Once we commence our devaluation of one of our victims there is a vast array of manipulative techniques that can be used to fulfil our aim of extracting negative fuel from you. Some of these methods are subtle and may not be noticed by the subject, such as triangulation with an object. Others are brutal involving the smashing of property and the flailing fists and stomping boots. It is often the case that you do not realise that devaluation has commenced because you have yet to have any familiarity with this word or even with what it signifies. You will notice however a change in our behaviour. One of those changes is akin to us bringing down the shutters whenever we deal with you.
Once upon a time we exited our car and cantered across to where you stood waiting in the doorway as we wrapped our arms around you and embraced you passionately. Our face had lit up and our delight in seeing you appeared genuine enough. This happened each time we came to see you, as if we had not seen you for months on end, even though it was only the day before when we last held you. Now when we meet you there is no joyful skip towards you, the smile seems forced and there is no light in our eyes anymore. Whereas they once lit up a brilliant blue and sparkled, now they just seem lacklustre and dull, darker than usual. You try to lift our spirits in that indefatigable way of yours. You ask what is wrong and you are always met with an answer of “nothing”.
“Are you sure?” you ask, “you seem unhappy.”
“No there is nothing the matter.”
“You can tell me.”
We realise we must say something but we are pleased by your concern and the fuel that it provides.
“It’s okay. There is nothing wrong.”
“It does not seem like it. Please, tell me what is on your mind.”
Time to step it up a little and extract some further fuel.
“I said there’s nothing wrong,” I snap and pull my hand away from yours. Your face turns from concern to upset and the fuel flows.
This continues as once we used to talk for hours on the ‘phone about all manner of things and laughed and planned, now we still talk for a long time (or rather you seem to do more of the talking this time) as we draw the negative fuel from you. You try to find new topics to keep the conversation going but our responses are limited, our tone flat and then irritable as you try to remain chirpy and upbeat but the sadness and confusion is all too evident in your voice. It needs to be. We need that.
“I just don’t understand, “you protest pleasantly, “you seem so different these days.”
“Really? In what way?”
“It’s like, it is like I am dealing with someone else.”
“Well that’s nonsensical, it is me.”
“Yes I know that but you are not the same.”
“Of course I am the same, you are imagining things.”
“No I am not. You don’t seem to be into me as much as you once were.”
“I am, it is just, you know, I have a lot going on at present.”
“I understand that but it is more than that. It is like I am talking to a different person. You don’t seem to connect with me the way you used to.”
“I don’t understand what you mean.”
“How can I put it? It’s like you have made a conscious decision to distance yourself from me and you do not say the things you used to. You always used to sign off your texts with three kisses and now it is only one.”
“You are concerned about how many kisses I put on my texts?” I ask in disbelief.
“No, well yes, well it is not that. That is just a symptom of something else. It concerns me because I love you so much. It is like you have brought down the shutters and put up barriers when we are together. There is a distance between us that wasn’t once there.”
“I haven’t noticed it.” (Of course I have. I know precisely what you are talking about.)
You then spend many minutes trying to convey this sense of distance and alienation as I listen. I am not hearing the words that you say, nor do I pay attention to the explanation, I am too engaged focussing on the hurt in your voice, the frustration and the exasperation as I suck the fuel from your sentences. This technique is subtle. It is easy to implement and enables us to draw negative fuel from you without you realising what we are doing. It is often the beginning of the devaluation period when the simple cessation of the golden behaviour produces in itself a reaction which provides fuel. We do not need to shock you, we do not need to shout or yell, there is no need to lead you on a confusing and merry dance with our denials and deflections. The simple act of pulling up the drawbridge and no longer allowing you access to the wonderful part of us, illusion that it is, remains highly effective.
“I just feel like you bring the shutters down and I am dealing with somebody different. You are not the HG I know and love. You are someone else.”
Time to throw you a little lifeline to give you hope.
“I’m sorry, I think sometimes when I am under pressure I withdraw into myself. My friends have commented on it previously. It is just something that happens. I think that is what you are referring to. It doesn’t mean that I love you any less. Just last night I was staring at the chair where you usually sit wishing you were there opposite me talking to me.”
That should do it.
“There you see, that is the HG I know, back in an instant. I wish I had been sat in that chair too, I missed you so much last night.”
Why? The ever present question about why the narcissist did as he or she did? A host of questions which overwhelm, confuse and paralyse the victim. Not any longer. A range of fascinating questions, some common, others rare, have been selected dealing with the various elements of the narcissistic entanglement. Forthright and accessible answers are given to these key questions, jargon-free and in an enlightening manner which will aid any reader. The key to freedom starts with understanding. Read this and stop asking why.
When you speak, this is what we actually hear. We hear the words but the effect differs. You say the words in bold but beneath is what we really hear you say to us.
I Love you
I admire you. I adore you. You are a god. You are a prince among men. Nobody does it better. You are a king, an emperor, a champion. You are everything that I have ever wanted. I would wither and die were it not for you. I want to be with you forever. I want to worship beneath you and give thanks minute by minute that someone so scintillating, so special and so brilliant as you would choose me to be by your side. I will give you sweet, potent and invigorating fuel now and forever. I am bound to you now, do as you will.
Please leave me alone
Stay and punish me. I am disloyal and a traitor. I have wronged you on so many occasions and I deserve everything that I get. I am weak, pathetic and disgusting and I am amazed at your generosity in remaining with me. I have failed you and I am so unworthy I wish to crawl into a hole and die there but I ought to face you and accept my punishment because my treacherous behaviour deserves nothing less. Continue to berate and denigrate me and reinforce why you are so much better than me.
Why are you doing this to me?
I am challenging your right to treat me like this because I am suggesting that you are not entitled to do this. I am making it plain that you are not superior to me and you have no basis for behaving like this. I am trying to make you feel small and weak because I am disloyal and I am always looking for ways to stop you getting fuel. I am a traitor, a fifth columnist who is seeking to bring you down and topple this empire that you have created. I am criticising your entitlement. Do you hear that word you hate so much? Criticise. You need to carry on and punish me.
What would you like for dinner?
I am trying to irritate you by suggesting that I do not already know. I am doing this because I am suggesting that I do not think ahead, plan and second guess to cater for your every need. Do you know why I am suggesting that? Do you know why I am pretending that I do not already know? It is because I want to strip you of your special and superior status. Yes, this is another of my seditious acts which is designed to make you think and feel that you are losing your power over me. It’s working isn’t it? You are feeling weakened and you are wondering what other treacherous acts I will engage in. Why don’t you lose your temper and throw something about? That will show me.
5. I think the blue shirt looks better on you
I am telling you that your choice of the red shirt is a bad one. Do you know why that it is? It is because you know nothing about clothes and fashion. In fact I am going further than that because I am actually telling you that you know nothing at all and I know better than you. Yes, can you believe it? Little old stupid me knows more than this supposed god that stands before me. How does that make you feel now eh? I love doing this. I love to challenge your choices and make you appear stupid next to me, a person who is apparently useless. Does this hurt? I thought so. That is why I do it because I am trying to destroy you with comments like this. I think you should storm out of the room and leave the house for a couple of days so I know who is in charge.
6.There’s something wrong with you
I am on to you. I know what you are. I know there is something rotten in the state of you. You are warped, evil and not the person you make out to be. I am not fooled any longer by your showmanship and I am going to tell everyone about you. I know the truth of what you are. Oh I know, how can I know when I am the one who has the problem. I know that I’m really the crazy one and I do nothing but make your life hell, but I am trying to brush that under the carpet by suggesting that you are the oddball, the maniac, the fruit loop, the kerazy wild-eyed freak. How dare I do so when I am the one that is obviously ill and needs help. I know I do but I like to play this game with you but it’s okay, you should go and tell everyone else what I am doing again and why not arrange for me to see a doctor too to give it a real ring of authenticity?
7. Please don’t leave me
I am weak and pathetic and useless. I should have known better than to fail you. I will do anything, anything at all to make you stay with me. You can treat me even worse now. Do what you will to me, I am nothing compared to you. I should be punished for my transgressions because I am so pathetic compared to your greatness. I am nothing without you. You have given me everything and like a spoilt child I have been so ungrateful but I need you. There I have said it. I need you so, so much because you are fantastic and you do so much for me and I am just a horrible person. You can treat me like dirt because that is what I deserve but why not ensure I get the message by walking out and staying away for several weeks without ever getting in touch. That should show who is boss shouldn’t it?
8. It is over.
Well I have said that but that is not what I meant. I meant I am an idiot and I say things which I do not mean because let’s be honest, there must be something wrong with me if I want to be apart from someone like you, someone so special, kind and wonderful who has only ever tried to do the right thing and someone who has only ever had my best interests at heart. I don’t mean it really. I am just doing it for attention, but I need you to tell me why I should stay and it would be great if you cried a bit too, just to make it look like you are really upset by me telling you it is over. Go on, squeeze a couple out to show me you really are human and can be hurt by my horrible threat. Oh and don’t be concerned, I know you finished it first.
By now you all know that I am driven by the hunger that rages within me as I must seek out fuel to feed the beast. To begin with, my fuel comes from the compliments and admiration you send my way during our golden period. Yes, that blissful, wonderful time when everything tastes better, smells more fragrant, looks brighter and sounds sharper. I was asked why can I not contain my need for fuel to receiving admiration and plaudits? Why must I embark on such a destructive course which brings mayhem to everyone around me. Why must it hurt so much? A fair question.
In my case, there are two reasons for this. The first brings forth that old adage of familiarity breeds contempt. Imagine that strawberry is your favourite flavour of ice-cream. I bring you a large strawberry ice cream in a sugar cone. You take a lick and it is delicious. So fresh tasting, so creamy and there are even little pieces of strawberry contained inside of it. It simply is the most sumptuous ice cream you have ever introduced to your taste buds. These strawberries have been grown in God’s garden, tended to by angels and grown with the purest water, the most fertile soil and vibrant sunshine. The milk has been taken from cows which graze on nothing but the most verdant grass, free from pollution and contamination. In fact, every ingredient that has been used in the creation of this magnificent iced confection is the best and perfect. Not only that, it has been crafted by the Supreme High Creator of Gelatos. I bring you a second one. Why not? This is an ice cream fit for champions. You eat this second one but by now you are feeling full. I bring a third, the taste is still great but not as good. Now I give you the good news that you are eating strawberry ice cream for breakfast, lunch and dinner and nothing else. Soon, the amazing taste of the ice cream no longer brings you pleasure. In fact, you start to dread the sight of the ice cream as it is brought to you and then it makes you angry that you have to eat it. You are sick of it now, it has lost its allure.
This is what happens to me. It always happens. Since I am wired to seek out instant gratification, even the most wonderful sensations soon pale to me. I am not built for the long-term, I have no desire for longevity. If it was me eating the ice cream, I need to go and seek out mint choc chip or even vanilla or perhaps a juicy steak instead. I need something different in order to give me that hit. Why not then just leave the strawberry ice cream alone and seek out that new taste sensation, why do I have to subject the ice cream to a campaign of savage and nasty behaviour. One reason is that since I have invested so much energy in securing all that strawberry ice cream I am not going to let it go. I need to treat it differently and thus generate a break from its taste. With you, I need to have a break from the now stale praise and admiration you provide to me. It just does not do it for me. Similarly, I have invested energy in ensnaring you and I do not want to let you go. I have to treat you differently to change the dynamic. I need to keep you around so I embark on a confusing campaign that means you cling tighter to me. I will of course be seeking out new admiration from new sources. There are so many flavours for me to taste. You were once shiny and new. Not any longer. Someone else is shinier and newer.
I will return to you, like I will return to the strawberry ice cream. I have forgotten how it sickened me so I will eat it again and wow, it tastes good. Similarly, I will grant you a short return to the golden period. You lavish me with praise and love borne out of relief and I enjoy it. The law of diminishing returns applies however and soon I tire of your admiration as I tire of the strawberry ice cream and once again I must take a break from it, whilst never actually severing ties with you or giving away the ice cream. Back and forth I will go, occasionally being good to you to receive your admiration as I occasionally have a scoop of the strawberry ice cream. Thus this familiarity and unwillingness to let you go means that I have to treat you badly in order to resurrect the positive fuel on an infrequent basis whilst drawing on the negative fuel to provide the contrast.
I mentioned two reasons. The second reason arises from occasional glimpses of reality. For the most part we dwell in our false construct that we have dragged you into. You may achieve something or a colleague may secure a new contract or we notice a friend purchase a flash, new car. This provides us with a painful reminder of our own limitations and our hatred of the limelight being moved elsewhere, however temporary. In such a case we have to lash out. We must denigrate, despise and demean in order to create that contrast again, we make you look bad and we look good. By putting you down, or the friend or the colleague we feel powerful and in control again. The horrible sensation vanishes. On these occasions, envy and fear drives us to be horrible to you. We have to do it to make ourselves look superior in comparison.
In both instances we need to provide a contrast in order to maintain our fuel. Thus, all cannot be rosy in the garden, we need to spray the weed killer over the flowers you have grown to ensure we receive the fuel that is our primary aim in life.
For those who have become ensnared with our kind, it is a frequent question to wonder what you are to the narcissist. Of course, the short answer is that you are an appliance that is there to provide fuel first and foremost and there may also be the acquisition of traits from you and residual benefits. However, those that have begun to understand the narcissistic dynamic to some extent want to know how they have been regarded by the narcissist in terms of that dynamic. Of those questions, these are the ones which appear most often:-
Was I a primary source?
I don’t think I was devalued, why was that?
Have I been discarded?
Why did he not commit to me?
How has he moved on to somebody else so quickly?
Why did I have such a short golden period?
I feel like I am always hanging on for him, why is that?
It is typically the case that those questions are usually asked by someone who is an Intimate Partner Secondary Source (“IPSS”) although that person may not actually realise that this is the case. This article will discuss the IPSS and some of the peculiarities which arise with being an appliance placed in this role.
By way of brief re-cap, someone who is a primary source may be an intimate partner or a non-intimate partner. In the vast majority of cases the primary source is an intimate partner, thus a spouse, partner, boyfriend/girlfriend. You spend most of your time together and this arrangement occurs so that we are able to draw fuel from you each and every day, that fuel is of a high calibre (because of the greater emotional connection you have to us by reason of being a primary source and also because of your empathic traits). Occasionally the primary source is not an intimate partner and is usually then a family member.
A secondary source is a colleague, a friend or a family member. The secondary source will be seduced so that their loyalty and fuel is secured. Of course this is not done in a romantic fashion but through charm, pleasantry, doing favours and handing out benefits so that the appliance is drawn to the narcissist and is then installed in the position of secondary source.
A secondary source has an elongated golden period. This is because of the following factors:-
The narcissist only draws on the secondary source’s fuel intermittently (compared to drawing on the fuel of the primary source);
The secondary source is usually more compliant and does what the narcissist wants because the demands made of him or her are not as extensive as those made on the primary source;
The fuel provided by the secondary source stays fresher and more potent for longer because it is only drawn on intermittently;
The secondary source is less likely to challenge,wound or defy the narcissist
Accordingly, a secondary source will enjoy a lengthy golden period. They may not be ever be devalued. If they fail to provide fuel, become disloyal and fail to do what the narcissist wants, they may be devalued but usually they will be immediately discarded. This is because it serves the narcissist better to remove the ‘rotten apple’ from hanging around and polluting the minds of other members of the coterie. It is also easy enough to seduce a new secondary source or turn to other existing ones. Thus, where a secondary source becomes unreliable they are usually discarded. Devaluation may only occur where an example needs to be made of the secondary source (this is usually more of the case for colleagues and family members as there is a connection beyond friendship) or the narcissist feels a need for the negative fuel and does not regard the devaluation as likely to damage the façade.
All secondary sources commence their relationship with the narcissist from a non-intimate position and there they may stay for a very long time. Some however are promoted to the position of IPSS.
This happens when the narcissist is devaluing their primary source and is looking to replace them. The promotion of a secondary source to that of IPSS means that we are considering whether you are worthy of then being promoted to a IP primary source and the existing one is discarded.
When this happens there is also the likelihood of somebody else occupying the role of IPSS. We often have more than one as in effect we are holding auditions for those who may be promoted to the position of primary source. This results in several scenarios arising.
The existing primary source, let us say this is a wife, is being devalued. The narcissist embarks on affair with another woman who is the IPSS. She may have been someone he has known as secondary source friend for some time and has recently promoted, or he may have approached her and become a secondary source friend who is very quickly promoted to IPSS. In this dynamic you, as the IPSS, may know about the wife and she is smeared to you, she is abusive, unloving and so on. You are seduced and your responses convince the narcissist that you will make an effective primary source so the existing primary source is discarded and you are then installed as the replacement primary source.
The scenario is the same as above however there are periods during your seduction as IPSS when the narcissist goes quiet. You may think that you are being devalued. You are not. As explained above, the narcissist regards a secondary source as an intermittent provider of fuel and therefore when this happens it is likely that a Respite Period has been granted to the existing primary source, thus the narcissist allows a golden period again, he is preoccupied with the existing primary source and you are kept on ice until the Respite Period ends. The devaluation of the existing primary source continues and your seduction continues once again. Eventually, the narcissist deems you worth of promotion, you are embedded and the existing primary source is discarded and you are installed as her replacement. This may take months or even years. During this period, if you accept the periods of quiet without complaint, there will be no comeback from the narcissist. If however you question what is going on, you will most likely be subjected to future-faking from the narcissist in order to maintain your interest. He will talk about needing to sort divorce arrangements out, or how the house is taking too long to sell, the children need to be sorted out, he hasn’t told his parents yet, it is not a good time for the soon to be ex-spouse as her father has died, it is her birthday next month, it is nearly Christmas and so on. This future faking is done because the narcissist regards you as too valuable to drop and wants to keep you in place as you are earmarked for promotion, but he has not yet decided that you are worthy of such promotion and thus has allowed the existing primary source Respite Periods until he is convinced you are a worthwhile replacement.
The same scenario as two above but there is another IPSS. In order to better our chances of securing an excellent replacement primary source, we are devaluing the existing primary source and we are cultivating leads with at least two IPSS. Thus, we spend the occasional wonderful weekend with you but make various excuses as to how we can only see you once a month. This is being done for two reasons. The first is because we must make time for the ongoing devaluation of the primary source and also to spend time with the other IPSS who is being cultivated. The second reason is to test your resolve. If you reject such an arrangement then we will conclude that you lack certain traits that would make you a good primary source, such as you challenge us too readily, you lack ‘stickability’ and you are not responding to our charm and seduction as deeply as we had hoped or planned. In such an instance our attention will switch to the other IPSS but you are unlikely to be discarded. This is because you have shown potential, provided fuel and therefore we may as well keep you on ice to call on for fuel or to triangulate with the existing primary source and/or the other IPSS in order to satisfy our fuel needs.
If you do not challenge this arrangement then it is a straight fight between you and the other IPSS as to who will eventually be crowned as primary source. You may know about the devalued primary source but you probably will not know about the other IPSS. You will both be tested, so you can expect cancelled arrangements, occasional bouts of odd acts and distant behaviours. These are not acts of devaluation but are rather tests during your seduction to ensure that you are made of the right stuff to be promoted to primary source and also that you are better than your competing IPSS. The nature of this competition is such that you may be in front one month and thus things will seem to be going well with us and then you will be behind your competitor the next month so things will be less pleasant. You are jockeying for position and all the while we are obtaining fuel as we ascertain who will be the best person to be promoted. This could go on for years as you are strung along.
If you then learn that the primary source has finally been discarded but somebody else is being paraded around as our girlfriend and you cannot understand how that has happened, because there is still (albeit minimal) contact with you, then you have lost the race to become primary source. This other person seems to have come out of nowhere but they have not. They have been cultivated behind the scenes and we have decided that they would make the best primary source. The existing one has been discarded, the competitor IPSS who you knew nothing about (or might just have been referred to as a ‘friend’) is installed as primary source.
Even when this happens, you are still unlikely to be discarded because we still see value as keeping you as a secondary source. There has been some investment in you and if you do not cause a problem for us, you will be retained and at some future point there will be a resumption of the relationship to draw fuel, to use you to triangulate with the now being discarded primary source and even to consider installing you as primary source. This latter consideration arises where you would be a good primary source, but the competitor was deemed even better. However, once that competitor is devalued, your status as a good potential primary source is revisited. Unless of course another competitor IPSS is sought and this one is deemed better than you.
If you rail against this treatment as you find yourself side-lined when you expected to become the primary source, but some usurper has appeared instead, this may be tolerated for the negative fuel and the purposes of triangulation. If however you become problematic whereby you may expose us, causes problems with the façade and interfere with the newly installed primary source, you can expect to be devalued, smeared and discarded.
4. You may find that there is no primary source. You are referred to as partner or girlfriend but your engagement with us is intermittent, excuses are made as to why we cannot see more of you, there are occasional periods of silence and you are strung along in this position for some time, unsure of what you actually are. Are you our girlfriend or just a friend with benefits? When this happens it is the case that we will have several IPSS on our books. The combination of all these interests and the attendant fuel means that there is no pressing need for a primary source and we are content to alternate between the various IPSS until we establish one which is installed as primary source.
The IPSS does not experience the standard template of seduction-devaluation-discard and this is why many commentators fail to explain our behaviours effectively to someone who is an IPSS. The narcissistic dynamic is different. The reason for this is that you are effectively placed in limbo. You may not be good enough to be promoted to the position of primary source but you are too valuable to be cast to one side and thus the dance continues for as long as you will allow it without wounding or challenging us.
Those who do not understand our kind tend to fall into the trap of thinking that we are some kind of commitment-phobe and will dole out erroneous advice to you in terms of making you try to bring about that commitment. All this will do is cause you further consternation as the decision is ours, not yours.
If you find yourself in the position of engaging with somebody who treats you well, but only does so intermittently, who occasionally seems to test you (and it is often difficult to spot this) and issues lots of promises about what will happen in the future but there is never any delivery, there is every chance that you are an IPSS entangled with one of our kind.