Silent Treatment is a Double-Edged sword

Silent Treatment is a Double-Edged sword silent treatment is a double-edged sword
Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

The silent treatment is a passive-aggressive behavior wherein someone — whether it’s your partner, a loved one, or a friend — ignores you and stops communicating. People often use the silent treatment to indirectly convey their desires.

However, when taken to extremes, it becomes a dangerously manipulative tactic and a form of emotional abuse. It’s a double-edged sword; while you might use it to protect yourself from a narcissist, they could also wield it to manipulate you.

The silent treatment doesn’t imply a complete lack of communication; rather, it involves verbal silence while the perpetrator uses non-verbal cues to convey discontentment, displeasure, and disrespect. An abusive individual employs the silent treatment as a means of communicating a negative message through non-verbal means.

A narcissist may utilize this tool either explicitly or subtly to assert control over you, causing distress and discomfort to satisfy their selfish needs. It’s essential to note that the use of the silent treatment doesn’t exclusively signify toxicity or narcissism. Sometimes, individuals who fear addressing complex or significant emotions might employ it as a way to avoid confrontation or conflict, akin to a “freeze” trauma response. The key distinction between a normal person and a manipulative individual using the silent treatment is that the manipulator won’t engage in discussion about it afterward. They will not take accountability or genuinely explain their actions. In fact, they might even deny having ignored you, further distorting your perception of reality through gaslighting. In this article, I’ll discuss why narcissists employ the silent treatment, when it becomes abusive, and offer strategies for handling silent treatment from manipulative individuals.

Why Do Narcissists Use the Silent Treatment?

  1. Punishment: A narcissist resorts to the silent treatment to punish you when you’ve upset them or failed to meet their expectations. Instead of addressing matters through mature conversation, they opt for silence to inflict emotional pain, effectively conveying their displeasure with your actions or behavior.**

2. Avoidance: Narcissists employ the silent treatment as a means of evading accountability, responsibility, or situations that might expose them. Rather than confronting issues directly, toxic individuals choose silence to avoid facing the truth.**

3. Manipulation and Control: Silent treatment can serve as a manipulation tactic, coercing you into complying with their desires. When someone gives you the cold shoulder, you might find yourself making significant efforts to regain their attention. This plays into their manipulation, making you pursue them desperately. Your relentless attempts to reach out may lead to compromising your boundaries, inadvertently reinforcing their control over you. During this process, they may also exploit your reaction to the silent treatment, smearing your reputation to others. Thus, the silent treatment becomes a foundation for further manipulation.**

4. Form of Narcissistic Supply: Silent treatment can prompt you to exert extra effort to gain their attention, which feeds into the narcissistic ego’s insatiable need for admiration. Consequently, the silent treatment acts as a source of emotional supply for the narcissist, making them feel powerful and essential.**

How to Respond to Silent Treatment from a Narcissist?

Experiencing the silent treatment can trigger a deluge of negative emotions and feelings. You might find yourself blaming yourself for the state of the relationship and even going to great lengths to resolve the distress caused by the silence. The silent treatment can also unearth childhood abandonment wounds, evoking feelings of rejection and unworthiness.

The most effective way to deal with silent treatment from a manipulative person is to mirror it. Use their tactic against them by also maintaining silence. Resist the urge to coax them into communicating. Consider this a respite from their verbal abuse, as most interactions with narcissistic individuals have detrimental effects on your mental well-being. Wouldn’t it be refreshing to experience a day without name-calling, accusations, or blame from them? Embrace this quiet period as a time to care for yourself or to plan your exit from the relationship. Remember, their silence isn’t about you; it’s merely another weapon in their arsenal of manipulation.

Silent treatment is distressing and may trigger feelings of anxiety. However, you can use it as an opportunity to take control back from a manipulative person. Imagine giving them a taste of their own medicine. Yet, if it’s possible to avoid a narcissist, do so at all costs. When avoidance isn’t an option, equip yourself with knowledge about their manipulative tactics, ensuring they cannot catch you off-guard. Prioritize your well-being, and don’t allow someone else’s actions to define your self-worth. Their behavior reflects who they are, not who you are. You are more than enough and deserving of happiness. Move forward and strive for the fulfilling life you deserve.


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Note from the Author

If you’re ready and you’d like my help with healing, finding peace in life and breaking free from these toxic patterns (in less than 2 months) , then you can book a FREE BREAKTHROUGH CALL with me HERE. Happy healing 💙💙. Feel free to share and comment! Use this information with caution, it comes from my own thoughts & bias, experiences and research😊.

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Edwin Bii
Edwin Bii

I'm Edwin Bii, a trained advanced conversational hypnotherapist (ACH) and Mind Shifting Coach from Kenya offering mental health support, and life coaching to help you crush your goalsand overcome your problems. Together, we'll navigate challenges, build self-awareness, and create a happier, healthier you. Let's unlock your potential.

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