The cold shoulder. Ostracization. Social exclusion. Being actively, directly rudely ignored! It’s exhausting, It’s upsetting. And quite honestly, it’s abusive. So, let me ask you something.
Have you been there? Does someone in your life cut off contact, directly or indirectly, anytime you upset or annoy them? If so, you might be falling victim to a well-known manipulation tactic – the old silent treatment.
What is silent treatment?
The silent treatment is amanipulation tactic where someone will stop talking to you. This painful, uncomfortable silence can go on for days, hours, weeks, or even months in order to punish you for some perceived slight. It can cause serious emotional and psychological damage if you don’t realize what is happening. While people who aren’t narcissists may also use this tactic, it is commonly used among narcissists.
Narcissists and the Silent Treatment
Are you dealing with getting the silent treatment from a narcissist? If you are, then you already how upsetting and confusing this can be. When a narcissist is involved, it’s possible that you’re being discarded, either permanently or temporarily. You might be getting the silent treatment due to a breakup or the end of your relationship, or it could be one in a long line of discards during an ongoing relationship. It’s all part of the narcissist’s cycle of abuse. But the narcissist’s motivations are what you’re really interested in, so let’s discuss what they’re thinking when they give you the silent treatment.
What are the narcissist’s motivations for using the silent treatment?
When you think about the silent treatment and how cruel it can be, not only does it affirm that the narcissist lacks compassionate and emotional empathy, but you find yourself wondering how they could be so cruel? What motivates a narcissist to stop communicating with you?
The relationship is ending.
When a narcissistic ex gives you the silent treatment after a breakup, it is not that they are suffering and processing how your relationship ended. That is what you would expect a neurotypical non-narcissistic ex to do. But the narcissist deals with it by searching for a new source of narcissistic supply. You have to remember that this “supply,” for the narcissist, can feel as important as air might feel you or any living being. In other words, despite their claims of wanting to “be alone” or needing to “figure things out on their own,” the narcissist will feel as though they cannot be without it. So, they might have gone silent as they are engaging with others and attempting to get the supply they so desperately need. They can’t stand to be alone with their thoughts.
The narcissist controls you through gaslighting and confusion
Narcissists are known manipulators, and one of their most notorious tactics is to gaslight you through confusion emotional manipulation, and abuse. The silent treatment is the perfect vehicle to accomplish this, and this is especially true of covert narcissists – although their more grandiose counterparts are also skilled at this particular tactic. You know that narcissists enjoy manipulating and gaslighting you. The narcissist loves the idea of you lying awake all night wondering why they are giving you the silent treatment. It actually offers them a certain amount of supply in itself.
The narcissist lives to keep you in limbo
With a sudden change in behavior, the narcissist can throw you into limbo, that feeling where you’re lost and not sure what to do or what’s next. For example, when they go from being overly demanding to not saying anything at all, you might be left spinning. They love the idea of you being distracted all day, unable to focus on anything except for what they could be possibly thinking.
The narcissist feels powerful through silent treatment.`
Narcissists thrive on power, as you know. They envision you waiting by your phone waiting for a text, or even for an email. The fact that they will not send you a message or speak to you makes them feel powerful as they control your emotions and productivity.
If your narcissistic ex is giving you the silent treatment, the best thing to do is not even to acknowledge it at all. Please realize that this is a manipulative tactic to play around with their mind and emotions.
When an empathic person is in a sexual relationship and especially an intimate long-term relationship with another person, sex creates emotional, physical, and spiritual bonds.
Bonds and trust that grow from the connected exchange of sex can deepen the feelings of love and care toward their partner. The chemical release of dopamine and oxytocin during sex floods your body and brain with feelings of love and creates a need to feel more of the same.
But when there’s a narcissist involved, things don’t quite work this way. In nearly any intimate relationship with a narcissist, you deal with narcissistic abuse and manipulation.
How do you identify a narcissist in an intimate relationship?
What is narcissistic abuse?
Narcissistic abuse happens when someone uses manipulation, threats, intimidation, and other tactics to control another person.
This pervasive form of abuse can occur in any kind of relationship, including intimate relationships, whether two people dating, married, engaged, or living together.
It often begins after the initial phase in the relationship (love bombing or idealization) when the narcissist begins to notice you’re not quite as perfect as they’d believed.
In other words, the narcissist will notice you’re a regular human, not the fantasy they originally saw. This is when the devaluation phase begins, usually with verbal abuse, such as name-calling, belittling comments, and threats.
During the narcissistic abuse cycle, the narcissist will inevitably discard you – literally dumping you or even giving you the silent treatment and figuratively discarding you.
This phase could last some time, but before you know it, you’ll be dealing with repeated attempts to re-engage with you or get your attention. This is what we call the “hoovering phase,” and it means exactly what it sounds like – the narcissist is trying to suck you back into the relationship.
Narcissistic Abuse in Intimate Relationships
Since narcissism is characterized by grandiosity, entitlement, lack of empathy, and a sense of superiority, narcissists tend to focus on their own needs without regard for even the most basic human compassion.
They are self-centered, believe they’re better than most, and tend to be arrogant, demanding, and controlling. They use charm and flattery to manipulate others into doing what they want.
Considering all of that, it’s easy to imagine that narcissistic abuse can be psychologically and emotionally brutal, even and especially in some ways, in sexual relationships.
How your own body and brain contribute
When you and your partner have sex, certain biological functions naturally happen. While you may not realize it consciously, your body and brain are doing all kinds of stuff. In so many ways, your body is actively trying to bond with theirs, whether you intend that or not.
Of course, in that moment of bliss, most people would assume that the narcissist is bonding with them too. It would seem logical to believe deep connection and love flow reciprocally between you.
And to add to the confusion, the narcissist is likely to agree with you in the moment, at least if the moment isn’t causing them any distress. This next part might break your heart, but you must hear it.
How does the narcissist see sex?
The narcissist sees sex more as a method of control than a way to connect with you on a deep intimate level.
In nearly every case, whether the narcissist wants sex or DOES NOT want sex, they use the idea of sex as a way to maintain control or to sort of claim ownership.
In the case of a sexual relationship with a narcissist, the bonds on their side do not exist in the same way, and the sharing of sex for connection is not what it appears to be. The narcissist uses sex to gain a feeling of power.
Meanwhile, because of the emotional bonding coupled with the body and brain chemicals, we grow deeper connections to them. Likely the love bomb-devalue cycle in other areas of your relationship with the narcissist will happen, and trauma bonds will also take hold, further complicating things.
Lack of empathy means lack of intimate connection.
They also are ego-driven people and view sex not as a way to bond but as a way to own or possess another person and to meet their own needs only.
Narcissists may seem like attentive lovers (at least at first) that appear to be giving pleasure for the benefit of you, their partner, but as the relationship continues and masks come off, it can become clear that this is not the case.
This is because the narcissist never intended to give to you; they had the drive only to please themselves and to make you react to them in a sexual way which fuels their ego and gives them supply.
The narcissist’s use of sex creates an imbalance of power in a relationship where you are becoming filled with trust and intimate love, remaining self-oriented only and using the vulnerability intimacy can create to gain control.
This power was always the narcissist’s intent and main sexual drive; the intimacy felt was only yours, and once under their sexual control in this way, the power becomes abuse and is a factor in deeper trauma bonding.
Sex as narcissistic supply.
There are ways the narcissist gains narcissistic supply through sex; for one, they hear our words of love and gain supply. It’s like direct feedback to the narcissist that they have secured us as supply, and we are fully bonded.
The narcissist also feeds off the oxytocin and dopamine high, both their own and ours, that sex floods our brains and bodies.
These chemicals that are released are powerful “feel good” and bonding chemicals and leave you feeling satisfied yet wanting more, so it deepens the connection to a partner.
We know that all attention is narcissistic supply to a narcissist, and sex seems to be a heightened supply because of the intense feelings it creates in you. Narcissists often get an ego boost from sex, another form of supply.
They sometimes view themselves as great at sex and use you to prove that (to themselves). They often like you to “perform” or show how great they are sexually.
This can feel inauthentic and cause you to sense that something is wrong or even leave you feeling unloved.
Objectification of all people is common for narcissists. They see us as objects for their own gain or pleasure, maybe even so far as eventually you may feel like a sex doll or like you are expected to perform in a certain way lacking all authentic and spontaneous behavior on your part, or maybe like you are not even there.
Essentially, the narcissist is having sex with themselves, using you as an object to complete the sex act, and gaining further power over you.
You may be seeking love and sharing an intimate exchange with them, but they see you as a warm body to use for their own purpose. It can feel like sex with a stranger when you look in their eyes as they objectify you.
Knowing intuitively something is not right but feeling connection and love at the same time can cause that empty feeling and leave you silently crying. Being objectified is not being intimately cared for and is emotionally abusive.
The Signs Of Narcissistic Abuse In An Intimate Relationship.
They know sex bonds us to them; they may even think or say they feel close and bonded after sex.
If it is a truth at all, this is a half-truth, and it works to ensure that their feelings are mutual – sadly, it is not possible given they do not feel emotional or compassionate empathy.
The narcissist feels like they own you, and sex is one way they use to ensure it stays that way.
Understanding the Dynamics of Narcissism
Narcissists often use charm, flattery, and manipulation to gain people’s trust. They will then take advantage of their position of power to exploit others. This type of behavior is called narcissistic abuse.
The narcissist uses his or her position of power to control others.
He or she may use verbal abuse, threats, intimidation, isolation, or physical violence to exert control.
In some cases, the abuser may be jealous or possessive.
To maintain control, the narcissist must be seen as superior to those around him or her.
He or she may use flattery, intimidation, threats, guilt trips, and name-calling to get what he or she wants from others.
Why does narcissism lead to abuse?
People who suffer from narcissism tend to believe they deserve special treatment because they are so wonderful.
Narcissistic abusers use their power and control to manipulate others into doing what they want them to do.
Narcissistic abusers often lie, cheat, and steal to get what they want. They may also threaten to hurt themselves or others if they are not treated well.
They also think that other people should treat them with deference and respect.
They might become angry and jealous if they don’t get enough attention or admiration.
All of this can lead to abuse for obvious reasons (they don’t get what they want) and for more confusing ones, such as the fact that they generally choose to attack those closest to them – often, especially their intimate partner.
This may be because they can do so “behind closed doors,” so to speak, but it may also have to do with the fact that for narcissists, familiarity really does breed contempt.
The isolation and loneliness in a sexual relationship with a narcissist can be so devastating that you change and seem to lose vital parts of yourself.
Having your intimacy abused not only diminishes the empowerment you may feel but damages self-worth.
Being used sexually in the ways a narcissist uses and abuses is not easy to accept; it’s painful, humiliating, devaluing, dehumanizing, and can crush self-esteem.
Having the natural and beautiful part of being an empath, your ability to bond with love and empathy expressed through sex and intimacy not only unreciprocated but used as a point of power and control against you can leave you feeling like it is now hard to trust.
You may even feel naive or foolish for having trusted. Feelings of guilt, shame, and anger may also be present.
None of those feelings make you weird or bad. These are all normal ways to feel after having your intimacy used and abused, Now is the time for understanding exactly what took place and using active self-care to find healing.
Can you think of ways the narcissist used sex to manipulate you?
A narcissist often uses manipulation tactics to keep people under his/her thumb. They might even lie to make themselves appear better than others. This type of abuse can happen in any relationship, but it’s especially common in romantic relationships.
If any time you felt off or distant or emotionally not right during or after, maybe even sad or used, these could be clues to seeing the manipulation that took place.
Thanks for reading this post! My name is Lise Colucci, and I am one of the certified life coaches at QueenBeeing. Learn more about me here or schedule a one-on-one coaching session with me here.
Get Help With Narcissistic Abuse Recovery
These resources will help you with your narcissistic abuse recovery.