Six Reasons Narcissists Suddenly Go Silent

The beginning of a relationship with a narcissist is often blissful. This person is showering you with attention and compliments, and you quickly become the center of their world. 

This initial phase of the relationship, when the narcissist is over the moon with you, is called the love bombing phase. During this phase, the narcissist will inundate you with praise, convincing you that you are the most perfect love of their life.

If the relationship continues, you will quickly learn that this phase doesn’t last. The love bombing will die down, and after a while, the narcissist may even disappear. They previously kept in contact at all hours of the day, but now they’re completely silent.

There are several reasons for this confusing behavior. We will dive into them below.

#1 Chasing Other Supply

At the center of narcissism is a need for excessive praise and admiration. A narcissist’s fragile ego relies upon attention from others. Over time, your attention won’t be enough, and they will become bored.

If a narcissist who previously showered you with attention has gone silent, they are probably giving attention to other sources of supply. If you’re not familiar with the term, narcissistic supply refers to attention and adulation from willing admirers. 

When you’re no longer fulfilling their needs, the narcissist must seek attention elsewhere. During periods of silence, they may be browsing online dating apps, chatting with sources of supply online, or hooking up with someone behind your back to boost their ego.

#2 Manipulation

Narcissists are also known for a telltale move called breadcrumbing. This tactic involves intermittently showing you tidbits of affection and then withdrawing for a bit. 

Through breadcrumbing, the narcissist gets you hooked on small doses of affection. They will show you just enough love to keep you interested while disappearing from time to time.

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The withdrawal of affection creates a sort of push-pull dynamic. You’ll become insecure, depending on the narcissist to “throw you some breadcrumbs” of affection. As you wait for them to return, you’ll work harder to please them so you can earn back some time and attention.

This works well for the narcissist because they have you exactly where they want you. You keep tending to their needs while they give you the bare minimum of support and attention. 

Breadcrumbing can also be a sly way for the narcissist to keep you among their rotation of love interests. If they string you along with intermittent attention, you will always be available when they need you. 

#3 Punishment

The narcissist may also use the silent treatment to punish you when you’ve somehow failed to comply with their demands. If you don’t answer their call, or you aren’t available when they need a favor, this will incite rage. Going silent allows them to punish you for your wrongdoing.

The narcissist may also employ silence as a punishment if you say something that hurts their feelings. Perhaps you disagreed with them or told them that something they did was wrong.

Through the silent treatment, the narcissist believes they’re teaching you a lesson. Since they’re punishing you with silence, you’ll learn not to repeat the behavior that led to their withdrawal. They may go so far as to block you from contacting them, because they know this will hurt you. 

#4 Avoiding Accountability 

If you confront the narcissist about wrongdoing or catch them in the act, they’ll likely disappear for a bit. Narcissists have an extremely difficult time accepting any sort of accountability for wrongdoing. 

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To maintain their fragile egos, the narcissist must perceive themselves as superior. Being confronted with something they’ve done wrong provides evidence that they aren’t perfect and causes their ego to crumble.

Rather than take accountability, they will go silent and distance themselves from you. This allows them to avoid the guilt and pain of accepting responsibility. 

Withdrawing also allows the narcissist to maintain some degree of control. They hope that by going silent, you’ll be compelled to reach out to them. Once you eventually do, they’ll feel they have the upper hand.

#5 Asserting Dominance

Narcissists view themselves as superior, and they thrive on maintaining a sense of power and control over their victims. Being in control reinforces the narcissist’s belief that they are superior to those around them.

So, a narcissist may go silent to remind you that they’re in control. They only have to contact you on their terms and are fine with keeping you waiting. 

Giving you the silent treatment is sure to leave you confused and anxious. The narcissist loves that they can have this effect on you. As long as their behavior affects you, they maintain control and’ll get to have their way with you. 

#6 To Get Attention

Finally, the narcissist may go silent to see how you respond. They hope you will reach out and beg them to communicate with you. This gives the narcissist the attention they desire, and they will enjoy watching you beg.

When you break the silence, the narcissist’s ego swells because you’re showing them that they are worthy of your effort. They may even get entertainment and satisfaction from watching you come crawling back whenever they ghost you. 

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All of this is just part of the narcissist’s games, designed to feed their ego and reinforce their belief that they are superior. Ultimately, they view you as pathetic, willing to chase them down every time they pull back, but they still love the attention. 

How to Cope with the Silence?

Knowing the best way to cope is helpful if you’re dealing with the silent treatment. You might be tempted to reach out to the narcissist to find out what the problem is, but that’s probably not the best choice. As soon as you reach out, the narcissist will know that they’ve won, and they maintain control over you. 

Instead of reaching out, focus on yourself. Pour your time and energy into self-care and pursuit of your hobbies. If the narcissist contacts you, don’t give them the attention or admiration they’re seeking.

Set boundaries around this behavior, and communicate that you will not accept a relationship in which they frequently ghost you. Don’t be disappointed if the narcissist refuses to change; they don’t care about your feelings or needs, even if they pretend they do.

When you’re tempted to reach out and put an end to the silent treatment, remind yourself of who the narcissist is and why they’re behaving this way. They use the silent treatment to control, manipulate, and punish. They may also be hooking up with others while leaving you on read. 

Whatever you do, don’t blame yourself or take responsibility for the narcissist’s behavior. They use the silent treatment because they are disordered, not because you’ve done anything wrong. You must protect yourself from people who show these traits. 

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