The Narcissist’s Use of Stonewalling vs the Silent Treatment

Updated on March 8, 2018

The narcissist's main objective is retaining control over their entire atmosphere. They love to be the mover and shaker of everything around them. When they feel like control is being lost, they will implement several tactics to regain their authority. Two of those are known as stonewalling and the silent treatment. Some individuals will cluster these techniques together, but they are unquestionably unique and used differently. Victims that have experienced this type of treatment are left feeling as though they have no say or opinion within their own relationship.


The Practice of Stonewalling

There is more than one motive as to why an individual with Narcissistic Personality Disorder would execute the stonewalling technique. The first motive for using this technique, is to invalidate a person as a form of punishment for what the narcissist perceives as a slight. It can be real or imagined. There is no acknowledgement of what the victim says and their presence is completely overlooked. This treatment is implemented at times to prevent or delay a request. Narcissists ensure that their needs are met and no one else is even taken into consideration.

For example, if you express your enthusiasm about taking on a new task or venture, but the narcissist does not want you to engage in that activity, you can experience this type of treatment. The narcissist can give you a blank look and may walk away from you without speaking a word about what was just stated to them. They will not pretend to be happy or excited like they normally do. They want you to “decide on your own” that it’s not a good idea for you to get involved in such an activity. They will act it like whatever your new venture is nonsense, and they will refuse to use their precious time to even mention it. It can literally be like conversing with a stonewall whenever the topic comes up. With a narcissist, what is important to you is never their concern because it is always about their needs and wants.

Many narcissists are good at mimicking human emotions, but not every type of narcissist has the talent to do that. A second motive behind using the stonewalling technique, is to conceal the fact that they are an individual with limited emotions. In addition, they also want to maintain their social power and superiority within a community. For example, at certain social gatherings, prominent doctors or lawyers generally received recognition for their great work. On occasion, have you noticed one of these people that just does not socialize well? They may even walk around with an expression of dominance on their face. Then once they are called over to join a conversation, they will acknowledge some things that are said, but the moment you mention anything that is beyond their range of emotion, they will excuse themselves. A lot of times the group is left wondering what was said that was so offensive that caused the person to abruptly leave. They control every conversation with the same technique, until those around them are walking on egg shells. Playing mind games with victims is how this type of narcissist fulfills his need for supply. After long, most conversations held with the narcissist is all business, without truly meaningful indebt interactions that require a reveal of their true personality.


The Never-ending Silent Treatment

The silent treatment is used by a narcissist as a form of punishment and a way to maintain control within a relationship. If the victim tries to assert themselves or set healthy boundaries, the narcissist will implement the technique. There are many people that use the silent treatment but cannot be considered a full-blown narcissist. So how would you differentiate the two? It’s very simple. When a non-narcissistic person gets into an argument or disagreement, they may decide to diffuse the situation by using the silent treatment. The duration is generally between a couple hours to a few days. Once they have reached a place where they can converse in a non-abusive, calm, respectful, and rational manner, they will continue the conversation and come to a resolution. It may not be the best course of action to take, but it can be effective in halting any form of abusive speech that was taking place.

When a narcissist uses the silent treatment, it can last for a few days to years. Literally years. The narcissist can ignore the victim’s presence while in the same room, or they will completely disappear and abandon the relationship for months to years. If you attempt to reestablish communication, it will not be accepted. A disappeared narcissist will be on the hunt for new supply that will not put up boundaries. Being with a narcissist is like being on an emotional roller coaster. Things are great and perfect in the beginning. They pretend that they love you and say all the right things. Then without warning they snatch all that away over a minor offense.

From personal experience, my narcissist used this method when I wanted to go back to college to obtain another degree. I explained what I wanted to do and he would simply change the subject to something else. Traveling for work was a normal occurrence for my narcissist, which made it even easier for him to come in and out of my life with ease. However, when he found out that I had enrolled in school after he invalidated my personal goal, he used the silent treatment. I did not hear from my narcissist for the entire two years while I was in school. I believe that the only reason that he even returned was to get supply because his was running low. With these types of people, it is better to move onto a new relationship where you will be loved and truly cared for.


Author: Andrea Schneider

Title: Silent Treatment: The Preferred Weapon of People with Narcissism

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Author: Unknown

Title: Stonewalling

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers


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        A nony mouse 

        8 months ago

        Stonewalling is not only used by narcissists, it can sometimes be used where the other person describes attempts to reason with them as nagging. So the usual story goes something like this: girl asks guy to help her with something either because it is beyond her capability or he is particularly good at the task. Guy says can't you see I am busy gaming. Guy finishes gaming, girl repeats request, guy says 'NO, I am watching soccer/baseball/snooker/whatever'. Sporting event finishes, girl repeats request to be told 'stop nagging, I am off to the bar'. Guy gets back drunk and in no fit state to sort problem out, goes to bed has a lie in. Girl acts all sympathetic to resultant hangover, but states that task still needs doing. Guy starts to feel better, pesters girl for sex, girl says job needs doing, guy says 'sure anything for you after a cuddle'. One thing leads to another, sex ensues. Guy has got the result he wants, but still does not do the job. Girl is now fuming, but guy's only response will be 'quit your nagging woman, you're giving me earache' Girl's only refuge is the silent treatment, because all other attempts at communication are not working.

        Well fellas, you want to know what the biggest turn-ons for women are, here they are:

        1) Don't belittle us by saying we are nagging, listen and act.

        2) Take responsibility and be a proactive partner.

        3) Make our lives a little easier, your washing and ironing is being done for you, dump your dirty clothes in the laundry bin. She cooks for you and the bins are too heavy for her to put out, don't expect her to struggle, be considerate and sort it.

        4) Be affectionate without any set expectation of sex being the pay-off for you

        5) When sex is on the cards, remember that as guys you are often some 20 minutes ahead of us in terms of physical arousal. When you push ahead with coitus before we are ready it is no fun for us, it becomes a chore and we all know how much people love chores!

        6) Remember communication is a 2-way process, talk with and listen to your partner.


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