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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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1 comment
Patricia A Murray says March 27, 2019

This is imperitive

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