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What Does It Mean When A Narcissist Goes Quiet? (+ How To Respond)

What Does It Mean When A Narcissist Goes Quiet? (+ How To Respond)

All victims of emotional abuse will tell you that there is nothing worse than when a narcissist goes quiet. Ironically, most of them testify that they prefer the temper tantrums and fighting over stonewalling.

Well, everyone with a narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is very well aware of this and knows that giving someone the silent treatment may be the most painful form of emotional abuse.

As hard as this might be to admit, these people have a twisted mind and are looking for different ways to devalue their victims and eventually to get away with their sick ways.

If you had a narcissistic ex-husband or wife or are involved with a narcissistic partner right now, you know the drill.

They shut down out of nowhere, stop responding to your texts and phone calls, and completely vanish from your life. Or they’re still physically present but act like you don’t exist.

For someone who hasn’t experienced this hell, the narcissist’s silent treatment sounds pretty harmless. In fact, some people will probably tell you that it’s not such a big deal.

Well, it is. It does not only destroy your self-confidence but, what is even worse, it drags you even deeper into a narcissistic net – which is exactly what your abuser wants to accomplish.

So, the question arises: How should you respond when a narcissist goes quiet? Before we get there, let’s scratch beneath the surface and understand what this stonewalling is and why it happens in the first place.

What Is Toxic Silence Or Stonewalling?

Simply put, stonewalling or toxic silence is the avoidance of every possible form of communication.

It doesn’t necessarily have to include someone physically disappearing from your life – you can get the silent treatment from the person you wake up next to every morning.

We’ve all been in a situation where our partner refuses to talk to us after a fight. When you ask them what’s wrong or what’s bothering them, you get short or blunt answers.

In most cases, they’re gaslighting you. They’ll try hard to convince you that everything is perfectly alright and that you’re imagining things. In the meantime, their body language and actions will tell you something completely different.

At the end of the day, you can’t help but wonder if you’re going crazy. Have you done something wrong that caused this reaction?

Are you to blame for this situation? How can you make it better?

While you’re asking yourself all of these questions, you’re simultaneously doing your best to get to your significant other. You just want to find out what you can do to make things better.

But every time you make an attempt towards reconciliation, you face a stone wall. Or they’re out of your life completely, and you can’t reach them at all.

Maybe they’re still physically present but act completely emotionally detached from you. Either way, you feel utterly lost.

It’s like this person is trying to make you read their mind. They refuse to cooperate and communicate but at the same time are punishing you for the mistakes you’re not even aware of making.

If they were the one who did something wrong, before you know it, you’ve forgotten all about it.

Even if we’re talking about infidelity or abuse – you just want your loved one back, and you’re ready to do whatever it takes for your relationship to go back to its old ways.

The neverending circle of toxic silent treatments

Perhaps the worst part is that you don’t know where you stand. Your entire life is practically on hold.

If this is happening for the first time, you can’t possibly know what to expect. Is this a break-up? Will you get any closure? Or will they ever start communicating with you again?

At this point, some victims do their best to move on with their lives – especially in cases when the narcissist is not physically present next to them.

As painful as it is, they accept that their relationship is over, and they focus on picking up the broken pieces of their heart.

Nevertheless, this is usually when the narcissist tries to come back, just when you were on the verge of getting over them. Just like that, they reappear in your life.

And what do you do? Do you demand a mature conversation about everything that went on?

Sadly, no. You’re overjoyed that you have your loved one back to the point where you’re too scared to start any arguments.

You just go with the flow and start acting like nothing ever happened. Before you know it, you’re trapped in an endless cycle of toxic silence.

They’ve gotten away with this behavior this time, haven’t they? So, what’s stopping them from repeating the same thing over and over again – practically everytime they feel like it?

Nothing, that’s right.

See also: How To Make A Narcissist Obsessed With You In 9 Easy Steps

When A Narcissist Goes Silent, Why Does It Happen?

Before you learn how to cope with this narcissistic technique the right way, you have to understand why it happens.

First and foremost, let’s be clear about one thing: people who suffer from a narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) have a completely different way of thinking and behaving.

Therefore, don’t try reasoning with their methods. Don’t put any effort into walking in their shoes, and don’t look at things from the perspective of normal people.

The name says it all: this is a personality disorder. That means that you can’t change them or help them. In fact, nothing besides professional treatment can cure them.

The point is that narcissists have a pretty twisted view of reality. If you want to get to the bottom of their intentions, you have to forget all the logical principles and moral values you have adopted throughout your life.

Instead, you have to put on their glasses and, just for a moment, observe the world the way they do it. Well, buckle up and let the journey begin.

A powerful weapon of punishment

Have you ever been in a situation where a narcissist does something wrong to you? You discover their infidelity, they yell at you or are abusive in any way.

Your natural response is that you want an apology, if nothing else. You want to make things clear, and you want to communicate about what has just happened.

But what do they do? Do they tell you how sorry they are? Do they take responsibility for their toxic behavior?

No, instead of this, they start acting like the victim. All of a sudden, you’re the one guilty of exposing them.

You’re guilty of having the nerve to accuse them of something they’ve actually done. They turn the tables on you and do everything they can to make you look like the bad guy.

Worst of all, they succeed in their sneaky intentions. Before you realize what’s hit you, they give you the silent treatment.

At that moment, in a blink of an eye, you forget what initially caused the problem. Moreover, you forget WHO caused it, and subconsciously, you start to play along, and you take over the role of the guilty one.

Sounds familiar, right? Well, that’s the trick of this entire scheme – the narcissist is not only doing this to take the blame off themselves – they’re also doing it to punish you.

All of a sudden, you start doubting yourself. They’re obviously offended by your reaction or accusation, so you begin to wonder if you really overreacted.

Now, you become the one who apologizes. You ask for their forgiveness, and you’re ready to do anything just to have them talk to you again.

But let’s look at things from this perspective. What should you do when this happens once more? Because this phase will go away sooner or later.

They will come back to you, acting like they’re giving you some kind of mercy by returning to you.

Nevertheless, let’s face it: they will do something to hurt you again in the future.

When that happens, they will go completely unpunished. You won’t have the courage to confront them about anything they did to you. Instead, you’ll walk on eggshells around them, afraid of getting the cold shoulder again.

No matter how much they hurt you, you won’t call them out on your actions. Why? Because you know what’s coming next.

You know that you’ll have to go through being ignored and endure the silent treatment time and again. So, you think it’s better to let them be than to experience this hell again.

Dominant-submissive relationship

When a narcissist goes quiet, you feel like a little child who’s being punished for misbehaving. Well, that’s exactly how a narcissist perceives you.

No, they don’t see you as their child in terms of their unconditional love for you. They think that they’re above you.

They have this sense of entitlement and superiority, which gives them the right to raise you, which includes different punishments.

This person sees you as submissive. You two are not equal partners in this relationship, nor can you ever be. Instead, they’re the dominant one: the one who owns you and the one who has the right to “teach” you what’s right and wrong.

Damage control

You have to be aware of one significant thing here: an entire narcissist’s life and personality are based on a lie.

It doesn’t matter if they’re consciously lying to you to present themselves as better than they are or if they’re subconsciously lying to themselves: this is all their deception.

But this charade can’t go on forever, can it? Sometimes, a narcissistic person gets trapped in a net of their own lies.

When that happens, they get paranoid that you’ll discover them. Maybe you’ll see their true colors, or you’ll realize that half of their alleged past is a big fat lie. Some narcissists even live double lives, so they’re scared of being busted.

In that case, they have to retreat for a while. They’re actually doing some serious damage control: they’re putting effort into repairing what can be repaired in an attempt not to blow their cover and lose their mask.

When a narcissist goes quiet on social media

Simultaneously with this “physical” ghosting, a narcissist will usually disappear or go silent on social media. Of course, you will assume that this is all your fault – something you did or said hurt them so bad that they’ve literally given up on life.

Well, the truth is quite different. Don’t forget that covert narcissists need attention and validation the same way you need air to breathe.

Therefore, if they’re about to be discovered (or already have been), they won’t be posting that on their current profiles.

Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that they will go completely offline. They can’t stand not having a bunch of followers or social media friends admiring them. They can’t stand not being able to show the world that they’re above everyone else.

That’s why they’re probably activating backup profiles you have no clue about.

I hate to disappoint you, but this is also a red flag that your narcissist has a new girlfriend or boyfriend. They’re literally presenting their latest victim with their new identity and want to avoid any chance of their two lives becoming intertwined.

A cowardly move

Sometimes, a narcissist engages in damage control when they know that they did you something extremely wrong. They know very well that you’re furious, and rightly so, and that the only way to escape your anger is to stay away from you.

When he or she ghosts you, you have no opportunity to call them out on their actions. You can’t ask them for an explanation, nor can you get even.

So, instead of acting like a real grown-up who faces the consequences of their actions, they run away. They make a cowardly move and hide, waiting for you to cool off and calm down.

Whether you like it or not, with time, you will process the things that have been done to you. No matter how much harm they caused, after a while, you’ll put your pain second and start to think about their whereabouts.

Without even being aware of it, you partially forgive them. You come to terms with what they’ve done, and when that happens, they reappear in your life.

Once again, you welcome them with open arms the very next day. And that is exactly how they’ve repaired the damage they made.


People suffering from narcissism are fueled by attention. And they mostly expect it from you, their primary victim.

Well, at the beginning of your relationship, you were crazy about this person. You only had eyes for them, and they were the center of your universe.

Nevertheless, as time passes, you’ve started noticing that they weren’t as perfect as they seemed. Even though you still love them and are still by their side, you’re no longer fascinated with every word they say and move they make.

You no longer see your narcissistic boyfriend or girlfriend as pure perfection. As much as you love them, you’ve realized that they’re just human beings, with all of their flaws.

In a healthy relationship, this would be a good sign. It would mean that the initial attraction is gone and that you’re finally accepting each other for who you really are.

But don’t forget that nothing about a narcissistic relationship is ever healthy. Therefore, a narcissist sees this as a threat.

He or she is no longer getting the desired amount of their narcissistic supply. That means that they must find a way to regain the attention they were getting at the start.

And what better way to do it than by making you wonder? What’ better way to do it than by making you afraid of losing them?

What’s better than giving you the cold shoulder and making you fight for their love again?

Smear campaign

Another possibility is that your narcissist’s silent treatment is actually a cover for a smear campaign they’ve been organizing against you. Basically, they’re trying to ruin your reputation and invalidate you even more.

Of course, they’re doing it in the sneakiest way possible. They’re spreading lies about you, and they’re trying to get your loved ones on their side.

If this is true, we’re talking about the consequence of narcissistic rage. They’re angry at you for not obeying them or for not giving them the attention they craved, so they’ve decided to get back at you.

A great comeback in plan

If you’re a victim of narcissistic abuse who’s become aware of the situation you’re in, when a narcissist goes quiet, you think of this as your final break up.

Let’s be honest – even though you’re perfectly aware of who this person really is, you still love them.

Therefore, you don’t take them walking away from you easily. Your heart is broken, and you miss them, despite knowing you shouldn’t.

But at the same time, your brain tells you that this is your ticket to salvation. This person has been stalking you one way or another for a long time, and now it seems that they’ve finally disappeared.

As much as it hurts that you two hadn’t made it, your rational side tells you that this is actually the best thing that could ever happen to you.

Now you’re finally free to move on from this toxic relationship and work on your self-healing and well-being.

Well, I hate to be the one to burst your bubble, but sadly, in most cases, this is nothing but the calm before the storm. In fact, your narcissistic abuser is probably getting ready for their great comeback.


When you start to forget about them, they’ll reappear on your doorstep. And the worst part of this is that all of their love-bombing will begin again.

They’ve used this time to think about new strategies. If they’re out of their narcissistic supply, they’re desperate to get it from you, and they’ll choose any means to achieve their goals.

All of a sudden, you’ll get the person from the beginning of your relationship back. Wow, it looks like all of your dreams are coming true.

This bad period was just a nightmare that is luckily behind you. Now you two are back together, and you can have your happily ever after.

You wish! Sadly, this is nothing but another one of your narcissist’s charades. Before you know it, they’ll go back to their old ways, and you’ll regret ever taking them back.


When a narcissist goes quiet, they’re doing the worst thing that can be done to any person in this world: they’re making you feel invisible.

Previously, they distanced you from everyone in your surroundings. You probably have no best friends left, your relationship with your family members has never been worse, and you have no one to talk to at work.

Basically, you’ve lost everyone who ever cared about you, everyone except your abuser.

Consequently, they’ve become the only source of love for you. They’re the one who determines your value and the one who holds your life in their hands.

So, what happens when this person starts to ignore you? When the only person who’s giving you attention stops? When the only person you think who loves you stops loving you?

Logically, you lose all sense of self-worth. If they gave up on you, what can you expect from everyone else?

If they can’t give you crumbs of their respect, why would you respect yourself?

It’s pretty obvious that you don’t deserve anyone’s love or appreciation. You’re not enough, and your value is so low that you don’t even deserve a reaction from your abuser.

Don’t worry: these are the thoughts every single victim fights with when a narcissist goes quiet. In fact, this is exactly what every narcissist wants you to think.

Manipulation tactic

You must be asking yourself, “What’s the final goal here?”. Well, it’s much easier to manipulate someone once you get rid of their self-worth.

And that’s what your abuser knows all too well. A narcissist wants to see you at your lowest, so they become your only light at the end of the tunnel.

They’ve already made you codependent on their attention. So, now, they’re giving you the toxic silent treatment to take that away from you.

They’re showing you that you need them. You need their response and reaction, and you need to communicate with them to stay sane.

Once they prove to you that you’re good for nothing, you’ll forever see them as some kind of royalty. Once they humiliate you in the worst way possible, dominance and control over you become pieces of cake.

New narcissistic supply

Finally, when a narcissist goes quiet, it could mean that they’ve switched their attention to a new victim. You have to be aware that this man or woman has never seen you as an individual: from day one, they’ve looked at you as a suitable victim.

Maybe they’ve gotten tired of you. Perhaps they’ve seen that you became too difficult to manipulate. Maybe they weren’t getting as much attention from you as they used to.

Or maybe you became submissive to the point where you’ve ceased to be interesting.

Either way, the bottom line is that you’ve dodged a bullet. Their energy is somewhere else now, and even if you don’t understand it now, you should thank God for it.

Your biggest blessing

Do you know what’s possibly the worst about suffering from narcissistic victim syndrome? It’s the PTSD you develop with time. It’s a fact that you don’t want your abuser to leave you. To be precise, you see it as the worst-case scenario.

Actually, you’re convinced this is true.

You’ve been brainwashed to the point where you think that you love this awful person. You’ve been manipulated into thinking that you would be utterly lost without them.

Well, let me tell you that your abuser focusing on their new narcissistic supply is the biggest blessing you can face. Your narcissist leaving you is the biggest favor he’s ever done for you.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m heartbroken for this new person who has no idea what they’re getting themselves into. But hey, this means that you’re finally off the hook.

I won’t lie to you: it will take you a long time before you realize this. Nevertheless, the moment you do, it means you’ve taken a step on your healing journey.

What Should You Do When A Narcissist Goes Quiet?

So, what are the actual steps you should take when a narcissist goes quiet? What is the best coping mechanism for this situation?

Be aware of reality

Let’s be honest: we’ve all been guilty of giving someone the silent treatment at some point.

So, if your partner has left in the middle of an argument or hasn’t responded to your phone calls for a few hours after a big fight – it doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily a narcissist who is stonewalling you.

Nevertheless, there is a huge difference between this happening once and between this being a habit of theirs. In the latter case, it’s pretty clear what you’re dealing with.

So, for starters, let’s not see this as a minor inconvenience. Instead, this kind of behavior is a huge red flag, and it is an alarming signal of an abusive relationship.

Don’t sugarcoat things and be aware of reality. It’s the only way for you to process it and finally solve it.

Emotional abuse

That’s why it’s crucial to call things their real names. This is a form of abuse. As hard as this might sound, it’s the truth.

You see, there are many ways someone can abuse you besides physically harming you. Emotional and verbal abuse is very real, and it is what you’re dealing with here.

After all, what else would you call these attempts of manipulation, devaluing, and punishing you?

Don’t play their mind games

After you’ve gathered all the intel, your number one worry is how to respond when a narcissist goes quiet. Well, the answer is something you’d probably never expected to hear: you don’t.

You see, this toxic person counts on your reaction. They consider themselves so sneaky that they won’t have any trouble getting you involved in their twisted mind games.

That’s why you have to show them that the best way to win them is by not playing at all.

Yes, this will take a lot of effort and self-control on your part. It’s normal that you want them to talk to you. You want to get to the bottom of this issue, one way or another.

Instead of chasing them around and begging them for an honest conversation, just ignore them. Live your life as if nothing is happening and give them the silent treatment in return.

For a change, be the one who goes no contact. Don’t post sad quotes or songs on your social media profiles, expecting them to see.

Don’t stalk them, and don’t go around complaining to people about them ghosting you. Don’t try reaching out, and don’t send them any signals or hints.

Not giving the narcissistic partner control

Trust me. This is the only thing a narcissist never saw coming: you figuring them out. They expected you to cry or to be furious.

They expected you to try and make them jealous or sit in front of their house, begging them to talk to you.

But this is something they could never predict. And that’s exactly why it’s the only thing that will leave them confused.

Most importantly, it will show them that they haven’t succeeded. All of their manipulation techniques failed.

They don’t have full control over you, contrary to what they believed. They haven’t managed to brainwash you, and despite everything, you’re much more than their puppet on a string. So, I guess you’ve broken their spell.

Turn it into “you” time

Instead of spending all of this time lamenting your great loss, do yourself a favor and enjoy your toxic-free time.

Let’s face it. This person will come back into your life. So, you better recharge your batteries when you have the chance to do so because you’re up for many more challenges and fights in the future.

Recapitulate your entire relationship and decide whether this is what you really want. Is this something worth struggling for? Or is it time to give up on this poisonous person?

I think both you and I know the answer. Nevertheless, your romance shouldn’t be the only thing on your mind right now. Instead, you must work on yourself.

Start with rebuilding other relationships your abuser has ruined for you. No, I’m not talking about jumping into a new romance here.

I’m talking about your close friends and family members. Do your best to reconnect with some of them – just to see that there is a beautiful life outside of this hell you’re trapped in.

Most importantly: work on the relationship you have with yourself.

Put maximum effort into finding your true self – the person you were before this monster marched into your life. Put all of your energy into regaining your self-esteem and your sense of self-worth and self-love.

If you still don’t have what it takes to chase this person out of your life for good, at least become a stronger version of yourself for when they do return.

Set healthy boundaries

What happens when a narcissist goes quiet and then comes back to you? Well, the ideal scenario would be where you throw them out of the pic and simply shut the door right in their face the very next day.

But I’m sure that you’re still not ready for these drastic measures. In that case, what you must do is set healthy boundaries.

Now is the time to calmly tell them that this is not acceptable behavior. Don’t yell, don’t play games, and don’t accuse them of anything.

Just directly tell them that this is not something you’ll tolerate in the future. Give them your view of a healthy relationship and set the direction in which you want to go.

Deliver on your promises

Finally, stick to your promises. The worst thing you can do is to make some empty threats without delivering them.

When a narcissist goes quiet again, make them bear the consequences of their actions. Otherwise, you’re just giving them the green light to keep on treating you however they want.

Final Thoughts:

When a narcissist goes quiet, they’re not only giving you the silent treatment (as if that alone wouldn’t be enough).

They’re also gaslighting you and playing with your mental health. Ironically, by ignoring you, they’re pulling you even closer to them.

Well, you’re the one who has to break that cycle because they won’t do it for you. In fact, they’ll probably never admit their true intentions.

Instead, the harsh truth is that a narcissist will abuse you for as long as you let them. That’s why you have to find the last atoms of your strength and shut them down.

I know all of this seems too difficult or even impossible to handle. But I assure you that you can do it.

You will heal from this abuse. You just have to take the first step! Are you ready for it?