Has The Narcissist Disengaged Or Is It A Silent 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.


28 thoughts on “Has The Narcissist Disengaged Or Is It A Silent Treatment

  1. Julie says:

    What about “ghosting”… how does this fit into the bigger picture ? I would like to know what a narcissist is thinking when they do this type of behavior. Everything appearing to be going great then they just go awol and ignore texts and calls… this is strange behavior

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Ghosting is in some respects an unhelpful word. When used in the context of a narcissist and you know that this person is a narcissist, then that is fair enough. It is usually actually a Silent Treatment or it might be where someone has been placed on the shelf and a comfort crumb has not yet been given. The word is unhelpful when used on relationship sites etc where narcissism has not been mentioned at all because the concept of “ghosting” euphemises what is actually a more serious situation.

      1. Julie says:

        Thank you for replying HG. So it is basically the silent treatment then when applied to a narcissist situation. I was dumbfounded when this happened. Its very strange. There one min and things are great then out of nowhere they just drop off the face of the earth.. im learning alot from your articles! Keep up the awesome work!

      2. Insatiable Learner says:

        HG, this can also be disengagement, can it not? I think your article “is this disengagement or silent treatment” sheds some light on this as well.

        1. HG Tudor says:

          It could be subject to the points made in the article you refer to.

  2. Lori says:

    OK HG here’s a question today I was blocked on phone too so this is disengagement correct ? This has happened before and he has unblocked within 2 weeks. This guy just hoover shuffled me and now has already blocked me.

    Anyway here’s the question as an ipss what are my chances this is lengthy in nature? Most of me hopes this is permanent meaning lengthy as nothing is permanent and a small littke part of me hopes it isn’t the ET infection is still there a bit

    1. Lori says:

      Omg and since I have typed this he has already unblocked me on his phone but not Facebook

      Holy crap the crazy. Wtf is that about? What is the purpose? Are these corrective devaluations ?

      1. HG Tudor says:

        If you have been unblocked, that is not a devaluation.

    2. Lori says:

      This has happened so many times I’ve lost count. Sometimes a couple of days or a week one time a 2 month silent treatment. There seems to be no rhyme or reason.

      But the fact that he blocks me is a corrective devaluation isn’t it? Why unblock on his phone but not facebook? What is with this mind fuck? It makes zero sense to me but probably makes a lot of sense to you.

      Honestly , HG I have gotten more from you in a month than I’ve gotten from therapy and a mountain of books. We all understand what Narcissism is from an intellectual stand point, but you explain what it is in practicality. How it works and its impact on the daily behavior that we see. Only a Narc can explain that in terms we can understand. I don’t care what crazy Angela thinks. There is a ton of practical information here

      I don’t care if you get supply from this if that’s your currency, you have earned it in my opinion

      1. HG Tudor says:

        Thank you, you will learn plenty here.

      2. Lori says:

        What I have learned is that learning about Narcissism from an intellectual and psychological make up perspective is very very different from how it plays out in daily life.

        Sam Vaknin is a waste of my time. I have read had watched his stuff and I’m always left with the thought of how does that help me? While his information maybe technically correct it has little practical application.

        People need to understand why this happened yes, but more importantly they need information on how to handle the behavior in everyday life. The reality is some of us can’t just go complete no contact for a variety of reasons kids, parent, boss and even situations where there are mutual friends and secrecy. In my own situation, I now know why they create secrecy and forbidden fruit situations. It binds you to them and no contact becomes a risky situation.

        I apologize if I got a little rowdy with a troll on your page. It call shit what it is. I am a codependent and that’s when I see the Super Nova Codependent come out. I am not what people see as a demure meek Codependent. Not at all

        1. HG Tudor says:

          You are entitled to state your view Lori so long as it falls within the rules and it did.

        2. Kelly B says:

          This no contact can be done with all parties mentioned. I have done it with all of these people.

    3. HG Tudor says:

      Again, it needs to be in context and therefore is best addressed through consultation. It is difficult for me to comment on an isolated incident without full facts and the provision of full facts, the time taken to read them, reflect on them and respond is the purpose of the consultations.

  3. Kelly B says:

    I hope he rots in hell. I don’t want to hear or see him again.

  4. Boho Belle says:

    I split up and got as far away from possible from an online Narcissist Dominant I was seeing about 2 years ago. I thought I had ended all ties and he wouldn’t worry about me anymore, its been 2 years or even more now. I got an email this morning from a friend that was embroiled in another drama with this guy and it is from the narcissist and it is me, it is a voice recording of me coming for him. I am so embarrassed it is not funny and I really want to strike out at the creep. I am angry. Feels like he is violating me once again grrr.
    What am I supposed to do in this situation? Deny it? Ignore it? Pretend it hasn’t happened? Face it and confront it? Which might possibly make it worse. Oh what do I do?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Do not respond. That is what he wants. This is a hoover by proxy. Do not deny, just ignore it. Any response – will be likely to provide fuel and will encourage further malign hoovers.

    2. Lori says:

      OMG what an asshole. Stay calm. At the end of the day does it matter? Anyone with half a brain will think this guy is a pig.

      Who sent this ? Was she involved romantically and why did she send it to you?

    3. /iroll says:

      online Narcissist Dominant = total wimp who hopes that women’s projected fantasies will make him relevant.

      1. Mary says:

        Boho Belle:

        Echoing what /iroll said above! There are a TON of these online dom narcs! They troll for “subs” knowing they have greater odds of controlling them, they even act like they “care” about their subs, but it all ends up just being a bullshit smoke screen. Just another way to hide what is outright abuse! This isn’t a criticism of real BDSM relationships, it’s the doms who don’t have the balls to have a real connection with anyone, so they are abusive online to get their kicks, but they call it being a dominant, “helping expand your boundaries.” Sorry, some of this is projecting my own experience with one. I don’t think all online doms are abusive, but the decent ones are few and far between.


  5. Gareth says:

    I meant to say 8 months later or so

  6. Gareth says:

    What’s is it when you’ve been disengaged from and blocked then later you have been unblocked but still no contact has been made. Thanks

    1. HG Tudor says:

      The narcissist is waiting for you to contact them.

      1. Isn’t checking to see if you’ve been unblocked, or checking at all for that matter, breaking NC and fueling everpresence?

        1. HG Tudor says:


    2. /iroll says:

      @Gareth, this happened to me but he made the contact. I was summoned to see him (first time since he moved), but then i didn’t go NC – my curiosity got the better of me. I played a push-pull game, where he retracted his ‘invite’ then issued it again, with what is now a waiting game as he has not yet disclosed the actual date, but it’s coming “next month”. I am now in the stranger zone. Gagged. It’s like death row date night.

      Fascinating stuff.

  7. NarcMagnet says:

    Well, this certainly explains a few things I have been wondering about .
    Thank you HG, now I know what I need to do…

  8. Lori says:

    Wow HG it’s like you have been writing just for me lately. This answers a previous question but I still have a question if you are ipss and the narc blocks you on fb but leaves you unblocked by phone is that a corrective deval or is shelfing? Also if they try to down play the nature of you having been an ipss by sayin “we can never be together that things have happened that they can’t get past and they want to be friends but that’s all we can be, is that them trying to make you NISS or is that just more manipulation to draw fuel?

    This is what happened after the old Hoover Shuffle lol

    Thanks in advance. I love reading your stuff

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