4 Signs A Sociopath Is Using The Silent Treatment On You

Is your partner in pain — or exerting power and control?

white man in glasses looks at the screen, giving silent treatment SG shot/ Shutterstock.com 

If you’re involved with a sociopath, you probably have experienced — or will experience — the silent treatment.

Why? Because from the sociopath’s point of view, it works.

What is the silent treatment and why does a sociopath use it??

As the term implies, someone who engages in the silent treatment stops talking to you. You want to communicate and the other person refuses.

They don’t respond to your texts, emails, or phone calls. If you're in the same house, or even in the same room, they don't acknowledge you, let alone speak to you. They may look right past you, as if you don’t exist.


RELATED: This Type Of Behavior Is The Quietest, Possibly Most Destructive Of All Relationship Habits

This is extraordinarily painful, especially if the individual is your romantic partner. After all, you're supposedly in love. Many sociopaths, early in a relationship, shower their partners with attention and affection.

They want to be with you all the time and proclaim undying love. After feeling so wanted and adored, the silent treatment is devastating. You desperately want to regain your blissful connection with your partner.

How do you know whether the individual giving you the silent treatment is hurt — or a sociopath?


Here are 4 signs that a sociopath is using the silent treatment on you.

1. The incident was minor or non-existent.

If the individual’s reaction was way out of proportion to whatever happened, or if you don’t even know what happened, you’re likely dealing with a sociopath who is trying to control you.

2. You apologize — and see a smirk.

You don’t think you did anything wrong, but you want to repair your relationship, so you apologize anyway.

When you do, you briefly see a smile, smirk, or look of satisfaction cross the individual’s face.

3. The individual acts like nothing happened.

You’re emotionally wrung out. Perhaps once you start talking again, you want to improve communication and avoid a similar problem in the future.


But your partner is not bothered at all and sees no reason for further discussion.

4. The silent treatment becomes a pattern

You notice that any time your partner becomes angry or displeased, he or she engages in the silent treatment.

The periods of refusing to talk to you come more frequently and last longer.

RELATED: How To Handle The Silent Treatment When The Person You Love Ignores You On Purpose

Is the individual actually expressing pain?

Perhaps, you search online for tips on handling the silent treatment. You find articles saying that the individual is hurt. He or she is trying to deal with whatever happened. The advice is to do nothing, give your partner space, and talk when he or she is ready.


This is reasonable advice — if your partner is not a sociopath.

Yes, normal people, when hurt, may withdraw. They may need time to figure out how they feel. If there was an argument, they may need to recover from angry words.

But when you're dealing with a sociopath — meaning someone who has an antisocial, narcissistic, borderline, histrionic, or psychopathic personality disorder — the silent treatment is not about pain.

It’s about power and control.

Sociopaths and the silent treatment

The most important thing to understand about sociopaths is that they are fundamentally incapable of a normal loving relationship.

They don't have the ability to put another person’s needs before their own, which is a key component of real love. They don't value human connection. The inability to love is the root of their personality disorder and it will not change.


So what do they want from a relationship? They may say, eloquently, that they love you, but it’s not true. What they really want is to use you. To accomplish this, they need to establish power and control over you.

To sociopaths, the silent treatment is just an effective tool for exerting power and control. Why? Because you are psychologically bonded to this person.

The silent treatment is a rejection of you and threatens the bond. It is psychologically and emotionally difficult to tolerate. 

Escaping the damage

Sociopaths use the silent treatment to exert power and control over you — and it works. You feel like you’re a failure and not worth talking to.


Each time you apologize for something you did not do, you lose more of your self-esteem. The longer you stay in the relationship, the more worthless you will feel.

If you see the warning signs listed above, do your research. Learn more about sociopathic behavior. Then be honest with yourself.

If you see the traits and behavior of a personality disorder, the best thing you can do is end the involvement.


How do you escape? You go "No Contact."

That means you stop talking to the person — no texts or emails, no phone calls, and certainly no get-togethers. You don’t even go to their social media pages. In other words, you give them the silent treatment.

How is this different from what the person did to you? He or she was manipulating you in order to exert power over you. When you go No Contact, you are taking your power back and protecting yourself.

RELATED: 13 Rules To Follow If You Think You're In Love With A Sociopath

Donna Andersen is the author of Love Fraud — How Marriage to a Sociopath Fulfilled My Spiritual Plan and founder of Love Fraud. She is an expert on sociopaths in relationships and offers personal consultations.