The IPSS : Shelved or Disengaged?

THE IPSS _SHELVEDOR DISENGAGED?

The Intimate Partner Secondary Source (“IPSS”). Who is this?

Briefly, these are ways in which the IPSS will manifest.

  1. Someone the narcissist is dating where intimacy has occurred.
  2. The narcissist is in a relationship (married, living with somebody, partners) but has a victim on the side as a mistress.
  3. As per 2, but where the victim is a side piece, a booty call, an occasional shag.
  4. As per 2, but where the victim and the narcissist know one another through repeated and extensive online interaction which has become intimate in nature.
  5. As per 2, but with someone the narcissist may see for a weekend or a few days and then does not see the victim for several weeks or longer. There is intimacy in the relationship.
  6. The narcissist is not in a relationship (married, living with somebody, partners) but the victim corresponds with 3,4 or 5 above.

Essentially, if you are intimate with the narcissist (from kissing, mutual masturbation over Skype, through to full sexual intercourse), you are not the primary source and you are seen by the narcissist more than once, you will be an IPSS.

As I have explained elsewhere, the IPSS manifests is three key ways so far as we are concerned.

  1. You have been selected with the intention of becoming our IPPS. You have an intense seduction (although this may not occur with a Lesser Narcissist) and therefore you are a Candidate IPSS. You may lose this position and not reach IPPS. You may not start as a Candidate IPSS but become one.
  2. You have been selected as a Shelf IPSS which means we do not (yet and may never) see you as becoming the IPPS, however, you are a valuable appliance and thus we pick you up and put you down. You may later become promoted to a Candidate IPSS.
  3. You have been selected as a Dirty Little Secret IPSS. We see you often but only for short periods and you are hidden from virtually everyone else in our lives. You may remain in this position or you may become a Shelf IPSS or Candidate IPSS.

In the first category we see a lot of you, maybe not every day, but the intensity of the seduction (save where Lesser) demonstrates you are on the fast track to becoming installed as our IPPS and enjoying the embedded golden period thereafter until the inevitable devaluation.

In the second category, assuming you remain in this role throughout, you will experience an elongated golden period but also periods when there is no or minimal contact. This is when you have been placed on the shelf. It is not devaluation. It is not disengagement.

In the third category, we see you often but you do not become enmeshed in our lives. Family, colleagues and friends do not know you or if they do, they do not know of you as someone who is engaged in an intimate relationship with us. You have an elongated golden period but you are kept hidden away, never receiving wider recognition. It is a relationship of hotel rooms, distant restaurants and short, furtive interactions.

Those who are IPSS regularly struggle with ascertaining whether they have been placed on the shelf or disengaged. Of course, once you realise that you are with a narcissist you should not actually be particularly concerned with whether you are on the shelf or you have been disengaged from (save to the extent this assists you in gauging the behaviour of the narcissist and what will happen next) but as we all know, your emotional thinking surges and you end up ruminating on this question ; have I been placed on the shelf or disengaged?

When you are an IPSS you have competition. Your competition comes from

  1. The IPPS (there is usually one);
  2. Other IPSSs (this is often the case, although not always the case) ; and
  3. Non-Intimate Secondary Sources (“NISSs”) friends, family and colleagues.

How does this competition manifest?

  1. With the IPPS they will be in devaluation and that is why we are engaging with you as an IPSS. The IPPS may be oblivious to your existence, may know of you but not know what is happening or may even be made aware that we are having an affair with you. The IPPS will be granted Respite Periods which because the IPPS has been painted white again will impact on how the narcissist engages with you.
  2. The other IPSS (or IPSSs if more than one) may outshine you which will then impact on how the narcissist regards you. They may cause problems for the narcissist which will then impact on how the narcissist interacts with you. They will be using the narcissist’s time and gaining his or her attention, which will again impact on you. They may be a Candidate IPSS which will then have a severe impact on your position as a Shelf IPSS. Conversely, if you become the Candidate IPSS this will elevate you above the other IPSSs and impact on them.
  3. Whilst these appliances are not competing with you in an intimate sense they will of course be advantageous to the narcissist and in certain instances their involvement with the narcissist will impact on you. If, for example  you are a DLS then where the narcissist is engaging with NISSs you will invariably suffer in that regard because you cannot be present when the friends and/or family are.

Thus this is The Competition.

There are of course other material factors, the Intrinsic Factors. These are :-

  1. Have you done something to wound the narcissist? Is the wounding minor or severe?
  2. Have you exposed the narcissist in some way?
  3. Have you rejected/ threatened the narcissist’s control and is this minor or major in nature?
  4. Have you “broken down” in some way?

So, how can you tell, as an IPSS whether you have been shelved or disengaged from?

The prevalence of The Competition factors results in you being placed on the shelf. You will not have suffered any devaluation. Thus, if we have granted a Respite Period to the IPPS we will not have any desire to see you as the IPSS. However, there is no need to disengage from you and instead you are placed on the shelf for an indeterminate time. Of course, since it is a Respite Period this may only last for a few days, possibly weeks and maybe even months. You will remain on the shelf during this Respite Period. Even when it ends, we may select a different IPSS to engage with and thus you remain on the shelf. Thus it may feel like a disengagement because you have not seen us in months but it is not disengagement.

You can tell if you are on the shelf because you will not have been blocked by us on social media or on the telephone. We may not answer your calls but you will receive a message from us at some point (not always straight away) which will be Crumbs of Conversational Comfort .

You will note from that article the timing and method of those crumbs and the ways in which they appear.

We are polite, civil, often enthusiastic and often future fake as we wish to keep you engaged but on the shelf.  We do not want to see you but we do not wish to lose you, thus this will be done to keep you ‘warm’ and ‘onside’

You are on the shelf when you are still able to communicate with us albeit at a reduced rate and our responses are benign. You can of course find ourself being disengaged from whilst on the shelf, but that is a different topic.

In terms of disengagement, this happens because of the presence of the Intrinsic Factors. If the nature of the Intrinsic Factor is minor then you will be given a Corrective Devaluation. Thus, you may be insulted and we storm off and do not answer your calls, giving you a silent treatment but note you are not blocked. Blocking would equate to disengagement and of course if we block you, how would we gain the fuel that arises from your repeated pleading text messages? You may receive an Absent Silent Treatment as part of this Corrective Devaluation but it will not last for an extensive period, a few days, maybe a week. You will be ignored but not blocked.

If you do not respond to this Corrective Devaluation in the desired way, you may received another (or the original will be extended) and possibly another – dependent on the nature of the narcissist. However, you are moving closer to receiving a Disengagement Devaluation and then disengagement if you do not yield and respond in the expected and desired manner.

When you are an IPSS and you have been disengaged from you will be able to recognise this because

  1. One or more of the Intrinsic Factors will be present;
  2. The relevant Intrinsic Factors will be major in nature or several minor Intrinsic Factors where you have failed to respond appropriately to the Corrective Devaluations;
  3. You may actually be told that the relationship is over, that we do not want to see you ever again (although such words are not always used);
  4. You will be blocked, deleted, unfriended etc;
  5. If you manage to somehow engage with us we will ignore you or respond in a malign fashion;
  6. You will be smeared (which you may learn about but not necessarily).
  7. There are no Conversational Crumbs of Comfort

Accordingly, you need to ascertain whether you are an IPSS and then based on the above work out whether you are on the shelf or you have been disengaged from. Your emotional thinking will be looking to cloud the issue and if you require certainty then consulting with me will remove any doubt as to the situation you are in.

Whether on the shelf or disengaged from, you of course remain at risk of a future hoover, since it is a hoover which either takes you from the shelf removing the suspension of the Formal Relationship with the narcissist or engages with you once again as the Formal Relationship is resurrected.

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129 Comments

  1. Hi HG,

    Why did the victim middle midranger stop flirting with the shelf and stopped asking for pics? Was that just for the seduction?

    He still sent her crumbs of comfort texts though. Then he said that he doesn’t like too much intimacy and then he said at another time that he doesn’t want to cross boundaries (he’s seeing a therapist so Idk if this helps him but probably not).

    1. In all likelihood he was distracted by another appliance which was yielding more productive results with regard to fuel and succumbing to control.

  2. Hi HG,

    1. What makes a narcissist chose someone to be promoted to IPSS shelf anyway? They could have just kept the IPSS as an SS then but promoted them. So, we know why an IPSS candidate is sometimes promoted to IPPS, but what makes the SS promoted to IPSS Shelf?

    2. Is it that they have some of the traits but not enough to be IPPS?

    1. Do you mean why is a Non Intimate Secondary Source promoted to Intimate Partner Secondary Source?

      1. Yes and also then selected as ipss shelf rather than ipss candidate.

        Did the shelf ipss show potential but did not have enough of traits or prime aims? Is that why she would be promoted to shelf?

        1. If you become the Shelf IPSS and stay there then that will be because

          1. Someone is outshining you in the fuel matrix and/or
          2. You are not coming upto proof to be promoted further

          1. Hi HG,

            I don’t think I was clear enough in my question. I meant that why is a shelf ipss promoted from SS that position?

          2. Because the use of intimacy assists in the seduction and pushes the appliance higher up in terms of potency.

  3. According to this article i was a shelved IPSS, but during the shelving i discovered that he had a girlfriend, lied about his real age, and having two kids…i exposed him as well as calling him every name in the book…he admitted that he lied and deceived only because he liked me too much and was afraid of losing me if i knew the truth. He then fake apologized to me…I also contacted the girlfriend and told her everything. This right here means he will NEVER hoover me again…so there is final discard after all.

      1. Will a narc choose a less attractive ipss and put a more attractive ipss on the shelf ? And if so why ? Don’t they want the most attractive?

      2. HG I could not reply on my thread so here is my question. I feel like I was being interviewed as IPPS material. It has gone on almost 3 years. Then he said we couldn’t be in a relationship because I disrespected him yet it still raged on albeit less sexual. I could be wrong but this guy sems to have Madonna /whore complex. He said finds me extremely attracthxs but.couldnt have sex with me and just leave that it would be wrongs d we can’t be in a relationship because of my disrespecting his wishes from time to time. I know good and well he has no problem doing that with plenty of people . he is a narc. Why would he tell me that? I have been shelved in favor of a new ipss that clearly seems to fit the bill of whore. Look like she’s into weird sexual stuff completely different from me. I always felt like the narc was interviewing me for IPPS that I was a candidate to replace his wife some day. He responds with comfort crumbs but I have hinted around that I may block him as it might be easier for bit of us. Ladt we spoke he said he would respond in a few days. How will that be taken ?

  4. So HG, the purpose of the proxy hoover is to garner fuel…?

    Also, Do I assume that as I have been disengaged in two occasions that I will now permanently be painted black?

    Thank you so much , think I need a consultation in the future ( wading out of the emotional sea but it’s all so murky).

    1. 1. Primarily, yes.

      2. Possibly, but it is more likely there will be a shift in the fuel matrix which will cause you to be painted white.

      3. At your convenience.

  5. This is exceptionally insightful HG. I was an IPSS for many years. There was a time when I thought I would be promoted to IPPS (but that is a conversation for another day). Almost two years ago I left after he revealed his plans to live/marry the IPPS. I implemented a form of NC but within a few months of this I emailed – I needed questions , closure blah blah. His response was to tell me never to contact him again (I took this to mean he had disengaged).

    Earlier this year I emailed a mea cults to be friends again (I have since learned from your writings how futile a move this was). He agreed yet I made excuses not to see him.

    Drum roll to the grand finale, we met at a conference (the IPPS was there). We spoke she wasn’t present and arranged lunch but I sensed not all was well when I approached him to say hello when she was in the vicinity.

    A few days later ,he accused me of harassment and threatened to involve the police and my employers if I ever contacted him again. He disconnected me from LinkedIn and I have since blocked him.

    So I’m assuming this is disengagement ,as a result of perceived exposure and an email where I ,to my shame suggested his wife to be looked old enough to be his mother, would this have wounded?

    1. The disengagement came earlier. When you met at the conference he hoovered you and lunch was arranged – he did so because the IPPS was in devaluation. However, shortly thereafter a respite period occurred hence his accusation of harassment towards you as he no longer wished to engage with you and therefore the very brief interaction which commenced at the conference was ended by him. The comment in the e-mail was likely to wound, yes.

      1. HG, why didn’t he just put her on the shelf when the respite occurred? Why did he turn to malign behavior?

        1. Two reasons :-

          1. He wanted to make sure the golden period was not affected and he deemed that placing her back on the shelf would not guarantee this, but being malign towards her would keep her away; and
          2. His IPPS may have made comment about the other person and therefore he needed to be seen to do something to keep her distant.

          1. This is what I find confusing mine just did something like this two weeks back he acted all friendly willingly took money from me had me get his coffee which of course I paid for that lasted 3 days then he was right back to avoiding me it still continues to talk to me

      2. Thank you, HG! I appreciate the explanation. Always so helpful to understand. It’s almost an urge and a need I have: to understand. By analogy, if the narc thinks putting or keeping the appliance on the shelf by politely asking for space and promising future contact will keep her away and allow him to attend to the IPPS, he will do that without being malign, correct?

      3. Thank you for this HG. I was wondering , a friend of his (that I was introduced to) recently contacted me and suggested meeting up when he is next in town. Is this an innocent gesture or is he a deployed lieutenant on orders to check up on me?

  6. I have gone no contact with my ex-narc (a mid-midranger) 1,5 years ago, after I broke of our relationship with a email in which I told him what I really thought of him.

    He was already love bombing my replacement at that time. This relationship failed recently. She broke it of. He is hoovering her at the moment to get her back as his girlfriend. I’m sure he doesn’t want me back as his girlfriend, but I think he has shelved me as a potential future IPSS.

    I’ve been with a new boyfriend – a non-narc – for almost a year. I posted something about our upcoming anniversary on my social media and wrote how happy I’m with this new man.

    My ex-narc wrote (with a new nickname, as he is blocked) how glad he is that I am so happy with this new man and that he wishes me all the best.

    I know this is a benign hoover, so I’m not responding. I also know he is not really happy for me as he can’t be happy for someone else, but I’m wondering if you can tell me what he is really feeling about the fact that I don’t want him anymore? Is he jealous, angry, annoyed or perplexed? And why did he feel the need to react at all? To show me that he is the bigger man?

  7. I was IPSS, shelved then disengaged, think I wounded him. Now he’s unblocked me, but I’m still blocked by him on Facebook. It’s as if he’s waiting for me to contact him. I’ve not done so, I’m ignoring his actions. Reminds me of a Venus Fly Trap. Am I back on his radar as potential supply HG?

      1. Thanks HG. I had tried Blocking him everywhere, but that triggered a big adverse reaction from him. Unblocked he thinks he has control, and keeps his distance. I shall remain alert, to see what happens next.

  8. Hi HG
    With all of the comments and questions about this article, I’m thinking this is the book I would most certainly like to read, and one you might consider writing next? Just a thought…

    1. There will be books about the IPPS and the IPSS and the various indicators and reasons behind the dynamics.

  9. I think I have been shelved he has blocked me from his Facebook page. But not from Facebook. If that makes any sense I can still message him and text him and he responds fast. No wait time and he is not rude he is actually nice. He has told me he has a new lady. I know I need to move on but I can’t. Please don’t ask why cause I don’t know either. But today I argued with him and told him to block me from Facebook all together. But he won’t and I won’t. Do you think he will dis engage or give me the silent treatment? Or will I remain on the shelf.

    1. I do not have enough facts to enable me to provide you with an accurate assessment. You will need to organise a consultation.

  10. Thanks for this post HG. Clears up the blocking and unblocking on the phone situation. Blocked for the weekend so disengaged from while on the shelf. Doesn’t want to risk IPPS finding out or becoming suspicious.

  11. HG, you convinced me during our talk that I have been shelved . It is a testament to how different our mentalities are that I still feel that I have been permanently disengaged. If my last encounter with her had been with a muggle, it would have been clear that there would be no further contact, ever.

    It’s almost like we are dealing with an alien species that just happens to have evolved with the same physiology. Once you can wrap your head around this intellectually, it can begin to transform the emotional context, and you can become proficient at detecting this radically different mentality.

    I don’t even see her as human any more, and I don’t imply that I am dehumanizing her at this point. She’s more like a set of protocols, perhaps merely a different set of protocols, and ours include a form of the Hippocratic Oath, “Do no harm”, whereas they forgot to implant the First Law of Robotics into her programming matrix, “A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.”

    It’s posts like this that help convince me that there is no way in hell I could ever consider seeing her again. Knowing that this is what is going on inside that pretty little head would basically turn any relationship with her into a glorified video game. It might be fun, but sooner or later, you are just playing with yourself.

    1. I love this. Yes. I have always said Robot as my main adjective to describe the narc. Also a sense of autism or asbergers. HG – can all schools of narcs have posses autism/aspberger traits, or does only show up in certain ones (mid/less or great)? Thanks if you can reply….

      1. Loulou..Interesting point about aspbergers/autism because I had looked into those before I found out about narcissism.

    2. Dimitrios
      Thanks for your thoughts. I found your analogy to be well considered. I felt very keenly the intense loneliness trying to have a relationship with my ex-N, and explained to my confidants afterwards that it was as unsatisfying as playing a video game.
      Those very words.
      The same could be said about other Ns in my life too. No real connection, “real relatedness is not possible”, as Cloud and Townsend put it.
      I wish you real love and happiness for your future.

  12. So are these girls in high school and jr high who are commenting on your blog… or are they all just morons?

    Because your secondary source looks like someone’s 12 yr old neighbor.

  13. HG, I absolutely love you. This is the article I wanted to read the most and you didn’t fail me. It is insightful, clear, direct and worth framing! Thank you so much. xoxo

  14. Was shelved for months by the mid ranger narc, with crumbs being given in the form of flirting and sexual chats instead of just friendly chats. He still wouldn’t sleep with me after all the dirty chats bc “he couldn’t do that to his gf again”, while sleeping with his other IPSS.

    After my 3rd chat with HG, I’ve now reinstated NC (broken twice unfortunately) and intend on continuing on this path.

  15. Hello Gorgeous (HG).
    I’m wondering if you are in contact with a narcissist by electronic means only, say you met on the internet and have never met in person, but you share personal stories, information and photos and sexual interactions, why is that person not in the outer circle? You’ve never met. How can they be an IPPS? Are one or both parties without IPPS in real life? So you can have more than one IPPS? Say several you view as IPPSs but only interacting on the internet and never meeting in person?
    I think i thought the IPPS was the top of the hierarchy and then it pyramids down and branches out. Is that not the case?

    God that first sentence was run on. Annoying right?
    I want to know though and you are the head of Narc University. I’ve spent way too many years in your classroom to be kicked out for not understanding the concepts. Please don’t let me flunk out!

    1. “I’m wondering if you are in contact with a narcissist by electronic means only, say you met on the internet and have never met in person, but you share personal stories, information and photos and sexual interactions, why is that person not in the outer circle? ” – they are. I have never stated to the contrary.

      “So you can have more than one IPPS? ” – no. There can be only one primary source.

      1. Thanks.
        So the narcissist doesn’t view outer circle source from internet scenario I described as being intimate?
        The empath would see it as intimate because they are sharing information and sexting and planning to take it further.
        The narcissist wouldn’t because they are not proximate?
        At what point would they move up the chain?

          1. I don’t think my reply went through. So this may appear twice.

            I asked if you seen them as intimate.
            If they are seen as an outer circle then they could not move to the ipps status unless they were proximate. Right?

          2. Look. I’m talking about the internet situation I described initially. I’m asking again if you and your brethren see that person on the internet who you don’t know and are conversing with and sexting with as intimate with you.

          3. Could you please cut and paste me where exactly it answers the question
            – if you consider people that are sexting and giving you personal information and planning on meeting as intimate?

            I don’t see that question in your article. Could you please cut and paste me the answer? I can’t find it.

          4. As per 2, but where the victim and the narcissist know one another through repeated and extensive online interaction which has become intimate in nature.

          5. I have been reading this thread, and want to make sure I am following it correctly.

            The narcissist doesn’t see this person as a primary or this person isn’t seen as a primary to be?

            Would a midranger become pushy in forcing a “relationship” ? I am being told I am going to met a person I work with when they get back from vacation. I keep saying no or not speaking to him, he will sulk off for a while then come back. He is getting more “aggressive” with the telling me what I am going to do the more I say no.

          6. Which question are you referring to?

            If it is the second the mid becoming aggressive with telling me what I am going to do.
            He is becoming pushy with getting me to sleep with him, he knows my feelings on this…1 he is not my boyfriend and 2 I don’t want to. Hence forth the pushing of a relationship
            Before he left for vacation he told me when he gets back I am coming to his place. Just thinking about this is making me angry.

          7. The first part “The narcissist doesn’t see this person as a primary or this person isn’t seen as a primary to be?”

            Which person are you referring to when you ask this question Twilight?

          8. I know a person never met can not be a primary, can they be one the narcissist will make a primary?

            I am really trying to distract myself at the moment, I found some things dealing with my ex last night. I know he wants me to give in and contact him. I am angry HG, I just do not see why he is going through all this. Things can not go back to what they were. That trust is long gone and buried. There are no words to change what is done and nothing will bring her back.

      2. Good Morning HG .

        I’d be really grateful if you can answer this question for me please as it’s one of the last I really would like an answer to . .

        Okay . ” It” met it’s IPSS through social media & did all the mutual masturbation over Skype or Facetime , whatever .

        At the time I was IPPS ..

        Okay, this is what I find perplexing( especially after reading this article ) I was discarded & she was promoted to IPPS before they even physically met up. I understand they’ve now met up a couple of times therefore have been physically intimate but the whole relationship by all intents & purposes still remains long distance & conducted online ..
        As far as I’m aware & I’m as sure as I can be ” It ” had no other intimate sources at the time

        How will this effect his fuel ? Is it possible for a narc to have along distance IPPS when they’ve only met a couple of times ?… Can this be sustained ? … so many questions …

        Can you enlighten me please ?

        Thank you

        NNS x

          1. Thank you for replying HG, I really appreciate it .

            I understand but ” it ” did make her it’s PRIMARY source of fuel & this is why I’m confused ..

            Any one looking at their social media posts etc will see them as being a couple in a relationship ..

            Can you please elaborate .?

            Thank you loads NNS x

          2. He may have drawn on her fuel the most but that would not make her the IPPS. She would be an IPSS still. For instance, let’s say I have a girlfriend who is an IPPS who is devaluation – we live together but I ignore her most of the time, which causes her to respond but I am cultivating at work an IPSS who I see every day and interact with most of the time. I am most likely drawing more fuel from the IPSS than the IPPS at this point (say over a two week period) but that does not shift their roles just yet over this period of time.

          3. Okay . So she stayed IPSS thank you for clarifying that HG .

            I’d like to delve a little further though if that’s ok.

            So can I assume that ” It’s ” IPSS was providing enough fuel that he no longer needed me as his IPPS? even though she was thousands of miles away & I was still proximate .. ? My understanding is that all narcs need an IPPS along with secondary sources not instead of ..
            I’m wondering if it was because I’d more or less stopped giving it any negative fuel, but then again surely he could have found ways to get it , even if it meant more violence against me .. you see where I’m coming from?

            Thank you’re patience

            NNS x

          4. Most need an IPPS. Some can survive on supplementary sources for a short period without an IPPS, Greaters can do so for longer since Greaters will have have numerous IPSSs to hand.

          5. Thank you HG .

            I know that from your blog already but it really doesn’t answer my last question .

            Why would a Lesser narc discard an IPPS for an IPSS when the IPPS is proximate fuel & the IPSS lives in another country ? That’s what I’m asking ? ..

            As far as I’m aware its only supplementary sources were on social media . No Family or friends as such.

            Sorry to push this but you’re the only person I can trust to give me answers .

            NNS X

          6. Because he is about the crown the IPSS as the new IPPS ; or
            The IPPS was not actually the IPPS and was an IPSS who has either been shelved or disengaged from and the focus is now on the other IPSS because that IPSS has been identified as a superior prospect.

          7. Thank you again HG .

            But to be frank I don’t think you’re right .

            To be clear ( and I completely understand you have many questions to reply to every day )

            I was “its ” IPPS .
            I wasn’t shelved . ..

            It made it’s IPSS . Sex over the internet ( never met It’s main source of fuel ..

            You said that an IPSS cannot be be a IPPS if they haven’t physically met ? Yes ?

            I disagree .

    2. This whole thread is the most confusing thread ever.

      I am 100 % sure that the ex-narc has lived with two women so far, one many years ago for maybe 2 years or so, some time also in her proximity; with the other for about a year now I assume.

      I am also 100 % sure that I was his IPPS even though it was long distance and a lot happened via Skype and a lot of communication via e-mails (hundreds per day). As long as I had contact with him, there was no other woman living in his apartment (and he also was at home at night).
      We spent maybe 4 days in a row together, maybe once up to a week, but mostly short weekends, and not all that often after the end of the official relationship (which I still think was a kind of accident).

      When he did test drive other women I knew about it and he was gone for that time, for one or two months. Therefore I a sure there hasn’t been anyone significant the rest of the time, and he’d never mentioned anyone to mutual aquaintances.

      ***
      The current ex-narc-lover seems to use the internet / texting as an extension also, it didn’t seem soooo important to actually have physical contact.
      That very old aquaintance who popped up a few weeks ago after 15 years also told me once that it was almost enough for him to know that he could seduce a woman that he didn’t have to do it in real. He has lived alone for decades, was married in between for a short while.

      ***
      Therefore I think that not all narcs need a physically proximate main energy source all the time, and some prefer to live alone.
      The exnarc sucked my energy 24/7 nonetheless, never mind if I wanted to sleep at 2 in the morning, when he wanted me to pick furniture for his office online (which he has abandoned now), e.g., or complained at 6 in the morning that I didn’t answer immediately.
      When I was with him in his apartment he would be busy a lot, always on the move, never leaving time and space for intimate time just the two of us. (I also helped him paint his office, in exchange for a massage, that was a very short interval when he got a little closer.)

      ***

      You, HG, actually strike me as unusually “normal” in that regard, having normal, serious relationships (next to the rest).

      ***
      HG: I also haven’t understood from which interaction on someone gets into the secondary source circle – the constant physical proximity is that important and a determining factor?

      1. Thank you. (That was irony).
        ?!

        You seem to regard real life person to person interaction as really important.

        a) I can write a lot with someone via the Internet / messenger, etc. and regard him/her as a friend without ever meeting.
        Can you (secondary source)?

        b) I can meet someone once or twice, but he or she lives far away, so we mostly only write e-mais, but I regard him/her as a friend.
        Can you?

        c) Do you only regard someone as a functioning secondary source who lives near you and whom you could meet in person regularly?

        d) Would you say that it wasn’t possible that I was my ex-narcs primary source based on my description? Because based on your premises it would mean that.

        1. (a) That person could be a NISS.

          (b) That person could be a NISS

          (c) Not necessarily.

          (d) Which description?

      2. Hi HG,
        a, b, c: Thank you!
        d: the description in my comment before these comments, where you answered that my question didn’t make sense.

  16. HG, from your writings about the shelved intimate secondary source, it appears that while on the shelf, she does not hear from the narcissist but, if she contacts the narcissist, she will generally get a response with some comfort crumb. If the narc, however, asks for space for right now for him and his primary source to work out some personal issues and that he would reach out soon thus making it so that she cannot contact him if she is to comply but instead must wait for the narc to contact her, is this still being put on the shelf as opposed to being discarded/ disengaged from? By way of the background, I sent them a gift for their newly born baby (with his permission). However, it did not go as expected, she asked him who i was, said I must be into him, also asked whether we were seeing each other, etc. He explained I was a friend from a few years ago and nothing was going on, which is true. He called me and we had a long discussion with him confiding in me on how she was currently insecure and struggling after the birth of the baby and that once things settled down, he would reach out. He was friendly throughout. I apologized in case I caused any trouble and was otherwise complimentary, adoring, understanding, and compliant. Any insight on my current status/ situation? Thank you!

      1. HG, a quick follow-up question if I may. The article says,”You are on the shelf when you are still able to communicate with us albeit at a reduced rate and our responses are benign.” In my case, as I explained above, the narc asked me to give them some space for right now and wait for him to reach out, so I am unable to communicate. Does this make a difference as far as my current status is concerned? I apologize for asking you again when you have already answered. I just wanted to be thorough and make sure you considered this. Thanks so much!

        1. When the article states you are still able to communicate with us, that means at our choosing, i.e. you are not blocked but we decide when to contact you.

      2. To be honest, HG, I was very distraught whether my gift and him having to explain who i was to his primary may have caused him grief and trouble and could have caused him to paint me black and disengage. But from your response, it sounds like this is not the case and I was put on the shelf instead. I have this insane loyalty to him and I am very protective of him and his interests.

      3. I should have known it was expected owing to his sense of entitlement. Thanks so much, HG!

  17. The entire farce has been a study in risk.

    He’s aware he loses credibility with each subsequent hoover and even when successful the fuel is tainted and loses potency.

    He once told me he doesn’t like good byes. Wow, thanks. I’ll try that and drift away with the inherent risks notwithstanding.

  18. HG, can someone be a narcissist AND live a permanent delusion, like someone who is psychotic? Not just a little delusional, but thinking himself to be a chosen prophet, Napoleon, etc.?

      1. I like it when you make me look things up HG. Hasn’t happened in a while. This made me smile.

  19. Thanks for the explanation, HG. I’m shelfed. Don’t care why, don’t know for how long. I exposed his behavior to him and removed control. I respond to comfort crumbs with a courteous but obvious restraint. He had a good game but he missed his last shot. Now I drift farther and farther from him on that Emotional Sea. It isn’t the strict and aggressive N/C regime HG prescribes, but a variant I can live with…actually counting on other sources to keep him occupied.

    I understand I run the risk of future benign hoovers and re-engagement. Perhaps it is my own need for validation that allows the possibility.

    So he keeps his delusion that he could have me back “if and when” he wants. I get the peace of silence and all the space I can put between us in the interim.

    Just a garden variety Mid Range who likes to “get away with it” and still be perceived as a troubled hero.

    I feel like I got this.

  20. Thank you. This was very helpful for me, and my growing understanding of the situation I have been in and out of, and back and forth with. Having this awarness, allows me to make much better choices for myself! I have also been a shelf girl, and our intimacy was only kissing a lot in the beginning, and then online dating messages, lots of texting and emails, comfort crumbs, and future faking. I will be having that consult with you soon, there is still that small pat of me that is comfortable with being in denial! :-).

      1. His consults truly are a major help … he opened my eyes and his posts seem to have brought me out of that depression state of mind I went thru …

  21. HG, in my opinion this is your best work to date. Unbelievable insight. Amazing detail. And all true!!! May I ask, is there really nothing an IPSS can do to get off the shelf quicker, other than wait it out. Many, many thanks. x

  22. It is like you are reading my mind today. I continue to struggle to understand shelving vs. disengagement.

    I have a few observations and a question regarding your last paragraph of points #1 – #7:

    In my situation (DLS), your point #1 of Intrinsic factors I think is present. (aka: I wounded him by exposing his online sex profiles).

    Point #2: I am not sure if I responded appropriately to his “correcting devaluation” (aka: the fight we had after I wounded him). However I did stop arguing with him, I backed off and gave him the space he wanted. So I am assuming yes here, I replied “appropriately” I suppose.

    Point #3: I was told the “sexual” part of the relationship was over but he hoped we could “remain friends”. (however he has never meant it because he continued to have sex with me). So that confuses me.

    Point #4: I was not blocked. So no on that.

    #5: Ignored half of the time but crumbs given the other half. (see #7) So there are crumbs being given.

    #6: I am DLS so I have no idea if I am/was being smeared. No one knew about me and then suddenly he told his coworker about me. He told me that the coworker said I was obsessed and too attached to him. (which is the same thing he tells me) Not sure on this.

    #7: I have gotten conversational crumbs (“maybe we will talk after the Thanksgiving holiday”) -repeat of #5, crumbs given.

    These signs seem to point more to shelving. If the crumbs stop or I am continually ignored or blocked would that mean disengagement? Am I accurate HG?

      1. Phoenix Rising….did you say he no longer directs music at your church??????

        Urrgghhhhh………

        What is it with these musician narcs?
        What is it with these churchy church narcs?

        Gahhhhh…..I hope we do not have the same narc!

        1. Gabbanzobean- yep!! Left and did the church dirty while doing so. It was a nightmare. All of his assholery should be enough for me to walk away and never look back, and yet I find myself missing the close friend I thought I had, the person I thought he was. Ugh!! But I have truly implemented no contact this time from my end. Problem is I know I am completely in danger of being sucked back in should he endeavor to hoover me.

  23. I know I was an IPSS who was shelved. I got pissed when the last time we talked he was all loving and future faking after months of no contact. Just over a week ago (about 6 weeks after our last talk), I finally blocked him on my social media. I got tired of knowing he was watching me but acting as though I don’t exist. Sent him a text asking if we could talk soon and got no reply, so a week later I blocked him. Now, he is still forwarding my husband emails about a hobby they have in common. There’s no personal notes or anything, just information generated by a third party. HG, why would he continue to send my husband emails if I have blocked him on social media?? Surely he has noticed he is blocked, right?? And of course the thing I hate the most is that I miss him and still care.

      1. Ahhh…thank you. May I ask one more question? Will blocking him have wounded him enough to discard me for the foreseeable future?

        1. 1. No such thing as discard.
          2. I think you mean, will blocking him have wounded him so he does not hoover me. It depends on the application of other criteria alongside this wounding.

          1. Yes, sorry. I meant disengaged.
            Well, I have zero intention on reaching out to him again, so there’s one mark against it. He no longer directs music at my church, so I no longer see him weekly. Now that I’ve blocked him on social media, he can’t watch me. Finally, we have never run into each other while out and about. It’s not a solid stone wall, but it’s the best I can manage as far as antihoovering criteria goes.
            Thank you again, HG. I really appreciate your insights.

    1. So they do watch you but ignore you at the same time. It drives me nuts especially knowing he has a new IPSS. Thank you phoenix

      1. SandraDee- yes, yes they do. It was driving me absolutely batty. I was equal parts furious with him for ignoring me, yet happy that he still had an interest because maybe things would be reinstated. I had to kick that emotional thinking to the curb. Wanting and having him in my life is not healthy for me.

  24. Superb article, HG! Thank you! Could you please explain why this would happen: “You can of course find yourself being disengaged from whilst on the shelf”?

      1. I did! It says “it’s a different topic.” So does this mean another article is forthcoming?

      2. Any way you could reveal any of the reasons for disengagement while on the shelf? Is it linked in any way to the IPSS’s action or failure to act? Thank you!

      3. Ok, HG, I’ll give this a try. An IPSS can suffer disengagement while on the shelf if, while on the shelf, she does something that will invoke any of the Intrinsic Factors and/ or fails to respond properly to Corrective Devaluation. Am I on the right track at all? Thanks so much!

      4. Yay! Gold star for me from HG! Quoting “Pride and Prejudice,” “your good opinion is rarely bestowed and, therefore, more worth the earning.”

    1. All right, professor Tudor! I will dissect the article until I find the answer. Sometimes I love you, sometimes I hate you!

  25. This explains a lot … so if disengaged there is still a chance they return and you can go back to golden ?

Vent Your Spleen!

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