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.

33 thoughts on “Questioning The Silence – FAQs About The Silent Treatment

  1. Queen 3 says:

    How do the silent treatments apply to the SIPPS? If he is questioned does that turn into any absent silent treatment and how long is it before I should consider it as a disengagement

    1. HG Tudor says:

      They are Corrective Devaluations.
      It may turn into an AST.
      It is not the time period which is the governing factor, but access.

  2. Insatiable Learner says:

    Thank you, HG. So you are saying he said it to provoke. well, it did provoke a strong emotional response inside of me but i did not say anything. To be honest, I was afraid to correct him because I thought it would wound him (me suggesting he does not remember correctly, you know i thought it would be like I am challenging his superiority). Do you think just knowing me even without me saying anything, he knew it would evoke my emotional response internally? Do you think not correcting him was the right response?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Not responding to the provocation is the appropriate response. He may have obtained Thought Fuel from the reaction he envisioned but he wanted Proximate Fuel, he wanted to witness the reaction.

      1. Insatiable Learner says:

        What about the wounding then? Would someone correcting the narc wound him? Or it would not if delivered with fuel? That would be challenge fuel? You often talk about narcs hating it when they are challenged. is this so when challenge is delivered with no fuel?

        1. HG Tudor says:

          Being corrected without fuel will wound. With fuel it is challenge fuel.

  3. Queen 3 says:

    Is it common for a shelved secondary source to get the silent treatment? After reading your descriptions, I think I would be a IPSS that is often on the shelf but many times he doesn’t respond to my texts, especially if I ask a question. He recently has begun giving answers to my questions about our status seeming annoyed but never seems to discard. However, if I don’t contact him, he doesn’t contact me and says if he sees me that’s fine, if he doesn’t, that is fine too. Does this sound like I’m on the shelf, being given a silent treatment, or being given a test?

  4. Sarah says:

    I target practice with their heads when narcissists beneath me are dumb enough to try subject me to any type of disrespect. Especially the silent treatment or petty wannabe triangulation or devaluation or discard attempts.

    Then to reiterate my point I aim at all their friends necks with sleep darts.

    You get what you give.

    Bunk gets bunk.

    Value gets value

  5. tammy moon says:

    p.s. no more begging and pleading i iniciated no contact for ever 5 days strong

    1. feraltarot says:

      oh my god. don’t ever let anyone tell you your work is wrong or bad. you officially win the best prize ever #1 worthy of being a narcissist unapologetically.

      i survived physical, sexual, emotional and mental abuse from my mother and no one believes me. i just left my partner of 2 years for all of these tactics you just listed, and because she’s a woman, no one believes me. she plays it off like the victim and is constantly in pain, but has no problem updating every other social media format around me while ignoring my “hey how are you are you ok?” this has been the main issue for the entirety of our two year relationship, and i couldn’t fully wrap my head around it, she had so many excuses. thank you for your style of writing, because she acts so much ilke the pitiful sad princess but has every aspect of her life taken care of. i almost didn’t make it on NYE when she begged me to cancel my plans to be with her, and then cancelled on me last minute and left me alone knowing i’ve been suicidal this last year. every one of her friends thinks i’m crazy, when really i just want a simple level of human communication. i have a lot of work to do, and your writing is helping me more than any other information i’ve sought out so far. i needed thils level of detail and explaination, as i was groomed to be a narcissist by a narcissist parent. i know all these games, but i am an empath and have been in therapy to heal… well… until her needs became more important than mine somehow. time to get myself the help i need to heal!

      my favorite kind of hero is the anti-hero, and your honesty makes you a hero in my eyes.

      1. HG Tudor says:

        Thank you FT.

        I have no issue with people lambasting me for what I am, however I will correct inaccurate statements.

  6. tammy moon says:

    i ended relationship with narc over texts he gave me a thumbs up which made me go into a blind rage over text without me knowing that he was a narc i killed his manhood, called him oh all his B.S. group chatted some of our freinds and thier significant others without him and announced to them that it was over explaining to them some of his hideous behavior to emabarressed to say and the narc went back and forth over texts….then he discarded me and silent treatment i begged and pleaded him to come back he text me a lil crumbs then continued the silent treatment…i hate his guts

  7. Tigerlily says:

    Hi HG,
    Even before I learned about narcissism. I realised something wasn’t right from the first silent treatment. Lies, secrecy and conflicting accounts gave other clues. I saw how he acted around other women and the effect he had on them.
    I have never got in touch first during an absence of contact. I never run after him and when he finally gets in touch I never answer straight away. Four years on the most recent silent treatment lasted a month and I answered two weeks later. He is attached, I’m guessing a mid ranger and he is constantly on the look out for more supply. I suspect a new supply has been the reason for this, the longest silent treatment thus far. Since I don’t respond in the usual way, what is the most likely longterm outcome?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      He will continue as he does because it evidently serves his purposes otherwise he would not be doing it.

  8. Gareth says:

    I never received any present silent treatments, but I got hundreds of absent silent treatment. Most were around drinking. Leave to pick up dinner from the store then stop answering the phone or text, then show up back at the house 4 or 5 in the morning. The other one was any kind of argument would cause a longer absent silent treatment for 3 or 4 days. Is this I assume all normal?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      It is not regarded as normal behaviour, but it is entirely common when in a relationship with a narcissist.

  9. Jasmine says:

    I’m so used to needing “downtime” or needing to go off by myself to sort things out.. it took me a while to realize he was distant. Never did I understand it to be punishment, nor did I realize *my* alone time was wounding.

    Interesting. Thank you.

  10. Nina says:

    At first I used to obsess about the absent silent treatments and wonder what, if anything, I had done to cause them. These thoughts would plague my mind, but I knew it wasn’t rational. It seemed he was punishing me or sending some sort of message. The silent treatments got longer and longer. I begged and pleaded with him to tell me if anything was wrong, but to no avail. He would read my texts and not reply. Days would go by, I would give up hope of ever hearing from him, and then finally he would contact me. Of course, at this point I would be too grateful that he had reached out, to question him. He really knew how to manipulate, and drive me mad.

  11. Insatiable Learner says:

    HG, when a secondary source is placed on the shelf, are they deleted?

    1. HG Tudor says:


      1. Insatiable Learner says:

        Thank you, HG! Then what is their status/ state in the narc’s mind?

        1. HG Tudor says:

          On the shelf. Naturally. Meaning the individual remains white and we will throw comfort crumbs your way to maintain control and respond pleasantly albeit briefly and intermittently if you contact us say by text or social media.

      2. Insatiable Learner says:

        Thank you very much, HG! I appreciate the clarification!

      3. Queen 3 says:

        Is it common for a shelved secondary source to get the silent treatment? After reading your descriptions, I think I would be a IPSS that is often on the shelf but many times he doesn’t respond to my texts, especially if I ask a question. He recently has begun giving answers to my questions about our status seeming annoyed but never seems to discard. Does this sound like I’m on the shelf or being given a silent treatment?

        1. HG Tudor says:

          More likely you are on the shelf. Silent Treatments are given to Shelf Secondary Sources but many people confuse being on the shelf with a silent treatment.

          1. Queen 3 says:

            So if I am on the shelf and don’t send him messages or reply with no fuel to his when he sends me a messages will be likely lose interest and back off? I am placed on the shelf for 6-8 weeks at a time. I would think that means I am of little benefit, so why hoover at all?

          2. Queen 3 says:

            Btw, thank you for your response! You’re doing awesome work here.

          3. HG Tudor says:

            You are welcome.

          4. Queen 3 says:

            So if I am on the shelf and don’t send him messages or reply with no fuel to his when he sends me a message will he likely lose interest and back off? I am placed on the shelf for 6-8 weeks at a time. I would think that means I am of little benefit, so why hoover at all?

      4. Insatiable Learner says:

        HG, a quick follow-up question. Can a secondary appliance remain on the shelf for years?

        1. HG Tudor says:

          Yes but it is unlikely.

      5. Insatiable Learner says:

        So, HG, if you are saying it is unlikely for the appliance to remain on the shelf for years, how come last time the narc and I spoke, he referred to us not talking previously for a year and a half, which was not accurate (it was several months but I did not correct him)? Based on my consult, I was on the shelf at that time and remain on the shelf right now.

        1. HG Tudor says:

          He said it to provoke.

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