Most people have experienced the silent treatment at some point in a relationship. The silent treatment in and of itself isn’t emotional abuse, but what does make it emotional abuse is the reason and duration it’s given to a person.
In a normal/healthy relationship the silent treatment may be given for a reasonable reason (a person may be so upset they don’t want to say something they’ll regret), and for a reasonable amount of time (a few hours). The partner that is on the receiving end of the silent treatment may be uncomfortable, saddened or angered by the silent treatment, but they know it will end, and they don’t begin to question every aspect of their relationship or what they did to cause it.
This is not the case with a Narcissist. With a Narcissist the silent treatment can be given for any number of reasons, last any length of time, and the victim is left to twist in the wind, often wondering what they did and if their relationship is over.
Why do Narcissists give the silent treatment?
There are three main reasons why Narcissists use the silent treatment:
1. To assert their power and control over their victim. The silent treatment is a great way for them to make sure that your relationship is being played on their terms. After all with their silence they are now in control of the (lack of) communication, and the victim is often left to scramble to apologize or to try and somehow make things better–anything to just get their partner to start talking again.
2. It gives them time to line up additional supply. Narcissists always have potential victims (referred to as “Narcissistic Supply”) lined up as a plan a, b, c, d and so on. Always. Narcissists can (and will) use the silent treatment for any reason at anytime, and the added benefit to them is that by doing so allows them to focus on lining up (love bombing) another source of supply. You can be sure that if they aren’t spending time with you, they are spending that time working on someone else. And since love bombing takes a lot of time and energy, it’s easier for them to do when their partner isn’t expecting them to engage with them in any way. During the silent treatment the Narcissists can be gone for days at a time and the victim isn’t comfortable questioning their whereabouts for fear it will lead to more of the silent treatment.
3. To manage down expectations. The silent treatment is crazy making and torturous, and victims of it will often do anything to make it stop. The Narcissist knows this, and is then able to only give the bare minimum (crumbs of attention/affection) to the relationship or the victim to give the victim relief that things are back to normal. The victim is all too happy to pick up those crumbs, because to them something is better than nothing. The Narcissist is doing this as a way to slowly train the victim to expect less and less of them, while they get away with more and more.
A relationship with a Narcissists is a one-sided relationship, and one where the victim will always be let down. Always. Narcissists only think about themselves, and place the importance of their wants and needs above everyone else’s. If you think you are in a relationship with a Narcissist, please learn as much as you can about this personality disorder, as well as join a support group or consider getting into counseling with a therapist who is famliar with Narcissists.
My goal is to educate, empower, and inspire other abuse victims in understanding more about what happened to them (and how to prevent it from happening again), as well as how to go on and rebuild an amazing life.
Even though I have had a lot of "in the trenches" experience with highly manipulative people of all kinds, I consider myself to be a student of Narcissism, mindset, motivation, healing, and life in general, and am by no means an expert on any of these topics.
It's for these reasons, that when you are reading my information that I encourage you to hold to what helps, and let the rest go.