When Narcissists Ignore You

Another control tactic narcissists use is by ignoring their victim.  Whether it is pretending the person didn’t say anything or the narcissist didn’t hear the person (when they obviously did) or the silent treatment, ignoring a victim is about control.


Being ignored may not sound very effective, but it can be surprisingly so.  It communicates the message that the person being ignored is so awful, they don’t even deserve to be acknowledged.  This message can be absolutely devastating, especially when done repeatedly.


It also makes the person being ignored work harder, trying to get the ignoring person’s attention.  The person feels they must make it up to the ignoring person.  Make what up?  They rarely know, but they know they have done something so horrible, it made the ignoring person not want to speak to them.


If the narcissist in question has hearing problems, she may use it to help her ignore you.  She may have what I refer to as selective hearing.  If you say something she doesn’t like, she may act like she doesn’t hear you.


My narcissistic mother has ignored me more times than I can count.  She has hearing problems, & uses it to play innocent claiming she didn’t hear me say something.  Yet, I’ve tested her hearing.  If we’re discussing something & she isn’t happy with what I’m saying, she without fail says, “What’s that Honey?  I can’t hear you..” until I’m practically screaming.  If the conversation is normal, I can practically whisper & she hears me fine.  She also gives me the silent treatment on a regular basis.


Thanks to her ridiculous behavior, I have had to learn healthy ways to cope.


My mother started using the silent treatment with me sometime in my childhood.  I don’t remember when exactly, but I remember her using it most often when her abuse was at its peak in my late teens.  It used to upset me terribly!  I would beg her to tell me what I did that was so bad, & she would respond with, “If you don’t know, I’m not going to tell you!”  *sigh*  I finally had a revelation.  If she wouldn’t talk to me like the grown up she was, then whatever I supposedly did couldn’t be so bad.  Or, if she wouldn’t tell me, then chances are it was because she didn’t have a leg to stand on- I probably didn’t do anything bad at all.  Instead, she was trying to get me to work hard to earn her love back.    This knowledge was very helpful for me.  I no longer felt the need to work hard to earn her love.  I have come to appreciate the silent treatment.  I now think of it as a break from the drama & head games my narcissistic mother loves to play.


When she ignores me or uses her selective hearing, I involve my father or whoever else is there.  As typical with narcissists, my mother does NOT want to look bad in front of others, so this works to my advantage.  If she ignores me, I give my father a look of frustration or ask him to get her attention since she’s ignoring me.  Then, he will call my mother by her name & mention me saying something, which forces her to acknowledge me.  Once I have her full attention, I can repeat what I was saying.  Of course, this works well when someone else is there only, which is another argument for not being alone with a narcissist.  Having witnesses can be a very helpful thing, plus the narcissist usually behaves better when there are people around to impress.


I also remind myself whether she is simply ignoring me or giving me the full blown silent treatment that she isn’t doing this because of me.  She is doing it because there is something wrong with her.  Mature, normal, healthy people don’t treat other people this way.  They discuss issues & work things out.


I hope these tips help you as much as they have helped me, Dear Reader!

















Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

8 responses to “When Narcissists Ignore You

  1. Cindy Patterson

    I’m glad you wrote on that topic! In my marriage and divorce my ex with npd, he walked away in 5 min when I confronted him that I knew of his affair. At that time we had a 13 year history together and 5 of those married. Like your last sentence, a normal healthy person talks things out! It was a second marriage for both of us with no children to mean we see each other or talk, but in this small town he ignores me to go along with his made-up stories of how mentally unstable I am ( I had depression in the stress filled marriage yes and none since we separated, hum). I agree also about having a witness is the only way to communicate with them as if its not the silent ignoring treatment to not communicate, if they do speak who knows if it is the truth. I think my ex was not capable of the truth!! I look forward to your emails Cynthia! It helps with my continued healing!


  2. Your post helps a lot simply by letting me know I’m not alone. My mother has been doing this silent treatment or ignoring game to me for as long as I can remember, maybe from I was 4 or 5 years old. Yet no one belives me! By the time I was in high school, I had the similar realization like yours– I didn’t really do anything wrong to deserve the treatment. I had been striving to earn her acknowledgement by taking over HER RESPONSIBILITY of caring for my 3 other siblings & grandfather who lived with us for about 10 years, and doing lots of housechores– all upon her demands since I thought I could win her love by doing everything for her. With 3 siblings, it makes the silent treatment worse; it has turned into emotional isolation, for over so many years, I have realized that my siblings don’t have to do anything to win her acknowledgement; she plays a totally different mother when the others are around, warm & friendly. Yet, whenever she is alone with me, she always pretends she doesn’t hear what I say. So, all my life, everyone in my family, including my father, treats me like I am invisible. Finding out about NPD really saved my life because the more I learn about NPD, the more I am certain the problem is with them, NOT with me!


    • I’m so very sorry for what you went through growing up! That is absolutely awful! You shouldn’t have had the responsibilities you had nor should you have had to endure the silent treatment! Sending you big hugs.. Thank God you’ve learned about NPD. It truly isn’t you, it’s them!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you! Hugs to you, too! 🙂 Only fellow survivors know how pervasive & long lasting a NM’s toxic influence can be. I’m just beginning to learn how to re-program my unconsciousness — kindda like trying to detoxify the negativity instilled by NM.


    • You sure hit that nail on the head. No one really gets it unless they’ve experienced a narcissistic mother themselves. Sometimes not even then if they are deeply in denial about it.

      You have a long road ahead of you, but please don’t be discouraged- it’ll be a good road too, because you’ll heal, learn & grow. If you’re on facebook, I have a group on there full of kind, supportive people who have been there. You’re welcome to join if you like- it might be very beneficial to you. Just message me your name so I let you in first, please- I don’t let people in I don’t know. I run names past the group before allowing people to join unless I personally know the person is safe. Trying to keep out spammers & the stalking narcissist types, by doing this & it’s worked pretty well so far.


      • I would be really greatful if I’m accepted into your Facebook group. My name is Sarah Chuang. Thanks again! 🙂 I’ve been reading your articles every day this week. They are really insightful & practical (especially the ones on how to keep a civil/limited contact with NM, since I can’t go no contact now) And truly sorry to know that you lost a furbaby recently. It took me a long time to grieve after my 2nd furbaby passed away suddenly. But I know you & the other fur babies will be fine since I can sense you are a truly compassionate soul, and they are in your thoughtful care. It might sound a little coo-coo, crazy to say this: after my awakening due to finding out about NPD, I begin to sense more & more about how our physical bodies are just temporary mediums for us to experience love, pain, and sensations on this Earth, and our souls/ spirits can be independent from our physical limitations. The same with our furbabies. When I see tree leaves or sense wind blowing, I almost feel my lost furbabies are still with me. They and I are all part of nature & we are one.


        • Thank you so much! I really appreciate what you said about my blog. So glad it’s helping you! I’ll let you in my group as soon as I see your request to join 🙂

          Also thank you.. I know you’re right- we’ll all be OK after losing Pretty Boy. It just takes time & a lot of tears. We’re adopting 2 kittens in need either tomorrow or Monday, so that will help, too. One is a special needs girl, so in a way, that’s good for me- I love caring for those who need help.

          I do believe you’re right & it’s not crazy at all. Our bodies are simply vessels. It’s the spirit that continues to live. I’m sure your departed furbaies are still with you. I know mine are with me- we’re still connected even though I can’t physically see them anymore.


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