What Happens When You See The Narcissist After No Contact?

What Happens When You See The Narcissist After No Contact?


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So, you went no contact with a narcissist, either because you left them or they left you. In any case, you decided that you’ve had just about enough of a toxic relationship and you finally decided to make the commitment to yourself: you have gone no contact, once and for all.

No Contact is a coping 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 that you have the space you need to heal without dealing with the toxic influence of your former personal tormentor.

Now, for the record,  you might have gone no contact with a partner or former partner, or maybe it was a family member or a friend. In any case, initially, you might find yourself on the “pink cloud” that many people report they experience during narcissistic abuse recovery.

Pink Clouding in Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

“Pink clouding” it is a term that is used to describe the feeling of elation that many addicts and alcoholics feel shortly after detoxing and moving into sobriety. I first heard it used in our community by Kim Saeed.

When you’re on the pink cloud, you will feel excited and hopeful in ways you didn’t before, and things in your life might seem to be moving in the right direction for the first time in a long time. Unfortunately, there’s one big problem with the “pink cloud” syndrome – and that is quite simply that it can make us dangerously overconfident in one way: we might think we’re fully recovered when we’re actually just beginning.

The worst part is that this overconfidence can sadly lead to what I call a sort of “relapse” where we fall back in with the narcissist. For example, when you first leave a narcissist, you can start to see the possibilities of a life without constant control and codependency.

The pink cloud is very common for survivors of narcissistic abuse who have just gone no contact. We are often so relieved that we aren’t dealing with the everyday stress of dealing with a narcissist’s drama and mind games that we don’t even consider the possibility that we’ve still got some work to do before we can say we’re truly healed and ready to move forward.

Unresolved Trauma in Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

When you do go no contact, you might find yourself feeling totally liberated and free. This is an amazing feeling! But being in a relationship with a narcissist will leave you with a whole bunch of unresolved trauma that you’re going to need to work through if you’re going to create the life you really want and deserve for yourself.

The trauma you experienced manifests itself in trauma bonding, which is a condition that causes you to develop a psychological dependence on the narcissist while you’re in the relationship with them. It is sort of a survival strategy that many survivors develop during these toxic relationships, but it also makes recovering much more difficult afterward as you’re literally addicted to the narcissist and the toxic relationship in the same way as an alcoholic is addicted to alcohol or a drug addict is addicted to their drug of choice.

That means that even if you logically know you aren’t interested in having the narcissist in your life anymore, there is some part of you that will have a hard time saying no if the narcissist is able to contact you once the relationship ends. This is exactly WHY we recommend that you go no contact if possible when you end a relationship with a narcissist. (Of course, if you have kids together, you might need to just go low-contact, where you use the gray rock method to avoid drama, and where you only communicate about the business of raising your child, without emotion – and only as absolutely necessary).

The trauma bonding factor means that you’re going to need to be careful to avoid the narcissist as often as you can so you can avoid the dreaded “relapse.” But what if you happen to run into the narcissist in public after you go no contact? What happens if you see the narcissist?

Because unless you move to a different city, that’s a really serious possibility. And sadly, more common than you’d expect.

How Does the Narcissist Perceive You After No Contact?

You will wonder how they could potentially perceive you – and that all depends on how long it has been since you went no contact, and how much you have healed since that time. Let’s talk about it.

What Happens If You Have Not Yet Healed After Going No Contact And You See The Narcissist?

I’m going to tell you something that I would never tell you in any other case. If you haven’t healed and you happen to see the narcissist after going no contact, I want you to take a page from the narcissist’s book and put on a sort of mask. Why? Because if the narcissist sees that you have not healed after the damage they caused you in this toxic, unhealthy relationship, they will absolutely RELISH the idea that they’ve somehow won the relationship. They will definitely think of you as weak and they will even attempt to reinforce the idea they probably spent a lot of years putting into your head – that you’re worthless or at least somehow inferior to them.

So, rather than giving them the narcissistic supply they’d inevitably get from seeing you feeling miserable and alone without them, I want you to totally fake it. PRETEND you’re doing great, no matter how you feel in the moment. Don’t give them the satisfaction of knowing they’ve hurt you. In general, if the narcissist thinks they’ve sort of “won” the relationship, they might pretend to ignore you or just look at you with contempt – acting as if you are clearly beneath them.

So, what can you do to appear healed even when you’re not? Well, consider what telltale signs you might be showing if you’re feeling miserable. Chances are that the narcissist would recognize that you’re hurting by the way you carry yourself, the way you dress, and by your body language if you don’t speak to them. So, for now, just tidy yourself up and keep yourself looking as fresh as you can when you go out in public. Maybe put some good music in your ears as you get ready and in the car or on the walk to wherever you’re going – that’ll help to at least temporarily boost your spirits.

What Happens If You Are Healing When The Narcissist Who You Went No Contact With Sees You?

If the narcissist sees you after you go no contact with them and you seem confident, you are dressed well, and you appear to be healthy, then they may begin to idolize you again. This will be especially true if you have moved on with another partner, and even if they are with another partner – or source of supply. They might indicate the desire to connect with you on some level – and there might be a tiny part of you that secretly hopes that will happen. That’s your trauma bonding coming back to bite you in the proverbial butt.

But always remember that the narcissist’s idea of a relationship is ugly, to put it mildly – and they really don’t want to have a real relationship with you. They will, as always, just hurt you over and over again. You know you’re better off without them.

If the narcissist sees you after years of you going no contact with them and they have seen that you have healed on some level, they could try to trap you again. They may think you would have forgotten about what they did to you and would try to reel you in. They may even tell you they have changed, but their intentions would not be any different.

On the flip side, if you have healed yourself and you seem to be quite well to the narcissist, they may actually ignore and avoid you due to their sense of pride. They actually could see you as superior to them which would dig into their insecurities. That is the level of healing you want to attain.

Just remember your reasons: You had enough of the narcissistic abuse and once and for all you went no contact with the narcissist who made your life a living hell.

What else should you do if you see the narcissist after no contact?

Not that you’re out for revenge or anything, but if you were it would serve you well to remember that the best revenge is served cold.

Remember what narcissists need more than anything? Attention. Narcissistic supply. In other words, narcissists hate to be ignored. So one way to deal with them is to give them exactly what they deserve – NOTHING. None of your attention and none of your energy. You can just walk away.

Now, you have to know that the narcissist will need to pretend that there’s something wrong with you when you do this. They will never be able to admit to themselves (or to anyone else) that they mistreated or abused you in any way. In fact, they’ve probably already told everyone how crazy or terrible YOU are and most likely portrayed themselves as the victim.

But what if ignoring them isn’t an option? Then what are you supposed to do? Well, you can just nod or smile in acknowledgment and keep on walking. It’s really all about keeping your composure and maintaining your dignity.

This next part is really important. Despite the fact that you would probably rather be poked in the eye with a sharp stick than see this person, you’re going to have to put your feelings on the back burner for a minute. Why? Because under no circumstances should you allow the narcissist or anyone nearby to see that you’re in any way bothered by the narcissist’s presence.

Pay attention to the little details here – be very aware of your facial expression and avoid showing any signs of disgust. (If you’re anything like me, your face has a way of telling all your secrets – so you might want to practice your poker face in the mirror ahead of time to be safe.)

And if you want to avoid giving the narcissist that little zing of satisfaction they will inevitably feel if they think you look or seem anything less than amazing, you want to appear indifferent. Act like they’re any acquaintance you’ve ever met – like they’re just somebody you don’t really know very well almost.

Even if it absolutely tortures you to see them, never let them see you sweat – even if you need to go cry in your car afterward.

Regardless of how much or how little you’ve healed if or when you happen to see the narcissist after going no contact, just be sure you don’t react to them at all – or if you do, keep it brief, polite, and business-like. Remember that the narcissist will be watching closely, looking for any reaction at all. They will get a little “hit” of narcissistic supply if they think you miss them or you’re having a hard time without them.  So just be sure to avoid giving them even a slight hint that you are affected by not having them in your life – unless the effects you display are positive.

What if the narcissist approaches you and attempts to hoover you?

Play it cool, like ice. Just don’t give them the chance to trap you again. Remember that no matter how hard they swear they’ve changed, or they will change, they absolutely will not. As always, they’d continue to be the person they’ve always been. You went no contact for a reason, so don’t give up on yourself.

Question of the Day: Have you found yourself running into a narcissist after going no contact, and if so, how’d that work out for you? In hindsight, what tips would you offer for your fellow survivors? If not, are you concerned you might? Share your thoughts, share your experiences, share your ideas in the comments section below this video and let’s talk about it.

Get help with narcissistic abuse recovery right now.

 

 

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!

 

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