No Contact vs. Ghosting and Silent Treatment

No Contact vs. Ghosting and Silent Treatment

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If the silent treatment is a form of narcissistic abuse, does going no contact make you a narcissist? Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of comments from viewers who are worried that they might be the narcissist in their relationship. Most of the time, these comments are on videos related to the silent treatment, ghosting or things narcissists do or say in any given situation.

One of the most common concerns is whether going no contact makes you a narcissist. People learn that the silent treatment and ghosting can be considered forms of narcissistic abuse, and they equate this to the way we treat a narcissist when we go no contact with them.

I get why they feel this way – it’s a little confusing. In both the silent treatment and in ghosting, the narcissist ignores us and/or doesn’t respond when we try to reach out to them. And that’s exactly what we do when we’re using the no contact method to heal ourselves.

So what is the difference here?

How is no contact different from the silent treatment and ghosting?

Are we just as bad as the narcissist for choosing to end contact? Does this make us “one of them?” If the silent treatment is narcissistic abuse, does no contact make you a narcissist? And what are the differences between the silent treatment, ghosting and the no contact rule? Let’s do this.

First, let’s quickly define the silent treatment, ghosting, and no contact.

What is the silent treatment?

In a nutshell, the silent treatment is a manipulation tactic where the narcissist will stop talking to you 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.

What is ghosting?

Ghosting is basically exactly what it sounds like – the narcissist disappears on you without a word. This can be for any number of reasons – they may be attempting to punish you for something, or it may be a totally selfish reason in which the narcissist hasn’t even considered the possibility that you’d be bothered by their absence. Remember, they have a lack of empathy, so it makes sense that they wouldn’t consider your feelings. In ghosting, the narcissist might reappear at any given time, ready to consume more of that narcissistic supply they so desperately need.

What is no contact?

And then there’s no contact, which, if we’re being honest, is both a coping mechanism as well as a technique that is practically required to heal after narcissistic abuse. It involves removing yourself from the narcissist’s life. You stop seeing, speaking to, and interacting with the narcissist. This allows you to clear your life of the negative energy they bring into every room.

So what are the similarities and differences here?

No Contact vs. Ghosting and the Silent Treatment

Let’s start with what’s similar. As I mentioned earlier, in all three cases, one person intentionally avoids the other person. And, in all cases, the end of contact can be done without a word to the other person involved.

But that’s pretty much where the similarities end.

The differences between the silent treatment, ghosting and no contact go much deeper and are significant. So what differentiates no contact from the silent treatment and ghosting?

1. The Motivation/Intention

As I mentioned, narcissists give you the silent treatment because they want to punish you for something they think you’ve done wrong. Often, this is the result of a narcissistic injury. Ghosting can be done for the same reason, or it can be done out of pure selfishness and a lack of concern for your feelings and wellbeing. No contact is more about protecting yourself so that you can be safe and heal after going through an abusive, toxic relationship. The silent treatment is passive-aggressive and abusive, while no contact is really less about the narcissist and more about you. In no contact, you aren’t trying to hurt the narcissist – you’re just trying to save yourself.

2. What You Get Out of It

Again, the narcissist is often trying to get something from you when they give you the silent treatment. They’re trying to get you to do (or not do) something. Or they’re trying to put you in your place. Or make you submit to their will. But when it comes to going no contact, you want nothing from the narcissist except to be left alone. You don’t have an ulterior motive that involves them at all – you’re just trying to get away from them so you can have the space you need to heal.

3. The Trauma Bonding Part

Another difference between no contact and the narcissist’s ghosting or silent treatment is that no contact is that one of the first steps to resolving the trauma bond developed during your toxic relationship with the narcissist. Since trauma bonding causes you to feel sort of addicted to the narcissist (and you can learn more about that at the video I’ll link for you right there and in the description below), going no contact can be likened to an addict going cold turkey to quit their drug of choice. Like it or not, the narcissist has an almost druglike effect on us after all of the years of the trauma they’ve put us through – in fact, research shows the same part of our brain is affected by them as is affected by drugs. But while most narcissists have also suffered some form of trauma, usually in childhood, their reasons for giving you the silent treatment or ghosting you are usually not directly related to it (but it can be indirectly related since their impulsiveness and lack of empathy probably stem from their reaction to that trauma).

Think you’re dealing with trauma bonding? Take this test and find out now.

So how do you know you’re not the narcissist?

Often, codependents feel responsible for everything that goes wrong in their relationships, and this is often a result of the fact that toxic people over the course of their lives have conditioned them to feel this way. We know that one of the biggest red flags of a toxic narcissist is that they refuse to take responsibility for anything other than positive things they (or others) do. Anything that might be seen in a negative light or that doesn’t portray them as the vision of perfection they have for themselves? They squarely place the blame on literally anyone or anything else.

So, it’s fairly safe to assume that if you’re worried that you’re the narcissist, you might not be.

Narcissistic ‘Fleas’

Now, there is such a thing as narcissistic fleas – and that might be where your confusion is here. Narcissistic fleas are just little behaviors and habits that victims pick up from narcissists, such as verbal bullying, coldness, or an apparent lack of empathy. The good news is these “fleas” can be eradicated with mindfulness and intention.

But how could this be? We are so different from narcissists. We feel deeply and we aren’t bullies.

Well, look at this logically for a moment: when we spend a lot of time with someone, we naturally tend to pick up certain habits and speech patterns from them. For example, when I moved back to the St. Louis area after college, I recorded my outgoing message for my voicemail. After being back for six months or so, I called it one day and totally freaked out – I sounded completely weird to myself. During my years in college, I had picked up a bit of the country twang that people in my college town all seemed to have.

And, on a slightly more relevant note, when my ex-husband would be in the wrong mood, he’d take sort of a bullying tone with communication. He’d always talk in sort of an accusatory way – and even if he didn’t directly accuse me of something, it always felt like he did. A year or two after I left him, I found myself using a similar tone with a friend at one point. Luckily, I recognized it and did my best to change it.

When someone accuses you of being a narcissist

But what if the person you believe is a narcissist turns the tables on you and tells you that you are in fact the narcissist, and not them? What is going on when the narcissist calls you a narcissist for going no contact?

Their logic seems to go like this: “Well, you said that the silent treatment or ghosting is narcissistic abuse. You aren’t talking to me and won’t see me, so you must be the narcissist. Could they be right? Are we all toxic narcissists because we choose to go no contact?”

I think you and I both know the answer to that one. But just to make it perfectly clear, let me fill you in. There are two things to consider here.

The Hoover Maneuver

First, the narcissist is intentionally trying to manipulate you into responding to them, so by accusing you of being the very thing they are, they tempt you to respond to them and reengage – they hope you’ll argue with them so they can hoover you back in, one way or the other. Hoovering is what we call it when the narcissist tries to “suck you back in” after the discard. This can be drama-related or it can be an attempt to reconcile the relationship or to get you to break no contact. In other words, the narcissist will call you a narcissist to get you to accept the blame for everything that they’ve done wrong (plus anything you did in reaction to said wrongdoing) and then get you back into their little circle of narcissistic supply. Don’t fall for it. That brings me to my next point.

Projection, Gaslighting, and the Smear Campaign

And second, in addition to projecting their own bad behavior and qualities on to you, the narcissist is, in a way, gaslighting you with this kind of accusation.

In case you’re new around here, gaslighting is a pervasive and highly-effective tactic the narcissist uses to manipulate you into doubting your own reality, not trusting yourself and your perceptions, and questioning your own sanity. This little mind game is quite effective, especially when done over the course of several years in a relationship, and it helps the narcissist sort of brainwash you into doing what they want.

While self-awareness is scarce among narcissists, they seem to intrinsically and systematically extract narcissistic supply from anyone who allows it. And, whether you were raised by, married to or otherwise engaged with the narcissist in your own life, you KNOW they know they can get it from you. You know they have a freaking map to every button you’ve got – and they won’t hesitate to push them.

So, if the narcissist can insert even a small amount of doubt into your head about the fact that they are the reason that your relationship would ultimately fail? Well, they feel a strange kind of validation and satisfaction. Plus, they’ll use this as part of the sob story they’re going to tell about you in their inevitable smear campaign.

That’s where they’ll tell everyone you know (and even some people you don’t know) about what a horrible partner, son, daughter, sister, brother, employee – or whatever – you are, so that they can get attention from other people, who will feel sorry for them and give them more narcissistic supply – you know, attention, validation, pity. The stuff that narcissists need to keep going.

Bottom Line: The Difference Between No Contact, Ghosting, and the Silent Treatment

So, what is the bottom line here? Basically, if you are going no contact, you’re doing that in order to prevent further abuse and trauma being inflicted on you by a person who has proven repeatedly that they will never stop hurting you. You are not doing anything TO them, other than not allowing them to be part of your life. It is not a move meant to hurt them or get revenge on them. It is simply a move to save yourself so you can heal. If someone is giving you the silent treatment or ghosting you, they do not necessarily intend to completely end contact with you – they simply intend to hurt, manipulate and control you. Or, in some cases, they simply just don’t care or don’t think about how their behavior would make you feel. And even if they do, they are unlikely to be bothered by your feelings.

Take the Narcissist Test

How can you be sure you’re not the narcissist in all of this? How do you know you’re not just justifying your behavior by telling yourself that you’re going no contact, but secretly you’re just ghosting a perfectly nice person?

Ask yourself two simple questions:

1. Do you care how people feel and sometimes change your behavior because of how someone else feels?
2. How did or does the person you’re going no contact with make you feel when you spend time around them?

If you are a narcissist, you would’ve answered “no” to number one and you would have varied answers to number two. If you are not, you would have answered yes to number one and most likely, you’d find yourself feeling terrible, unlovable, worthless or otherwise negative when you have spent time with the person in question. They hardly ever make you feel good these days, but they may have once made your heart soar. Still not sure? You can take our narcissism test here.

Question of the day: Have you ever worried that no contact, ghosting, and silent treatment were all the same thing? Have you ever worried that you might be the narcissist? Share your thoughts, share your ideas, and share your experiences in the comments section below this video, and let’s talk about it!

 

Are Narcissists Insecure?

Are Narcissists Insecure?


(Watch video on YouTube)
When I was just getting started in my business, I decided I needed to do some local networking. I’d heard it would be good for the business, so I did some digging and started looking at small business groups on meetup.com.

I felt so lucky when I quickly found a local small business meetup that was happening just a short distance from my house.

At the first meeting, we were each invited to briefly introduce ourselves and explain our business. When it was my turn, one woman looked up sharply like she’d been stung by a bee as I started to talk about my business. She caught my eye and I smiled at her. At first, she just stared, but then I saw a small smile form on her face. I felt relieved and went on.

After the introductions, we had lunch. I went over to say hello to the woman, and she seemed really friendly. She was a gorgeous, charming and seemingly very successful woman. She seemed to be someone I could really learn a lot from. She said she’d been in business for years (though in hindsight, I realize that she didn’t really explain her business when given the chance and was pretty vague about it). Still, she seemed quite successful. She talked the big talk. And as far as I could tell, she was walking the big walk. She drove an expensive car, had an expensive bag, and had those expensive shoes with the red soles. You know the ones I mean. And her jewelry! I could tell it was all real – a stark contrast to my costume knockoffs.

Well, I was on the hunt for a mentor, and she seemed like a perfect fit! She was confident, attractive and seemed quite intelligent. She asked me a lot of questions about my business and offered little snippets of advice that seemed legit. At the end of the meeting, she invited me to meet her for lunch the following week.

The day we met for lunch, she asked for more details about my business, which I happily shared. Then, much to my delight, she was telling me all about her upcoming executive board meeting. She said they were considering investing in other local small businesses, and that if I played my cards right, they might invest in mine.

Of course, I was over the moon! I practically worshipped her – I wanted to BE her! And since the lady promised to bring me up at this upcoming meeting, I started to pull together all sorts of documentation and information about my business.

The next day, I emailed the information as she had asked, and I waited for her to get back to me after her meeting. But then she went silent. I was a little sad, but figured maybe my business just wasn’t up to snuff for this executive board.

I understood – after all, I had just started my business and wasn’t super successful yet. And there was a stark contrast between my business and hers – she, at that time, was clearly well beyond me, it seemed. I counted myself lucky for the time we had spent together and moved on. I mean, she had an EXECUTIVE BOARD. All I had at the time was me.

But a couple of months later, I noticed that she’d created a brand new Facebook page. She had just launched a new business it seemed – and when I started looking into it, it turned out that her business was eerily familiar. In fact, it was like she literally copied the business plan and structure that I had outlined for her months ago.

I was shocked and angry. I was confused. I reached out to her and asked what she was doing. She told me that I was mistaken, that it had been her idea the whole time. She said that the business plan I had submitted to her was a joke, and THAT was why she’d gone silent. She subtly tore me down, implying that I was stupid to think that someone like HER could possibly take an idea from someone as small-potatoes as ME.

Of course, when I pointed out that she had literally done everything I’d put in the business plan, she got offended and screamed at me, telling me she was tired of people always accusing her of stuff like this. She called me jealous and immediately blocked me. Then, from what I heard, she started talking to our few mutual connections about how I thought I owned my niche and how she practically invented me anyway. It went on from there.

What I missed was that her apparent confidence was more like grandiosity. I missed that she had used me to get an idea for a short-lived business. I missed that this was a pattern with her. I missed that she only liked me while I was actively worshipping her, and I didn’t expect her to attack me the way she did. I missed all the red flags.

Later, I would learn that I wasn’t the only person she had done this to – apparently, several people who had been part of the group at different times had experienced the same thing. I learned that her fancy bag, car and shoes were thanks to her wealthy husband. And that she was a bored stay-at-home wife  (no kids) who had too much time on her hands. And as for her stealing all of my business? I admit I worried for a minute. After all, she had a lot more money than I did and as far as I could tell, would be far more successful than I could. But I didn’t have to worry for long because after failing to become immediately successful, she moved on to someone else’s idea. (Plus, if we’re being honest, she was trying to be someone she just wasn’t.)

Was she a narcissist? I don’t know. But she certainly behaved like one in certain ways. Let me explain what I mean.

When you think of a narcissist, you don’t think of someone who is insecure. In fact, they often seem to be exactly the opposite of insecure. After all, narcissists are known for being vain and self-centered. They often demand your attention. They want to be admired and they feel the need to monitor the amount of respect you give them. They exaggerate their achievements and they seem like they only care about themselves. And we all know they manipulate people to get what they want.

And, as I’m sure you are well-aware, narcissists are boastful and they exaggerate their self-importance. They also don’t acknowledge that anyone else has needs and wants, and feelings, thanks to their extreme lack of empathy. They seem to literally believe they are the center of the universe. Sound familiar?

And the other thing that narcissists refuse to do is to be reflective and dig within to become self-reflective. In fact, they are threatened by that idea and will avoid it at all costs. God forbid they should catch a glimpse of their true selves! It would destroy them.

Are narcissists insecure?

So you may be asking yourself whether narcissists are insecure. The short answer to that is, yes, they are very insecure – even though it often seems otherwise. (To be fair, covert narcissists often seem a little – or a lot – insecure. But most narcissists seem to carry around some level of insecurity with them.) Let’s break it down further as to how they are insecure.

The Narcissist’s Need To Boast Is What Makes Them Insecure

Someone who is secure will not have a need to brag about their accomplishments. Those who are sure of themselves are modest and really don’t like to show off. However, as you see the narcissist must make it known that they have the best car on the block, or the biggest house on the block, or the fanciest clothing and so on. While it might seem that it’s all about showing off, the sad truth is that they do this in order to validate their struggling self-worth.

Narcissists Put Others Down Intentionally

Anyone who is secure will always treat others with respect, and if they don’t like someone, they will just not associate with them in any way at all – or keep it at a polite minimum at the very least. However, as you know the narcissist is known to brag and boast in addition to putting you down. They want to make you feel inferior and that they are “better” than you. They need to make you feel inferior because it helps them to feel better about themselves. This is another indication of insecurity – after all, people with a relatively healthy self-image don’t need to stand on the pain of others in order to feel good about who they are.

Narcissists Don’t Care About The Wants And Needs Of Others

Narcissists don’t care if you are missing out on something or not getting what you need. This is due to their extreme lack of empathy. However, they care VERY MUCH about their own wants and needs. In fact, they seem to ONLY care about themselves getting what they need. If you think about it, you can probably think of a time where an adult behaved like a child when they didn’t get what they wanted – maybe more often than not, if you were dealing with a narcissist. This also shows some deep insecurity within them because they fear they will miss out on what they want and need. And this is why they do not hesitate at making sure they don’t miss out at the expense of others.

Their Need To Control Others Is A Sign Of Insecurity

It is a known fact that narcissists are controlling and that is why they utilize manipulation tactics such as gaslighting and other forms of abuse. Anyone who is secure within themselves will never resort to manipulation with the exception in rare cases where they feel they had been wronged and need to be compensated for understandable reasons. Psychologists tell us that they feel the need to control people around them as well as their environments because they often feel like they have no control over other parts of their lives. They become master manipulators as a result, and that all stems from insecurity.

Narcissists Cannot Handle Criticism

No one loves to be criticized. However, if the criticism is constructive, then you accept it gracefully even if you don’t put what is suggested to use. However, narcissists fly off the handle when they are criticized and this is due to the fact that their fragile self-esteem is threatened when that happens. That’s because narcissists tend to be triggered anytime they feel their vulnerabilities have been exposed. They will react in an angry fashion, often clapping back to the person giving them criticism with a passive-aggressive response, or even by mocking them. This humiliates the one giving the criticism and they feel rejected. The narcissist does this to take the heat off themselves and to attempt to “level the playing field,” as in, protect their fragile ego by putting the focus back on the person who dares to criticize them.

Bottom line? High self-esteem and narcissism are not the same thing. True confidence in oneself is not narcissistic. The biggest difference is that when you have actual self-esteem, you are more likely to focus on things like healthy relationships and being happy, while narcissists fail to do this because they genuinely do not care how others feel. Rather, they want to know what people can do for them. Plus, they’re always trying to validate their self-worth – and when you have actual self-esteem, you don’t need to do that all the time.

Are you dealing with a toxic narcissist?

Find out when you take this quick narcissism test, or get some help from one of our coaches. We also have narcissistic abuse recovery support groups and tons of helpful freebies to help in your narcissistic abuse recovery.

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