You’re tired of feeling disrespected by the narcissist in your life, and you’ve realized that arguing back and forth isn’t working.
You might decide to ignore the narcissist because you want to establish boundaries in your relationship. Or you may just feel so frustrated by their behavior that you need time to regroup with your thoughts.
In some cases, ignoring a narcissist can be a great idea, especially if you hold firm with your limits. Other times, it causes even more drama and agony. This article will dive into everything you need to know.
Key Points you will learn from this article:
Narcissists don’t react well to being ignored and often try to punish the person ignoring them.
Ignoring a narcissist may result in them trying to get your attention through various means, including apologizing and begging for forgiveness or smearing you to others.
If you want a narcissist to go away, you must ignore them consistently and permanently, or they will likely try to hoover you back into their life.
9 Things That Happen When You Ignore a Narcissist
First things first- a narcissist doesn’t react well to being ignored. In fact, they absolutely hate it.
Narcissists thrive on validation and attention from others. It’s how they feel powerful. Being ignored has the opposite effect. When someone isn’t stroking their ego or fulfilling their narcissistic supply, they tend to feel threatened and insecure.
Ignoring, in many ways, represents a serious personal attack. To a narcissist, this represents a form of punishment, and they will often try to punish you back in the following ways:
#1 They Will Keep Trying to Get Your Attention
Some narcissists just react to being ignored by pretending it isn’t happening. They will keep talking or texting you as if everything is exactly the same.
This is, of course, an incredibly frustrating form of gaslighting. For example, you’re actively trying to not be on speaking terms, and they’re acting like everything is going just well!
This might feel confusing, but don’t delude yourself into thinking that the narcissist is just being naive. Acting oblivious is just another way narcissists try to manipulate others into believing they are the true victims.
#2 They Will Apologize and Beg For Forgiveness
If you’ve never ignored the narcissist before, don’t be surprised if they suddenly begin groveling for your forgiveness once they realize you really aren’t talking to them.
This is the time a narcissist is most likely to try to win you over with grandiose promises. They’ll offer to go to therapy. They’ll tell you they’re finally ready for marriage or children. They’ll promise to never act this way again.
Keep in mind these types of apologies or promises aren’t made out of genuine guilt. While it’s true that some narcissists feel some remorse, they’re far more interested in self-preservation and maintaining their usual status quo.
Narcissists don’t change overnight, and they know how to manipulate people to get what they want. And what they want is power and control. If they need to apologize and beg for that, that’s exactly what they will do.
#3 They Will Try to Make You Even More Angry
Negative attention beats no attention at all, so some narcissists will react to being ignored by doubling down on their petty behavior. They want to give you something to complain about.
If you’re upset about a certain action of theirs, they’ll increase how often they do it. For example, if you felt mad that they carelessly spent so much money at the bar last weekend, they’ll double the amount next weekend.
#4 They Will Feign a Crisis
Suddenly their mom is in the hospital. Or they suspect their dog has cancer. Or their boss has called them in for a last-minute meeting and they’re probably getting fired.
Emergencies absolutely happen, but pay attention to the timing. Narcissists play close attention to other people’s vulnerabilities. In addition, most of them tend to attract people with heightened empathy levels.
And so, if they sense you’ve pulled away, they might pull this seemingly innocent response,
Hey, I know you’re not speaking to me right now, and I totally get that, but I just wanted to let you know I’m in the hospital. I was having chest pains all last night, and they don’t really know what’s going on. Getting some tests now.
Generally speaking, these messages will sound just vague enough to pique your attention. However, they won’t contain excessive details because a real emergency probably isn’t happening!
#5 They Will Try to Make You Jealous
In a similar vein to trying to make you angry, some narcissists will also try to make you jealous when you ignore them.
For example, they might pretend to be unfazed by your actions. Then, they will go out that night, get very drunk and post a bunch of suspicious pictures of them having fun with strangers. The hope is that you’ll see what they’re doing and feel jealous about it.
#6 They Will Smear You
Many narcissists engage in smearing to reassign blame and even make themselves look like the victims. They want to protect their own narrative about what happened.
And so, they’ll try to convince your friends, family members, neighbors (basically anyone who will give them the time of day) how terrible you were to them. They may use some version of the truth, but they might also lie outright.
Smearing, of course, can be devastating, and some of the ramifications can be permanent. You can’t prevent the narcissist from doing it, so it’s very important to reassess who you trust in life.
When you’re involved with a narcissist, it’s always a good idea to be careful of what you share with mutual friends. You never know how the narcissist might try to influence them.
#7 They Will Threaten You
If a narcissist senses that you’re really pulling away, they might try to exploit your weaknesses. They’ll threaten to hurt you in some way, whether that’s threatening to drag you down in court (if you’re married) or take your kids away from you.
In more serious cases, they may also threaten to hurt themselves or end their lives. The goal here is all about making you feel guilty. They want you to come back to them, and they don’t want you to have anything “over” them.
#8 They Will Reach Out to Others
Narcissists often respond to being ignored by approaching the other people in your life. They may call your friends and family members to express their concern about your well-being.
When this happens, they’ll either downplay or avoid sharing about their malicious part in the dynamic and solely focus on you.
For example, they might call your mom and say something like,
I’m just so worried about her. She’s not talking to me right now, but I think it’s because her drinking has gotten so bad again. I just want to help, but I can’t help her if she won’t let me in. It truly breaks my heart.
They’re hoping that your loved ones will reach out to you, which will make you feel guilty or compelled to respond to them again.
#9 They Will Ignore You Back
Many narcissists respond to ignoring by ignoring back. They don’t want to be seen as needy or emotional, so they’ll focus their efforts elsewhere in the meantime.
It’s very common for narcissists to cheat on their partners during periods of ignoring. It’s a way they can seemingly prove to you (and to themselves) that they don’t need the relationship.
If you want to read more about this, I suggest you read my article about why Narcissists ignore you.
What Happens When You Ignore a Narcissist Text?
Ignoring a narcissist’s text can be just as effective as ignoring them in real life. Texting provides narcissists with even more opportunities to be conniving or abusive.
Then, they can deny their intention by simply claiming you’re “reading too much into things.”
Here are some ways a narcissist might react to being ignored over text:
I know what you’re doing. You’re acting like such a ____.
How dare you ignore me!
What do you think your problem is?
If a narcissist senses their texts are being ignored, they might react in a fit of narcissistic rage.
Remember that narcissists like to control the narrative at all times. If someone else has the power (even if it’s very brief), they can’t tolerate the discomfort.
Ignoring a Narcissist can really Piss them off…
Hey, are you ok? Haven’t heard from you?
What’s going on?
It’s me. Can you call me?
Narcissists can also respond anxiously when they notice you’re ignoring their texts. This may be more common in cases of vulnerable narcissism, a type of narcissism that’s far more covert in nature.
These types of narcissists often present as shy or insecure, but underneath that demeanor is a high-level of self-absorption, smugness, passive-aggressive behavior, and an inability to accept feedback.
The anxiety emerges due to fear. The narcissist fundamentally knows something is wrong, and they want to quickly smooth things over to avoid you being “on” to them.
Obsessiveness is an even more dramatic form of anxiety. This can look like sending you dozens of text messages in a row. It can also look like showing up at your front door because they were “so worried” they hadn’t heard from you in a few days.
Obsessiveness can quickly spiral into stalking behavior, and narcissists will rationalize it under the guise that they care so much about you.
If you sense that a narcissist might be stalking you, it’s very important to seek support. Stand your ground and do not talk to them again.
If you’re trying to end the relationship altogether, block and delete them from your email and all social media accounts.
Look, I’m really sorry for what I said last night!
Babe, please text me back. I love you.
Let’s just talk about this, ok? We can work this out.
Desperation is a more subtle form of anxiety. The narcissist tries to use guilt-induced tactics to convince you that they made a mistake and they feel remorseful about it.
Even if they know the desperation might come across as pathetic, they’re willing to pull this angle if they have the slightest belief that it will work.
How do you recognize a text from a Narcissist? See my article about 11 typical examples of Narcissist text messages.
Will a Narcissist Go Away if You Ignore Them?
At first, they probably won’t take you ignoring them very seriously. This is especially true if you’re in the early stages of a relationship. It’s also true if you’ve tried ignoring them in the past, only to go back to talking very quickly.
Keep in mind that narcissists often change their tactics in response to being ignored. They always want to keep other people on their toes. Mixing things up makes them unpredictable, and they thrive on others feeling nervous around them.
If you really want the narcissist to go away, you have to ignore them indefinitely. You have to end all contact with them- or go as low-contact as possible.
If you can consistently and permanently take that approach, they can and will move on. Once they can’t get anything from you, they’ll look for a new person to fulfill their narcissistic supply.
That doesn’t mean they won’t still try to hoover you back into their life, but the intensity of their actions will likely die down.
Want to know more? 15 Hoovering Examples used by the Narcissist
What Does the Silent Treatment Do to a Narcissist?
Silent treatment is an intentional form of ignoring. You’re literally not talking to them, even if they’re talking directly to you.
Silent treatment enrages a narcissist. They have no problem ignoring others, but when someone gives them a taste of their own medicine, they become infuriated.
You can expect any combination of narcissistic rage, false apologies, dramatic gestures, and smearing campaigns.
Why Is It Better to Not Respond to a Narcissist?
Narcissists often view basic interactions as transactional, so even their closest relationships are all about what they can “get” from the other person.
Although a narcissist might think they truly love someone, their love is disillusioned by their own false self and ego. They fall in love with the projected fantasy of who someone else can be.
Unfortunately, reality can never quite match this fantasy. Even though you may have felt incredibly loved at the beginning of your relationship, narcissists move through predictable stages in their relationships.
They start with love bombing, but once they realize that someone else isn’t perfect, the devaluing phase begins. Soon, you’ll find yourself caught in the vicious narcissistic cycle of abuse.
If you want to completely remove yourself from this heartache, letting go of the relationship altogether is probably your best bet.
Do You Want To Know More?