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6 Ways to Ignore a Narcissist

by | Apr 11, 2024 | 0 comments

The term “narcissism” on this blog is used to describe a specific set of personality traits. It is not intended to be used as a professional diagnosis.

What happens when you starve a fire of oxygen?

That’s right. It dies.

Dealing with a narcissist is kind of the same thing – just as oxygen fuels a fire, attention and reaction fuel a narcissist’s manipulative behavior.

Take away the attention they crave and you can starve their tactics of power and extinguish their ability to manipulate and control you.

But I know that ignoring a narcissist is easier said than done.

They are persistent in maintaining contact with you because it feeds that sense of control.

But cutting them off and ignoring them is the best thing you can do to break free of the cycle of conflict.

In order to talk about how to ignore a narcissist, we have to understand why we feel compelled to respond to them and why they shouldn’t.

Let’s start there, and then we’ll get into ignoring them and what to do if you have to communicate with them:

Why You Want to Respond to the Narcissist

Okay, so before we even get started, let’s talk about why you feel compelled to respond to the narcissist.

Don’t feel bad for being drawn into a narcissist’s nonsense! They have specifically manipulated you into engaging with them. This is not your fault. 

That being said, let’s look at why you may want to respond to them to help you better understand your situation:

  • Seeking Validation: One common reason people respond to narcissists is the desire for validation and approval. Narcissists are good at making people feel inferior, which can leave you seeking validation from them in an attempt to regain your sense of self-worth.
  • Fear of Consequences: Narcissists often use fear tactics to control and manipulate others. You may be afraid of what they will do or how they will act if you don’t respond to them.
  • Emotional Investment: If you have a history with the narcissist (romantic partner, family member, etc.), then you may feel obligated to stay in contact with them.
  • Manipulation and Gaslighting: Narcissists are good at getting other people to doubt their own perceptions and experiences. They’ll twist the truth, minimize their abusive behavior, and blame you for the way you feel. This manipulation can make it difficult to trust your instincts and resist the urge to engage with them.

There are so many reasons why you may feel compelled to respond to a narcissist, and it has nothing to do with being weak!

Now that you better understand why you do it, let’s look at why you shouldn’t:

Why You Shouldn’t Respond to a Narcissist

One of the most important lessons you can learn when dealing with a narcissist is the power of silence. Here’s why you should resist the urge to respond to them:

It Reinforces Their Behavior

When you engage with a narcissist’s nonsense, whether it’s through arguing, pleading, or trying to reason with them, you are reinforcing their behavior.

They want you to argue, plead, and try to reason with them.

Narcissists thrive on attention and drama, and any response from you, whether positive or negative, validates their belief that they are important and worthy of your attention.

It Fuels Conflict

Responding to a narcissist can end up escalating the conflict. They are skilled at pushing people’s buttons and provoking emotional reactions.

So they will say things just to upset you. When you respond to them, you’re playing into their game and giving them exactly what they want.

Your reaction feeds their sense of power and control.

It Wastes Your Energy

Trying to have a conversation with a narcissist is emotionally exhausting and draining. It consumes your energy and mental bandwidth, which can leave you feeling depleted and overwhelmed.

When you refuse to respond to their antics, you conserve your energy and protect your emotional well-being. Simply put: they’re not worth your time or effort.

It Validates Their Sense of Superiority

Narcissists have an inflated sense of self-importance, and they believe they are better than everyone else.

Like I said, when you respond to them, you feed into this belief.

But when you refuse to engage with them, you send a powerful message that their behavior is not acceptable and that they will not be rewarded with your attention.

How Do You Ignore a Narcissist?

All that being said, I know that not talking to a narcissist is hard because they are relentless in getting a reaction from you.

Ignoring a narcissist requires you to be resilient and strong against their ploys. Here are some strategies to help you out:

1. Cut Off All Contact

The number one most efficient way to ignore a narcissist is to cut off all contact. This may mean blocking their phone number, unfollowing them on social media, and avoiding places where you know they hang out.

When you eliminate opportunities for interaction, it’s easier to ignore them!

However, I get that there are cases where you may have to keep communication open with a narcissist, like if you have kids together.

If you can’t cut off all contact, do your best to limit communication. When it comes to co-parenting with a narcissist, you can learn more about limiting communication here. 🙂

2. Set and Maintain Boundaries

Establish clear boundaries with the narcissist and stick with them!

Let them know what behaviors are unacceptable to you, and be firm in enforcing those boundaries. It’s okay to say things like, “If you insult me, I won’t reply to you.”

Remember that you have the right to protect your emotional well-being and prioritize your own needs. If they can’t come at you with civility and respect, you don’t have to entertain their nonsense.

3. Don’t Get Defensive (You Can’t Change Their Mind)

Narcissists use many manipulation tactics, and one of them is pissing you off and accusing you of stuff just to get you to defend yourself.

It opens the door for arguments, insults, and conflict – and narcissists love this!

When they try to provoke a reaction from you, resist the urge to defend yourself. You can’t change the way they see you or what they believe, so don’t waste your time trying.

Instead, remind yourself that what they say is just one opinion, and it’s coming from a borderline psychopath. You can tell yourself, “I won’t get upset because what they say doesn’t matter.”

4. Distract Yourself

If you find yourself thinking about the narcissist or dwelling on what they said, you can distract yourself with, well, anything, really.

It can be something you enjoy or something mundane like playing Candy Crush on your phone (which, yes, I understand is enjoyable).

When you redirect your focus, you give yourself time to calm down and take away the power the narcissist thinks they have over your thoughts and feelings.

5. Focus on Yourself

Dealing with a narcissist is exhausting, so it’s important that you take time to focus on yourself.

Do you want to know what the best punishment is for a narcissist? It’s being your best self despite how they treat you!

They want you to fail and suffer, so investing in yourself and building resilience is a great way to say, “Fuck you!”

6. Spend Time With Friends and Family Members

Surround yourself with people who love you and treat you like a real human being.

It’ll remind you why you don’t need the narcissist in your life!

What Happens When You Ignore a Narcissist?

Unfortunately, ignoring a narcissist doesn’t usually make them magically go away. They’re used to getting their own way, so there may be some backlash when you cut off communication.

Hang in there! You will see the benefits of ignoring them in the long term. But here are the stages you should expect:

Initial Reaction

At first, the narcissist may react strongly to you ignoring them.

How dare you!

They may become angry or frustrated or even resort to more aggressive measures to regain your attention and their control.

If the narcissist does lash out, this goes to show that your decision to ignore them is disrupting their usual patterns of manipulation and dominance. 

Keep it up!

And if ever you feel in danger, please don’t hesitate to contact the authorities and protect yourself.

Escalation

Okay, let’s talk a little more about escalation attempts. In their quest to regain control, narcissists may escalate their behavior in an attempt to provoke a reaction from you.

They may try things like guilt-tripping, love-bombing, or gaslighting to get a response from you.

It’s important that you stay strong in your decision to ignore them and not give in to their attempts to draw you back into the cycle of conflict.

Loss of Interest

As you continue to ignore the narcissist and deny them the attention they crave, they may eventually lose interest in you.

Narcissists thrive on admiration and validation, and when they realize they can’t provoke a reaction from you, they may move on to another target who is responsive to their manipulations.

Shift in Power Dynamics

When you refuse to engage with a narcissist’s manipulative tactics, you assert your independence and reclaim control over your own emotions and actions.

This shift in power is liberating and empowering. After spending so much time feeling like you had zero control, you are now back in the driver’s seat and breaking free from the cycle of abuse and manipulation!

How to Respond to a Narcissist (If You Have To)

If you’re in a situation where the narcissist is a family member, or you’re co-parenting with one, sometimes ignoring them isn’t an option.

However, that doesn’t mean you have to accept their behavior!

If you have to respond to a narcissist, here’s the best way to do it:

Limit How You Communicate

First of all, if you have to communicate with the narcissist, limit your communication to text messages or email.

This way, you don’t have to respond right away, and you have evidence of what is said if you need it.

If a narcissist catches you face-to-face, you are more likely to (justifiably) lash out, so set that boundary and stick to it!

Responding Versus Reacting

Instead of reacting impulsively to a narcissist’s text, take a step back and think about your response.

Responding calmly and assertively can help keep the situation from escalating and help you maintain control.

It also keeps the narcissist from getting what they want out of the conversation.

Basic Information

When you do have to talk to a narcissist, stick to basic information.

Only say what you need to say – don’t offer any personal details or let the narcissist know how you feel.

Think of the conversation like a business transaction: Pleasant, short, and to the point.

Gray Rock Method

The Gray Rock Method is a popular way to deal with narcissists. It involves adopting a neutral and unresponsive demeanor when interacting with them.

So it’s kind of the same as sticking to basic information, but you are basically making yourself uninteresting.

Like a gray rock on the side of the road.

This makes you less appealing as a target for their manipulative tactics.

The Art of Ignoring Narcissists

When it comes to dealing with narcissists, ignoring them is your shield against their manipulative tactics and bullshit.

By setting boundaries and sidestepping unnecessary interactions, you can protect your emotional well-being and reclaim your power.

Have you ever tried ignoring a narcissist? What strategies worked for you (or didn’t work for you)? Share your experiences in the comments below!

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