Last Updated on March 14, 2023 by Alexander Burgemeester
How to ignore a Narcissist? For something that seems so simple (just don’t talk to them!), it can feel incredibly complex.
That’s because narcissists rely on manipulation tactics like gaslighting to convince others they’re the problem. They don’t respond to being ignored favorably, as it threatens their sense of power and control.
So when you ignore them, it’s you who will likely still feel guilty and come back apologizing (even if you haven’t done anything wrong).
But sometimes, ignoring a narcissist is necessary, and that’s especially true if you’re trying to set limits in a relationship or move on from it altogether.
Key things you will learn from this article:
Ignoring a narcissist is not always straightforward, as they may respond with aggression and manipulation tactics.
There are various approaches to ignoring a narcissist, such as low-contact and no-contact strategies, setting boundaries, and focusing on personal interests.
Enforcing boundaries and not letting the narcissist’s behavior affect you emotionally is essential for maintaining distance and protecting yourself.
How To Ignore a Narcissist The Right Way?
Ignoring a narcissist isn’t usually as simple as just giving them the silent treatment and calling it a day.
If you’ve ever ignored them in the past, you know what kind of chaos generally emerges. They tend to become irrational, aggressive, manipulative, or even violent.
How do you ignore a Narcissist? You can ignore a narcissist by using various strategies such as low-contact and no-contact approaches, setting boundaries, and focusing on your personal interests while also enforcing your boundaries and not letting their behavior affect you emotionally.
Here are seven ways to ignore a Narcissist:
#1 Know Your Rationale
If you want to ignore a narcissist, you need to act confidently and intentionally. Narcissists react to being ignored with intense reactions, like narcissistic rage, smearing, jealousy, and idle threats. It often feels unsafe to ignore the narcissist because these consequences seem so frightening.
Before you commit to ignoring the narcissist, remind yourself of why you’re choosing this behavior. Knowing your motive can help you stay disciplined, even if you start feeling guilty or indecisive later on.
#2 Change Your Relationship’s Terms
If you can’t ignore the narcissist completely, consider a low-contact approach. Low-contact is appropriate in certain dynamics, especially when it’s unfeasible to sever the relationship.
With this approach, you don’t fully ignore the narcissist. You just disengage (without telling them about it). In doing so, you reestablish new boundaries for yourself.
For example, you might choose to avoid talking about certain topics altogether. Or you prioritize strengthening other relationships or pursuing different hobbies, which will help you rely on the narcissist less.
#3 Make Your Life Fuller
It can be helpful to focus less on the narcissist by focusing more on what interests you. That can include other friendships, classes, hobbies, or even the relationship you have with yourself.
Narcissists often become threatened by this because they want to have full say over what you do in life. They don’t want to leave anything to chance because it might disrupt their perfect illusion of what your relationship should look like.
Ignoring isn’t just about not talking. It’s also about not making your life centered on another person. You deserve happiness and meaning, and it’s your responsibility to go make that happen- regardless of what the narcissist wants.
#4 Ignore By Responding as Neutrally as Possible
If you typically fight back when you feel angry, this type of ignoring response might be worth considering. Although talking when you want to be silent sounds counterintuitive, this works if you can’t cut the narcissist out of your life entirely.
With this type of ignoring approach, you let go of the need to prove your point or defend yourself. Instead, you just act neutrally to almost everything. In other words, you basically let them have their power and control.
For example, if they tell you this grandiose story about how they “saved the day,” you might just smile and nod and say, “that’s great.” If they ask you how work went that day, instead of venting about how horrible your boss was, you simply say, “it was fine.”
With this approach, you essentially eliminate all emotionally-charged content from your conversations entirely. Remember that narcissists thrive on attention, and they love keeping other people on their toes. When they can’t get that reaction from you, they lose interest.
#5 Enforce Your Boundaries Every Time
You always have a right to your own boundaries, regardless of what the narcissist tells you.
Sometimes ignoring comes in the form of tightly-wrapped boundaries. For example, you might decide that you don’t want to talk about your physical appearance with your narcissistic mother.
Growing up, she’s always had a snide comment about how you looked. You’re tired of the put-downs and don’t want to hear them in your adult life.
So if she comes over and starts criticizing your outfit, and enforcing your boundaries looks like, My appearance is not up for discussion. If you do it again, I will ask you to leave this house.
And if she does it again? Make her leave. Yes, it will hurt, and yes, she will protest. But you need to preserve your integrity, and you’re only enabling toxic behavior if you continue tolerating such disrespect.
#6 Be Careful of Letting Others Know Why You’re Ignoring Them
Even though you might be tempted to bash the narcissist to anyone who will listen, pause. Narcissists are incredibly skilled at deceiving others. They are used to charming people to manipulate a story and paint a picture of who they want to be (versus who they are).
If you reach out to mutual friends and family, don’t be surprised if they also reach out. At that point, people often feel like they need to pick sides. And if you aren’t as manipulative as the narcissist, you risk that their story is the more compelling one.
Instead, if people do ask, just keep things vague. That can sound like, Oh, I’ve just been busy. Or, Oh, hmm, I’m not sure. You don’t owe your truth to anyone, so be careful who you share it with.
#7 Go Fully No-Contact
The best way to ignore a narcissist is by actually ignoring the narcissist. But unlike with other relationships, you may have to fully and wholeheartedly commit to the ignoring process.
Going fully no-contact means eliminating all contact with the narcissist. That means you essentially act as if they don’t exist. No closure. No scrolling through their social media. No quick phone calls or checking in. You completely delete all traces of them from your life.
Going no-contact also means:
- Not asking others about the narcissist
- Deleting any messages without listening to them
- Refusing any gifts, flowers, or packages
- Blocking them on all forms of social media and email
- Intentionally changing your routine if you suspect accidental meetings might occur
- Avoiding situations where you might be triggered to reengage
Even though this method may sound extreme, many people actually find that following it is easier than some of the other types of ignoring.
It’s so black-and-white that there isn’t any room to speculate. You know exactly what you need to do. And the narcissist will get the hint much faster than you probably realize.
The most important part is staying the course. The first few months will absolutely be the hardest. But once you get that momentum and the healing starts unfolding, you’ll probably be asking yourself why you didn’t do this sooner.
Is Ignoring a Narcissist the Best Way to Deal With Them?
Has the narcissist consistently failed to uphold their promises? Do they continue disappointing or frustrating you? Are you completely frustrated by your relationship?
If so, then yes, ignoring the narcissist is the best way to deal with them. Many narcissists don’t change their ways. And even if they do, their efforts are often short-sighted and only within the realm of their personal gain.
Choosing to engage may seem like the right response, especially if you think you can win a particular conflict. However, the playing field is always rigged because the narcissist has already predetermined which rules they will and won’t follow (and they haven’t shared those criteria with you).
Consider Reading: What Happens When You Ignore a Narcissist?
What does that mean for you? You’re always going to feel like you’re in a lose-lose situation. When they get upset- even if it’s entirely irrational- it’s your fault. And when they want something, they’ll do just about anything to get it, regardless of how it affects others.
Will Ignoring a Narcissist Make Them Go Away?
Eventually, yes. At some point, once you can no longer fulfill the narcissist’s supply, they start looking to meet that need elsewhere.
Even if they don’t go away fully (many narcissists still hoover people for many months or years), their efforts eventually dwindle down.
At first, however, they will keep testing your loyalty. They want you to “pay” for how much you’ve hurt them. And so, they will likely take extreme measures to get your attention.
When you ignore the narcissist, this is what usually happens:
- Excessively apologizing and seeking your forgiveness
- Intentionally trying to make you angrier
- Acting as if they’re having a crisis
- Smearing you to loved ones
- Doing something to make you jealous
- Threatening you or people you care about
- Ignoring you back (hoping you’ll give in first)
How Do I Know When It’s Time to Cut Off Contact With a Narcissist?
Only you can really decide this. But remember that there’s never an easy time. Narcissists are notorious for making life feel dramatic and intense.
No matter what you do, you’ll probably feel like you’re messing everything up.
Can Ignoring a Narcissist Make the Situation Worse?
At first, yes. Narcissists hate being ignored, and they will likely punish you for standing up to them. Their ‘punishments’ may change over time, and they often switch methods to keep people confused and guessing.
But narcissists also rely on a steady stream of narcissistic supply to feel loved, important, and special. Their supply is their lifeblood, and they often chase it like someone addicted to drugs chases their next hit.
But not everyone can provide them with the supply they need. Narcissists generally seek out people who will continue to give them excess attention and praise.
This supply compensates for the dark void they feel about themselves. Deep down, narcissists are insecure, so they create a false self to show the outside world. They need other people (and things) who validate how amazing they truly are.
If you stop with the validation, they eventually walk away. It probably won’t happen overnight, but it will happen eventually. No attention is worse than even negative attention.
How Can I Stay Strong and Resist the Temptation to Engage With the Narcissist?
Understand that this process will be difficult, and try to be kind to yourself during this time.
Build a positive support system and continue reminding yourself why you’re trying to disconnect from the narcissist. Write down a list of all these reasons and refer to it regularly. Remember that you’re allowed to have your own needs and values.
Consider working with a therapist who specializes in emotional abuse or narcissistic relationships.
They can help you understand these difficult cycles and support you as you define new parameters for yourself. If you need to make a safety plan for your physical well-being, they can also help you with that.
How to Ignore a Narcissist Who Tries to Punish You?
Don’t give in to their demands regardless of what they try to throw at you.
Remember that so much narcissism is just a facade. They often present themselves as far more powerful than they really are.
Focus on building your own self-confidence at this time. The more you create a more meaningful and loving relationship with yourself, the less you will feel affected by the narcissist’s abuse.
How to Ignore a Narcissist and Not Get In Trouble?
You ultimately can’t control how the narcissist reacts to you ignoring them. Trying to account for their response is a futile, frustrating endeavor.
Instead, simply focus on taking care of yourself. Trust that things will ultimately be okay, and lean on your support system right now. Keep practicing self-care and remind yourself of your worth.
The narcissist may work tirelessly to punish you, but you getting better and deciding you deserve better is the absolute, best way you can punish them.
- Why Do Narcissists ignore You?
- 11 Examples of Narcissist Text Messages
- How Does Dating a Narcissist Change You?