When a Narcissist Ignores You: 14 Ways They Keep Control

One of the hardest parts about being in a narcissistic relationship is enduring their silent treatment.

For no apparent reason, your partner acts as if you don’t exist, and they do it in the cruelest ways.

Rest assured, this isn’t permanent; just another way for the narcissist to control you. A relationship with a narcissist is cyclic, and ignoring is part of that cycle.

The Discard Phase Leaves You Desperate to Win Back the Narcissist’s Love

1) Your partner actively ignores you

They physically leave and remove themselves from your life. They stop texting or calling and don’t respond to your messages. They happily go out with friends and pretend they never knew you.

2) Your partner passively ignores you

They deprive you of eye contact and engage with you only at the bare minimum. Any talking resembles reluctant grunts, sighs, or hmms. They withhold all affection.

Life in your shared home becomes torturous. The pain is often unbearable for you.

3) Your partner is unwilling to give you reasons

What makes it even worse is their lack of explanation. You want answers to appease the cognitive dissonance and hurt you feel, so you must figure it out yourself.

You search for the reasons internally because you know you have plenty to work on and see the truth in their criticisms during the devaluation phase.

Their ignoring becomes your self-scrutinizing and how you messed things up.

4) Your self-esteem and confidence plummet

You want the validation and intense love you received from them in the positive reinforcement or idealization phase. Texts and voicemails apologizing to them consume your days.

You want the pain to stop, so you declare your love, how much you miss them, and what a beautiful person they are. You message them to please give you another chance, say it can be the way it was before.

In the process, you feel even more worthless as a person. You’ve ignored your voice of reason and intuition.

5) Your actions give the narcissist more control

The narcissist feeds off your desperation. You’ve made them feel important and superior. They know that when they’re ready, they can win you back with their masterful charm.

However, they might become enthralled with another romantic pursuit in the meantime.

6) You decide to move on and break away from the narcissist

You become determined to rid yourself of the narcissist in a moment of clarity and inner strength.

Your estranged partner notices the lack of pleading messages. Suddenly, they sense a loss of control in the situation and realize they may lose someone who adores them and falls prey to their manipulations.

They start hoovering you.

7) Your partner wants you back

In a flash, the narcissist cares and validates your hurt and angry feelings. They apologize and swear with all their heart that they want to change and don’t want to lose you. Whatever it takes, they won’t give up.

They shower you with love and affection. You feel the warmth and attentiveness that made you dance on cloud nine convinced you had found the love of your life when you first got together.

8) You take your partner back and step into the unhealthy cycle again

Like in the beginning, your partner fulfills your deepest needs for love. They support and accept you, and tell you how beautiful and precious you are. Your intimacy is phenomenal.

They bring out the best part of you, and you love them with abandon. Why would you ever leave this bliss?

You open your heart to them again.

9) Your partner keeps their love-bombing at the perfect dose

If this narcissist behavior happened only at the beginning of your relationship, it would be hard enough to pull away during the next phases. Unfortunately, the narcissist brings the love intermittently, keeping you right where they want you to be, in their control.

10) Your partner strengthens the trauma bond by devaluing you again

Nothing is perfect, and that feels unacceptable to the narcissist. Their dysfunctional coping mechanisms will not let them consciously admit their flaws, and your imperfections make them look bad.

So here comes the onslaught of critical statements. Nothing you do is right or good enough. You talked too long and laughed too much at the party. Your closet is disorganized.

Your partner sides with everyone else if you express feelings of hurt or disappointment. They start shaming you in public with friends, one sarcastic jab after another.

11) Your healthy instincts kick in, and all hell breaks loose

Why the sudden change in their demeanor, you contemplate with worry? You look inward again at what you did or didn’t do to bring this on. You want to get to the bottom of it and keep communication open.

You ask them why they seem unhappy and antagonistic.

Those words to describe the narcissist bring a force of rage you didn’t expect. Their very essence feels threatened, and they need to guard it vehemently. You are uncaring and disrespectful. You are the reason they act the way they do. Everything is fine on their end.

12) If you choose anger and defensiveness, you lose the game

Your partner is the master of this game. They’ve been playing it for years. The more upset you get, the calmer they become. They call you irrational, insecure, foul-mouthed, pathetic.

They refuse to continue the conversation.

The crazier that makes you, the more power they have over the situation and you.

13) Your sensitive nature turns against you

Ironically, when your partner calls you out on bad behavior, you acknowledge it, especially as they manipulatively walk away. That twisting, panicked knot in your gut fears rejection and abandonment.

You dread the possibility of losing them again and see the truth in their words because you know your flaws personally.

You start to feel for him and reprimand yourself. Somewhere in your self-deprecation, the heart of the matter, their awful and toxic behavior, gets pushed aside.

14) Your partner’s insults get even more personal

Their verbal abuse cuts deeper. Things you confided in them about become their ammunition.

They threaten to leave because of your selfishness, insecurity, lack of confidence.

They used to love how kind and wonderful you were. It’s because of you that everything has changed. Your partner tells you how happy they were before your true colors came out or before they knew you.

They don’t know if they can handle any more abuse.

Your mind is reeling, and you feel utterly wounded and unloveable.

They begin to distance themselves while sprinkling some warmth and affection your way now and then to make their derogatory words sink in a little farther.

And soon enough, they’re ignoring you again. The cycle continues.

You Can Find the Courage to Break Away

1) Start keeping a journal

By writing down the things that happen in your relationship and how you feel when they do, you notice patterns in his behavior and your reactions.

Pretty soon, your intuition and written record help you anticipate and prepare for the onset of each phase. It reinforces what you know deep down, that it is a manipulative cycle caused by the narcissist.

2) Create a plan

The space the narcissist provides during the silent treatment gives you the chance to gain perspective and think clearly. By reminding yourself of what you value in life and about yourself, you can build up your self-worth.

Rather than obsessing over ways to get the narcissist back, start creating the path you want for your life and how to get there.

Ask yourself why you feel afraid to take the next step of walking away. When you explore the answers, you can start working on possible solutions.

No matter how often you give in to the narcissist, you can still start taking gradual steps to break free. Maybe not this time, but sooner than you think.

Remember that your inaction will bring the narcissist back soon enough, but you’ll be more equipped to handle what lies ahead this time.

3) Set boundaries

Even if you don’t leave, for now, you can slowly empower yourself by changing your reactions.

When your partner refuses to discuss why they’re ignoring you, say you respect that they don’t want to talk right now and that you’ll wait until they are ready to have a productive, adult conversation.

Expect resistance. The narcissist will not make it easy for you, so if you need some time away to break the pattern, find a safe place you can go to remove yourself from the situation for a while.

4) Engage less

Chasing and calling the narcissist during the ignoring phase gives him all the power. Meanwhile, when you rationalize his behavior and take the blame, you’re feeding your sense of powerlessness.

Remind yourself that the silent treatment is immature, something a child would do. Your desire to communicate is healthy and mature.

Imagine what you would tell a friend, sister, or daughter if they were in your position.

Consider speaking with a therapist that specializes in relationships. Rekindle friendships or find an activity you love and join a group. You’ll make new friends.

Instead of engaging the ignoring narcissist, taking these actions helps you get stronger and healthier. The idea of leaving won’t feel as overwhelming the next time.

5) Practice self-compassion

You deserve to be valued and treated kindly as much as anyone else. You empathize and accept other people’s imperfections because you know they are good people and worthy just as they are. The same is true of you.

In time, you’ll know that leaving the relationship is an act of self-love and a new beginning for you to find true love from someone that genuinely loves and respects you.

Even Positive Change Causes Anxiety and Stress

Leaving an abusive relationship feels scary. You may feel lost and incomplete. The anxiety you feel may convince you to revert to old behavioral patterns.

Even unhealthy things feel reassuring when we’re used to them.

If you let the narcissist come back into your life to any degree, even as a friend, they’ll keep you prisoner and make it impossible for you to heal completely.

The only way the ignoring, and other phases of the narcissist stop, is when you take control and end the relationship yourself.

Give yourself the compassion and patience to get there. In time, you will find the courage to leave.

Can a gifted therapist help you too?

If you struggle with anxiety, depression, high-stress levels, relationship issues, or other specific challenges, one-on-one support from a therapist can help a lot.

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