What happens when a narcissist goes quiet?

This article will explain what is behind the silence of a narcissist. What may be the common strategies that lead the narcissist to go silent, and how you can look at those silent moments.

What happens when a narcissist goes quiet?  

A narcissist will often go quiet on you for various reasons. They can use the silent treatment as a way to punish you, restore their control over you, or even as they are ready to discard you. Here is what is happening with the narcissist in your life as they go quiet.

They are trying to punish you 

You may have come across something wrong that the narcissist has done to you, for example, you discovered they were unfaithful to you. And as you ask them what has happened, you are there just waiting for an apology.

Instead, the narcissist turns the table on you, and will usually play the role of the victim. And as soon as they can, they start giving you the silent treatment. When facing that silence, you lose track completely of what led you to this place. 

You quickly fall back into the role the narcissist wants from you, and you go about thinking of yourself as the guilty one. 

And that is why the narcissist makes a point of giving you the silent treatment. Not only do they want you to take the responsibility for whatever has happened, but they also want to punish you for saying they did something wrong. And you become desperate for them to come back, causing you to walk on eggshells when they finally do.

They are trying to show they dominate you 

Narcissists will use the silent treatment as a way to show you the power they have over you. When they give you the silent treatment you may often feel like a little child that has been scolded by their parents.

All you want is for them to show you they like you again. The narcissist feels so superior to you, that they feel you are submissive to them, and because of that they have the right to punish you. 

They are doing damage control 

But when a narcissist goes quiet it can also mean that they are scared of getting caught. Narcissists will often live a double life. Their whole life is likely based on a lie, and as you get too close, and they feel like you are going to learn the truth, they will retreat as a way to try and salvage whatever they can.

They become trapped in the lies they have created, which can lead them to become paranoid. They can even do that on social media. Commonly, they will have multiple profiles so each person will see them differently. So if they fear they are about to be discovered they will just stop posting.

You may begin to fear that along with the physical ghosting, the virtual one is telling you that you did something wrong. But it is not, it is just that they need to cover up their lies. Or it may also be that they have already met someone new.

Narcissists will hardly stay without someone giving them attention. They need that like you need air. So if they have ghosted you, it may be a sign that they have already found someone that fills them up.

They will do it because they are cowards

A narcissist can also give you silent treatment as a way to not deal with what they have done wrong. They have done something that gives you the right to be mad. But they don’t want to deal with that, instead, they will just disappear from your life.

And you are left to deal, alone, with what they have done to you. As you process this, the anger may decrease, and to some extent, you begin to forgive them, and that may be the exact moment in which they reappear in your life.

They are looking for attention 

Narcissists seek people’s attention, and if they feel you are beginning to give them less attention, they will give you the silent treatment. As you first start a relationship with a narcissist, they were what made your world turn.

But with time, life went on, and you have other important things in your life. The narcissist doesn’t know how to handle this. What is another relationship would be seen as a positive thing, for them is seen as not enough narcissist supply. 

So they will just give you the silent treatment, so you get desperate and go back to making them the most important part of your world.

They are bad-mouthing you to others 

When a narcissist goes silent it can also be that they have begun bad-mouthing you to others. When they are doing that, it will often be because they are angry at you. You have done something that they think is not right, so now you need to pay.

They have a comeback plan 

If at any point you have figured your narcissist out, they may be so scared of how you see them, that they will do the cowardly move and retreat. But they know this is just a temporary thing. 

They have, in the back of their minds, the idea that at some point you will forgive them because you saw that they walked away. And even though you know that they were wrong, for other people it is never this easy to give up someone in their life as it is for a narcissist.

So when they go away, you may be confused. You are aware that this relationship is not good for you, but at the same time, you miss having them in your life. And at this moment, they may come back, and become extra loving, which is known as the love bombing.

In which they will think of new strategies to get you to be with them, and for you, it may seem like they have changed. But this will only go on for a period, and right after they will begin to devalue you.

They want to make you feel worthless 

In this process of devaluing you, the narcissist can go silent once again. And this is just to remind you how worthless you are. How they can just leave you as soon as they want, without ever giving it a second thought. 

They will do so, especially after they have distanced you from everyone you loved. And now you are left with only their love. So as they walk away, they will show you how you have no one, and that you are not worth loving.

This is a common manipulation tactic the narcissist will use. It can be one that will leave you so desperate, that you may be supplicating for their attention back. And this way they got you right where they want you, you are completely codependent on them and will leave by whatever rule they set.

They found a new narcissistic supply

And finally, when a narcissist goes quiet it can also mean that they have found someone else. They think you are no longer what they need, so they are just discarding you. 

This can happen because they got tired of you, or you became too difficult to manipulate, or you even became so submissive that you weren’t fun for them anymore. Either way, they have found someone that offers what they need without that much resistance, so they left you.

What should I do as the narcissist goes silent?

As a narcissist is putting you through silent treatment, you may feel desperate at first. And that is exactly what they want you to feel. You were used to being the most special person in the narcissist’s life, and not being in that place anymore, you can feel completely lonely and empty.

It may be hard to not come crawling back to the narcissist, but it is exactly what you should prevent yourself from doing. It may be hard to grasp that idea, but having the narcissist away from you can be a blessing. 

You may even feel the withdrawal from their presence now. But it may be the opportunity you need to focus back on yourself, and maybe not take them back as they come again.

A relationship with a narcissist can be extremely toxic. And they may use the silent treatment on you because they know that, once they want to, you will be right back into their control. Stepping away from this toxic cycle may be the best way to care for yourself physically, and emotionally

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): What happens when a narcissist goes quiet? 

How should I react to the silent treatment?

If someone gives you the silent treatment, the first thing you need to do is let them know how this affects you. Doing so, you will give them a chance to change, but if even after that, they don’t, it may be a sign that the relationship is not that great.

Can a narcissist change?

Yes, a narcissist can change but to do so, they will need to face the fact that they are not perfect. It is only through that that they will be able to look for help in getting better. To do so, the narcissist will often go to a therapist, but it is important to know that there is no cure for narcissism, they can only manage its traits of it.

Will a narcissist regret losing me? 

The narcissist may regret losing you. But it is important to know that they won’t regret missing you as a person, but rather they will miss what you used to give them.

What is the narcissist’s biggest fear? 

The narcissist’s biggest fear is that they are left alone. Having no one to compliment them, or even to keep arguing with them, is something that will haunt them. That is why narcissists will often be surrounded by people, so if one of them walks away, they will quickly find a replacement.

Will the narcissist ever leave me alone?

Yes, at some point, if the narcissist feels that you won’t go back to them, despite all of their manipulations, they can leave you alone. This will especially happen once they have found someone else to feel their wants and needs.


This article showed what are the main things that can be behind the narcissist’s silence. It also explained why, even though it may be hard, this silence can be a good thing.

If you have any questions or comments about this article, feel free to write them in the section below.


What Does It Mean When A Narcissist Goes Quiet? (+ How To Respond)

What Does It Mean When a Narcissist Goes Quiet? 5 Things That Hide Behind the Silence

Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!