Why Does the Narcissist Blow Hot and Cold? Part Two


The hot and cold behaviour of an individual towards someone else is perplexing. Why is that person warm and friendly one moment and then cold and distant on another occasion when there has been no (at least to the recipient) change in circumstance? Why does this person engage with the recipient and then give a curt hello and move away? Why might they be in touch and then appear to lose interest? Such unexplained and distinct shifts in behaviour are invariably a manifestation of our behaviour. Many times people cannot work out why a romantic partner, a potential lover, a friend or family member behaves like this and it is because they have not worked outfirstly that this person is one of our kind and secondly they do not understand how our kind operate so as to make sense of this seemingly illogical and puzzling behaviour. As usual, it is built on the differing outlooks of the Victim Perspective and the Narcissistic Perspective (see Toxic Logic )

I explained previously why this hot and cold behaviour manifests between the narcissist and the Intimate Partner Primary Source (“the IPPS”) in Why Does He Blow Hot and Cold? This article looks at this manifestation of the dynamic in the relationship between narcissist and Intimate Partner Secondary Source (“IPSS”), Dirty Secret IPSS (“DSIPSS”) and the Non-Intimate Secondary Source (“NISS”).

The Intimate Partner Secondary Source

This is someone that the narcissist engages with romantically. It might be a friend with benefits arrangement, it might be an affair which is leading nowhere, it might be the commencement of a romantic relationship which is heading towards this person being crowned as IPPS. The IPSS comes in many guises as many people do not realise that they are actually an IPSS. Indeed, most commentators of the narcissistic dynamic only focus on the romantic relationship between our kind and the IPPS, failing to identify, recognise and understand that the romantic dynamic covers IPSS, DSIPSS and IPTS also, each with significant alterations in the usual narcissistic cycle that applies to the narcissist and the IPPS. For more about establishing where you might fit in do see What am I to Him? or consult with me. It is often quite difficult for people to establish where they fit into the relationship with us and often they are surprised to learnt they are an IPSS but it then all makes better sense to them in terms of their understanding.

What then of how blowing hot and cold applies to the IPSS?

During Seduction

The IPSS enjoys a golden period from the moment of being targeted and this will continue. The seduction might be to cause the IPSS to become an IPPS (Candidate IPSS) or to remain as an IPSS throughout (Shelf IPSS).

The Candidate IPSS during seduction will only experience ‘cold’ behaviour as a consequence of the narcissist testing that person to see how they will respond as part of the instinctive testing which goes on to ensure they will make an IPPS. Thus, the narcissist may not return a call for an hour. This is not devaluing behaviour and gives the appearance of appearing cold, but is purely a short measure to test. The narcissist is not going to do anything which risks losing this precious potential resource.

If the Candidate IPSS passes muster, she becomes the IPPS. If not, they become a Shelf IPSS.

Some targets very quickly become Shelf IPSSs, others follow the trajectory as a Candidate IPSS either succeeding and becoming the IPPS or not and thus remaining a Shelf IPSS.

The Shelf IPSS may experience what appears to be ‘cold’ behaviour from the narcissist but it is not devaluing behaviour. It is purely as a consequence of being placed on the shelf and because the narcissist is either engaging with an IPPS in a Respite Period or engaging with a different IPSS. This cold behaviour is not hearing from the narcissist, not having messages returned, or being politely rebuffed with promises of future meetings with the narcissist. It is essentially “I still want you but I am busy elsewhere at the moment but I will be back so do not go anywhere.”

Thus, if you have established that you are an IPSS, if the cold behaviour is short-lived, it is not devaluation but a test and you are a Candidate IPSS. If the cold behaviour is longer and is of the nature as described above then you are a Shelf IPSS and you have been placed on the shelf.

Remember, IPSSs enjoy long golden periods (so long as there is compliance) and therefore any cold behaviour detailed above is not devaluation but either a test or being placed on the shelf.


Devaluation is unusual for IPSSs. We have invested in the individual, we do not rely as heavily on their fuel as we do with the IPPS so there is less of a reason to commence devaluation. Indeed, with the IPSS devaluation arises more because the IPSS is not complying with what we want as opposed to their fuel becoming stale.

There are two types of devaluation with an IPSS. The Corrective Devaluation and the Dis – Engagement Devaluation. The former is where the IPSS is perhaps pressing to be seen by the narcissist more often, or might threaten to tell the narcissist’s IPPS about the relationship. This is challenging the narcissist’s authority. He sees no need to ditch the IPSS but the IPSS must know her place. Thus the narcissist will devalue you the IPSS in some way and also point out the error of the IPSS’s ways. This is an important distinction between the test or placing on the shelf behaviour which occurs during the seduction golden period. In those instances there is no injunction as to what the IPSS should do, they are not told. They just tend not to hear from the narcissist.

In the Corrective Devaluation where the narcissist blows cold, the IPSS may be told

“You are putting me under pressure when I do not need it, I have to have this weekend alone. I will be in touch in due course.” There then follows a Silent Treatment.

“You are making me look stupid. You need to get off my case. I won’t be in touch until you explain yourself and apologise.” There then follows a Silent Treatment.

“How dare you do that to me. After everything I am doing for you, you should show me more respect.” Row continues until IPSS apologises.

The narcissist may tear a strip off the IPSS, say something nasty, tell the IPSS they cannot come round and so forth. It is more proactive, more aggressive and likely to contain some kind of prescriptive injunction on the part of the narcissist,  than the Test or Placing on the Shelf.

The aim is not to drive the IPSS away but rather draw fuel and cause them to get back into line. Once they do, the golden period for the IPSS carries on.

In the Dis -Enagement Devaluation the unpleasant behaviour, the blowing cold will be more proactive and for longer. Therefore whereas with the Corrective it will be a short sharp burst with some direction – “I am sick and tired of you making demands on me, I do not know why I bother with you actually. Do not call me again today.” With the Dis -Engagement Devaluation this will go on for longer (although nowhere near the devaluation of the IPPS) and then dis-engagement will follow which will include blocking the IPSS rather than leaving any channels open.

In summary instances of what appears to be cold behaviour with an IPSS means as follows

  1. Short, lacking in venom, usually passive in nature – Test of the Candidate IPSS during golden period. Done to draw fuel but chiefly to test whether the IPSS should become the IPPS;
  2. Longer, lacking in venom, usually passive in nature, receive responses but non-committal or referring to future contact – Placing on Shelf during golden period. Done to allow narcissist to focus on other sources whilst keeping IPSS in place for future use;
  3. Short, may be passive or aggressive, with prescriptive behaviour – Corrective Devaluation. Done to draw fuel and get the IPSS back in line and under control
  4. Longer but not extensive, may be passive or aggressive, no prescriptive behaviour, cutting of communication lines follows – Dis – Engagement. Done to draw fuel, to punish the IPSS for non-compliance and then remove them as they are regarded as disloyal.

The Dirty Secret IPSS

For a reminder about the key points of this IPSS please see Dirty Little Secret .

How does the narcissist blowing hot and cold manifest in the dynamic with the DS IPSS?


During the golden period the narcissist will not blow cold for a short period of time with the DS IPSS. The nature of the dynamic is short frequent liaisons and therefore if there is a chance to snatch a drink together for half and hour or a knee-trembler in the woods it will be taken. If the narcissist is unable to meet, he will explain so and then be in touch very soon thereafter to arrange an alternative time to meet.

Accordingly, when there is a blowing cold from the narcissist during the golden period, it will be for sustained period and this means that the DS IPSS has been placed on the shelf. This will manifest with a clear explanation that the narcissist cannot meet – for example, if he is going on holiday with the IPPS and he will tell the DS IPSS that this is the case.

It is unusual for a DS IPSS to be placed on the shelf, they tend to be drawn on regularly but for short periods of time.


Again, the devaluation of a DS IPSS is unusual and it will usually be because the DS IPSS is failing to comply and do what the narcissist wants.

Similar to the IPSS, the DS IPSS will face both Corrective and Dis -Engagement Devaluation in the manner described above.

If the DS IPSS experiences blowing cold from the narcissist then this is far more likely to mean that it is devaluation and then dis- engagement. The Test does not happen with the DS IPSS and Placing on the Shelf is much rarer. The Corrective Devaluation will be obvious because the narcissist will issue some prescriptive injunction telling the DS IPSS how they should ‘shape up’. Accordingly, if you find that the narcissist is not responding to your calls, is ignoring you, is not making arrangements to meet, is failing to turn up and is not offering any explanation and you recognise you are a DS IPSS then it means you are experiencing the dis- engagement devaluation and dis- engagement is not far away.

If the DS IPSS does not hear from the narcissist for some time, with no explanation then they have been dis-engaged from by the narcissist.

In summary for the DS IPSS:-

  1. No Test takes place akin to the IPSS;
  2. Placing on the Shelf is rare – the cold behaviour will have an explanation attached and assurances of future contact showing it is placing on the shelf;
  3. Corrective Devaluation occurs – the narcissist will blow cold, more likely to be aggressive in behaviour and will stipulate a desired outcome;
  4. Dis-engagement Devaluation – the most likely occurrence of a narcissist blowing cold with the DS IPSS.

Non-Intimate Secondary Source (“NISS”)

This category of secondary source covers friends, colleagues and family.

Golden Period Seduction

There is no seduction of a familial NISS. They are already embedded by reason of familial connection but they will enjoy a golden period thereafter. A familial NISS, from this embedded position, may be tested by the narcissist from the perspective of appointing that person as a Lieutenant, but it is rare. The familial connection is deemed to be sufficiently strong in most cases to generate reliance on that source as a Lieutenant.

It is also rare for there to be a Test of the colleague or friend NISS because this is not seen as necessary given their lesser importance in the fuel matrix. If it does occur it might be because that person is being earmarked for being made a Lieutenant and in such instances any blowing cold will be short in nature to see if the social or colleague NISS approaches the narcissist to find out what is wrong etc in order to test their loyalty.


Any blowing cold which does occur and is associated with some kind of prescriptive injunction will be Corrective Devaluation which is applied to familial, social and colleague NISSs. The blowing cold will be brief however because one who does not accord with the desires of the narcissist can readily be dis- engaged from and replaced. Indeed, colleague, familial and social NISSs are largely expendable compared to the IPSS.

If the NISS does not respond to the corrective devaluation then there may not even be a dis -engagement devaluation and the dis – engagement follow swiftly after. In a sense, the Corrective and Dis- Engagement Devaluations are the same thing when dealing with NISSs. Unless the NISS has been especially treacherous and therefore they are to be punished through a longer devaluation, it is usually the case that a failed Corrective Devaluation will result in the NISS being dis-engaged from and replaced.

Accordingly, when the narcissist blows hot and cold with secondary sources, it is effectively the case that the blowing hot is to be regarded as the default position because these sources are easier to seduce and enjoy longer golden periods. When the blowing cold occurs it will be for fuel (utilising the contrasting techniques mentioned in part one of this series) but also to either Test, Shelf, Correctively Devalue or for the purposes of a Dis-Engagement Devaluation.



29 thoughts on “Why Does the Narcissist Blow Hot and Cold? Part Two

  1. Ugotit says:

    I’ve had a thing for British accents all my life his voice turns me on the last thing I need is to be aroused while trying to be serious and get answers nor do I need to develop an infatuation with another narcissist if u get my drift

    1. Ugotit says:

      Once again my comment went in the wrong post that was a reply to insatiable learners comment about HGS voice being soothing lol I can’t seem to reply correctly tonight

  2. SweetestTaboo says:

    Is this applicable , if the seduction started online ? victim stayed distant. The Narcissist was hinting trying to make it more than friends . So I guess from online candidate IPSS To NISS ? , 2 years later no online sign of an IPPS victim and narc go on a date the first time . He repeatedly says he is single . He was hot cold with his love bombing but would always instigate conversation. Couldn’t go a minute withouth “me” so he could come over my house left a shirt etc asked me to never leave him repeatedly . His “ex” (IPPS) called me in the “golden period” he smears her and he’s not seeing her nor talking (lies). I was doubting ever since so challgened him alot. He would comfort me with lies . I just couldn’t believe it anymore when he was gone for just few hours . I guess he got annoyed so implemented hours absent silent treatment to 3 days did show up after the miscarriage was willing to meet my family etc but still again to absent silent again to 3 day crumbs of comfort . And me encouring the ending of our formal relationship he didn’t say much , and next day agreed and me confused pleading to resurrect relationship to him disengange .(4months separated) But the lines open again.he Apologized and was willing to meet up as NISS but he canceled. What was I too him or Am I . I think its time for an consult. I’m not sure if I don’t want to be with him again . Now he is finally not ignoring me anymore . And always in a kind way.

  3. KT says:

    So what if you were an IPSS ( not sure though) and you were disengage from and blocked for a few months. Then he unblocks you and acts hot and cold after unblocking.
    1) why the unblockin
    2) why blowing hot and cold now after unblocking?

  4. Lauren says:

    (I was a candidate IPSS)

  5. Lauren says:

    is that being placed on the shelf for future “use”? or i failed the test so there is no shelf, rather just complete disengagement since it has been a year of no response.

  6. Lauren says:

    What does it mean when he has disengaged but still leaves the communication open? He never blocked blocked me. He just stopped responding.

    1. Hurt says:

      Read the article Silent Treatment or Discard

      1. Lauren says:

        Yeah. I did. But I was told my HG that this guy was not giving me the silent treatment and that it was a discard because the silent period was so long (over a year). So, I am curious why he didn’t block me and left the communication open if it was a discard. So, I wonder if he put me on a shelf or why I was demoted to secondary source because he left the communication open even if it was a discard.

    2. gabbanzobean says:

      Lauren, this is where I’m at. Lines of communication are open and no ones been blocked but no one is talking. Oh I was threatened with a possible blocking of social media but then it was taken back. 🙄

    3. HG Tudor says:

      It means that he is keeping the channels open for future use. It also means that dependent on what you are to him, you may have actually just been placed on the shelf rather than dis-engaged from.

      1. Lauren says:

        ok, thank you, HG. When you and I spoke in a private email, you told me that i was a candidate IPSS. So, after a year of stonewalling me, he still left the communication open anyway and didn’t threaten to block me or leave him alone at the end. I asked you if i was a shelf IPSS and you said no because of the work of the devaluation. I’m confused now. if I was placed on the shelf in the end, how so if I wasn’t a shelf IPSS? or I was dis-engaged from and perhaps he is even throwing you off? lol. I hope not. I think that back then, he made a situation where I would hoover him for answers instead of him hoovering me.

        1. HG Tudor says:

          As I stated in my answer, it was dependent on what you are to him. Based on you being a Candidate IPSS which was then devalued and dis-engaged from he has gone elsewhere. He has however left a route of communication open for further use, no doubt anticipating that you in your misery will attempt to contact him and he can then lash out at you to gain more fuel.

  7. Gabrielle says:

    In your opinion and in greater detail, what usually happens with the Dirty Little Secret IPSS? Specifically, is there a chance that after discard that there will not be a hoover? The primary source is the wife. And although I cannot confirm it I am sure there is another dirty secret taking my place at the moment.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      If you require a detailed response to such a scenario then a private consultation is the effective method of achieving this.

  8. Dream of Me says:

    Hello HG,
    I’m immensely enjoying reading your blogs and ebooks. In the past year I’ve taken up a long distance thing with a very outwardly successful, charming, handsome man of your “kind” (and been shelved, then picked up again, then I shelved him, etc…) it was never serious because he always gave me red flags (the lovebombing creeped me out as did the hot and cold)… I’m put off that he casts a large net for women (and I see them all on social media) for whoever bites. Young, old, attractive, not so much… I’m not jealous, I understand it’s for fuel, but it seems almost desperate on his part. Maybe I’m not a good narc target or maybe he hasn’t honed his skills to be good yet. Dang, I picked a lazy narc! Do you normally target women of some class and caliber? Or is it strictly quantity over quality?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      The calibre matters. See the book Sitting Target, Dream of Me.

  9. Hurt says:

    Will he return to a IPSS he disengaged from?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Potentially yes.

  10. Hurt says:

    As an IPSS how does the narcissist wish for you to react to the blowing of hot and cold?
    And does the Dirty little secret always know that she is one or is she made to feel like his girlfriend?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      See the article which explains why the narcissist engages in Test, Shelf, Correction and Dis-Engagement Devaluations – it is there.
      No, she knows she is hidden away and either goes along with it because it suits or goes along with it in the hope and expectation of promotion.

      1. Hurt says:

        Thanks a lot. Found it xx

  11. Hannah says:

    Can you be a candidate IPSS one week and a shelf IPSS the next, then back again?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Yes, albeit it is more likely to occur over a longer time period then a couple of weeks.

      1. Hannah says:

        Yes. I guess it’s more likely that I am always in the line for promotion but sometimes it just doesn’t feel that way. As he puts it, why bother lulling me into sense of security. Always keep them on their toes. Fantastic line from yesterday “you should read this book. It’s about an abusive husband. Let me know if that is something you might be interested in.”

  12. Insatiable Learner says:

    This is one of your best articles for secondary sources! Thank you, HG! Can the following apply to DS IPSS: ” Longer, lacking in venom, usually passive in nature, receive responses but non-committal or referring to future contact – Placing on Shelf during golden period. Done to allow narcissist to focus on other sources whilst keeping IPSS in place for future use”?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Thank you. Possibly but it is unlikely.

      1. Insatiable Learner says:

        Thank you, HG. What about when a narcissist has a new primary source? Last time we spoke by phone and text (October), it was a friendly conversation. There has never been any prescriptive or corrective aggression or indication of any problems. Since he discarded old IPPS (wife) and started engaging with a new IPPS, it has been mostly him not initiating contact (while promising to reach out more but not following through) but always responding to my contact in a friendly way. Last time we communicated, he just said he would try not to be so distant in the future. I said ok and thank you. That was it. Haven’t heard from him since. I have not reached out either. Does this sound like being on the shelf or dis-engaged (devaluation dis-engagement)? Thank you very much!

  13. I’ve been disavowed. Just like Ethan Hunt. Why HG why?

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