Why Does He Seem So Odd?


It is accurate to state that we operate in three essential states. There are varying degrees within those states, differing levels of intensity which are affected by factors such as the type of narcissist that we are, what we require from you, the level of empathic individual you are as well as several others. Nevertheless, there are three basic states. The first, as you would expect, is the golden setting. We are at our most wonderful, most brilliant and most loving when in this state. This always appears during our seduction of you and we will reinstate it from time to time and often when we hoover you in order to suck you back in and keep you hanging on to us. The second is the dark setting when we instigate our devaluation of you. This dark setting allows us to deploy our various machinations against you, a variety of different  manipulations as the abuse begins and we make your life particularly unpleasant. This requires effort and energy on our part and whilst we will be rewarded with fuel, a certain degree of application is required to use these manipulations against you. When we unveil our dark setting it is upsetting and confusing but often you will find some reason to explain our behaviour. It is usually the wrong reason but you will find one nevertheless as you like to understand and have a reason to explain why someone is behaving in a certain way towards you – you decide we are stressed, tired, hungover, in need of affection or perhaps you are unduly harsh on yourselves so that you, in that usual empathic manner, blame yourself for the behaviour we have meted out against you. Perhaps you did not listen when you ought to have done, perhaps you should have realised that we wanted to go out tonight, or that we would not want chicken for a second time this week.

There is a third setting and this often proves more confusing than our unpleasant dark setting. This setting might be regarded as a neutral setting, somewhere between the golden and the dark, but it is not. This setting is on the road to the dark setting and is closer to that than the golden. This particular setting is the stranger setting.

There will be times when we do not wish to apply considerable energy to our continued devaluation of you, but the devaluation must continue. It may not be as harsh, since there is no shouting, no violence, no insults and such like. It is not the golden period because we show no affection, we do not do things for you and we do not exhibit any of the charm that once flowed so readily from us. During this stranger setting we are neither wonderful nor awful but we behave like someone who doesn’t really know you and you are certainly left feeling like you are dealing with somebody else.

If you telephone us we will not dole out a silent treatment and ignore your repeated calls. We will not answer in less than a ring and speak to you with affection and enthusiasm, instead we answer and engage in a monosyllabic conversation. It is like drawing teeth. We confirm that nothing is wrong and you may think there is but we have not responded angrily or harshly. We have not accused you of anything, we have not labelled you in some way but the conversation is flat. It is as if our personality, whether golden or dark has vanished and left almost an automaton in its place. We function, we talk about our day but with little detail and certainly no enthusiasm. We ask questions of you but they are polite and perfunctory as if we are just going through the motions. There is no nastiness, no backbiting or sneering. It is difficult to process because it is not nothing, that cannot be the case because we are talking to you, but it feels like nothing.

We may call around to see you but it feels like an inspector has called around. We sit, we decline a drink that you offer us and we answer your questions without offering you anything much in return. Where has the charmer gone? Where has the monster gone? Who is this stranger that looks like us, sounds like us but is not behaving like us? You cannot accuse us of being unpleasant but it feels unpleasant because you are dealing with someone you do not recognise. Any questions about what is wrong with us are politely answered and you are assured there is not a problem, but we seem lifeless. You flatter us, compliment us and whilst we accept them there is no spark of interest, there is no response.

Why are we like this? Why is this being done? Why do we seem like someone else? It is as if we have been abducted by aliens in the night and replaced with a robot which is neither wonderful nor savage but is frustratingly something else. This third setting occurs during the devaluation period. It is not a respite from devaluation as that is the golden setting once more. It is clearly not the dark setting as that is the rolling out of nastiness and abuse. This third setting is an indicator of the calm before the storm. Whilst there are occasions where we might switch from golden to dark setting in the blink of an eye, this third setting is used when we wish to conserve energy in readiness for unleashing a particular savage next stage in the devaluation as we will move to the dark setting and crank it up to eleven. You are not cruising along being driven by fair winds, nor are you being thrown up and down buffeted by a storm, instead you are becalmed or moved along by a weak breeze. This is the time we are girding our loins, gathering information and plotting. The switch of functions to the organisation and scheming of what is to come, along with the intense outpouring of energy required to sustain the vicious intensifying of this devaluation means we adopt this near automatic state. You may not ever see this happen dependent on the nature of the narcissist you have become entangled with, but when you do, you should be aware that a storm is brewing and not just any old storm but a supercell storm of savage and damaging proportions. This is a warning.

31 thoughts on “Why Does He Seem So Odd?

  1. Yma says:

    How do you feel when your victim realises that you are up to no good and goes NC before the shit hits the fan and escapes sooner than you expected? How big is the injury caused? Will there be an other try for revenge?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Please see the articles How No Contact Feels – Parts One to Three

  2. Mona says:

    HG, I really do not know. I feel much more jealousy and envy then ever before. I know these feelings have been there from birth on, but not on such a degree. I never felt “malice” before, now I feel that sometimes I feel joy, when something bad happens to someone (not only the narc). That feeling has not been there before. Something inside of me has changed. I suppress those feelings and hold on to my inner voice, that says “it is wrong, do not let those feelings win”, but nevertheless these feelings are there. It is, as if something very aggressive is activated. That could explain, why in wars totally normal people become devils after a while. Look at the american soldiers , young men sent to Vietnam, many of them totally changed after the war experience. I think, that is part of our human nature, that we can change or activate something inside of us to survive in hard times. “Nature” only forgot to put there a switch, which helps us or some of us to deactivate those feelings again.

  3. Jess says:

    Ok I’m going through this right now. I found out 2 months ago that my partner is a narcissist, mid-range. I want to get out but we have 4 kids together, the latest 2 being twins so I’m unable to work at the moment. I can’t support myself and the kids on my own so I’m kinda stuck until I figure things out. We sleep in separate rooms at the moment because we are “separated” but lately he has been trying to get me back which I haven’t fallen for this time but even though he can be sweet, it is like he is a robot. My question is: if this is the calm before the storm, what examples do you have of this storm? What could happen? He’s already done so much to me in 8 years, what could be worse? I am prepared of him just leaving so I thought that could be it and I’m ok with that.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      If he has already done so much to you, you can expect more of the same.

  4. L says:

    This helps. I have always said he is a little autistic, but I know he is not. This seems to be the state he is mostly in. There are no big explosions. There was never a big golden period. Instead, it is like we are always in this state with mini golden and mini dark periods.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Yes, there can be more limited fluctuations as you have described.

      1. L says:

        Thanks HG. As you wrote, the stranger setting can be more confusing than the dark one. And he does operate more in this mode. Add my tendency to rationalize things and find excuses….

        I am still not sure if it is NPD. I am keeping my eyes wide open though, both on him and myself. 👀

  5. Khaleesi says:

    I hated when he was like this. It was so awful. Another reminder of what I’m not missing!

  6. Mona says:

    HG, what do you think about the theory of the tree? Could there be some truth in it?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      I believe there is force in it Mona, yes.

  7. Amy says:

    I remember this well, I couldn’t stand the anxiety I would feel when he acted this way. This is so accurate with my ex! It broke my heart to feel so insignificant.

  8. Ali says:

    Very insightful.

    Sorry this is a long post…

    I must be an odd duck indeed to have quickly learned those flat moments (and being ignored by him) were a lot better then being lied to or abused.
    To me, after a few years as ipps and much back and forth between those 3 stages, the stranger phases were moments of rest amid the storm.

    I would rather be ignored and treated as a stranger then hurt. Of course at first I missed the golden period but then I got wise to the fact that attention from him was toxic and one-sided for lack of better knowledge back then. But they were pauses where I was able to think for myself without the confusion. Without emotions clouding my judgement. Oh dear… He let his guard down and I broke free… What a horrible ipps I have been… Perfect for him playing a victim but I tend to lose my empathic side around narcs now… Sorry you must be this genuine et all to gain access… Unless you catch me unawares which is rare now… I’m just not comfortable around most people so my empathy is like the light in the refrigerator… The door to it is closed then the empathy light is off…
    Its very interesting to note what 16 years with a narc has done to change how I deal with and respond to people based on who they are.
    And how I’ve delved deeper into who I am and who I want to be as I rebuild myself.

    I wonder some days if I haven’t picked up some narc traits from him I didn’t have before… Arrogance certainly. Pride in myself and my ability to be empathic…and in how I got my freedom back despite him.

    I wonder how many others gain those as they learn and heal as maybe a defense mechanism… How to hide a lamb among wolves so they think said lamb is a wolf…

    May be why I see a fine line between empathy and narc and am easily willing to credit the theory that a narc just buried their true child self behind incredibly thick walls and with it any empathy they might once have had in order to protect themselves from being wounded…while the empath does no such thing bearing the emotional wounds like a trooper… Shedding the emotional side in order to stop hurting… Or embrace pain with the understanding that it teaches us and prevents us becoming zombie-like (or narcs I suppose)…

    1. Ms brown aka Seastarr C★ says:

      wow, Ali, this is profound, articulate and well written. Im sure some of us can relate, but are unable to put into words as you just did. thank you for sharing

    2. Mona says:

      Hallo Ali,
      very well written. I think you are right, we “adopt” some of their traits after the relationship. It is infecting. And we are grown ups. How much then is a child infected by narcissistic treatment through their parents?
      Maybe it “kills” every empathic trait inside of them. I cannot believe anymore the theory of the “true self” inside of them, which includes that there is a wounded “good” child, which only defends itself. I think, this “good” child is gone and there is only the beast left. I am sorry to say something like that. I believe we are all born with the possibility to have all feelings (not all of of them at the same degree) and these feelings have to be developed. If we are not given the chance to develop these feelings they die and the empty place is filled with other feelings.This undeveloped feelings could be the reason that HG talks about “power” as a replacement for joy, happiness, cold empathy instead of warm empathy and so on. It could be an explanation. Like a tree, which at first has only two or three branches and gets more and more growing. So, one of his branches was cut and therefore the other ones grew more for stability of the whole tree. It is just a new idea.

      1. HG Tudor says:

        I disagree that you adopt our traits, unless you do so at a formative age as a child. As an adult you do not adopt our traits but rather our treatment erodes your empathic traits allowing the narcissistic traits which are there to come to the fore. This may be only at certain specific occasions or it may be for a period of time before the empathic traits increase again.
        I do see some validity in your observations concerning the tree point.

    3. Tiny Dancer says:

      “I would rather be ignored and treated as a stranger then hurt. Of course at first I missed the golden period but then I got wise to the fact that attention from him was toxic and one-sided for lack of better knowledge back then.” This, yes completely agree. Wish I’d realized it sooner.

  9. Lynn Lombardo says:

    I experienced this during the devaluation period and after my escape. He came around months later and acted like this.I was sick of his shit, so I told him to never contact me again. Assholes!

  10. Ali S says:

    During this period I started volunteering to work on weekends and doing things with friends because I knew the relationship was going south… thank God because I believe I was discarded before devaluation because he knew I wouldn’t put up with shit! I’m glad I did these things because ultimately I injured him by becoming non compliant of his craziness! I didn’t know what he was then but I had experienced 2 silent treatments and started to pull away knowing it was not a good relationship…I think I really dodged a bullet there…it did hurt though because I thought I loved him but I am not willing to be discounted by anyone by any means!

  11. Shannon says:

    Automaton is a perfect description of my husband about 90% of the time. I’ve even accused him if being like a robot several times.

  12. Ursula Rhys-Corell says:

    And I’d like to add that this behaviour is an extremely effective method for gaining fuel, isn’t it?
    I invested tons of energy in my efforts to break his robot-like gestures of indifference. I supplied and nurtured him with loads of fuel, begging, pleading, asking what was the matter, describing my emotions, sending sexy selfies, appealing to any emotions on his side and so on…
    I learned to keep cool during the silent treatments, in the course of time. But I never learned to get along with the “odd” behaviour…

  13. Ursula Rhys-Corell says:

    DRIVES me to overreact was what I wanted to write…

  14. Scout says:

    I remember the Inspector Calling and refusing my offer of a drink. He answered my questions and left without a backward glance. Extremely hurtful and chilling behaviour.
    HG, do your kind study the same NPD Manual by any chance?
    Thanks for expanding on another narc oddity. Appreciated.

  15. Evan711 says:

    I felt the robot, always….. It seemed as if all comments, praise, or slander, were pulled from a revolving script…. Not a sincere word spoken….

  16. CM says:

    Thank you for the warning. This describes exactly what I’ve been experiencing lately.

  17. I knew when this commenced! (the calm before the storm)
    If I called him he would say, “What can I do for you?” in an icy cold way! Like he didn’t even know me!
    Right on, again, HG!

    1. Oh my gosh… “what can I do for you? ” Just like a stranger or a clerk in the store!

      1. Ms brown aka Seastarr C★ says:

        exactly and I would react to that, like WTF??? of course then, I didn’t know ★why★… not till today when I read this!

  18. Ursula Rhys-Corell says:

    A very aptful description of an extremely disagreeable behaviour on part of the narcissist.
    Nothing threw me in such deep depression as those bored and boring answers, those flat reactions… nothing, not the hardest silent treatment made me feel so insignificant and so left out… It was and is one of the most painful weapons I experienced. And it always drove/deines me to overreact, to lose my self-control, to really freak out…!!!
    Thank you so very much for this text. Superbe writing as ever.

    1. Exactly, Ursula!

      1. Ursula Rhys-Corell says:

        😍 Ms brown!

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