:

      Both my parents were narcs, but I’m not. I was just born this way. Keep asking the universe your questions and it will send you answers.

    3. Blank says:

      You are an empathic person because that is the way your brain is wired. There is no such thing as a spiritual lesson of the Universe, but you can learn from everything you have experienced in your life. There is of course your ‘history’, like parents, friends, etc., who taught you certain things. Peoples words and actions may have caused you to suffer, back when you were a child or (still) right now, living with, or trying to stay away from a narcissist. It may have affected your self-esteem. What you need to do is to seperate your emotional thinking from your rational thinking. That’s the only way you can get out and stay out of abusive relationships. Read everything there is to read about NPD.
      My mother was, and still is, very good at silent treatments. Only now I don’t care anymore, so she will not really profit from it. I just wait till she starts talking again. My nex-husband ignored me almost all the time.
      Your thinking can go completely crazy and all kind of ways, maybe spiritual also, but you need to try to step back and take a look at yourself from a distance and then start to think logically, rationally. The emotional thinking will get better once you go No Contact with your narc. If he his completely out of sight and out of reach, you will start thinking less of him, but you need to put in some effort to distract yourself and to keep the hurt always in mind, so you will never go back.
      Take care Mary! x

    4. Bubbles🍾 says:

      Dear Mary,

      That would be me …. I can relate to everything you just said

  13. Caroline says:

    I’ve learned a lot here about narcissistic silence (thanks, HG). The nuances involved with STs are wild. I was pretty positive that an arranged phone call that the narcissist dumped out on was a discard… but when I described it to HG, he said no, it was a silent treatment + manipulation. I still thought my NC was going to be smooth sailing..

    But HG was totally right — it was not a discard. It was almost the opposite. Not only is this guy trying to bust my NC, but in hindsight, I’m finally clear on what the heck I was/am to him: a candidate IPPS…which is pretty weird, because I was his GF quite a ways back, and I was (present day) BEING an NISS to him. But there’s little doubt now about his mindset.

    This narcissism thing is still hard to get a handle on… at least for me. I’m still learning.

    So I’ll be under my bed until 2018 (I’ve been forewarned he’s “passing through” my area sometime this week). I know he’s an Elite, but I still don’t know if he’s an UMR or Greater… and I can’t pinpoint what kind of Empath I am, other than the “Lucille Ball Empath.” One thing is for darn sure: this situation is not yet under control!

    Can’t wait to crawl out on New Year’s Day and have some wine, cheese and crackers… and I absolutely aim to be less Pollyanna-like in 2018.

    Cheers, all.

    1. Bubbles🍾 says:

      Dear Caroline,
      The silent treatment…. I know it well!
      I think narcissism is an area where we will never stop learning. Our “goodness” keeps getting us into trouble! We need it as a reference guide!
      My girlfriends nicknamed me “Pollyanna” ages ago …. I know right!
      2018 will be one where I literally stay away from people
      Wine cheese n crackers is my favourite … haha
      Cheers right back 😘🍷

  14. seaShell says:

    My sister does this to my ageing mother all the time. She worries and frets and tries to contact her and all to no avail. Then she just expalins it away as my sister being thoughtless. When contact eventually arrives she questions why and emotes down the phone about how thoughtless her actions were. All the while I can imagine the reptilian grin (I’ve seen it many times) on the other end of the phone line as my mum continues to reprimand and explain how worried she’s been.

  15. Tizzzi says:

    I’ve always known that. I just could not believe that there are people like that, and that unfortunately i was his target for his power’s games… my first answer has always been, how did i fall for a baby of 10 yrs old?? Am i a creep? Anyway i’ve learnt my lesson: never believe in people who act cutting the heads to others in order to seem higher themselves.

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