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.

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

  1. Zoe says:

    I haven’t heard from the narc and I haven’t contacted him. Does he think he is abusing me or has he forgotten about me? It’s been months. Of course I’d be glad if he’s gone for good but just wondering. The last thing he said to me was “can I call you back?”, before abruptly hanging up on me.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      No, you are on the shelf.

  2. Hermine says:

    Thanks for your answer!
    We have in fact already spoken after his/my first “disengagement”. You had already assessed him as a Narcissist and you advised me to get the f…k out. But of course, i didn’t. I had been blocked on all channels and thought that’s it. That joke was on me. What followed was an on-and-off “thing”, most of which was on WhatsApp. That’s how he rolls. With everyone. I have befriended a few of his “old supplies”, they have been very helpful in getting me through some of the worst times by sharing their experiences with him. He (tries) to get a hold of them still–one has gone no-contact and blocked him everywhere (they did this chase for 20 years); the other is totally over him (she’s done it for 10 years). Let’s call her Cat. Cat and I became very good friends and she would tell me when he approached her, sending me screenshots sometimes. She always turns him down. Same game: mostly social media. One big difference–or maybe two: he couldn’t have sex with Cat (little Mikey didn’t work, and doesn’t for most girls! With me it was epic!!!???) and–drum roll pls: I’m your married target, who fell madly in love w him.
    Anyways, we had been talking again for about 3 months– please don’t ask me why I let him back into my life after I had already made every mistake in the book– when she tells me about his latest advance: how he realizes now (3 years after their last meeting), how important she is to him and how he is finally ready for a relationship With her etc.
    So we called him on it. At first, onward a bit elusive hoping he would come clean himself, but this is where the ghosting started: he has no idea what I’m talking about; where ingot that from; I must be hearing ghosts… unentzifferbarem whether he realized that Cat and I have become friends over the years. Muahahahaha… After he explains what the difference between me and Cat is, how he finds me attractive and interesting and how he was (past tense?!) in love with Cat bla bla bla, CAT chimed in and let’s him have it. All of this is happening on WhatsApp. It was a little unfair, I must admit, but boy did it feel good to see him squirm. He’s trying to tell her how it’s apples and oranges with us; how she has always been special; how he’s made mistakes; how he was always honest with me about his intentions (NOT) and how he didn’t know how much I was in love w him (BULLSHIT) and that had he known, he would have stopped… this is when he realized we were seeing each other’s conversations and he basically told us both to go to hell.
    I got blocked on Facebook and Instagram, she doesn’t really use social media apart from WhatsApp. So there… THATs basically the background.
    The reason I’m not blocking him right now, is because I’m actually curious to see how he’ll try to wriggle out of this.
    Is this really just a silent treatment?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Yes it is a silent treatment.
      “The reason I’m not blocking him right now, is because I’m actually curious to see how he’ll try to wriggle out of this.” ´this is emotional thinking and it is keeping you interacting with the narcissist so that the three prongs of the Devil´s Pitchfork are impaling you. This is a bad decision and not a logical one. You know you are dealing with a narcissist, I have confirmed that, that means applying GOSO. Impose and maintain no contact.

      1. Hermine says:

        Thanks again for clearing things up. I haven’t written to him in about a month, since cstching him in his web of lies… I can’t go complete GOSO or no contact with him, he’s one of my superiors at work, but unwilling not engage or reach out anymore. I’m hoping for a civilized work environment at the end of the day…

  3. Hermine says:

    So my friend and I have just confronted him with his lies and deceit and triangulation/double dipping. Of course there was only a brief interaction where he tried to come off good. He has blocked me on Instagram and Facebook, however left the avenues of communication open on his phone and WhatsApp. And reads my messages.
    I am confused as to whether this is a disengagement–I mean, I would say his behavior has been exposed–or an ST–WhatsApp still open.
    What do you reckon HG?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Hello Hermine,

      I do not know your position in the fuel matrix, I will have to assume you are dealing with a narcissist and there is more information I would need. You ought to organise a consultation. The impression provided by the minimal information given is that this is not disengagement. I do recommend you consult with me and I can help you understand in greater detail.

  4. DrHouse says:

    How does this apply to parents? Does a narc play his narc parents? Does a narc parent keep fucking with his own children even they are narcs themselves?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Yes, narcissists collide in many different arenas and the familial setting is an extensive one.

  5. step says:

    If the tables are turned by the victim, will the narc come back in the future (mid-range)?
    However, sometime is not easy understand if the tables are turned or not… The victim try do to it.
    In my case, I’m not sure If I turned tables or not.

    Sex for the first time.
    Some days later she cancel our dating for the next weekend (absurd motivation… lie). I become a little cold for this.

    She disappear for 5 days.
    I wrote for first.

    She started the devaluation.
    I write 2 times. She was very cold. She let me intend a triangulation.
    I stopped.
    She came back after a week asking me a suggestion about her job,I answer and she says “thank you very much”.
    I let the conversation die.
    Some days later she deleted our telegram chat on my phone.

    She posted a photo of her MA degree party at home (covid).

    It was 2 months ago


    Ladies and gentlemen… any suggestion?
    I think she is a Lesser Mid-range (My opinion).

    1. HG Tudor says:

      There is always a risk of a hoover, the extent of the risk varies on numerous factors and to explore this in greater detail I recommend that you organise a consultation so I can assist you.

  6. Cold hard truth says:

    He’s not sleeping and he’s horny as fuck.

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