The early days with a Narcissist can seem like the most exhilarating time of one’s life. They can be very charming, flattering, 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. In 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 the 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! Unbeknownst to you, these fights are often fabricated so the Narcissist can subsequently implement the 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 his own medicine—ignoring his text and email tsunamis when he tries to come back around–while other times you feel you might die if you don’t hear from him.
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.
Silent Treatments and Secret Agendas
You see, while you believe you’re in love and trying to work it out, tolerating the narcissist’s moodiness and his “need to be alone”, he is 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 his cell phone on lock-down, his getting mysterious texts and emails at all hours of the day and night, or his spending time with you 24/7 for several days and then vanishing for indeterminate periods of time. Additionally, he may refuse to update his 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 your partner has another life (or lives) going on behind your back is his bringing up an Ex who is obsessed with him and/or how they broke up right before you met and this Ex doesn’t want to let him go. He may go as far as to say she’s depressed or suicidal and he has to let her down gently. He just needs more time and he can finally get rid of her.
What’s really going on is that the Narcissist won’t let her go completely.
Even if the Narcissist was the one to end the relationship, he will keep most, preferably all, of his Exes in the queue. Even more disturbing is that those “glorious” times when he spends ten-day stretches with you is the time he is giving the silent treatment to his Ex; and when he subsequently disappears from your life, he’s gone to hoover her.
The Narcissist could well be dubbed The Constant Gardner because he is perpetually trolling for new targets, even though he always has a main source of supply. Furthermore, he 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 him 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 your partner is playing these juvenile love games (e.g. disappearing, hiding his cell phone, accusing you of being overly jealous, ad vomitum), then there is a very good chance that he is tending his Garden of Supply. But, you can turn the situation around by pulling the weed that is your narcissistic partner and planting your own seeds of hope for a better future.
Copyright 2016 Let Me Reach and Kim Saeed
**Please note: No gender bias was intended in the creation of this article. The pronoun “he” was used for ease of reading.