Last Updated on March 14, 2023 by Alexander Burgemeester
Is the narcissist in your life ignoring you? If you feel frustrated by their immature actions, you’re not alone. Narcissists are notorious for manipulating people, and ignoring is just another strategy they use to trigger emotional reactions.
Narcissists ignore you for many reasons, all of which have to do with power, control, and self-preservation Most of the time, they ignore you when you haven’t even done something wrong.
Their ignoring behaviors have so little to do with you and nearly everything to do with them.
Let’s get into what you need to know.
9 Reasons Why Narcissists Ignore You
If you’ve been in a relationship with a narcissist, it’s not a matter of if they will ignore you. It’s a matter of when. And the more connected you are, the more they oscillate between coming close and pushing away.
That said, being ignored hurts, and it can feel confusing, especially if you don’t understand why they’re doing what they’re doing.
Here are the top reasons why narcissists ignore people:
#1 They Want You to Chase Them
Narcissists often get a rise from playing games, especially when it comes to romantic partners. They love the thrill of knowing someone wants them, and they enjoy being chased.
So, if they ignore you all of a sudden (especially if it’s during the love-bombing phase), it could be a sign that they’re starting to feel too attached. They want to turn things around and have you pursue them.
Unfortunately, by that point, you already tend to be hooked. The narcissist is skilled at charming others, and once they have you enchanted, it’s hard to see the reality for what it is.
#2 They Want to Start a Fight
Although it may seem strange, narcissists don’t necessarily dislike conflict the same way most people do. In fact, many of them thrive in it- they find it interesting and even, at times, enjoyable.
The truth is that narcissists are skilled in ensuring that they make win-win situations for themselves.
They know how to oscillate between various manipulation tactics to ensure they get the final word (and say) in most arguments. And they tend to strategically pick people who will cosign their toxic behaviors.
So, if you did something that upset them (even if it was a long time ago), they may start ignoring you as a way to “lure you in” to their explosive behavior.
#3 They Want You to Feel Remorseful
It’s no secret that narcissists often exaggerate even the smallest mistake into a massive crisis. So even if you did one small thing wrong, they tend to act like it’s the biggest deal in the world.
Their silent treatment is a way to punish you. They want you to feel incredibly guilty over what you did to them. They want you to come back groveling and begging for their forgiveness.
Of course, this is a one-way street. As you probably know, narcissists rarely, if ever, hold themselves accountable for their actions.
They don’t experience remorse in the same way others do. When they apologize, it’s a fake apology, and it’s only stated because they want you to forgive them and move on quickly.
Despite what they might tell you, most narcissists aren’t necessarily interested in changing their ways for the better.
#4 They’re Focused on Someone Else
The narcissist might ignore you if they have their sights on a new narcissistic supply.
Narcissistic supply refers to any person or thing that temporarily satisfies the narcissist’s ego and reinforces their delusions of superiority or grandiosity.
Narcissists, in many ways, have an addiction to approval, attention, and admiration. They depend on it to feel validated. It becomes as essential as food or water. Because they don’t have an intrinsic concept of self-worth, they need to borrow it from other people.
The problem with narcissistic supply is that it’s never enough. When it comes to using people as a source of supply, they may think they’ve found the perfect person who fulfills their every fantasy.
But once that person’s real humanness starts to show, the rage sets in. They start turning their efforts elsewhere to see what else might be out there.
#5 They Want to Pretend Like They Don’t Care About You
Some narcissists ignore people because they want to act more distant or aloof than they really are. This is all about maintaining an image. The narcissist doesn’t want to come across as eager or clingy.
And so, they ignore you to act as if they’re more important than they really are. They don’t want you to know how much they care about you. This keeps you feeling more anxious in the relationship, and that’s exactly how they want the dynamic to be.
If you confront them about this behavior, they won’t readily admit it. Instead, they might gaslight you and act as if everything is completely normal.
This can sound like:
What do you mean? I’ve just been a little quiet, but I already told you I’ve been really busy at work. I need you to not make this about yourself!
#6 They Want to Make You Feel Jealous
Narcissists may ignore you by pretending that they’re overly busy when they’re really not.
This is to make it sound like they have a more glamorous or important life than they actually have. And they want you to feel jealous of all the cool things they “allegedly” have going on.
In that same vein, they’ll also usually be guarded or vague about who they spend their time with. This is all about trying to make you feel confused and trying to “get you” to act needy around them.
This type of ignoring is often a direct reaction to their own jealousy. If they feel threatened by something or someone in your life, they’ll act out before you have any potential chance of hurting them.
#7 They’re Devaluing You
Narcissistic relationships tend to fall into predictable patterns. It starts with the idealizing or love-bombing phase, where they shower you with attention and adoration.
This is the most euphoric part of the relationship, and both parties tend to feel like the relationship can and will satisfy their every need.
But at some point, the perfection fades. You can’t do everything right all the time, and as you make mistakes, the narcissist starts taking them personally. You’re now a flawed person and that makes the narcissist frustrated, threatened, or even bored altogether.
At this point, the devaluing begins. Devaluing can consist of many abusive behaviors, such as verbal abuse, humiliation, threats, smearing, and ignoring. The narcissist does all this while the other person wonders what they did wrong.
Devaluing leads to discard, and this happens once the narcissist no longer gains value from their narcissistic supply.
They choose to replace them with another new partner. The discard is almost always temporary, as narcissists love to hoover people to keep tabs on them.
#8 They Just Want Attention
Sometimes the narcissist isn’t ignoring you for any specific reason beyond wanting attention. And if you call them out on this, they’ll usually respond with, Oh, sorry, I’ve just been busy!
Or, they might continue ignoring your texts and calls- only to like something you share on social media.
None of it makes sense, and it’s frustrating. But this is how they stir the pot to keep you on your toes. They’re simply interested in playing mind games and seeing what happens as a result.
Keep in mind that if they have gotten away with ignoring people in the past, they’ve learned that this obnoxious tactic works. And the more you enable the behavior, the more inclined they will be to keep doing it.
#9 They’re Only Pretending to Ignore You
Silent treatment feels like a pretty obvious type of ignoring. But just because the narcissist isn’t talking to you, it doesn’t mean they aren’t keeping tabs.
If you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, they love knowing what you’re doing at all times. So even if they refuse to speak, that doesn’t mean they aren’t lurking on your social media, asking friends what you’re doing, or stalking your whereabouts.
What Do You Do When a Narcissist Ignores You?
The best reaction to a narcissist ignoring you is doing nothing at all. In other words, you should basically ignore the ignoring. But stand your ground because the narcissist is absolutely banking on you giving in first.
Even if you feel comfortable, try to hold your limit and remind yourself that they’ll eventually get so frustrated that they’ll explode in some other way.
So, don’t give their ridiculous behavior any attention whatsoever. Don’t try to find the logic in the situation. Don’t try to seek revenge. Don’t even try to get them to apologize to you.
To give a better picture of what to do, it might be helpful to imagine a toddler who’s in the middle of a full-blown meltdown.
They’re upset something didn’t go their way, and now they’re kicking and screaming and have lost all sense of control. What should you do? Intervene with them? Try to make it all better? Attempt to argue or scream back at them?
Most of the time, no! Those responses won’t work, and they’ll only escalate the chaos. The toddler will likely become even more defiant and angry. And just like a toddler, most narcissists aren’t capable of integrating logic and reason.
Remember that negative attention is still attention, so if a narcissist senses their actions get under your skin, they’ll continue engaging in their abusive tactics. Doing nothing at all and revealing no emotion is the best reaction of all.
Can Professional Help Support You in Dealing With Narcissistic Ignorance?
If you continue finding yourself in toxic narcissistic patterns, it may be beneficial to seek professional support. Unfortunately, if you have experienced narcissistic abuse in the past, you’re more likely to experience it again.
Therapy can help you cope with narcissistic abuse in many ways, including:
Building Your Self-Esteem
If you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, you probably have a diminished concept of self. You may have not had great self-esteem even before you met them, but whatever confidence you did have has probably long eroded.
Therapy can help you build a better relationship with yourself. When you value yourself and your own needs, you’re less likely to tolerate abusive dynamics.
Supporting You Unconditionally (Without Bias)
There’s nothing inherently wrong with confiding in friends and family members. But you want to be especially mindful of mutual relationships.
If your narcissistic partner is closely connected to the people in your life, there’s a good chance they’ve tricked other people into believing they’re much different than they really are.
A therapist, on the other hand, doesn’t know who your partner is. They haven’t been charmed or deceived- they only have the information you present to them, and they can remain more impartial when they talk to you.
Practicing Healthier Coping Skills
Abusive relationships can be incredibly stressful, and therapy offers a safe environment to learn new ways to cope with these challenging emotions. Remember that self-care is never selfish, although narcissists might try to convince you that it is.
Helping You Stand Up For Yourself
Don’t be surprised if the narcissist freaks out if you tell them you’re going to therapy. That’s because, on a fundamental level, narcissists feel threatened by the idea of you changing and building your emotional resilience.
They don’t want you to truly recognize the magnitude of their abuse. They don’t want you to see reality for what it genuinely is.
But a good therapist can help you stand up for yourself and honor your values. This is important if you decide that you want to set healthy boundaries or leave the relationship altogether.
Before You Go
It’s frustrating and confusing being ignored. But when a narcissist ignores you, the feelings tend to be even more intense.
Remember that their actions have nothing to do with you. It’s all about how they want to maintain their status quo and meet their own needs.