The Silent Treatment And No Contact… What Are The Differences?

The Silent Treatment And No Contact… What Are The Differences?

A lot of people tend to think that when we go ‘No Contact’ with a narcissist, we are behaving in a similar manner as they do when they give us the ‘Silent Treatment’.  The two are so very, very different and are done for very different reasons.  We need to look at what motivates someone to initiate the Silent Treatment or No contact.

IMG_1375The Silent Treatment
When a narcissist gives us the silent treatment they are doing so as a punishment, to invoke fear, obligation, guilt or remorse.  Remember that these disordered personalities are all about power and control.  It is a means employed by these disordered individuals of showing their displeasure or disapproval.  Have you done something to deserve it?  Probably not.  Most of the time, the victim has no idea why they are being treated in this despicable manner.  They have done nothing wrong.  Any attempt to resolve the situation by discussion is thwarted.  Their contempt for you is blatantly obvious.  The narcissist’s ego is very easily upset.  It takes so very little to ignite their fuse.  The silent treatment is a passive aggressive form of emotional abuse and has been described as mental murder.  When you are on the receiving end of the silent treatment your very existence is not recognised by your abuser.  They will not speak to you, look at you, answer your phone calls or answer your texts.  This makes a target feel that they are dead to their abuser.  The narcissist knows exactly what they are doing, they know how this behaviour is making you feel and yes, they may enjoy seeing you suffer.  Basically, they just do not care how they make you feel.  In their sick and twisted mind, you have upset them and you deserve it.

No Contact

When we go no contact with an abuser it is done to protect ourselves, to give us time to heal and recover, not to punish or hurt anyone.  (When there are children involved, minimal contact is advised.  Keep one line of communication open, preferably in writing.)

No contact has often been described as removing the drugs away from the addict or the alcohol from the alcoholic.  The narcissist was our drug and when we need to become clean we have got to stay away from the drugs or the alcohol.  For many, this may last a lifetime.  Some alcoholics may be alcohol free for years and just one drink will see them back in their pit of despair.  Likewise with the narcissist,  just one conversation, letting your guard down can be enough for you to let the narcissist back into to your life.  Make sure you know that you are strong enough before you have any dealings with the narcissist.  For many that time will never come.  So be it.  Losing the narcissist in your life is not a loss, it’s a gain.  You are gaining freedom.  You are gaining strength away from these dysfunctional individuals.  You are getting your life back.  You cannot stop them treating people the way they do but you can stop them treating you in this way.

Know that someone who truly loves you would never want to hurt you, would never want to see you cry or be the cause of those tears.  Know when enough is enough.  Know when to walk away.

Written by Anne McCrea


Narcissistic and Emotional Abuse, Shattering the Illusion, now available on Amazon

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70 thoughts on “The Silent Treatment And No Contact… What Are The Differences?

      1. For the first half of being married the silent treatment worked on me very well. Later, looking back on it I was surprised to figure how intentional it was, and effective. BUT then… I started thinking of it as a mini-vacation of 3 or 4 days of blessed relief. 27 years was a long road.

        1. Yes!!!! Silence is GOLDEN in my book! When we are in silent mode he can’t degrade me or embarrass me or hurt my feelings. When we are in silent mode I can’t ask him if he wants to go the the Smith’s for dinner, so I have to accept their invitation alone (and finally enjoy something) now the silent treatment is way harder on him than me and it doesn’t occur as often as it used to……

  1. OMG. My narc went silent treatment on me when we separated, after informing me I should beg for forgiveness from HIM (ego, ego, ego – HE was cheating!). I was crushed in the beginning. CRUSHED. Did some very hard work on myself and have come to love MY choice of NO CONTACT. Any contact, A-N-Y, is nothing but a waltz with a pathological liar. I won’t even be in his presence without a witness his lying is that intense. I truly have gained my freedom and have no doubt that I will keep getting stronger and stronger. This is a sick, sick man and I am blessed to be free of him.

    1. It was the same for me when I ask him to go home and think about what he was doing to us his cheating etc. Next day he packs all 15 yrs worth of stuff and he left for the other women 2 months later he comes back knocking at my door asking why didn’t I beg him to stay omg beg yes he was the cheater also. They are all cut from the same cloth they feel like they are god and we are there servants.

      1. OMG this is exactly what I went through. He left and months later he told me the same thing, why I didn’t beg him to come back. Now he will not leave me alone, while he is still with the women he left me for. He wants his cake and eat it too.

        1. We broke up 9 weeks ago after he bashed me really badly. 4 weeks before that ( i thought) we were blissfully happy. I went no contact and tead lots of books. I was feeling really strong and empowered. He kept texting me to ring him and 2 days ago i did. What a mistake. Now im back to square one and in a worse way mentally than before

          1. never give up on getting rid of them…never…it may take a few times and some patience but it will happen and you will be set free

  2. I have dealt with this from my brother since 2005. Long story short. I was DPO for our father. No one wanted the job so it landed in my lap. But everything I did was wrong in this individuals eyes. But yet he did not want to be DPO, he just wanted to criticize what I did. He said i stole from our father and more. Then we as a family, 5 of us as our brother passed away one month before our father in 2005, hospice, administrators and nurses said that it was not a good idea for him to know of his sons passing because of his dementia (thankfully our father was only in the nursing facility for 3 months) But this brother took it upon himself and disrespected his 3 sisters and went and told our dad about our brother, his son had died. That is what killed my father. At the funeral of our father was the time he quit speaking to my and my sister. He still does speak to my other sister. It has been 11 years and on the change that we do see him, which thank the good Lord we don’t see him , It has been the silent treatment. Turns his back to me and even has his wife and grown children treating me the same. You can call them narcissist, but in reality These people are demonically possessed. I have learned to live with out him and am happy to do so. To be free from people such as this is a weight lifted and I can continue my life without having to thing about them anymore.

  3. I am having a hard time with no contact, so I contacted him and he told me in a roundabout way how would I like it if he shot himself? So, what I need is a way to explain whyI want a divorce and to not be manipulated. He is playing the poor him card when I talk to him , and how could I do this, etc. And sometimes, I wonder how I can. It is so hard..

    1. Just keep trying, I’m not completely out of my situation but am trying . Keep the no contact I’m finding it’s what’s better !

    2. Be honest. It would hurt my feelings if you did that. But truthfully I can not live with you. My needs are not the same as yours and this is unhealthy for me emotionally and physically. If he tries to play you or on your emotions hang up. Then write down your boundaries. Send them to him in a letter. Whenever you talk to him again point out your boundaries. When they are crossed hang up.

    3. The first thing you need to do is be absolutely certain that you know unquestionably that if he did shoot himself, it is his choice, his alone and not your fault, not your responsibility, not your burden, not your cross to bear.
      His threat is nothing more than a ploy to make you feel guilt. Don’t feel guilt, all the guilt is his. He owns it, let him keep it.

  4. I have gone no contact after a 24 year relationship. Split at Xmas after finding out about numerous affairs. Have realised after months of communication that I will never get the answers I needed. Just everything turned on me and made to feel as if I was insane. I’m far from it. No contact has given me the peace of mind and time to heal myself and focus on the things dearest to me. Kids friends family. Wish I had done it so long ago.

    1. I wish I could get where you are …I will get here soon .keep up the good work staying away from him

  5. I’ve been in no contact with my husband for almost a year after waking up to his infidelities. It has been invaluable because I have been able to get in touch my own reality! Not living in his one sided dimented reality that caused me so much pain, I see so much clearly now & am able to do what’s best for me & my kids.

  6. I love this site! It describes my ex to a T. After 40 years and many years of therapy, I finally have an answer to what the problem was. The silent treatment, the lying, the making it out to be my problem, etc. I many times thought maybe it was my problem, hence the therapy. Many times I contemplated suicide, but a little voice told me that he would get everything then. He turned all 3 of our children against me then filed for divorce when my mom was dying and I was there with her. He promptly took up with another. Every one said I was lucky to get out of that circus, but it has been hard emotionally, financially. At least I have reconnected with my children and they now see what I have been talking about. I still have to see him at family occasions, but I try to avoid him whenever possible. “No contact”. Your site is helping me hang on. Thank you

  7. The narcissist instigates building a wall of silence in an attempt to get away with behaving exactly as they want without having to justify themselves or communicate effectively for the benefit of fairness for all involved….. Eventually when the victim walks away, making the decision that mind games and covert behaviour is too much to have to or need to keep on enduring, the narcissist then finds they have stonewalled themselves…. The silence must be deafening for them when they secretly crave attention!

    1. That has to be the most accurate and profound description of the narcassist’s silent treatment I have ever heard. Thank you.

  8. OMG I can’t believe this is exactly what my ex is putting me through now. I didn’t even know there was a condition for his actions. I came across this new knowledge of narcissistic behavior by accident…hmmm maybe it wasn’t an accident I was meant to see this. Wow I feel so free now. Now….I need to lose contact with him. I am finished with allowing him to use me for his ego anymore!!

    1. Yip me too. Had been in relationship with 1 for would have been 16 years but take 1 year off. For the affair he had with a so called pal. In whitch a think she is 1 too he is there for following his fathers foot steps. Leaving 3. Kids distraught and feeling rejected ,, a have good lawyer now av 1 my case twice no contact wats so ever ,,,, n yes its awl my fault. Haven found this site throo my cousin it exspains everything. Now it s to go on getting stronger and get over everything adults can not less good for kids to understand. X but I am thank full this site. And I have. Orderd 2 books on it Wish I saw this sooner thanks

    2. I’m just learning about this and I’m shocked evrything I read about fits my ex aswell it’s like wow! I’m going to just keep reading..

  9. I think this site is fantastic. Ots better than therapy!!! So inspiring to feel I’m not alone. 7 years of hell and more hell getting away from him. He is so evil and i feel so weak. So stupid. So manipulated. Such a waste of time.

  10. I left my husband 3 weeks ago after 21 years of marriage and I’m staying with my parents. I left all my belongings.. the thought of going back and facing him scares me to death. I feel like I’m going to have a nervous breakdown. I’m scared of his manipulation. I don’t want to see the big fake tears running down his face and his”long story short” (which is a short story long). Ive heard it all and I know his game. I’m excited for my future without him. I know I made the best decision the day I walked out the door. Thank you for your words! Finally someone gets it!!!!!

  11. This is realy a wonderful site. A couple of weeks ago I asked a question ‘to the audience’ and since then you have posted articles that seem to be directed to me. Thank you for the valuable advise. For the 1st time in 6 years, I understand what is happening.

  12. A woman I loved gave me repeated episodes of withdrawal and cut-offs. She was hurtful and aloof to the pain she caused. It was romance for her. I exited at least 17 years ago. I ran into her. She had tears in her eyes upon seeing me. I had to turn the other way and walk. I couldn’t risk the re-entanglement. It was impossibly hard but I knew it was right for me as much as when I got sober 36 years ago. I see these two milestones analogously.

    1. Way to go man. Often times Narcissistic women are excused, with society saying things like “that’s just her being a woman” or “you must’ve done something to her to warrant her treatment” or “you must not be a real man since you can’t ‘handle’ a ‘strong’ woman”, and so narcissistic women get away with murder. We have little to no support.

      I stand with you in solidarity.

  13. This is an excellent site! I would like to hear from people who have daughter-in-laws who are manipulative. Mine is now giving me the silent treatment, and so is my son. I realize now that she does everything to be hurtful. Yes, it hurts, because my son dutifully follows along. She has made up stories, then denies them, she has destroyed family heirlooms, and who knows what else she plans to do. I want to wash my hands of her, but that also means I will lose my son. Thank goodness they have no children, because I know I will never see their offspring. It’s a relief she is shunning me, because I don’t have to deal with all the drama, yet I worry about my son. I’d like to know what other people are doing in this situation…thanks for any and all advice.

    1. Hi Judy, this is exactly my story. My son believes all the smear campaigns. She has alienated him from all his family. For some reason, that I cannot phantom, my son does not see how rude she is. Everything she does to me, is turned around as if I did it and my son believes her. When I found this website, it described my daughter-in-law to a t. I have now gone no contact, but I fear fro the time when my son will be on the receiving end of her antagonism and be discarded.

      1. I am one of those unfortunate mums whose loving innocent son has turned his back on her. I have not seen my son for two years. He was very caring before marriage but once she got him she has been building a web of lies and turned him totally against me, my husband and my daughter. We are finding out about the flabbergasting lies through the vicious texts my son wrote to us and through other people. We have not been in touch for over two years and she keeps on adding things that apparently I, my husband or my daughter did or said which never happened. We were a happy, loving family who welcomed her and loved her as my son’s wife. She could have been the centre of our attention and enjoyed all we have. I do not understand why she behaves in this manner and what she wants? She has totally destroyed us – we miss our son and despite our loving messages he responds with nastiness. Mine and my husbands health is suffering. I worry about my son too. Not sure what we can do to save him.

    2. My son cut off from me 2 years ago. I feel helpless and am just learning about this- my daughter in law is exactly the same. Reading about narcissism is shocking and an eye opener! But it explains her behaviour so well- still not sure what I can do to save my son…

  14. i believe I have raised one of thease ppl. he wasnt like this as a young child but around the age of 17 his whole personality did a complete change, now he feels its perfectly fine to manipulate my self my parents his grandparents and my husband into anything he sees fit, and if you don’t agree with him for anything he cuts you out ofhis life. unfortunately i have a grandson that is now showing signs of same behavior. so sad that this is my child …….

  15. My relationship is been on n off for 14 years at first he was charming n generous he is weathy hut very cheap now. He does the silent treatment a lot I think he won’t come back but each he does. Now I don’t want another relationship because of it. Horrible way to live.

    1. My mother is my narcissist. She has groomed me my entire life. My older sister who does absolutely nothing is her golden child. Eight years ago, I was hospitalized. I had a nervous breakdown. It was at this time the doctor told me it was not me who had the problem. I was releaved, yet confused. This was when I found out about narcissists. They are truly dangerous. I have lived and suffered a lifetime. Never good enough, NEVER. The damage is done and at this point I’m in therapy. I did everything for my Mother. She told her family how sick and crazy I am. No one talks to me. Last year she begged me to let her come back to my house to live. I did. She told me this n that and things will be different. She makes everyday in my life a living nightmare.

  16. I too was with one of these monsters because that it what they are MONSTERS. They feel nothing. They don’t love you never did it was all a fabrication to get you enmeshed so that they can control you. They have no control over their own life so they control others. At present seeing a therapist because I was in a bad way after my involvement with him. Feeling heaps better now and coming back to myself. I wish I had never met him but it is a lesson I will never forget. I am now in a relationship with a man who I have known for a lot of years but taking it very slow no more love bombing for me. Also my friends don’t be scared to cry because you will get rid of all that hurt and it won’t bottled up inside. These predators should have NARC tattooed on their forehead. Mel xx

  17. I too have just recently broken away from a partner of 3 yrs, just on Christmas Eve with one of his children & another on the way.
    Not knowing exactly what i was going through untill i ended it..
    Through legal authorities beyond my control..
    I have not & will not have contact ever again..
    Only after this seperation was it then the detriment i realise it has had on me..
    The hardest thing i have ever experienced & now i have been through a lot in my life..
    Both myself & children are safe..
    I challenge with this everyday & what i find the hardest to understand is why they tend to cheat..when & betray your love & commitment..when they state they want a stable relationship..
    This is what confuses & hurts me the most..i still think was i not good enough for this man???
    Thank you all for sharing your stories ❤

  18. I was married to someone for 14 years and had 3 children with him. Little by little the abuse starts until you think you are crazy. The silent treatment is truly terrible. You don’t understand what you have done and spend so much energy trying to make it all right. It took me 4 years away to become stronger and understand that I was not the one to blame for everything. He took up with the woman that I suspected he was having an affair with and had a baby with her. I know that he will do the same to her. Stay strong people and read, read and educate yourself on these types of people. Knowledge is power.

  19. The more I read, the more I see that I am dealing with a narcissist in my almost 17 year old son. It’s crippling for me. The guilt he makes me feel. Yesterday he hadn’t had any water to drink and he gets very dehydrated so instead of his 3rd 32 oz Dr Pepper he wanted I brought him water. He grabbed his food off the table, walked downstairs and told me he was done speaking to me, again….. this morning he still gave me the silent treatment and when he said he had a fever by text message I responded, go to the school office. Again, I don’t care at all says him…… it’s emotionally and mentally exhausting. Any thoughts!?

  20. It’s not just men that do this. My wife is a classic narcissist. She cheated, yet said I should be the one begging for HER forgiveness.
    Apparently, I held a gun to her head and made her cheat… (Sarcasm of course)… I’m just now getting up the courage to leave. Just don’t know if I can… I’m THAT broken.

  21. Hi there! This post could not be written any better!
    Reading through this post reminds me of my previous room mate!

    He consistently kept talking about this. I
    ‘ll forward this post to him. Fairly sure he’ll have
    a good read. Thank you for sharing!

  22. This is SPOT ON, barring that it fails to define that the narcissist will try to keep control of you at all times (covertly or overtly) and if they recognize your NO CONTACT SELF PROTECTION EFFORTS, they will do all they can (including insincere apologies, flattery, offers of favors and gifts, promises to stop the behavior and etc.), break their silence and attempt everything possible to reel you back into their web of control so they can’t continue to use and hurt you in every way possible.

    Its a game to them.

  23. This whole article hasenlightened me, I was married to one of these people and my crazy was nothing g compared to his ..I can’t believe how they can’t feel for others it is pathetic …I will keep my chin up and over come it …

  24. This is a great site! I seriously was wondering if I was crazy or not ..this has opened my eyes so much, first time I started reading this I got goose bumps it fit my ex husband to a perfect T!! My god they must know they are manipulating you? They must love seeing you cry because their bullshit is working …I’m in therapy now Wich he tells me it does not work lol ..refuses to do any kind of counciling because he says it’s bull …now I understand why he refuses he’s narcissist. .. I’m working on moving on it has been hard we have been on an off, he is so mad I won’t let him move back in right now and makes him being homeless my issue and trys to punish and hurt me to make himself feel better it’s insane thank you all for shareing it’s such a good feeling knowing I’m not alone a most likely not crazy

  25. Hi there! This post couldn’t be written any better!

    Reading through this post reminds me of my previous room mate!
    He consistently kept talking about this. I will forward this post to him.

    Fairly confident he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing!

  26. My Narc ex gave me the silent treatment for nearly 2 whole years living in the same house. I had no idea until recently what was going on for the whole time it was happening to me i would keep going near him and pouring my heart and soul out trying to sort things out he wouldnt say anything except for when id say i was leaving he would say no i will leave but he never followed through with it. The last 3 months i have been away from him he went to jail he tries to contact me sometimes i talk cause i have been telling him again what he did now he is actually answering saying he will change get help if hes like i say blah blah blah. I know from reading all of the info on these pages what hes up to now every move. I know i have to go no contact its so hard. One of the other really hard thing for me was withholding from me i got obsessed with the sex part the first 3 months he would be affectionate the works looking back at it he was always looking at himself at his muscles. Then he started saying to me he didnt like this and that i did and oh now you have done that you have turned me off now these words stuck to me and he used this as a tool to keep me down in the gutter where he wanted me. a week before meeting my narc ex i had been with a psycopath and had no idea about that either he would also withhold sex but the physical and mental abuse with him was so full on and constant everyday i had no time to think. I hope one day i will heal fully im angry at myself that i didnt see what these 2 were doing. Atm i am a mess and i also have BPD and i am out of control at times which i cant be i have 3 kids one of which is 18 months with my narc x another control tactic from him he would use our son to control me. I love this site i am so grateful for it has lifted a bit off my shoulders before this site i thought i had only 2 option Die or end up in jail myself.

  27. Yes! Thank you for explaining the differences so well! I have an ex church leader who is still going on after 6 years that I give her the silent treatment and shun her BUT I am going no contact to heal and move on from the abusive ways. Then of course I am accused of not showing the love of God for this. Manipulation much!?!

  28. After reading all this, it appears to explain my daughter in law’s behaviour. She got his sympathy by posing as a victim of her parent’s abuse (there was never anything specific). After marriage she started poisoning my kind and caring son with lies about us- with new ones being added as she goes along even though we haven’t seen them for two years. She has totally turned our son against us and alienated him. He hasn’t been in touch for the past two years but now goes around saying how we have been horrible to them. It’s totally heart breaking! He was always a loving son raised in a loving environment – so caring towards his parents and sisters and with uncles, aunts and grandparents around all the time. Now he is not in touch with any of us and only occasionally speaks to an uncle or a cousin only to have a rant about how horrible we are. All his texts are edited by his wife (we can tell where it’s not even his language) He is pretending that she is his ‘therapist’ and best friend. I won’t be surprised if he is led to believe we are the abusers and he needs to lose contact with us. I worry about my son and pray for him everyday but we are all shocked at how he is behaving with not a clue about how we can help him.

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