A lot of my posts recently are dedicated to dealing with dysfunctional relationships. I don’t want to lower your mood by any means, but feel it is important to talk about issues that are more common than people think.
For those of you who have unfortunately experienced dysfunctional relationships in your private life, you might have heard of the term ‘silent treatment’. People who suffer from narcissistic personality disorder, usually will shut people out that they are supposed to care about for long periods of time. This usually comes after an argument where the victim (spouse, partner, family member, friend) says or does something that the narcissist doesn’t like. This can be anything from a simple disagreement, to a criticism or to just refusing to do what the narcissist wants.
When the narcissist isn’t getting his/her way, he/she will use the ‘silent treatment’ to control his victim.
The silent treatment is a form of punishment, a way of attempting to control a partner or others into doing what he/she wants them to do. It’s a withdrawal of approval, and can generate much fear in people who are vulnerable to this.
Giving people the silent treatment means that a narcissist shuts down to them, closing his/her heart and refusing to interact with them or acknowledge their presence. He/she acts as if they’re invisible, not responding to them at all or giving them a very minimal and withheld response.
He/she hopes that in treating them this way it will give them the message that they have displeased him/her. They have done something wrong in his/her eyes and deserve punishment, deserve to have his/her “love” taken away.
Of course, what he/she is taking away is not love at all, since love is unconditional. What he/she is taking away is his/her approval, and for approval-dependent people, it is a powerful form of control.
When the narcissistic person decides that the silent treatment is over, usually because they need something from you again, they will then start to use what is known as ”hoovering”.
Hoovering is a technique that is named after the Hoover vacuum cleaner, and is used by Narcissists (and other manipulative people) in order to “suck” their victims back into a relationship with them. Hoovering is often done after the silent treatment is given or the victim has left them. This behavior often starts off subtle and unassuming, and is done through voicemail, text messages, email, phone calls, notes, other people, or through any other form of possible communication with the victim. Because the Narcissist knows the victim’s weak spots, they will generally tend to target these areas in order to reopen communication. Once communication is reopened, the Narcissist generally promises change–which never, ever happens for any length of time.
- Text messages pretending to be concerned: “How are you?”, “Hey, I’m thinking about you”, “I know things didn’t work out, but you really do mean a lot to me. I just want you to know that.”
- Text messages acting like nothing happened: “Hey stranger, long time no talk” or “Hey what’s going on?”
- Text messages on or about special occasions/holidays: “Merry Christmas”, “Hope you are having a good birthday–wish I could be there”, “Are you going to Molly’s wedding next weekend? If you’re going, I won’t go–I don’t want to upset you.”
- Text messages about the kids (especially if they’re not his): “I was at the park today and saw a cute kid that looked just like Jason. Just wanted to say I miss you guys.” or “I know you hate me, but please tell Ava that I wish her a happy birthday and I’m sorry I can’t be there.”
- Text messages about an upcoming event: “Hey, I know you said you never wanted to talk to me again, but Disney on Ice is this weekend, I was thinking about taking the kids.” or “Aerosmith is playing next weekend and I have an extra ticket–you wanna go?”
- Text messages about things you like to do that he’s never been interested in doing with you before: “Hey, there’s a vegetarian cooking class this weekend, you wanna go?” or “Wanna go wine tasting this weekend?”
- Text messages about bogus family illnesses or some sort of crisis (including his own): “I think I might have cancer, can you talk?” or, “OMG my mom just had a stroke.” or “What does a heart attack feel like? My left arm really hurts,” or, “I can’t handle this anymore, I’m going to kill myself.”
- Text messages that are supposedly meant for someone else, but sent to you by mistake: “See you in ten minutes xoxo” (Supposedly for his current girlfriend–sent to upset you.) “The boss just moved the meeting to Wednesday at 3pm.” (Supposedly for his coworker–sent so you feel a sense of obligation for the coworker.) Or, “Sam called and said John is in the hospital and to call him immediately.” (Supposedly sent to someone else, but sent to you so you feel a sense of urgency to get back to him.)
- Text messages that are guilt or pity inducing: “Can’t we work this out? Please give us another chance.” “What about the kids? You know how hard it is having divorced parents–why would you want to do that to them?” “I have a lot of issues. I get that now. I’ll get into therapy. I promise.” “My alcoholism is out of control. I need help.”
- Text messages about sex/deep connection: “I miss snuggling with you.” “You always be the love of my life.” “You are my soul mate, I’m sorry I let you down.”
- Text messages that attempt to flip the hoover back on you: “Did u just text me?” or “Did you just call me?” or “Did I just see you drive by?”
- Text messages, when all else fails, making bogus accusations to get some type of emotional response: “Why are you calling my mom and bugging her?” or “I just found out you cheated on me.” “I’ve moved on. You need to quit stalking me.”
All of these examples are just one big fat manipulation for you to open the door and let them back into your life. Don’t fall for it!
So far, in my personal life I have had recent contact from my narcissistic father, after a year of the silent treatment. Luckily I have decided on ‘NO CONTACT’ and even though it is still incredibly painful to see how destructive and insensitive my father is, being in control of what happens has been incredibly powerful in my recovery.
I have received 2 voicemail messages so far : Wishing me Happy birthday and asking me how I am.
I haven’t replied to either of them, as I know he doesn’t genuinely mean them..
He using ”Hoovering” as I am the only person ‘he thinks’ will help him. He is abusing my unconditional love & kindness to get his needs met.
Luckily I am recovered and will no longer play a part in his games.
Have you had an experience similiar to this? If not, do you have any friends that might benefit from this information?
Please re-blog this post if you think it could help someone.
Love Athina ♥
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