By | May 7, 2009 634 Comments

The silent (but deadly) treatment

The silent treatment is not only silent, but can be deadly. Deadly, that is, to relationships. Deadly, more specifically, to the trust, love, safety, communication and intimacy that preserve and nourish relationships.

The silent treatment (also known as stonewalling) entails a partner’s (the silencer) passive-aggressively refusing to communicate with the other (the silenced). Unlike avoidance (a conflict-aversion defense), the silencer deploys the silent treatment with toxic purposes in mind.

The silencer’s aim is, above all, to silence communication. More specifically, it is to render the other invisible and, in so doing, induce in the “other” feelings of powerlessness and shame. (Note that the experience of powerlessness often evokes shame.)

The silent treatment is a statement of contempt, relating, “You aren’t worth the energy it would take me to acknowledge your existence, let alone your feelings or needs.”

The silent treatment tactically communicates, You have done something wrong, seriously wrong—wrong enough to warrant my repudiation of your existence.

Its message is menacing and extortive—menacing in its implicit accusation of guilt, and extortive in the lose-lose proposition it makes: either you confess to a “crime” (against the silencer) you may be unaware of having committed (a degrading concession), or, if you don’t, the silencer continues to blot you out.

The silent treatment is a technique of torture. This may sound hyperbolic, but human beings need (on the most basic level) recognition of their existence. The withholding of this recognition, especially if protracted, can have soul-warping consequences on personality. (Just consult attachment theory for proof of this.)

It is deeply disturbing to be silenced (stonewalled), especially by someone you love, or someone you believe (or want to believe) loves you. The silent treatment aims, therefore, to exploit a very deep, elemental vulnerability.

Understandably it is the kind of vulnerability from which one desperately wants relief. And the controlling, abusive silencer holds the cards—he can provide relief by deciding if, and when, to reinstate his recognition of your existence.

However, like many abusers, he may require something of you first–namely, your capitulation. From the silencer’s perspective, “capitulation” may involve his metaphorically bringing you to your knees, meaning he may demand that you appeal to, plead for and/or beg his forgiveness as a condition of his readmitting you into his good graces.

As noted, you may feel coerced into admitting something you didn’t do, say or mean. This, after all, is how false confessions occur: the accused feels so exhausted, disempowered and helpless to be heard against the monolithic accuser that, simply to escape the hell of being disbelieved, she relents (and confesses).

Or else she may begin to wonder, under the prolonged, accusatory assault, whether she’s crazy; whether maybe she is, in fact, guilty of a crime that not too long ago she was mystified and/or outraged to be accused of.

As I suggested in The Pathological Self-Confidence of the Sociopath, it’s not so hard to jar the confidence of, and foment doubt in, others. While we invest some degree of trust in our perceptions, that trust can be surprisingly fragile. Because we tend to be built with more uncertainty than certainty, we are prone, especially facing another’s prolonged, implacable invalidation, to feel self-doubt rising like flood-waters.

The abusive individual, whether narcissistic or sociopathic, exploits this natural psychological frailty. For this reason (and others) he will prize the silent treatment for its capacity to sow insecurity, dread, even terror, in its intended target.

(My use of “he” throughout this, and other, posts is a convenience and not to suggest that women are incapable of the behaviors discussed. This article is copyrighted (c) 2009 by Steve Becker, LCSW.)

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I found myself craving the simplest things: a sincere kiss hello or good bye, a good night before turning over to sleep, a smile when I put his dinner plate on the table , a pat on the butt to let me know I was his girl, a phone call during the day, for him to check my car once in a while – anything to show he was interested in Me – not just what I did for him.

When I didn’t get those things I became angry, withdrawn and gave him more reason to blame me for his unhappiness.

He made me miserable but now blamed me for what he helped create. And I took all the blame – because I should have been better.

I wanted to talk things out – but we fought. He didn’t want to hear my feelings -it seemed to always make him feel inadequate – but all I wanted was more of him – his time -for me and the kids. I needed help around the house and with family. I wanted him to be around – but he didn’t seem to be able to handle family life – he was always on the go.

I forgave an affair – only to forgive another years later. I believed he was working all the time and would even get up and put his dinner warmed on the table even at 1:00 am when he came home. We would sit and talk – the kids asleep – and those times seemed good -even bonding. Looking back – I guess they were just self-serving for him.

I had no idea he was coming home from someone else’s bed sometimes. Or any other activities that were more appealing than being home. He was living a double life and using work as an excuse. And I was working harder to be the perfect wife.

What could I have done differently? Would any of it have mattered?? He ‘s gone now and shows nothing but contempt for me.


Dear Newlife,

You may have known, suspected, had an idea, but lived like we all did, In Denial… the fact that you recall having to “Crave” things that otherwise come naturally in healthy balanced relationships was a red flag to you…when the jig was up …waiting for calls, a kiss, desire from him, attention….and none of that being forthcoming – was red flags flashing this is not what I deserve, this is not right…

You did what we all did…kept going, kept wanting to believe it was work, kept holding onto the littlest bits he gave you (chats in middle of night) – you were there, you were living “life” with him his way and what you thought would go back to the way it was (if it ever was healthy and balanced and all that good stuff).

You say hes gone, as if that is not a good thing… that the man who made bad choices, the man who is selfish, self-centered and deceitful and CHOSE to hurt you — is gone and thats not a good thing?

We expect contempt for us when we call them out – when we expose their truth. They couldnt handle it when they were in it, they certainly cant handle who they are and what they are about when exposed. Do we really care how they handle it or how they say they feel about us?

No. Because the truth is they didnt care about us during the relationship. At least not in a way to be willing to make good choices, healthy choices, strong choices for you (they cant even do that for themselves)…

BLAMING YOU FOR HIS UNHAPPINESS. What a theme. What a theme. Especially when you finally find the courage and strength to standup for yourself and speak up for yourself and respect yourself and love yourself enough to say ” GET GONE”. Im better off without you once I find myself and recreate myself again as the good, caring loving beautiful woman I am.

You could have done nothing differently. Except gotten out when the first or second affair occured or when craving the simpliest things began.



Thanks for your kind words. I look at who he is with now and wonder what makes her so worthy in his eyes? She is a fake- his first affair 15 years ago -more in between -and now her again.

She was married at the time and their affair broke up her marriage. He watched her with a guy half her age a few years ago -in front of her kids -right next door -and he seemed MAD at her that she would move beyond him.

Now he seems determined to be as difficult during the divorce as he was during our marriage.


This article really hits home for me! Last time I spoke to the S… he of course wanted money and denied that was the only reason he ever calls me anymore. So now he is not calling me, but what he doesn’t seem to realize is that I don’t care! I’m not sure if it’s because he’s done with me… I’m no longer an ATM machine, or if he is giving me the silent treatment. Thanks to articles like this I no longer feel as if I have done something wrong. In the past I certainly would have felt anxiety and would have “desperately wanted relief”, and probably would have called him! But with the education I have received here I’m on to him! Thanks! 🙂

Thank you, Steve, for another fantastic post. I’ve been getting all Buddhist on another thread, and here you are getting right down to facts.

Boy, do I remember this technique. I used to call it “starvation.” Except it was starvation with scorn. And what it really was was the capitulation game.

I have a poem I wrote early in the relationship that was about not being allowed to say “I love you.” I thought it was an exercise, something about making actions louder than words. And back in those days, I thought that his “Olympian distance” when I expressed my feelings was some other kind of exercise. But I couldn’t figure out what that was supposed to teach me, maybe self-discipline. (I’m big on mentors, falling in love with people who are going to teach me something. Little did I know.)

There’s a legal word — quashed — that’s exactly how he made me feel. Disqualified. There was something about me that just didn’t measure up to whatever it took to be acknowledged. What it took to be acknowledged, I learned really quickly was to give him something he wanted.

Again, thanks for this insightful and stimulating post.


I had the silent treatment from the s every time I brought up an issue. Never had a normal discussion for 7 years. Every time I brought up something, even pretty benign stuff, it ran into a huge wall of silence.

When the s had an issue, he would attack me interrogation style. I would sit there and he would either mock me or preach at me. Kind of the same way if a parent tried to shame their child.

For 5-6 years out of the 7 years we were together, he refused to discuss the severe changein his sex drive. The first year he was constantly into sex, but once we moved in together it all changed. He never initiated anymore. He had to watch porn to feel up to having sex. He rejected my advances, which became less and less. I asked him why, he would say that sex was over rated then refused to discuss any further and would give me the silent treatment.

Sometimes I would cry and ask him how he thought that we could get married if we could not even have any discussionds about anything. He would have this pissed off look on his face and walk away. He would talk about getting married and the idea made me feel devastated, yet I did not know how to get out.

Towards the end of the relationship I begged him to go to a therapist. He would refuse to discuss anything. He pulled crazy stuff at the end of the relationship, like bringing a drunk girl home in the middle of the night and such. When I expressed anger and wanted to dicuss it he said; “well it sounds like you want to end the relationship, so let’s call it quits” then he refused to talk.


Something Kathleen Hawk said I found interesting:

“I have a poem I wrote early in the relationship that was about not being allowed to say “I love you.” I thought it was an exercise, something about making actions louder than words.”

The opposite was true with the s I was with. He kept saying “I love you” million times a day and expected to say it right back at him. He would get pissed if I did not do it quick enough or often enough. He would would be a total control freak jerk, but he needed me to tell him that I loved him all the time. It was a form of control. Even though it is the opposite spectrum from what Kathleen Hawk experienced, the end result was the same: I felt quashed.


He would ask often if I loved him -typically before going to sleep at night. But he never said it often himself . There was a time he told me he stopped at a church to pray for our marriage. Another time some old guy at a lunch stop told him there was nothing in the world like coming home to a good woman – and my h said he was so glad he had me – I lived to hear things like that – yet he never wanted to BE with me – could not even walk beside me -always ran ahead. One time he told the kids he wanted to sit next to me in a diner booth – Christ why would THAT make me feel special – pathetic wasn’t it?

And yes I looked to him like he had so many things to teach me – his self confidence was alluring and sexy – I felt protected – he is intelligent and can be insightful for someone else’s problems – he was strong and his arms around me could make me feel safe – but I never was … damnit I am crying again…..

Ox Drover

Great article!

I have called this technique, which BTW I have USED on psychopaths, “the potted plant treatment.” Literally not giving ANY indication that you even know they are there, no body language no eye contact, etc. just TOTALLY IGNORING they are in the room, even if they speak to you. It drives them NUTS!

I actually think that is why NC works so well, why NC drives them bonzo! During the time that no one in the family (even my egg donor) was writing to my P son, he wrote every day, with adifferent technique in each letter—one day the pity ploy, the next day the anger ploy, etc. even writing to others to get them to call us and see if “we were okay.” He got no feed back at all and you could hear the desperation in his letters to us, and even in his letters to others (I did get to read some of those). They HAVE TO BE IN THE KNOW in the middle of everything and cutting them off is like cutting off their AIR supply.

Of course that is what they are doing to us with this passive aggressive (really more of an aggressive-aggressive) approach.

If they use the temporary discard against us or if they go NC with us as a punishment, they are using it as well.

My egg donor discarded me with disdain as a way of punishing me (while she thought she had supply from my X-DIL and the Trojan Horse psychopath) she didn’t NEED me any more to meet her needs for transportation and adoration.

As soon as the rest of her “army” of servants mutinied and she was alone, of course, she came back to me with open arms ready to “forgive me” for all of the nasty things SHE had done TO ME, and would allow me to serve her….

Though the psychopaths can’t love and therefore the “silent treatment” (essentially NC) doesn’t work with them the way it does with us, none the less, NC, the ultimate silent treatment, does hit them where they live, it takes away their ability to manuver….which is frustrating to the max for them. If we refuse to listen, how on earth can they get us to do what they want us to? How can they control us?


Dear Newlife,

I hear you. I can relate too. I think so many of us can. I too learned some things from my ex-tox — and let me tell you I was confused and resentful and actually bitter about that — imagine me actually benefitting from some of his traits — (although the difference was he crossed the line with his selfishness and awareness of others…I had to learn a healthy selfishness, and healthy self-confidence and to PROTECT MYSELF not FEEL protected by another…sure once I learned to protect myself from emotional and physical abuse, and trust myself, I could fall into the arms of another and enjoy it — without any need to rely upon it or need it.

A bet a lot of our ex’s walked ahead of us and did things that were about them or for them… its not personal…they are selfish in a bad way – unhealthy creatures…and they exploit and take out much of their own internal dissapointment and self-loathing and insecurity on their partner (once the mask comes off) – eventually they just start to blame and twist and turn scenarios – and we are so kind and giving and caring and without SELF-ANYTHING, so we flounder and think its about us, because of us..We question ourselves, what weve done what we can do…NOTHING..NOTHING …NOTHING – its about them!!!

He doesnt necessarily think she has more worthy of him than you – or “worthy” at all – she is just “easier” than you …to manipulate, to fool, to deceive, to control….she is merely another victim.

Newlife, he is no trophy, girl! Nothing to be proud of to be with right now…nothing to miss…except the illusion of what all his (could have been good traits -but werent) selfish traits, deceit, bad choices, etc…but what you remain remembering the possibility of what he could have been would have been and illusive was to you. When real life moments intervened into your union – he opted to make bad choices, hurtful selfish choices — he no longer gets your beautiful being and soul. And I hope you never want to give it all away to someone who is clueless about you and life!!!

Sure from the outside looking in he’s got it all. But Newlife, he LOST it all. Same old same old life he is living just with another face (they dont change who they are just cuz they have a new partner..just takes time and circumstances and how much self -value, and self-respect the new partner has — until the curtain falls again – or they remain in a dysfuncational unhealthy situation behind closed door and appear on top of the world to the outside world!

Where will you be? Hopefully onward and forward with your newfound freedom and NEWLIFE!!!!!!!! Hang in there. Need some more clarity about what was…and what you could still be with right now — and what you can give and do for YOURSELF now that the creep is creepin elsewher!!!!!

Elizabeth Conley

As Oxdrover points out, “No Contact” is an extreme form of the silent treatment. The only difference is, we want nothing from the S/P/N. S/he can’t get back into our good graces. It’s over. NC is a way clear of the relationship. The silent treatment is a way of exerting control within the relationship. It really doesn’t belong in a relationship between healthy adults.

This is why it’s unethical to be half-hearted about NC. You have to make up your mind that it’s over.

In a way, I used the silent treatment just before I went NC. If the S had changed his behavior and offered me basic courtesies, plus refrained from slandering me, I would have continued to do a few administrative tasks for him. So in the beginning, my withdrawal was a form of the “silent treatment”. I would exchange brief pleasantries with him and do minor administrative tasks, as long as he was polite to my face and refrained from slandering me behind my back. Unsurprisingly, he was unable to exercise that kind of self control. After a few weeks of his continued bad behavior NC began in earnest.

Was this fair? I don’t care! Did he think of it as getting the “silent treatment”? Probably. I’m pretty sure he didn’t understand that my form of the “silent treatment” was a last ditch attempt to negotiate minimal civility. Without minimal civility, he could not expect to enjoy even casual social contact with me and my family. I would have spelled this out to him, but he had a pattern of being too arrogant to listen, and too contemptuous to believe what he was told. I used the “silent treatment” because words were wasted on him.

Any way, I agree with Steve that “the silent treatment” has no place in a sane relationship. Unfortunately, I think it’s a valid tactic for negotiating with a nut.

Reflecting back, I realize the S gave me the silent treatment a few times. I was blissfully unaware of the tactic. I relished those days, because it meant I didn’t have to deal with him. Someone once wrote that narcissists ignore people to punish them, not knowing that healthy people are relieved to be ignored by a narcissist. As far as I was concerned, the S’s silent treatment was a delightful quiet spell. Poor S! The silent treatment doesn’t work very well on preoccupied, overworked introverts longing for a bit of peace.


I started reading this, got to the end of paragraph 3 and thought WHO WROTE THIS?! Because already I could tell it was so dead on right! And I had to smile when I saw it was Steve…again!

This is such a powerful post, so validating. Not only in terms of how I was treated as a child….but also what is going on at the toxic work environment I left 9 months ago. One third of the staff has called me, saying they’ve lost their self confidence, they are full of shame….and this bog made me realize those feelings are DIRECTLY related to the powerlessness that is their reality.

And of course this blog was ABSOLUTELY dead on with my BAD MAN. Added to my list of self-defense rules is when someone is giving me the silent treatment LET THEM. I now recognize it for what it is and that they (the silent one) is a person to try to avoid…no matter what seems to be hanging in the balance (love, money, a promotion, security, a miraculous cure to a life threatening disease) because interacting with venomous creatures, even when you know how to avoid getting bit, is hyper-vigilent, tiring work and a huge time suck and happiness drain….and nothing, NOTHING good ever comes from them.

I’m going to print this post and reread it whenever I’m tempted to let someone manipulate me with this! Also, it is so validating it brought tears, but good tear.

Ox Drover


QUOTE: “the silent treatment has no place in a health relationship”

SO RIGHT ON! However, as a manuver in dealing with one that for whatever reason you cannot avoid, it is great.

My X-BF-P shows up at various living history events, and there is no way I can prevent him from doing so, but I refuse to “acknowledge” his presence even with body language, much less speaking to him. THE POTTED PLANT TREATMENT, i.e. “the silent treatment.” It works, they become uncomfortable.

If I ever encounter my egg donor in public again, I will do my best to give her the POTTED PLANT TREATMENT as well. Last time I was so shocked and enraged at her attempt to TRIVALIZE my pain I did respond back to her (which of course didn’t do any good) but I will make better efforts in the future to NOT respond, and will avoid places she might show up, but if it does happen, THE POTTED PLANT TREATMENT is the best I can do.

It is a huge tiring work and emotional suck to do it, but it is getting less of a hard task the more I am away from her and the X BF is a non entity now, so it takes no effort to give him the silent treatment.

I got an email from a friend of mine who was the X GF whose house he burned and she is healing and actually gave him the potted plant treatment the last time she ended up seeing him at a living history event. TOWANDA! I also suggested that she come here to LF for some additional healing.


Learnthelesson said:

“Sure from the outside looking in he’s got it all. But Newlife, he LOST it all. Same old same old life he is living just with another face (they dont change who they are just cuz they have a new partner..just takes time and circumstances and how much self -value, and self-respect the new partner has until the curtain falls again – or they remain in a dysfuncational unhealthy situation behind closed door and appear on top of the world to the outside world!

That’s right on…couldn’t agree more.
This is exactly I keep reminding myself if I ever think about the s.


PS My mom would literally stop speaking to me as a YOUNG child, sometimes for even a couple of weeks. I can remember all the begging, apologizing, etc. I did to get try to get her to speak to me again. It was extreme emotional abuse.

Luckily, even as a kid, I somehow figured out there was something wrong with her.

But I was amazed to see myself fall for that same tactic as a 56 year old adult with a BAD MAN. I was crying, pleading, in anguish, recognized it was just like my mom had treated me, but I was as desperate for what I thought he had to offer as I had been as a kid for a mother’s love.

But understanding those patterns isn’t the key to freedom from repetition. The key is, I think, your earlier post about what red flags did you ignore and why. Then if one can translate that into a list of personal self-defense rules, one can get back to loving life.

Blogs like this one help people recognize the particular red flags they may be blind to….cruelty blind spots. The cruelty is right there, but you can’t see it….just like a car can be right beside yours, but you can miss seeing it due to the blind spot in the way your mirror is adjusted and so you change lanes and …………..CRASH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


My mom used to do the same. She was the perfect grooming for me learning the ways that would make me more vulnerable later in life to sociopaths.

She would give me the silence treatments for days. Or she would lay in bed turned against the wall for days, when she would have depressive episodes. She would also blackmail with suicide often.

My mom is NOT as sociopath. She is borderline with narcissistic tendencies. Almost as bad though. But there is a difference, mostly on being able to feel. Borderlines feel to the extreme.

Now I see how my mothers silent treatment paved the path to the s’s silent treatment.


Narcissists, sociopaths, borderlines, psychopaths…they share many manipulative tactics.


Is this why N/S h says he doesn’t feel anything for me?

Maybe Never did – they only last the honeymoon stage?

He says I ruined the marriage because of who I am.

Are there No real deep feelings – although he does cry. ??? Leaves my daughter messages and you can tell he is crying late at night. He misses her – or is he missing her attention?

Although the tears are for him – he doesn’t ask much about her and her life – which is quite busy at 15.


I buckled under the “silent treatment” for so many years before I actually “got it”.

I think I lulled my S boyfriend into a false sense of security, thinking that I would always “come running back”.

When I finally woke up and realized that HE was the problem, I became empowered and was able to enforce NC.

It was EXTRA effective, because he never thought I would actually be that strong. It completely UNHINGED him, and it also made him ANGRY.

He would make bizarre phone calls in the middle of the night. He damaged my property, which scared me. Because when a man is damaging everything around you, it is just a matter of time before he gets around to YOU!

I got away. Praise God.


Another thing I like about this post is that Steve writes that the abuser “exploits this NATURAL psychological frailty.”

It is SO good to read something that doesn’t imply that something is missing or wrong, etc. with the victim. YES, we can learn more about how to protect ourselves from the ABUSIVE person….but this post confirms that a mentally healthy, loving individual can get their minds and hearts messed with big time by these abusers. There are all kinds of things that can mitigate against that happening, but sometimes there is the “perfect storm” in our life when an abuser hits us with something that two years earlier wouldn’t have phased us, even though we were still the same person with the same childhood issues, etc.

Would Patty Hearst ever robbed a bank had she not been subjected to those abusing, mind manipulating evil people?

And I wish I knew more about Elizabeth Smart. It seems her mom’s advice helped her a lot, which was basically, that man has already stolen much from you, don’t let him steal another minute more from you now. She had one or two sessions of therapy, that was it. I don’t think she repressed it all. I bet she is truly over it and has moved on!

You know what helped me get over an attempted physical rape? (It actually impacted me more than a former successful rape as it was a very frightening experience.) A comedy class ….where the instructor helped us make a comedy routine out of our most traumatic memories. Isn’t that interesting? I poked great fun at my reaction. I poked fun at my post traumatic symptoms. And it was hilarious. I can get people laughing so hard they double over. And somehow it MINIMIZES what he did….gives me POWER over the situation. I know some of you are thinking, what a big dose of denial. But actually it is waking up to reality. If I think the attack is about to happen again when the lights suddenly go out….THAT is being disconnected from reality. And it IS funny to think that suddenly I am convinced that this guy from another continent has somehow found me again and found the money to get over here and managed to figure out how to turn my lights off undetected by five dogs and is about to pounce on me. You can make that pretty funny! And laughing at it makes it go away.

Laughing at something minimizes it. That is why it HURTS if someone pokes fun at us when we ARE hurting. But if WE do it to OURSELVES, it is signally to ourselves, this is in the past. It was just a part of my life that is over. It doesn’t define who I am. I can laugh at it, at myself now. I’m OVER IT!!! That comedy instructor took us from tears to laughter. The first time we told our stories, we were crying. The last time we told our stories we were laughing.

But I can guarantee the last telling would not have been funny at all to our abusers!!! It is shouting “The emperor has no clothes!!!”


I don’t know if this site made it into the referal List?


Steve said

“Because we tend to be built with more uncertainty than certainty, we are prone, especially facing another’s prolonged, implacable invalidation, to feel self-doubt rising like flood-waters” –

I have learned with certainty that self-doubt simply cannot exist in my relationships anymore as much as I strive for dishonesty, and selfishness and ignorance not to exist within me anymore, there is no place for self-doubt when something feels wrong. It is.

Steve said

“The abusive individual, whether narcissistic or sociopathic, exploits this natural psychological frailty. For this reason (and others) he will prize the silent treatment for its capacity to sow insecurity, dread, even terror, in its intended target.”

I am learning how not to become an intended target. By learning to be certain and aware of who I am and what I deserve. So I dont expect to receive the intentional silent treatment anymore, let alone stick around for it to continue. I am learning that others have the choice to be an abusive individual, but I have the choice to protect myself and stop. change direction. Life is so much more simplified. No wondering, just believing in what I have deemed good treatment and bad treatment.

Thank you for reminding me that taking stock and revisiting my past experiences/vulnerabilities, actually strengthen me and protect me and rid me of them. The silent treatment for me…was deadly to my sense of self. Now it will be a red flag for me to act upon and…stop me from staying in an abusive relationship and I will change direction toward peace and quiet!


This is one of the best articles I have read so far on psychopaths..and yes it does explain why NC works so well.

good grief

The silent treatment is the lamest thing on the planet. It is so freaking shallow. My S called me 8 1/2 weeks ago, told me she loved me, missed me and that she’d call tomorrow and I haven’t heard from her since. Literally unbelievable. I didn’t even know she was an S until she pulled that one on me and that got me to this site where I connected many more dots to arrive at my suspicions about her quite possibly being Cluster B of some sort. GOOD GRIEF! I found myself wondering today, if these people are so evil, why isn’t in a little more common knowledge that people like this exist. I know I for one had never heard of anyone having these kinds of capability of human destruction with no remorse and they could be right under your nose, right in your bed and you have no idea until its too late, they already got you hooked. I know for me this is a lesson learned, and despite all Ive said I AM STILL resisting the urge to reach out to her with an email. Mind you I said still resisiting. I just wish I had heard a story like this before and knew about red flags and all that stuff. I understand that my overlooking some things were naive on my part but if only I knew, if only I knew…If only I knew I wouldnt have gotten so damn emotionally invested. Damn she sucks. Sometimes when I step back and look at what actually happened here, I am blown away that it happened. Blown away that she could just stop talking to me PERIOD. DONE. NO REASON. THAT IS CERTIFIABLY INSANE, NUTS, COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS. How can anyone treat someone that they even care about as a friend that way, nevermind a lover.

I am starting to understand that I will not understand, but yet I continue to think about writing her everyday, it is madness. Why in the world would I give her the time of day after what she has done, and yet I still write, and think about sending it, and have dialogue with her in my head (sometimes yelling) on a daily basis and she goes on about her merry way as if I was a mirage. I try to tell myself she was a mirage. She never existed. IT was all a fairy tale, AND IT WAS! More like a nightmare. this may be pointless rambling, but I needed to vent, and where better than here.

It is just so unbelievably irrational…I cant imagine someone that I thought I knew, lived with and loved, being capable of being such a stupid human being and for what. How much effort would it hae taken to pick up the phone for 5 minutes one time in the last 8 weeks to say “hey, I’m sorry, ive had a change of heart we’re done”
or the 2 minutes it would take to type those words. BUT NO, are you kidding me, after loving this girl to death and helping her in many ways I’m not even worth that! Are you kidding me. IT is complete and utter lunacy. I thought this girl was smart and had a good heart where she turned out to be SO DUMB AND HAVE A HEART MADE OUT OF STONE. Sad but true. I have made a million excuses for her as to why she still hasnt contacted me and I ran out about a million excuses ago. What a bummer. And I still work at it, just thinking about it is working at it, it would just be nice to get paid with something for all of the work I put in in that respect I am like a slave to it. I know its a process, I know good days and bad and I know I’ve been doing beter lately I can tell, but I have such a love/hate relationship with this human being, and she has neither with me, she has a nothing relationship with me. It just sucks that all of my good memories, which most of the physical memories are, don’t go away and it makes it all the more difficult to understand how she doesnt remember. Wasn’t she there? Whackjob or not, fun is fun, good chemistry is good chemsitry, etc…right?

good grief

I keep asking myself “what I am missing?” I know they are different in so many ways, but still how is it possible?? I know they know the difference between right and wrong, gratitude and ungratefulness, even if they dont care, enough to pretend they do for a few measly moments out of their treacherous empty lives to at least HUMOR that person that I’m sure they can recognize HAS FEELINGS and DID DO THINGS FOR THEM. WTF?

good grief

why is that too much to ask? Or I cant even ask becasue I cant even talk to her. The term unbelievable gets thrown around a lot, but this whole thing, for me has been without belief in what has occurred, literally…U-N-B-E-L-I-E-V-A-B-L-E

numerous 4 letter words chugging through my brain right now like a high speed train


I know, sometimes I can’t wrap my head around it either. It helped me to understand they are predators, stalking us like mountain lions, actually preying on us, using up everything but the bones and then just walking away. I agree with you that she could have AT LEAST said good bye, something! She’s a human being for God’s sake, how can people feel nothing? They must feel something… rage, anger, if they can feel that, how can they not feel anything else? I just always thought that other people had the same emotions as I do, but I know now that that is wrong wrong wrong.


Good Grief:

You are going to be just FINE.

We need to find you a NICE girl, when you are ready.


GG ,

When you can wrap your head around the fact that when things are either serious or difficult or challenging or not in their favor….they dont act or react the kind courteous gracious way you would, or you would expect someone to.

But when they are in the fun moments, the easygoing, freespirited times they know how to live it up with us, they know how to turn on the charm, and live in the moment of the fun times, non-commitments, chemistry abound, talk the talk….but whoa there…actually walk the walk….well thats another ball park for them…

But when you actually step out of who you are, how you would handle things, the way you would call and say its over….they just deal with it differently , depending on situation and accusations…they go NC, or disappear for a while, or go full force with turning on the charm, or go off on you emotionally and/or physically.

For many, they often opt not to say Goodbye, so as to leave the door open for down the road when they are in a dryspell or desperate or of the belief that you will fall for them all over again…maybe their motive is they need more money again, or they want to use you for the sex again, or they miss the thrill you provided who the heck knows….twisted, toxic people.

They think of themselves at this stage of the story. They just fulfill their basic needs, they move on, they avoid making contact, risking more exposure and having to deal with serious conversations and long drawn out ‘face the music” time – that just choose not to deal with. They are LAME.

You keep saying someone you thought you knew. You do now know her very well – the real person. In the beginning she was masked or on the far far off chance she had a change of heart and no courage to tell you, but either way you did get to know her very well the last several months. And from what you shared, you knew her and witnessed some bad treatment but probably denied it because you wanted her to be the person she falsely presented herself to be in the beginning of the relationship.

The thing is they dont really care about anything except themselves when all is said and done.

Glad you are venting and processing and figuring out the reality of the situation more and more.



You should be a therapist on this subject. Maybe you already are, for all I know.

You are GOOD!


good grief….
No one seems to be on right now and I hear your pain so I am going to take a shot at this. I’m sure that you have been told all about the S traits and behaviors.

But sometimes when we don’t understand…We don’t understand. It takes a lightbulb moment. We just don’t get it.

Think of a LOVE scene from the most STEAMY romantic movie that you have ever seen. We all have our favorites. You pick yours. One of my personal favorites is Legends of the Fall. Brad Pit is making love to his dead brothers girl and I swear the chemistry between them is something I “feel” no matter how many times I watch that movie.
Yet when the scene is over actor and actress walk away from the scene without ever feeling an ouce of feeling. It was a well ACTED scene. Yet it draws us, the audience in as if it was real.

This woman you fell in love isn’t who you think she is. You fell in love with the illusion she CREATED. She “acted” out the part.
WHO she really is, is what you see now. A cold, calculated, woman who doesn’t return your emails or phone calls.

There is no closure. (from her) You will NEVER recieve a sincere I am sorry from her. She isn’t sorry. You have got to make your OWN closure for the ending of this relationship.

Just like in the movie, the chemistry, the love scene, its all an illusion.
She instictively knew what you wanted and she became that woman to draw you in. BUT SHE NEVER WAS THAT WOMAN. What she did is not excuseable. So you don’t have to make excuses for her.

Heal yourself. If you contact her it is just more fuel for the fire. Somehow find the “positives” that lies in the fact that you didn’t loose years of your life with this woman. Or have children with her.
Good Luck.


Haha Rosa…

If you met me year and half ago — you would have escorted me to a therapist upon saying hello to me!!

Im learning as Im typing…and just sharing what Ive learned along the way from experience..

Like you and all of us…School of hard knocks with this topic!! 🙂



That is so right on. You need to be a therapist, too.

I am using your post when I talk to my brother about his psychopath wife.


As always another fantastic post that I can so relate to, as well as everyone’s experience here.

The silent treatment is one of the most saddest forms of psychological punishments because it leaves us so manipulated and confused. It is usually that push, pull, words followed by no actions. In my case it was allways….”I love you” and then the silent disapearing act.

Actions do speack lowder than words, and when I learned to listen to the tone of voice, and read body language, I started to predict much better when I was about to be “punished”. Newlife describes the walking ahead, feeling special because they give us a hug, or sit next to us or any form of affection….I know it all. And sadly I learned it at an early eage with my father.
So when my x-S used these tactics on me they seemed “natural” go figure.

The pain of NC cuts deep both ways…and I fell off the wagon today…had an itch I had to scratch…. I know the concequences….I’m in pain again. I should have listened to OxDover’s advise about “treatiing them like a potted plant” , because when I did in the past it gave me power and I knew that the NC cuts the core of their S psychy as much.

Peace to all.


Witsend- Great analogy with Legends of the fall to GG. This helps me as well to get the picture.
In reading these posts, some painful memories came back, to the point of making me feel kinda sick. THe thought of the N/P denying me attention for the intent of punishing is so obvious now. He told our pastor that when he cheated on me with the internet porno skank he met for sex on his lunch hour, was because he was mad at me at the time! I remember being so pathetic like a little puppy begging for attention from him. Even the slightest positive comment I held on to for dear life!!

When I was growing up my mom somehow made me feel that I would get more attention/better treatment from her if I looked prettier. If I looked ugly (in my mind) she would be more abusive, meaner in some way. Not sure how that manifested. My mom wasnt severely abusive, not like some of yours (so sad to read) but nevertheless, it affected me. So with the N/P I felt I could NEVER be pretty or even acceptable enough for him.

As messed up as it sounds, I found myself being sad that I wasnt prettier, in better shape, younger ,etc cuz that may make him happier and treat me better. Sick huh?
With him, I began working out 6 xper wk, While taking care of children, a business, a large home, while living with such a demented mind f’er ! In the days of me OBSESSIVELY working out at gym, with a trainer, doing classes/cardio/weights,,,blah blah blah.
I ,at 110 lbs. dripping wet- The N/P grabs my arm and says with a vicious evil smile- You STILL have flabby arms!!!
He exceled at the stonewalling game to make me feel insignificant. He purposely ignored me when his children or parents were around, left me out of family outings, and bragged continiously to anyone who’d listen about how he ran things around here! Excuse ME??
He was even a control freak about the refrigerator, I got griped out if an item wasnt put back into its exact spot. He was militant about the stupidest things Ive ever seen. Just makes me sick that I was like a child, so desparate for positive enforcement from him. ALmost every half ass compliment he gave me, he would later come back and critisize the very thing he “approved” previously. Sex and affection was doled out as he saw fit. I heard the “i always want you, then he’d turn over with blank stare bored look, move to other side of bed OR other room if I requested cuddling, or anything from him. Thanks for allowing me to vent. I will move forward and never stick around to be D&D’ed by another S.



“I got griped out if an item wasn’t put back into its exact spot.”

Have you seen the movie “Sleeping with the Enemy” with Julia Roberts? That refrigerator business he was pulling on you is VERY “Sleeping with the Enemy”.


Steve Becker you hit the nail on the sociopath head again. Example: He is 6 hours late coming home – so yes I am pissed again and know it will not do one bit of good to talk to him or ask himwhy? where? what? who? so I just go silent and then he get’s pissed and sleeps on the couch and before to long I am getting the silence treatment from him and asking him to forgive me for it so he will at least come to bed. What a nasty vicous cycle it was. In the end no contact is the how we find our sanity again. No contact means for ever and ever amen..


Good grief,
Someone said earlier that you are addicted to this person like a heroin addict to heroin. Its the truth. I know because i do it too. You are setting them up like they are your God or Higher Power. Is there something else you are addicted to?n (sugar, nicotine, food…whatever), try to see that the person is the same (a drug), and you may be able to get some clarity.


Rosa re: sleeping with the enemy, I dont think I’ve seen the movie. I might should get it, probally make me furious all over again. He had an innate ability to make me feel that I was so incapable, that I couldnt boil water correctly. Even said HE could run MY business better than I can. That really rubbed me the wrong way. I argued viciously with him on that and several other idiotic comments he’d make. Always made me feel like I was in some sort of weird competion with him on everything. Felt like I constantly had to defend myself. An undercurrent of uneasy, uncomfortable, and something aint rite…

ember halo

my S did something similar… he wouldn’t talk to me, would be obviously upset about something but get angry & snippy if i asked what, wouldn’t talk to me, would turn his back on me to watch tv, but would mutter under his breath whenever he walked by or left the room. whenever i asked him what he said, he said “i wasn’t talking to YOU, i was talking to myself!”

he talked to himself more than he would talk to me, and the more he knew it drove me nuts, the more he’d do it.

he did the “i love you” with an expectant tone & get mad if i didn’t say it back immediately, in the right tone. or if we were saying goodbye & i hadn’t said it, he’d say “well, i love you too” kinda sarcasticallly.

even remembering that kind of crap, i’m still having a really hard time right now–i feel all weepy. got pictures off my camera to show the lawyer the damage he left in my house, but there were older ones on there of us–some of the “good times” and i just feel really alone. it’s my 30th birthday (well, technically it’s not anymore) and none of my friends could hang out. i went to the bar by myself & drank a beer by myself on my birthday. i felt so pathetic. i feel so alone. i miss him even though he totally messed up my life & me and i don’t even know WHY!!! why would i miss HIM??? it makes me feel even more pathetic. like i’m addicted to being treated like crap. maybe i just feel like any acknowlegement of my existance–be it good or bad–is better than none.

ember halo

am i doing the right thing?!? is he REALLY not capable of caring??? or is something wrong with ME? can he just not deal with me?? he’s not the first to claim that i’m so horrible to be around that something (alcohol, pot) some sort of inebriation is necessary to cope with being around me…
pictures & videos of him & our baby… he seems to love her… he seemed to love me a lot of times…
didn’t help that his mom called me & played the song he wrote me on the message…
i feel like i’m lost, drowning…
it’s like wanting a cigarette so bad, when you’re quitting because of your health…


Yes,ember halo, thats EXACTLY what it is! Its wanting to be acknowledged on your birthday (even if its bad!) because you weren’t acknowledged as a child or for that matter, your whole life,, and YES right again…its exactly like wanting an addiction when you know how bad it is for you…How do I know? Because I am EXACTLY the same.


Happy Birthday Ember!!!


Happy birthday Ember!

Think of this birthday as being the begining of a new life with out addicition and without pain.

Ox Drover

Dear Ember,

You got the BEST BDpresent ever—RID OF HIM! There is nothing “wrong” with you, it is ALL WRONG WITH HIM.

Hold on to that thought! Repeat it like a mantra when you feel down. HE IS THE LIE. Happy BD!and a belated welcome to LF, this is a healing place. Stay around and go back and read the older archived articles. It will help you “get it” and to heal! God bless you!



Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday dear Ember Halo,
Happy Birthday to you! Cha Cha Cha!!

Just think you dont have to share your special day with someone who randomly wouldn’t talk to you, would turn his back on you to watch tv, but would mutter under his breath whenever he walked by or left the room. whenever you asked him what he said, he said “i wasn’t talking to YOU, i was talking to myself! And he damaged your house!

You raise a very good point Ember…. when we are alone and feeling lonely and sad – we forget when we were with them and yet feeling all alone and sad — and we choose to remember the “Way back when” times with them and get stuck right there in those memories — never really allowing ourselves to stick to the reality of the bad, unhealthy, dysfunctional times. Its normal for us to do that. But eventually we realize to be with them equates to way more bad, unhealthy dysfucnctional times.

Bad acknowledgment (negative attention) is something alot of us settled for…got use to…You will not settle for that CHIT ANYMORE. Even if there were no others left on earth – you can give yourself positive attention, and acknowledgment and build yourself up again. You are worthy of GOOD EVERYTHING! F HIM!!!!!!!!!!!! He wasnt consistent with goodness and love. He picked and chose when he wanted to be a MAN and when you could have “crumbs”…. He is the one that is horrible to be around – so what does he do – blames it on you!!!!!!!

May this year be ALL ABOUT YOU!!!!!!! You will get through this!!! Stay strong!


p.s. Ember…..

Can I just say one heck of a TOWANDA to you !

“i went to the bar by myself & drank a beer by myself on my birthday”

Now, I have to add as long as this doesnt become a habit…or too many drinks :)) But this is Towanda at its highest! Right now you viewed it as pathetic and lonely and awful because of the place you are in…but some day you will be able to view it as empowering, self-confidence and simply being able to enjoy the moment with the most special person to you in your life — YOURSELF.

This year, I, for the first time ever , went to a movie by myself (I LOVE YOU MAN)…. go see it…I actually was amazed by the portrayal of an honest , healthy relationshp (sprinkled throughout scenes of the movie) and the way the couple interacted….ANYWAY…I would have never gone by myself before…never even would have considered it…(why, Id have a big sign on my head…ALONE, PATHETIC, DUMPED….

NOPE. Its all in our head…what we want to think and believe …positive or negative….I went and got my popcorn w.out butter and didnt have to deal with anyone..and I had a sign on my ASS that said ” Independent, Strong, Self-Confident, Socio-Free, Happy and Free” – it was the best feeling taking myself to the movie and surviving and laughing and being ok with ME!!!


I suppose that this is why we are all on this healing journey….Because when we find ourselves in these toxic relationships we don’t want to end up in another. I was a drunk magnet and always attracted alcoholics. My father was an alcoholic, so I guess I attracted what I knew best.

I think the most disturbing thing for me is that I tried so hard to not cross the line into addiction, even as a teenager, I “pretended” to drink my drinks (nursed them) when my friends were letting loose. I DIDN’T want to be like my father. Yet I married 2 alcoholics.
I have never had an intimate realationship without a man who didn’t have issues with alcohol. Even after my long healing journey I haven’t been in a relationship for a very loooooong time.
I do not know if I would recognize what a “healthy” drinking man would be. In other words there are alot of men that can have a couple of beers once in awile and not have issues. But I SEE a drink in hand and I’m like….Nope. I had a few dates many years ago after my husband died, with a recovering alcoholic. He had been in recovery many years. However he seemed to “replace” his drinking with work. He was working 24/7. Men with addictions scare me. Plain & Simple.

Raising a child that has disturbing personality traits/disorder has been the hardest journey of all for me though….BOTTOM LINE. It is heartbreaking to see this in your own child.

And after researching all of the information I have found on ASPD and reading the post on these sites it really scares the hell out of me that I might be seeing the early signs of what very well might be (someday) an adult version of the very evil/toxic people I am reading about today.

This weighs very heavy on my heart.


Dear Witsend,


When I had children I met with a genetic counselor and begged her to be able to tell me that my children wont get the mental illness that my mom had (I was told these gene skip generations??)) No clue as to the truth in that one — if at all….But she told me there is no way to do that….the only thing I could do was provide them with the best stable healthy environment I could and basically pray…Im still praying as two of my three are beginning to enter the “red flag” years and have quite a way to go.

That being said…and this is really hard for me to say, because my Mom was disengaged/estraged from me and my sister for most of our childhood and adult years (living on streets, relationships with other unhealthy people, doing god knows what, when and where for a greater part of her life…but nonetheless living….the way her life was ultimately destined to be lived…simply because once all the efforts were made on her behalf she made the choice to live with mental illness (or perhaps just being mentally ill pre-destined her not to take meds)…anyway when she was diagnosed with cancer in her early 60s last year she went to my Aunts house…We had six glorious months with her…Hospice put her on Meds…I danced with my mom, I went to the beach with her, I took her to shopping…I stared at her beauty and her unusualness…her life was sooooooooooooo different than anyone of us could ever imagine…but it was hers. She died in my arms last August…my sister and I years ago came to an understanding that we would probably never know how she died or when or where…given her lifestyle. Fate, life, circumstances gave us 6 months with my mom that we otherwise would have NEVER had. Someone said to me, I feel so sorry for the life your mom had. I stood on that Altar and told our few family and friends who could be there my response….

Please dont feel sorry for my Mom. In some way she lived the life that most of us only dream of….she lived the way she wanted to or chose to…she told me she traveled the world (off balance/off kilter from our world)…she slept on beaches waking up to sunrises from movie scenes…shes been in places in life darker than anyone of us will ever know let alone would ever be able to survive…she made choices for herself based on her genetic.environmental make-up, it didnt include a life with her family and her children – but it was most definitly a life….lived…..her way. I dont excuse the responsiblity she sherked, the selfishness she exhibited, or the bad choices she made. But I accept them. We all are own human spirit and soul. How many of us can say we lived our life the way we wanted to… She was different. She was unique. She was mentally ill. She was my mother. Her life was her own.

Witsend, you do the best you can. None of us know whats to come with our children, family, friends. We cant control others. We can help them if they want to be helped (and in your case you can still use your parental rights, and also some heavy disciplinary action may have a positive affect him…one that scares the shit out of him and makes him realize there are consequences…etc…) but beyond that life just has a way of letting things unfold the way they are suppose to. He may meet someone who totally changes his life around, or he may turn out to have a disorder. You will be there for him as best as you can be on your life journey – never losing yourself along the way. Just doing the absolute best you can.

I hope this is received with the love and support and insight into living with mental illness and the may ways /choices we have to view it. I chose to embrace my moms life as different, with as many years of sadness as happiness in her life both of which she created and controlled was destined to herself.

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