Questioning The Silence : FAQs About 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.

25 thoughts on “Questioning The Silence : FAQs About Silent Treatment

  1. cb says:

    … ripping hair, scratching my head, one night last week I found myself googling “How to make a ghoster respond”. Elle Magazine had an answer. Just the sincere confident, free from emotions/smileys:

    We need to talk

    Geez, it helped immediately. I texted at 6.30 before work. He texted back right away.(after about two days of complete radio silence) three messages in a row.

    To be honest, this whole silent treatment made me a bit worried so I won’t meet him again, and won’t have that talk, but

    HG, why do you suppose the above line makes silent treaters listen?
    Does it sound very mature?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      That is not guaranteed to always work. Whether the narcissist responds is down to the Hoover Trigger and whether the Hoover Execution Criteria is met – not a form of words concerning ‘we need to talk’. You could have written those same words and if the HEC were not met, you would have received silence. You cannot ever guarantee compelling us to do something for reasons I have explained in articles previously. Elle Magazine knows nothing.

      1. cb says:

        I understand

      2. MB says:

        ELLE Magazine. Letter to the editor coming right up!

        1. HG Tudor says:

          Atta girl!

      3. cb says:

        Bummer, though. Would be nice if there were a calm tone of voice/tone in texting, which made us lose much Less energy and fuel, and at the same time increase our chance of getting very stubborn ppl, e g narcissists, listen to our view.

        I can always never-meet-a-guy-again, but there are ppl we can’t be without, like if we have a child who we need better daily convos with at home, or there is a boss or collegue often doling out little silent treatments.Would be, mildly put, practical on a daily basis to actually end someone’s silent treatment without having to cry or sound irritated.
        Ignoring them is good,
        but many times matters are more urgent.

  2. Mag says:

    Dear HG. I need to understand.. I ve wounded a passiv agressuv colleague. He firt tried to seduc me. Heentered in my life etc.. Than we had a project to work on together.. He started not to work on purpose and gave me little silent treatments… I became mad and wrote him an emotional email.. Then he decided to stop the project and refused to speak about our arguement. Since three months he doesn t speak to me. He reads my e mails. I know that cause he answered twice saying nasty things. He didn t block on his cell.. What is that ? I suppose i was a dirty little secret or a potential new primary source… Is he gonna try to hoover me ? I will see him soon.. Thanks alot

    1. HG Tudor says:

      You should book a consultation to address this.

  3. /iroll says:

    Why would they stop giving you ST’s? I am now in a zone that isn’t seduction or ST, it’s like the facade have been semi-dropped. There’s not enough depth for true intimacy though.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      If it produces no benefit for us.

  4. Cal says:

    Silent treatment or disengagement?

    1. You did something that pissed the narcisisst off. You try to apologize.
    2. He doesn’t want your apology, instead he tells you he is done and it is the end of your relationship because what you did is too much.
    3. You accept this, unfollow him on social media, you back off and act like he doesn’t exist anymore.
    4. He doesn’t unfollow you, he doesn’t block you.There is a silence that lasts about a week. A week later he tries to provoke you passively on his social media mimicking your posts and triangulating you with your (male) friend, so despite you unfollowed him you could get the notiffication from him.

    Is it really disengagement? Taking his words it is, but on the other hand there is no blocking and no unfriending and soon after the discard he tries to provoke you and get your attention…

  5. KittieKelly says:

    HG, I was under the impression that the narc doesn’t think about us at all after the discard/disengagement. They simply move on. How, then, would our lack of response of failure to try to contact them bother them at all? Your post seems to indicate that they still think of us/expect something from us?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      You are confusing disengagement with a silent treatment. When we issue a silent treatment, we expect you to contact us (because we have not disengaged from you). When we disengage from you, we in effect delete you – yes, it may feel like a silent treatment, but it is not because it is disengagement.

      1. Lori says:

        This is where I get confused. I feel as though I have been disengaged but I’m not blocked from the phone. Have received what you describe as passive hoovers by him blocking and unblicking me from the phone. That’s is not silent treatment right? And if you are being passively hoovered do they still consider you disengaged from/deleted ?

      2. Insatiable Learner says:

        Lori, based on my careful study of HG’s writings (I am not claiming to be an expert, of course), if you are being hoovered, it means you have either been on the shelf or disengaged from and now there was a hoover trigger and HEC criteria were met, so the narc is hoovering you. Since he is hoovering you, you are no longer deleted (if you were before in the case of disengagement).

      3. Blue1 says:

        Thank you for clarifying HG. I need to study your articles on Disengagement. Need to search for that topic..He has been texting when home for me to come over. Any other topic I should search by?

        His work travel has increased substantially. He loves traveling and makes quit a bit doing so. . So, instead of texting me once a week it’s every other week now. Each week (weekday, always gone during weekends) he is home me he texts me.. The text typically goes something like: “Hey! Straighten up! Double production today! See you at 7?” Never wants to take me anywhere. Just for me to come over.

        I need to block him on my phone and leave it that way.

        Your help is appreciated!

      4. Lori says:

        Hell im just not sure because I have elements of both disengagement and shelf but I lean more towards it having been a disengagement as I have been blocked and not spoken to since April. That would be a hell of a long silent treatment lol. Although he did do it once for 2 months this is now 4 months

        In the end does it really matter ? Oh I suppose not, but I still have this need to label all of the behavior

      5. DebbieWolf says:

        How are ‘we’ supposed to know which bloody flavour of the silent treatment it is this time. Its in ‘their’ head not ours. Irritating fucks.

      6. mag says:

        How do you make he difference ? Disengagment versus silent treatment… if the narc does block you on what s ap for example ? What does that mean ? Thanks….

  6. Blue1 says:

    Sadly, it took some time for me to comprehend this manipulation. My Narc utilizes the absent silent treatment regularly. For years, I cried and tried so hard to understand why he ignored me. Finally, I confronted him and said “You’re breaking my heart! Why are you ignoring me?” About 15 minutes later he texted “Sorry, busy traveling between meeting locations.” He travels regularly for his job. His rule for me “I will dictate to you. I will let you know when we can get together. No texting me while I’m on the road. I don’t need the drama. Questions are drama and I don’t want to be questioned.”
    I am working on my No Contact plan now. Block him on my cell phone. At times, I feel bad about blocking him and unblock him.

    Goal: Block him. Keep him blocked. Leave emotion out of it. Pray and heal.

    Thanks for your insight HG.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      You are welcome.

  7. Empress1 says:

    my recent silent treatment just ended early this morning when he called while I was still asleep- so not expecting it to be him! He sounds pretty rough like he has been on a bender! Oh and yes, Can you get on a plane and meet me in Vancouver this afternoon- you love Vancouver….. NO I cannot do that- sorry! “Can you come to the other house this weekend then to see me?” No- I can’t do that I have plans…… bye!
    Jeesh Louise- I was positive me being happy, looking amazing, dating men that are actually being good to me would drive him off. I was wrong! Do not take my suggestions, I know shit! Ask the ‘master HG”— damn I hate being wrong, just when I thought I had it figured out!!

  8. Antje Gould says:

    Wow, very educational. Thanks, H.G. The more I read your articles, the more I can classify what Kind of Narcissist my mom is.

  9. Mercy says:

    The silent treatment feels violent. Almost a physical pain. I never experienced it until I met him. He is the one who taught me to use it on him and it’s very effective. Not only do I get the satisfaction of knowing he is wounded but it gives me some breathing space from the roller coaster. I know he will seek fuel from other sources while I’m gone but he does this while I’m around too so there is no loss.

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