One thing I have noticed about narcissists is very few are quiet. They often are very extroverted, engaging with many people. Even the few more introverted ones can be surprisingly talkative for introverts. Because of this, one thing you can be sure of is when a narcissist is quiet, there is trouble brewing.
Many people are simply quiet by nature. I’m one of them. I am not usually very talkative even with people I love & am close to. When I get especially quiet, even those close to me may not notice it right away because it’s not terribly abnormal.
Silence in a person who is normally talkative, however, is very easily noticed. When that normally talkative person suddenly stops being talkative, you simply can’t help but notice. Narcissists & other manipulative people are aware of this, & use this to their advantage.
Their silence causes you to focus on them. This inadvertently hands narcissists a degree of control over their victims, which, of course is the goal.
Their silence is one way they express contempt for their victims. Refusing to speak to their victim is one way they say, “You are so disgusting I refuse to waste my time & my breath speaking to you.”
Their silence is a tool they use to make victims willing to jump through any hoops to regain favor with the narcissist. When a person is unaware of the wicked manipulation that is the silent treatment, it can be downright humiliating what they will do to try to make the narcissist forgive their supposed wrong doing & speak to them again.
Their silence is also used to keep a victim mentally off balance. There is never any clear indication of how long the silent treatment will last. It often begins & ends without warning. There are also many times when there is no explanation. The narcissist simply stops speaking to the victim, then later begins speaking to them again as if nothing happened. My mother did this. Her silent treatment once lasted for eighteen months. Suddenly, she called one evening & talked like the previous months hadn’t even happened.
Sometimes their silence isn’t so obvious. It shows up in subtle ways, such as “forgetting” to meet a victim for an important engagement or “forgetting” their victim’s birthday. Similarly is when the narcissist enters a room with you & other people, then proceeds to greet others warmly while ignoring you. These silent snubs are subtle ways to tell a victim that he or she isn’t important enough to remember or acknowledge.
It is vitally important to your mental health to recognize the differences in healthy & unhealthy silence. Healthy silence is normal. Some people are naturally quiet & not naturally good at reaching out to others, even others they love. When someone is struggling & is the type to retreat into themselves during hard times, their silence is healthy & normal. The same if someone is particularly busy for a season. Unhealthy silence is nothing like this, & you need to be aware of that so you can protect yourself from those who practice this cruel type of manipulation.
When it happens to you, & it will at some point since it’s such a popular weapon of manipulative people, remind yourself of what is happening. Even if you have done something wrong, a healthy, functional person would talk to you about what happened if they truly wanted to work things out. Or, they might end the relationship with you entirely. Either way, they would not try to manipulate you with their silence.
If this happens repeatedly in a relationship, I believe it’s a sign that you need to reconsider the relationship. Ending it is likely a healthy option for you. If you are unwilling or unable to do so, then never forget what is happening & refuse to give the narcissist what they want. Do NOT ask “What’s wrong?” because that only lets them know their manipulation is working. Besides, they won’t give you an honest answer anyway. Instead, pretend you are unaware of their silence & live your life enjoying the reprieve!