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.


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

  1. Cloudy says:


    Ive gone silent with partner in the past to calm there RAGE & BEHAVIOR.

    I would fear there Rage.

  2. Kate says:

    Hello HG
    Recently found your blog and it’s great.
    May I ask your opinion on this topic? I dated a S/Narc for a couple of months. I escaped a few times (as could sense something was off / he was dating other people), but every time hes managed to hoover me back after 1-3months. Recently he got back in touch, we chatted for a few weeks, then mid-conversation he vanished/ghosted. Was this revenge? Should I expect another hoover or accept he just wanted to control the final disengagement? Or is it more likely he just found a new fuel source?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Welcome Kate.

      It is unlikely be to revenge but rather a hoover designed (unconsciously) to assert control and gain fuel from you. Revenge is pre-meditated and most narcissists (nearly all) do not operate in a pre-meditated fashion, but rather in an instinctive one.
      Yes, you should expect another hoover. There is always the risk of another hoover – the question is how great or small that risk is and that depends on your no contact regime. To that end, you should organise a consultation with me so I can advise you about what you need to do and how that impacts on your risk. I also need more information from you to advise you fully.

      1. Kate says:

        That’s really helpful, thank you. Is that the same for sociopaths and psychopaths? As I believe he is one of those.

        I never slept with the guy despite repeated dates (which goes against how proud he is that women cannot resist him) and I suppose wondered if that might have caused him some anger / want to hurt me (the last few times he’s hoovered me, he’s then ended it very cruelly). (I then do not respond or show emotion / give fuel.)

        A consultation would be great. Couldn’t do a coffee instead could we? 😉 Feel I’ve at least an hours worth of Qs for you 😉

        1. HG Tudor says:

          You are welcome. Yes, it would be similar for those individuals.

          Your resistance to sleeping with him will have wounded him/provided Challenge Fuel.

          I do recommend you organising a consultation to assist you and of course you may drink coffee at your end and I may even drink one at my end!

          1. Kate says:


            I will email you re the consultation.

            Thanks again.

          2. HG Tudor says:

            Jolly good.

  3. Lori says:

    I always wondered what the difference between silent treatment and shelf is for an ipss.? I can reach the the narc but I don’t nor does he reach out to me and im happy to report it’s been quite some time now. I noticed he unblocked me from a fake account a few months back then I also noticed his IG was public. I have kept far away and not responded to the unblocking then I noticed he privatized his IG account. What kind of narc maneuver is that ?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      You ought to be focussed on not looking for him unblocking you and that his IG is public. If you do so, you would not need to question what he is doing and you would not be getting impaled by The Narcissist´s Pitchfork.

      1. Lori says:

        I go months without looking now. I only do it when I’m idle or bored. He’s made some call from what I believe are burner numbers but I don’t respond in anyway nor do I respond when he does something that appears to me to be provocation but I also realize that may in fact have nothing to do with me. I only knew he unblocked me when I saw him on a mutual friends page. As time goes on the less and les effect he has. I do not think of him so much anymore and have found less and less need to come here to find out what he may or may not be doing. In the end it just doesn’t matter. He is a Narcissist and there is no possibility of any reasonable or normal relationship with him and why would I bother with that anyway. He was awful to me in the end and that’s all that’s matters

        1. Violetta says:

          Lorelei: I go months without smoking crack. I only smoke crack when I’m idle or bored.

          I do the SM lurk too, and we both should stop. I wonder if it would help to think of it as feeding a tumor rather than an addiction. Do we want to have to ask HG to make an incision to remove the thing because we let it metastasize? If you already went through a narcectomy, do you really want to go through it again?

          Like any procedure to remove a malignancy, it may save your life, but it takes a certain amount of blood and tissue with it.

          As long as I keep checking WBPN’s SM for signs that the inner mediocrity he always was is increasingly visible, I still give a shit. Wanting fate or life to punish him even if I don’t means I still give a shit. Same for my former teachers.

          I don’t pretend I’m ready to stop doing it yet, but I am going to stop pretending it’s harmless in small quantities. I know damned well what’s going to happen if I go in there. Even if life has punished them all, I might never know about it, because many people post only flattering items.

          Anyhow, nothing would really satisfy me except beating the shit out of them, then bellowing, “STOP THAT CRYING OR I’LL CRACK YOUR HEAD OPEN LIKE A COCONUT, YOU SHITE!” After all, they said they wanted to understand me, didn’t they?

  4. BonnieLou says:

    HG, my Nex still hasn’t blocked me on Facebook. I’m reluctant to block him because he will know I have had to look at his profile to do so and will give him thought fuel😡. My logical thinking is really good at the moment and I am at zero impact..but talking to (and trying to help) my English/Egyptian friend, who has been going through the same thing (but she got beaten up!!!), she did a search to look at my Nex’s profile ..and we’ve found out he is now living in Germany (way too fast!) with his new Primary source! (He will hate this because he will find out that he is just another face in the crowd, not the beautiful boat boy photographer that could charm the bikini off any tourist!) All I need to know is, am I still in danger of being hoovered, especially as he is so much closer to England now😳?
    Please don’t bollock me for not blocking him sooner, it’s a catch 22 in that department now.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Hello Bonnielou,

      Nobody gets bollocked by me. I merely correct and advise. I do so in a direct fashion for the sake of efficacy and effectiveness, although some people misconstrue that as me admonishing them. I am not.

      1. You are not at Zero Impact. Your failure to block is evidence of emotional thinking.
      2. Looking at his profile and searching for it is evidence of emotional thinking.
      3. Continuing to discuss the narcissist with your friend, is emotional thinking.
      4. Will you be hoovered? I need more information and recommend that you organise a consultation to address this question and also help you address your emotional thinking.

      1. BonnieLou says:

        Ah ok, I didn’t realise that. I was trying to help her as she is still addicted to hers. She refuses to believe he is a Narcissist even though he’s hit her a few times. I will ask her to not talk about it anymore with me. As far as Facebook is concerned, all mine will do is create another account, he’s done it before. Thank you for answering my question though. I will try to get my finances together to do a consultation.

        1. HG Tudor says:

          You are welcome. It is understandable that you are trying to assist your friend and it is worth making an initial attempt but often it is difficult owing to their emotional thinking and you need to preserve your own position rather than get sucked into the situations of others, at the early stage of addressing your own emotional thinking.

          1. BonnieLou says:

            Thank you so much HG. Your advice is very much appreciated and now, always adhered to.

          2. HG Tudor says:

            You are welcome.

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