Why a narcissist uses the silent treatment and how to respond

In this video, I go into why narcissists use the silent treatment and how to respond to it. When having to deal with the silent treatment, it can be a very draining and painful experience. It’s manipulative behaviour and a very unhealthy form of communication.

From experience, I know how challenging it is to deal with narcissists and their manipulative behaviour. It’s essential to learn to protect yourself and your energy. In my opinion, when dealing with a narcissist, the best solution is to go no contact and protect your energy.

This video is an addition to my earlier in-depth article about why and how narcissists use the silent treatment and how to deal with it. I hope this video can be helpful to you in some way. I wish you strength and more kindness in the future.

Video Transcript

A very common form of manipulation used by narcissists is the silent treatment. When a narcissist uses the silent treatment, it can be a very draining and painful experience. It’s passive-aggressive and it can be very frustrating and result in a lot of stress and anxiety.

When victim of the silent treatment, you’re stuck in a game of manipulation instead of having healthy and normal communication. It’s very unhealthy behaviour and when used by narcissists it’s a form of emotional abuse.

All types of silent treatment are a form of disconnecting and ending communication in some way. This can be on a communicational level but can also be physically disconnecting or disappearing. Some examples are stonewalling, sulking, a lack of touch or affection, only giving one-word answers or simply fully ignoring what you’re saying.

The silent treatment is a lack of healthy communication

Now, a narcissist doesn’t care about the feelings of others and might even like to play these manipulative games. A narcissist has a lack of empathy and seeks for narcissistic supply, which could be a search for ego-boosting, appreciation, drama, or control.

Now because of this, a narcissist will not fulfil your wish or need for a loving relationship with healthy communication. You simply can’t have a relationship that includes compassion, unconditional love and empathy with a narcissist. A constant use of the silent treatment actually tells you clearly that there is a lack of healthy communication, compassion, and empathy in this relationship. It’s a major red flag.

Now, as with most narcissistic behaviour, it has similarities to the behaviour of a child. For a child, it’s normal to show these kinds of manipulative behaviour sometimes but for an adult, clearly, it’s not. You could even see the silent treatment as a rage or tantrum, only then expressed or displayed in full silence. It’s hidden in a passive-aggressive form and you will feel there is no harmony but rather tension, anger and frustration. This is why it can result in feeling a large amount of tension when experiencing this behaviour. Basically, the narcissist’s underlying disturbed feelings are projected upon you.

Now, using the silent treatment doesn’t necessarily mean that someone is a narcissist or a toxic person. It can also be a sign of someone emotionally immature. A normal person, however, will let you know if they need some time to gather thoughts and tell you they will get back to you. The difference with a narcissist using the silent treatment is that a narcissist will not be able to speak about it afterwards, they will not take any responsibility, or admit they were hurt and used the silent treatment because of that. They could even deny they used the silent treatment, which is a form of gaslighting.

Why a narcissist uses the silent treatment

Now, a narcissist can have many reasons to use the silent treatment. I will go shortly into five possible reasons, as it could possibly help you recognize what’s going on. A common reason is that they could try to punish you because you have hurt their ego, you had slight criticism, or you simply didn’t do what they expected or wanted you to do. The silent treatment could also be a response to you setting a healthy boundary or saying ‘no’ to something. Another reason to use it is to have control. Their aim can be to make you feel powerless and to control your behaviour.

A third reason to use the silent treatment is devaluing you, which is indirectly showing you that you’re not worth their energy or response. It’s part of the narcissistic abuse cycle. Another important reason to use the silent treatment is avoiding responsibility. It could be a response to you wanting to speak about their behaviour or your relationship. Silent treatment basically is avoidance. It’s avoiding responsibility, blame, and projecting upon others by playing the victim. And the last example is a very practical reason, which is that the narcissist could use silent treatment or disappearance in order to gain new narcissistic supply and spend time with possible new victims.

So, clearly, there are a lot of possible reasons that could cause a narcissist to use the silent treatment. Know that no matter the reason for using the silent treatment, it’s never a healthy way of communication.

How the silent treatment can trigger your feelings

Now, the problem in any sort of relationship with a narcissist, is that a narcissist will not show vulnerability or take any responsibility. It will basically always leave you, and only you, as the one to blame.

Now, the silent treatment can trigger a lot of emotions and feelings within. You might think about what you did wrong or want to resolve or fix this situation as soon as possible because it’s hurting or uncomfortable. You could actually believe it’s because of you and the silent treatment is a logical consequence of something you did. This is because a narcissist could gaslight you and manipulate a relationship into very unhealthy dynamics. They are basically using silence as a form of power to make you do something they want. The thing is, they will only have this control, if you allow them.

Using the silent treatment is never acceptable

So, don’t give in to the tension. Often we enable the silent treatment by apologizing, taking the blame or trying to fix it or at least trying to end this painful silence. We accept they use this behaviour. Silent treatment is never acceptable! It only shows the inability to communicate as an adult. It’s thus a major red flag and a very unhealthy relationship dynamic.

As long as you doubt yourself, take the blame, and seek answers within yourself, nothing will change. Sadly, a narcissist drains your energy by pushing you into the wrong direction and manipulating you into becoming more doubtful, insecure and anxious.

It’s thus very important to shift the attention from the narcissist to yourself again. Your energy will be drained, when your focus is on a narcissist.

How to respond to the silent treatment

It’s necessary to change your direction and start taking small steps in the right direction again. Ask yourself honest questions of what’s going on and you will slowly recognize the situation for what it is. Ask yourself whether it’s healthy behaviour to use the silent treatment and not communicate in a normal way. Does this person ever take responsibility, show regret or take the blame for their own behaviour?

Honest quality questions towards yourself will lead to honest and quality answers. The answers will tell you what to do. When dealing with a narcissist, you have to trust your intuition. It can be very hard to recognize you are not the one to blame, mostly because of earlier emotional abuse or experiences.

Now, you can’t change their unhealthy behaviour and you’re not responsible for the behaviour of others. You can only change your own behaviour and make your own choices. The best response to the silent treatment is thus to stay out of this unhealthy manipulative game. Think about what you want in a relationship. Recognize the situation for what it is and not how you want things to be. You have to set boundaries for yourself and know how you want to be treated. You can decide this, you have this control. Do you show yourself the same kindness, love and compassion as you show to others?

Off course, It will still hurt that this person doesn’t take responsibility. Know that it’s okay to feel hurt. You can be hurt by their behaviour and similarly decide not to accept it. I hope that makes sense.

In my opinion, when dealing with a narcissist, the best solution is to go no contact and protect your energy. If you are able to go no contact right away, the best time always is now. A narcissist using the silent treatment or disappearance is a great time to make it permanent. If you do need more time, it’s important to not take responsibility for the behaviour of others, start focusing on yourself and learn to create emotional distance from this abusive person. You could possibly use the grey rock method temporarily as a form of not feeding narcissistic supply by only interacting in a non-emotional way.

So, I hope this video can be helpful to you. In my article about the silent treatment and on my website you can learn a lot more about how to possibly deal with narcissists. For now, thank you for listening and I wish you strength and more kindness in the future.

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