The early days with a narcissist can seem like the most exhilarating time of one’s life.
They can be very charming, fun, and come across as soul-mate material. Love letters, poems, candle-lit dinners, dreamy getaways, and insane chemistry can leave even the most composed person weak in the knees and dreaming of a fantastical future.
Everything seems like a fairy tale when—poof!–the narcissist vanishes. This disappearing act can last anywhere from a few hours, a few days, to a few weeks or more.
At the beginning of the relationship, these disappearances might come after a lover’s quarrel, but in other cases, they happen for no apparent reason. When questioned, the narcissist may chalk it up to their phone being out of service or an emergency that had to be tended to.
Over time, the narcissist disappears more and more, blaming you and your “intolerable insecurities, dreadful attitude, and lack of appreciation for them and the relationship”.
It becomes increasingly clear that these disappearing acts (a.k.a. Silent Treatments) are designed to punish you.
When you mention your desire that the two of you solve your problems in a more civilized manner, you’re pulled into unending circular conversations in which the narcissist plays the victim and has you apologizing even when you’ve done no wrong! (Which is a form of emotional blackmail).
Unbeknownst to you, these fights are often fabricated so the narcissist can subsequently implement the dreaded Silent Treatment.
You come to accept these frequent silences as a “normal” part of the relationship–though they set you into panic mode whenever they occur. Sometimes you resolve to give the narcissist a taste of their own medicine—ignoring their text and email tsunamis when they try to come back around–while other times you feel you might die if you don’t hear from them.
While all of this chaos is happening, you are so busy wondering why the narcissist is always unhappy that you may be missing a very important part of the big picture — a picture that includes a lot more than your crazy relationship dynamics.
The Silent Treatment and Secret Agendas
You see, while you believe you’re in love and trying to work things out, tolerating the narcissist’s moodiness and their “need to be alone”, they are generally in one stage or another of relationship with other people. You may not even be aware of these other individuals since narcissists are adept at hiding their double lives, sometimes for decades.
A few indicators that these clandestine affairs are taking place include your partner putting their cell phone on lock-down, their getting mysterious texts and emails at all hours of the day and night, or spending time with you 24/7 for several days and then vanishing for indeterminate periods of time.
Additionally, the narcissist may refuse to update their Facebook status to “in a relationship” and forbid you from posting any pictures, or only doing these things begrudgingly if you threaten to leave.
Another warning that the narcissist has another life (or lives) going on behind your back is their bringing up an ex who is obsessed with them or how they broke up right before you met and this ex doesn’t want to let them go. They may go as far as to say their ex is depressed or suicidal and the narcissist must let them down gently.
The narcissist just needs more time until they can finally get rid of their pesky ex.
What’s really going on is that the narcissist won’t let their ex go completely.
Even if the narcissist was the one to end the relationship, they will keep most, preferably all, of their exes in the queue. Even more disturbing is that those “glorious” times when they spend ten-day stretches with you is the time they are giving the silent treatment to their ex; and when the narcissist subsequently disappears from your life, they’ve gone to hoover their other supply!
The narcissist could well be dubbed The Constant Gardner because they are perpetually trolling for new targets, even though they always have a main source of supply. Furthermore, the narcissist is continuously ending relationships for various reasons, especially with those who require a lot of “maintenance” (i.e. normal human interactions) or have stopped giving the narcissist money or sex.
However, narcissists typically don’t let go of their exes completely. They’ve been known to contact old flames out of the blue, sometimes as long as ten years post-breakup!
If the narcissist in your life is playing these juvenile love games (e.g. disappearing, hiding their cell phone, accusing you of being overly jealous, etc.), then there is a very good chance that they are tending their Garden of Supply. But, you can turn the situation around by planting your own seeds of hope for a better future.
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