no contact rule

Feeling Guilty About Implementing the No Contact Rule?

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You’ve probably heard of the ‘No Contact Rule’.  It’s long been touted as a way to ignore someone who broke up with you as a means to make them miss you and want you back.

Dating and relationship coaches all over the world swear by it.

But implementing the no contact rule with a narcissist is a different beast entirely.  Implementing no contact with a narcissist is not a strategy to win them back, it’s a way to seal them out of your life for your very survival.

Even armed with this knowledge, many targets of narcissistic abuse hold the mistaken belief that the narcissist will be forlorn and heartbroken.  They project their own feelings of longing and anguish onto the narcissist when, in reality, narcissists don’t feel those emotions in the least.  

Most folks who find themselves the target of narcissistic abuse believe that going no contact is the same thing as when the narcissist gives them the silent treatment.

What if he’s finally seen the light and feels remorse for how he treated me? 

Maybe she is trying frantically to get in touch with me to apologize, and here I am apathetically preventing her from offering her apology.

Does blocking the narcissist make you just as heartless and cunning as when they ignore you?  What if the “hurt little child” inside of them is reaching out to be rescued?  After all, most of us are aware that ignoring another person can have lasting, detrimental effects on their mental well-being.

Blocking the narcissist seems to portray the same lack of empathy as they’ve shown you.  And, in keeping them blocked and unable to reach out to you, perhaps you’re taking part in the same cruel tricks you wanted to avoid by blocking them in the first place!

Here’s the truth.  Every person who has entertained these thoughts and unblocked the narcissist opened the door to months or years of continued abuse.  And it will go on like this until you realize that the story you’ve been telling yourself – that going no contact makes you heartless and cruel – is the primary source of your pain because the beliefs that support the story are utterly and hopelessly false.

And of course, most of the guilt you’re feeling is exacerbated by the narcissist, constantly telling you how selfish and uncaring you are.  In this article, I set the record straight for you.

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The Difference Between the Silent Treatment and the No Contact Rule

There is one word that sets the Silent Treatment apart from the No Contact rule —intention.

There are very distinct, fundamental differences between the Silent Treatment and going No Contact.  One is used as a form of punishment and torture, while the other is a process of gaining freedom from abuse and manipulation. 

Below, I dissect the differences between the two so you can punt your unwarranted guilt out the window and get on with the very important task of healing yourself and your life.

Silent Treatment

The Silent Treatment has many different names including ostracism, shunning, cold shoulder, and social rejection/isolation.

It has been used for centuries by organizations, cults, churches, and communities as an effective way to punish or wreak vengeance for a perceived wrong. 

It was used by the ancient Greeks as a way of neutralizing someone thought to be a threat to the municipal or a potential ruler.

In the context of the corporate environment, it is strategically carried out by co-workers, supervisors, and managers alike and is considered a form of workplace bullying.  It’s often used to punish a whistle-blower for exposing unethical behaviors.

In romantic (and familial) relationships, narcissists use the silent treatment as an aggressive measure of control and punishment for something his or her partner did; a sadistic form of “time-out”, ostracizing the victim as motivation for them to “behave”. 

It is the ultimate form of devaluation, causing its target to feel voiceless, alone, dismissed, negated as a person; invisible.

Every time the narcissist gives you the Silent Treatment, you are diminished in small increments.  Over time, your sense of self is eroded and your fear of abandonment gets worse. 

If you weren’t aware of any abandonment wounds before meeting the narcissist, the insidious, yet progressive actions they carried out while tearing down your confidence brought any underlying abandonment wounds to the surface.

The intended result of the silent treatment is to put the narcissist in a position of power while conditioning you to keep silent and accept their unfair treatment.  Its message is, “Compliance, or else”. This can last from a few days to several weeks with the Narcissist often leaving the communal home.

Takeaway:  The Silent Treatment is the narcissist’s favorite manipulative tool because it offers several advantages simultaneously, including 1) it conditions you to “shut up and take it”, 2) it frees them up for the important task of grooming other supply, and 3) it allows them to play the hurt victim.

No Contact

In contrast to the Silent Treatment, going No Contact is not intended to be a form of punishment.  Granted, some targets of narcissistic abuse may periodically block the narcissist from being able to contact them, but this is often a vain attempt at teaching the narcissist a lesson

Any of us who’ve blocked the narcissist (only to later unblock them) in hopes of their finally “getting it” can attest to the futility of such a tactic.

No Contact in its true form is a very specific system of self-protection.  Those who implement No Contact have realized that the narcissist will not change and, therefore, neither will the narcissist’s abusive behaviors.  It is a very intentional approach for escaping abuse and ending the toxic effects of emotional and psychological manipulation.

However, the manipulative nature of narcissists, combined with their victim’s over-conscientious nature, results in the person who implements No Contact feeling like they’re a bad person.  They don’t want to make the narcissist mad or have them think they’re being punished. 

By all accounts, going No Contact requires the target of abuse to behave in ways that are completely foreign to them.

This is the very vulnerability that narcissists exploit, enabling them to push their target’s emotional buttons in order for the narcissist to get what they want from the situation.

Takeaway:  In spite of what the narcissist would have you believe, you haven’t violated their “intimate” relationship rules.  You haven’t triggered old wounds or behaved in unacceptable ways.  Even if you lashed out under the pressure of ongoing abuse, you wouldn’t have done so if not for their constantly pushing the envelope and trampling your boundaries.

The narcissist would like to give the impression that you expect too much from the relationship and that you make their life miserable with your “constant demands”, and so their reaction is to give you the Silent Treatment while having you accept and take the blame for their having done so.

The Bottom Line

It is your birthright to take a stand to detach from a toxic relationship to take care of yourself and heal.  You don’t have to prove to the narcissist that you’re a nice person by leaving the lines of communication open for them to attack at will, because that’s all they really want when they accuse you of being mean or—gasp—a narcissist! 

In fact, if they do accuse you of being a narcissist because you want to establish a safe space to disengage and rebuild, they are simply projecting their bad traits onto you, as they’ve been doing all along.

Going no contact is extremely difficult and it will hurt in the beginning, but it’s a beautiful thing. In the long run, your story gets rewritten with powerful truths, and you learn to let go of the false beliefs that have been holding you back and have kept you in a toxic relationship to begin with. You learn to create healthy and empowering boundaries for yourself and your life.

You can get started by grabbing your Beginner’s Healing Toolkit below.  

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Leave a Comment:

H H says January 19, 2023

WARNING: other people won’t understand your decision to go NC and will argue with you, especially if your abusers are relatives. Most folks expect you to leave abusive spouses, but change spouse to Mother or Father and the BUT BUT BUTs begin. Don’t cave. When they lecture “but this is your MOM!” answer “they should have remembered that too.”

Karen says September 28, 2021

I feel for many because once you do this the narc feels they are the victim. Our daughter is in this scenario. She loves her brother but we as parents now stand by her. Both her brother and partner never ask her how she no empathy yet the narc needs wants it all energy sympathy all contact we all do the running all to show our alliance. We as parents where the same chasing them helping them. I was the one who snapped heart broken my father had been the same . No trust left . You can try to please so much then you either snap or walk away they then play victim and can’t understand why you walked or snapped. They then become poor me what have I done after sadly you waited on them hugged them and nothing worthy of love. If anything is given back then they want practical gain for them and love is never given freely.

Jenns Starr says January 2, 2021

Just what I needed to read, having gone No Contact on NY’s day after some hoovering attempts over the Christmas period. I thought simply stone walling wld be enough, but every interaction effected me, disturbed my sleep etc because they made me confused or even angry. He even bragged how he dumped his latest gf on boxing day… Not someone I want in my life. And then, after I declined a NYE party for two as not feeling well, I was dropped like a hot potato. No wishing me better, no happy new year wish etc I finally was able to just see him for what he is and how he sees me – just an object and a fallback girl.

    Karen says September 28, 2021

    Yep Jenns be prepared to get nothing back. Lazy love and I wonder if love even gets into this. I wonder if they were ever shown love as a child. Thankfully I had people around me who did even if my father was selfish and put himself first. You as an adult then let others get way with things frightened that you will have a loss. I put up with our sons partner behavior frightened of our son walking away he started to behave the same as her. I ended up heartbroken it all came out I have now lost my son. Sadly our son has lost everyone except his sister and that is on a knife edge . His partner is even trying to stop that. I hope our son at least gets some love. He understand that I was ill but now over a year his partner has worked on him and is trying to stop what he has left. So sad and cruel.

Kathy says July 31, 2020

This is helping me, I am in day one of no contact after a few weeks of debating if I should do it or not. Even when I knew all the signs were there that this relationship was toxic. I am laying a huge guilt trip on myself and I want to be able to relax from all the crazy-making that had happened in my life for the past 9 months. Your article is a helpful step in the right direction for me.

Mia says June 30, 2020

I enjoy and have learned a lot from reading. But I still feel like I’m not finding information that talks about what I’m going through. I feel like I’m some kind of freak because everything I read is about people in a partner or married relationship. Mine is from my dad that even though I am grown I am still being abused and dealing with him and my brother that are extremely narcissistic and dangerous but I can’t get help because it’s not parter or spouse. I’ve tried desperately to find out if there are places women can actually go to that help them recover from the damage. I really have no one to turn to no other family or friends since I have been made out to be the problem and crazy person. I was so desperate that I did try to commit suicide but unfortunately survived. Which only made it even easier to prove I am crazy. If anyone knows a place that woman can go to get help not a woman’s shelter but somewhere that actually deals with narcissistic abuse. Plz help. Everyday my situation gets worse and more threatening.

Anonymous says October 13, 2019

Almost 2 months of no contact. Trying this again but it’s my new record. Of course it’s easier when they are in prison and you can block calls from the facility. Some days I want to give in but I remember how foolish I will feel for not seeing this through. I know I deserve better.

Working The 5 Phases of Trauma Recovery After Narcissistic Abuse - Kim Saeed: Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Program says September 25, 2019

[…] as your brain clings onto fragile memories, leaving you with an aching yearn.  You’ll convince yourself you overreacted to everything.  At the very least, you’ll find yourself seeking closure or an explanation.  But take […]

Anonymous says September 23, 2019

I find his random texts from different phone numbers annoying, although I never respond. If he doesn’t stop texting like every couple months I am changing my phone number.

    Karen says September 28, 2021

    Anonymous dear me how childish are these people they so infantile to do these things. What to you do with them they just can’t see it can they are a spiteful child inside a grown person.

Sunny Berkley says July 21, 2019

Hi. I write to you to say thank you so much for this article. You touched on things that many well meaning people skim over. Going no contact has been rough but it has made a world of difference to me. I see so much that I couldn’t see while involved with the narcissist. By the way I am a writer, too, with a pen name to protect my i.d. – writing is a great way to distract the mind in my opinion… check out The Broadmoor Affairs …it’s about a narcissist and I’m currently working on the sequel after a couple years of healing from abuse. Bye for now! Sunny

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Tiria says May 12, 2019

Ok , I left my partner of 21years exactly 2 weeks ago, I have not contacted him once since I left. I have received several messages from him. I received two messages shortly after I left begging me to tell him if I was ok and that hopefully I come to my senses. Then I received a birthday message and just said thanks! And then I received 2 texts wishing me happy mothers day!!! I sent a reply saying thanks and means a lot!!!!!!! Have I done the right thing! We have kids together and they live with him! He was just telling me that good or bad I’m a good mother etc etc and that he loves me. I know that replying has opened the door to him but what should I do… I cant have complete NC can I get advice from anyone in the same boat!!!!!!!!

Allie says May 3, 2019

I am still going no contact. I am having a hard time with not contacting him to inform him that we are going to divorce. In a normal relationship, I believe that this conversation would happen. Before going NC we had one last conversation and I had told him that I didn’t want to reconcile…he convinced me to wait on making a final decision due to my state’s divorce laws. I am wary of breaking NC to inform him of this but I feel “guilty” for having someone else inform him. He has used his sister to communicate with me at the beginning of going NC that “he didn’t think he could take me back” … I didn’t contact him at this point. He did bait me once and I did fall for it. We don’t have kids. We don’t own a home. The only thing we own is a car and I am walking away from it. I just have a hard time accepting that I can’t contact him … as an adult, I feel that I should be able to have a conversation and come to written terms of the divorce and proceed.

Heal Childhood Wounding Due to a Covert Narcissistic Parent - Kim Saeed: Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Program says April 25, 2019

[…] some, this realization may mean going no contact with their narcissistic parent(s). For others, it may mean developing healthier boundaries and a redefined notion of give and take […]

Chris says April 2, 2019

I just read the article on feeling guilty about no contact. My 3 adult children and I have done so for the past 8 years. We are still in touch with his family a bit, for events such as my daughters college graduation this May, and I get the guilt trip from his mother. “The past is past” “Why can’t you make divorce work?” etc Of course, he is remarried and has her convinced that everything is wonderful. Just wondered if you could comment on that.

Heidi Brix says March 27, 2019

Hi Kim
I want to go no-contact but we have kids together so it’s not really possible.

How do you go about that?

I use minimal contact. The only communication platform we have is a mail. I try only to respond to practical stuff. It’s still creates abuse though when we disagree and he accuses and guilt trip etc.

Patricia A Murray says March 27, 2019

This is imperitive

Aine says March 26, 2019

Thank you for this. I’m currently going ‘no contact’ and you’re right- I was feeling guilty- but this has strengthened my determination to break free completely for once and for all!!

Anonymous says March 26, 2019

Excellent article and spot on.

No contact works. And as time passes, the guilt subsides. Especially when you are learning about the ways of these slick, hip, manipulative creatures.

Thank you Kim for all that you do. Your dedication to the cause of helping all of us who have suffered at the hands of these evil creatures!

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