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.

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

  1. step says:

    Turned tables (sort of…). It was 4 months ago.
    I think I was a IPSS (second time for me): as soon I said “I like you very much” (after sex) she started a strong devaluation. I tried to counter-manipulate her. So she started a silent treatment… No reaction by me. She deleted our telegram chat, no reacion by me..
    Could she come back?
    Or I’ve become “evil” ecc. and she will never try to return.
    Our parents are very friends… so it is impossible a true “deleted”-“splitting”.
    Class (supposed): mid range/ Somatic.

  2. KH says:

    HG – to the message below – yes I am referring to ignoring me for 3 years – which is very powerful because you make plans to get away and create a strong base without them but they thwart those plans and you worry about your future, your children. It’s also very clever because you also begin to think you caused it and silence is not actually hitting etc so you begin to question if it’s not actually that bad. Meanwhile he maintains a facade of perfection in other things such as taking kids to school, paying bills (although a tax letter for £6k came the other day). Also friends and family do not get it either and of course he’s charming to the world. But my question to you is this a silent treatment and you talk about days and weeks – he maintains this for years. It’s also something he has done a lot of since I got pregnant (before getting pregnant he was obsessed with me). I know he must have someone else but he seems to be able to keep that contained – there’s never been much evidence (really no evidence) despite me looking. I just don’t know how he keeps this up. It’s like his mission in life is to ignore me, perpetually make me feel I’ve done something wrong, make the kids think I’ve done something wrong but to the outside world he presents perfection. What do you think it’s all about?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Are you telling me that you live with this individual and he has not spoken to you, communicated with you or acknowledged you in 3 years?

  3. KH says:

    BL – thank you for confirming the ‘game’ aspect – because in our stronger resilient selves we are manipulated into feeling they really care – but all we are doing is chasing a forever moving carrot. We should never have been attracted to the ‘game’ but instead should have wanted a real love, real intimacy instead. I now realise I actually wasn’t ready for that kind of intimacy which is why I got wrapped up in his game. So all people involved with narcs I believe to begin with enjoy the good times without the real feeling. What they don’t realise is that the good times become ‘bad’ times and then it’s hard to get out. But no one should live with someone that ignores them, has affairs, lies about finances. BL hopefully you can take steps to move on.

  4. Pati says:

    This explains why he slipped into another manipulation. Pity plays,telling me how he cares,taking me shopping (I spent his money) all because I ignored him it must have wounded him so bad he snapped out of it. Thanks HG!

  5. WokeAF says:

    My last interaction with the narcoholic, was two back to back AST
    He knew it bothered me when he didn’t call at least once during a work week . He also knew I was fed up with being the one to always initiate calling or plans.

    So he didn’t call for a week
    When he did, I behaved neither upset at the AST , nor happy to hear from him. Neutral- as if nothing had happened…And when HE mentioned “sorry for not calling I’ve been busy” – I ignored it and changed the topic.
    So what did he do?
    He immediately didn’t call for a week AGAIN.
    When he did I ignored the messages and blocked across the board.

    I guess he really thought his brief bronze period he provided , after I was hoovered after an 8 month NC – has been enough lol

    Coming up on a year total NC since then.

    1. lisk says:

      WokeAF, looking to congratulate you on your NC anniversary date! 🥂

      1. WokeAF says:

        Thanks I think it’s around nov 25 Ish
        So almost another month but , I’m celebrating already lol

        1. lisk says:

          That’s around the time I found HG’s website last year, shortly before the Thanksgiving holiday in the States. I’ve come a long way, baby. I’m very thankful!

          1. WokeAF says:

            I’m coming up on 2 years now with HG. Feels like longer and he is my Teacher , no doubt about it. Everything is different now. I AM different now…better 😈
            Xo HG you brilliant entity , you

          2. HG Tudor says:

            You are welcome.

  6. cogra002 says:

    I’ve never been one to chase, call or text during silent treatment. It pisses me off. He’s only done a couple, the last one a month ago for 5 days. I should have not allowed him back after that one. His absences on weekends plus the silent treatment here and there have me fairly comfortable without him.
    I await the next silent treatment. I wont be back when he starts up again. I’ll show him silent treatment. In fact I may pick a fight just to give myself more room, lol.

  7. BL says:

    Negative fuel is so confusing to me. If someone is always complimenting you (positive fuel) why would you go silent to bring on the negative? Just out of boredom from hearing how great you are all of the time? And if you get this person who once showered you with adoration to start messaging you constantly asking what’s wrong, what they did, etc. doesn’t that just become annoying to the point where you don’t want to hear from them anymore?

    1. Kim e says:

      Your positive admirations become less potent to the N after awhile even tho you might not notice it. So the negative fuel is needed to make the pwoerful feeling come back to them. IPSS”s positive fuel does not go stale/lessen as they are not engaged with all the time so negative emotions are never really required from them.

    2. NarcAngel says:

      You will no longer be confused once you read the book Fuel which illustrates it from the narcissist’s point of view and not the empath’s (as you are doing).

    3. Joanne says:

      I am speaking out of turn here but I would venture to say no, it doesn’t get annoying. And I wouldn’t consider that negative fuel though I could be wrong. Begging and chasing in my opinion is still positive fuel – the victim’s desperation is providing flowing, potent fuel.

      1. NarcAngel says:

        It’s only annoying when there’s no fuel. Love them, hate them, but never ignore them is the rule. Again, this is explained clearly in Fuel.

      2. MB says:

        When they’re in the Golden Period with the new source. They don’t want to be bothered then and you will receive a malign response if you keep “annoying” them.

  8. MB says:

    What is the longest silent treatment you’ve ever given, HG? (Have I seen that answer before?)

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Present 2 days
      Absent 5 weeks

      1. MB says:

        If I was silent for two days, it would surely be fatal!

        1. HG Tudor says:

          I rather think that it would be impossible my dear MB!

      2. Kim e says:

        You gave a 5 week absent silent treatment? Were you living with this person at the time? Did you keep tabs on the person while you were gone?

        1. HG Tudor says:

          It will be addressed in Asylum of the Grotesque.

          1. Kim e says:

            It will be addressed in Asylum of the Grotesque.

            Can you give me a hint as I perdict I will be cured and off this blog before this article comes out……..

          2. HG Tudor says:


      3. KH says:

        HG – do you think you could maintain a silent treatment to a present IPS for 3 years. If no why not. Just curious how my husband can sustain it for so long. What does it mean. I’m amazed he doesn’t find it excruciatingly uncomfortable, boring and limiting. He also doesn’t seem to care its affecting the children’s lives as well. Or does he just live off the fact that its making me feel so horrible.

        1. HG Tudor says:

          Which appliance are you referring to IPPS or IPSS. One would not give a present silent treatment to an IPPS for 3 years, there is no need. If you mean an IPSS, then that would be shelving, not a silent treatment.

          1. KH says:

            HG – I am referring to IPPS – so what is ignoring a wife for 3 years. Yet still claiming all is fine, still being jealous etc. So not completely pulling away.

          2. HG Tudor says:

            Are you starting that the wife has been constantly ignored, in person, for 3 years? With no respite from this?

    2. K says:

      I gave my MMRN an AST for three weeks; I went to NM. If we didn’t share a daughter (binding), I would be living in New Mexico selling cigarettes and beer from a gas station. Happy as a pig in mud.

      Binding is an effective tool.

      1. MB says:

        K, daughters grow up and then make their own decisions. New Mexico is waiting whenever you are unbound!

        1. K says:

          It’s ok now. He has since disengaged and I am very low contact so I can remain in New England. At the time, it was a doomed attempt at an escape.

          1. MB says:

            K, still…the weather is better in NM 🙂

          2. K says:

            it’s damn hot in NM! I like the seasons up north and a little snow during Christmas is always nice.

          3. Lorelei says:

            Agree K. I’d die before living in New Mexico. Yuck.

          4. K says:

            I liked Vegas better.

  9. KH says:

    my husband started silent treatments the minute I got pregnant, that was 21 years ago, I am still with him because I didn’t know what silent treatments were. And when I did realise what they were I was in way deep. His silent treatments, which are present silent treatments (he keeps a very close eye on me), do not last hours or days, but weeks, months and years. The last one has been 3 years. I have always ignored him back, getting on with my life. But my ignoring him never ever broke his silent treatment, the only thing that would break the silent treatment would be me getting to the end of the road and threatening to leave. I am now trying to divorce but again its hard cold silent treatment. I have no idea how he keeps this up. All the time I thought gosh this guy is really strong to keep going not talking to his wife for so long, how does he keep it up. I now know it is not strength but narcissism. i can’t wait till its all over.

  10. Madam Gee says:

    ‘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.’

    Greetings HG, the above text is all very well, but methinks that is not really the end of the story.

    – Following such a great wounding, do they (narc) sort of fear the empath, as the empath holds the power to wound again, should physical paths ever accidently cross in the future?

    – Or do they feel nothing but contempt (hate) for the said empath for the remainder of their (narc) lives?

    – I’m sure I can rest assured that the injured ex-Narkie will not ever try to contact me again, whether malignantly or benignly, because I have shown I have the power to wound greatly… Correct??

    ps I think ex- N was an Upper Mid Ranger/ Lower Greater

    1. HG Tudor says:

      1. The narcissism may cause the narcissist to be wary of an individual who has caused substantial wounding, which would mean that the narcissist may well not physically hoover the narcissist through a direct physical hoover and may even walk away from the victim, if the victim was in the vicinity of the narcissist. The narcissist may shift to a different form of hoover, instead of direct physical. The effect of the wounding fades over time.
      2. No. The way the narcissist views the victim will fluctuate between black and white dependent on various factors. There is not a fixed position.
      3. Wrong. This is emotional thinking and the product of poor information. Believing that the narcissist will stay away because you have shown you can wound is dangerous, incorrect and should never be indulged in.
      4. You should organise a Narc Detector Consultation to ascertain the school of narcissist you have dealt with.

  11. LambTOLion says:

    I’ve been getting the silent treatment for months , on and off. When not being completely ignored, there is next to zero conversation. ( Narcs choice)
    Narc intentionality looks for any opportunity to rage at me In between silent treatments.
    He is definitely passive aggressive…. can’t decide if he is a MMR or UMR .
    The last time I experienced devaluation by my Narc, and in the middle of silent treatment, we were at a social gathering and my Narc saw a recently divorced incredibly handsome man starting conversation with me from across the room. My Narc couldn’t get to me fast enough, he had to make it known I was with HIM.
    Why would he do that if he was treating me like I was shit on the bottom of his shoe?? Why would he care that someone else showed interest in me?
    The more I read here , the more I move away from ET .
    Thank you, HG !

    1. KH says:

      Hi LTL – I have experienced the very same thing with my husband, moving in on any man showing interest in me.
      It has dominated our marriage. I thought this meant he really did love me deep down. It took some extreme situations to highlight to me that he doesn’t care for me or the children really, his priority is himself. But he hides it very well, he puts on a great performance. And now in my more informed self I am amazed at what he can pull off, as well as still being jealous of any man that might come near me, yet he hasn’t spoken to me in 3 years. Bizarre! If I were you I would get away from your man as soon as you can. And watch his behaviour and test his empathy for you.

      1. LambToLion says:


        My Narc has ZERO empathy. He’s not capable. I’ve known that for years. He’s pretty good at faking it for an audience, though!
        I had the same experience in the past , only threatening would work.
        Hope you find peace after your divorce is over . I couldn’t imagine living with my Narc during that process.

        1. HG Tudor says:

          All narcissists have zero emotional empathy

    2. lisk says:

      LTL, Here’s wishing you move away from being alone with a Narc and move closer to being alone with your lovely self.

      1. MB says:

        Beautiful sentiment Lisk.

      2. LambToLion says:

        Thank you. That was lovely.

  12. Karen Harvey says:

    The silent treatments against me lasted days, up to a week, right from the start of us moving in together, despite him receiving attention from me. Of fourse I didn’t know that these were or understood them at the time. I’ve pretty much got him down as a Mid Range Narcissist because of this and other behaviour.

    1. lisk says:

      The silent treatments also increased for me once we moved in together.

      My now-educated guess is that he needed to create them so that he could maintain the in-person and electronic routine/schedule (with IPSS, etc.) he had when living alone.

  13. LK says:

    So if we withdraw fuel & have no reactions, ignore you & make ourselves unavailable and unuseable will you leave us alone?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Subject to the Hoover Trigger and the Hoover Execution Criteria. You are more likely to be left along but it depends on a variety of factors.

  14. Amy says:

    HG, this is all indeed spot on, except for one variation I had with Sir Douche Mid-Ranger. He would continue a present silent treatment for literally weeks at a time, non-stop. Do you have any idea why he differed from the norm with this? Thank you!

    1. HG Tudor says:

      I would need more information to answer you.

    2. lisk says:

      I thought me Narcx gave me three-week silent treatments because I was not behaving as he would have liked. While this is partially true, I suspect these lengthier silent treatments had more to do with a new fuel discovery in the form of an IPSS.

      My supposed bad behavior was just me being me. Clearly, my fuel has gone stale and it was time to find flaws and punish me for having them so he could gad about town.

      1. cogra002 says:

        I’m fairly certain a few of my silent treatments had to do with new supply, as well.
        Picking fights with me to have a reason for silent treatment so he could spin up the new source more. It hurt a yr and half ago. Now it’s just his immature behavior I see, and most that he chases crash quickly and he’s back to spinning me up again. Smh.
        I use the silent treatment to have a good time and make sure that good time is well documented. F these assholes.

        1. KH says:

          HI Cogra002 – I did the same as you with my narcs silent treatment. I didn’t realise it was narc behaviour and just thought he was childish. So I also used the silent treatment to be somewhat ‘free’, because even in good times he was possessive, so I actually liked it when he wasn’t ‘on’ me so much. What I didn’t realise is that although I thought he was ignoring me – he was still keeping a close eye, watching all my actions, phone activity etc. I thought this was a bit of a game. I guess I enjoyed the intrigue of it because I actually thought he really cared. But after many years of this I now know it doesn’t lead anywhere, they don’t really love you, they don’t even care about you at all, and the games knacker you out, to the point where you get ill, and as you get knackered out, you can feel them looking at you with contempt, and then you feel their real treachury. Because what goes with the silent treatment is a whole lot of other behaviours they are hiding from you. So don’t bother with the games, don’t bother trying to fix it or overcome it or outdo them. You never will. Just get out and find someone that really cares.

          1. BL says:

            You are so right. Once I figured out it was a game, I was all in. I wanted to win or at least show him that HE wasn’t going to win. A logical person would do this by going no contact, but I wanted him to see me winning (acting completely unaffected by anything he said or did), so I kept at it. It is truly exhausting. I’m not one to give up, but I just kind of looked at what I was doing and thought, “what’s really the point?”. I’m still not totally there, but I think I’m getting closer to letting go.

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