The Silent Treatment: A Narcissist’s Tool For Psychological Warfare
Ghosting, the silent treatment, the disappearing act, radio silence – no matter what you call it, when your partner makes the decision to cut you off that’s a huge flag that speaks volumes about the kind of person you’re involved with and it’s a very tangible act that requires your immediate attention.
What Precedes a Disappearing Act
When the partner of a Narcissist starts realizing that things just aren’t adding up and they start asking a lot of questions, a Narcissist will get very defensive. When cornered, like a rat, a Narcissist will not cower, but will go on the attack. They’ll get angry, pick a fight and somehow make all of their bad behavior your fault. They will gas light or terrorize you. How dare you question them. They do not want you getting too close to the real them and they do not want you to get too close to the truth. Their filter is so twisted and damaged that by the end of it they are wondering if perhaps you are not quite as special as they once thought. This is usually the spot where their feelings switch from having over-evaluated their interest in you to devaluing you.
When we’re upset with someone, sometimes we need to take a few and be by ourselves to calm down and clear our heads. With healthy couples this cooling off period will usually be followed by more dialogue, apologies and making up. With a Narcissist the silent treatment is their opportunity to incite psychological warfare. The purpose of the silent treatment is multifaceted and usually consists of several of the following reasons.
Punishment: This is usually the main reason for a Narcissist to ghost you. How dare you accuse them. Don’t you know who you’re dealing with? ‘I’ll show you just how awful challenging me can be and trust me you won’t like one bit of it,’ is generally their mantra. Bottom line is they want you to suffer and they feed off of your pain.
Psychological/Manipulation Technique to Train You How to Behave: The goal here is to teach you how to behave by using a simple negative reinforcement technique. If you behave and ignore all of what you’re seeing and feeling I will stay and continue to terrorize you some more, but if you behave badly, by questioning my horrendous behavior and are displeased by it, I will leave you feeling responsible and terrified that I will never return. I will press all of your buttons and hit all of the triggers I have skillfully gathered while you thought I was just getting to know you. By the time I’m done with your training you will expect very little from me and will have learned to keep your mouth shut.
Seeking Out New Supply: In my dealings with Narcissists I’ve been able to understand that, quite often, their behavior can be very impulsive. Sometimes they see something, they want it and they act without much thought to the consequences. In this case an opportunity will present itself and they cannot help but take advantage of it. If another catches their fancy they will want to experience that person and get a good feed in without having to deal with you. They may want to ascertain whether or not this supply is better than you and if they should replace you. They will not tell you this of course. You will be left completely in the dark, because if it doesn’t work out they want to be able to come back to your understanding arms.
They Don’t Want To Face the Consequences: Sometimes the jig is up and the light of day has fallen on all of their relationship crimes. A Narcissist will ghost you in this circumstance because they aren’t interested in being berated or having to fess up that their behavior was less than stellar. They will tell themselves things like, ‘I didn’t care about her anyway,” and they will not feel a lick of remorse. In many cases like this, the ghosting is permanent or semi-permanent and you may never hear from them again or it will be a long, long time before you do.
They will never give you closure because they are not interested in your feelings or how you’re dealing with their betrayal. These types are far from being emotionally honest and always want to leave the door open just in case they may want to give it a knock somewhere down the road.
The Return of the Narcissist: What Happens Now?
If someone behaves poorly in a healthy relationship, upon reconciliation, there is generally an admission of wrong-doing, atonement and a change in behavior. In a relationship with a Narcissist there is never a desire to have an open dialogue about the ‘problem,’ there is never an admission of wrong-doing and the behavior goes on as it always has. Astonishingly, they act like nothing ever happened. If you bring it up or try to talk about it you will be ghosted again until you learn not to talk about it and you will learn too, because you will remember the agony you were left in. The way your mind terrorized you with thoughts of him being with someone else and you don’t want to go through that again, so you will learn to adapt to his way of thinking. You’ll learn to be quiet and to eat your feelings. You’ll start telling yourself that what they did was no big deal and you’ll make molehills out of mountains of horrific behavior, because you’ve been psychologically conditioned to do so.
If you have caught your partner in a mountain of lies, if you have reason to suspect that they’ve been cheating, if their treatment of you has been less than respectful you have every reason to end the relationship right there. These are boundaries that must be maintained or else you will find yourself caught in a psychological trap that only gets harder to extricate yourself from.
If you had evidence that your partner was cheating and brought it to their attention (and that person was innocent) they would bend over backwards to make sure you got to the truth. People who have nothing to hide – hide nothing. People who are guilty will do everything within their power to make sure you never get to the truth. Narcissists are masters at this game, don’t let yourself get caught in their trap, recognize the signs early and get the hell out.
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