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 sex provides deepen the feelings of love and caring toward their partner. The chemical release of dopamine and oxytocin during sex floods your body and brain with feelings of love as well as creates a need to feel more of the same.
But when there’s a narcissist involved, things don’t quite work this way.
You may think the narcissist is bonding to you too and may believe deep connection and love flow reciprocally between you both. 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 take hold as well further complicating things.
Lack of empathy means lack of intimate connection.
Without empathy, the narcissist can not put themselves in the place of the other person or find the depth of connection that the empath feels. 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. The 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 had the intention of giving to you, they had the drive only to please them self and to make you react to them in a sexual way which fuels their ego and gives them supply. The way the narcissist uses sex creates an imbalance of power in a relationship where you are becoming filled with trust and intimate love and they are remaining self-oriented only and using the vulnerability intimacy can create to gain control.
This power was always the intent and main sexual drive of the narcissist, 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 supply.
There are ways the narcissist gains 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 of the oxytocin and dopamine high, both their own and ours, that sex floods our brains and bodies with.
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 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 which is another form of supply. They sometimes view themselves as really great at sex and use you to prove that to themselves. They often like you to “perform” or make a show of just how great they are sexually. This can feel inauthentic and cause you to have a sense that something is not right 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.
Basically, a narcissist is having sex with them self and using you as an object to complete the sex act with as well as gaining further power over you. You may be seeking love and sharing an intimate exchange with them but they are seeing 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.
Have you ever felt empty and ended up in tears during sex with a narcissist? 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 emotionally abusive.
Ways a narcissist may abuse intimacy
The deeper we feel a connection through sex the further the power is stolen by the narcissist to use as their own supply and manipulate you. They do this in many ways, here are a few examples:
Forcing you to cross personal boundaries and go beyond the comfort zone
Demanding sex when it’s not wanted
Threaten to leave if sex is not up to their expectations at that moment
Forced or non-consensual sex
They know sex bonds us to them, they may even think or say they feel close and bonded after sex, this, if is a truth at all is a half-truth and it works to ensure you that the feelings they are having are mutual which sadly is not possible given they do not feel empathy. The narcissist feels like they own you and sex is one way they use to make sure it stays that way.
What happens to you?
Having a narcissist for a partner can leave you feeling emotionally alone and when it comes to sex it’s no exception. The isolation and loneliness when in a sexual relationship with a narcissist can be so completely devastating you literally change and seem to lose vital parts of yourself.
Having your intimacy abused not only diminishes the feeling of empowerment you may feel but damages self-worth. Being used sexually in the ways a narcissist uses and abuses is not an easy thing 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. 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? If any time you felt off or distance 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.