Why Does The Narcissist Blow Hot and Cold?



“I don’t get it, one minute he is all smiles and cuddles and the next he acts like he doesn’t know me.”

“I don’t know what is going on. Earlier in the week he wanted to hang out with me and now when I call to make arrangements he doesn’t seemed bothered.”

“He was in a foul mood and then suddenly he was being really nice to me and I have no idea why.”

Familiar sentiments? Most likely they are when you are dealing with our kind. Why is it that one moment everything is wonderful and the next it all goes wrong? Why are there periods of elation and then periods of erosion? Why are we so inconsistent in the way that we behave with you? Let’s begin with the Intimate Partner Primary Source, the most common recipient of this behaviour.

The Intimate Partner Primary Source (“IPPS”)

Whether you are our wife, boyfriend, partner or lover, the IPPS will find themselves subject to this vacillating behaviour.

The Seduction Golden Period

Once you have been installed as the primary source, following your seduction as an intimate partner secondary source, you reap the rewards of being our primary source of fuel, the apple of our eye and the light of our life. There will be only the heat of manufactured passion, the warmth of apparent caring and the fire of fabricated desire during this period.

During this golden period our fury (which is expanded on below) is in effect capped and therefore does not manifest. This ‘capping’ occurs for two reasons. The first is that you are supplying us with positive fuel and therefore if you happened to criticise us, we are able to brush it off because (a) we are being well fuelled in a positive manner and (b) we regard you as ‘white’ ; you are wonderful and our mind set is such that the criticism does not have the same effect. Secondly, even if we began to react to your criticism, we exert control because we do not want to lose you at this juncture and we want the positive fuel to keep flowing (we do not want your negative fuel at this point). There is also the issue that you are highly unlikely to cause a criticism because of the way you are responding to us during this golden period.

Accordingly, it is extremely rare to see us blow hot and cold during seduction for these reasons. You might find a reaction from a Lesser Narcissist who is criticised early in the golden period, who cannot exert sufficient control and accordingly he erupts, but it is extremely rare.

The Devaluation Period

This is when the alternating between hot and cold commences and there are a variety of reasons why this happens.

The first occurs in The Instant and is as a consequence of the ignition of fury. If you say (or more likely) do something which is perceived by us as criticism, it wounds us. Bear in mind that it may not seem like a criticism from your perspective, indeed you are usually at a complete loss as to why we have reacted as we have done. The blowing hot and cold which occurs in The Instant is naturally your fault.

Whatever it is that you have said or done, it has been perceived as a criticism. This wounds us and our self-defence mechanism is for the churning fury that is ever present, to be ignited. This happens more often with Lesser and Mid-Range narcissists because those members of our brethren are unable to control their fury with the same skill and discipline as the Greaters.

This ignited fury may manifest as heated fury as we erupt and call you names, break things, slam doors, hit you and such like. Accordingly, all was going well and you cause a criticism and our volcanic rage erupts as the situation becomes super-heated. Alternatively, this ignited fury emerges as cold fury whereby you are subjected to a baleful glare, being cold shouldered and treated to silent treatments. Thus the situation becomes ice-cold.

In the blink of an eye, you have unbalanced the situation through your criticism. Our reaction is based on self-defence. Since you are in the devaluation period, the ‘cap’ on  our fury that existed during the seduction period has been removed. Accordingly, it is only a matter of time before you do or say something which ignites our fury and boom, we react. One minute we are enjoying a family film and the next we have thrown the popcorn across the room and are glaring at you from our armchair.

The reason the fury ignites is to cause an intense reaction so that you react to it and provide us with fuel (or others do who witness the explosion). Usually, the ignited fury is directed towards the person who has caused the criticism by way of punishment and the need to cause them to atone for their transgression. By insulting you, striking you, spitting at you, shoving you, glaring at you, sitting and sulking we are aiming to prompt an emotional response from you. This provides us with fuel. Once you provide us with fuel, the wound you have caused is healed and our ignited fury abates. Consequently, we then carry on as if nothing has happened. Accordingly, in the space of a few minutes we go from calm to furious and then calm again. We have blown hot and cold and of course it has to be your fault because we are never at fault in our minds.

That is how we blow hot and cold in an instant and whilst theoretically this could happen at any stage in the narcissistic cycle it happens most with the IPPS during the devaluation.

We also blow hot and cold with you over an elongated period because of the need for contrast.  Isaac Newton’s Third Law stated

” For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

Whilst this was directed in the field of physics, this is of equal application to the narcissistic dynamic. We have to create contrast in order to derive the most potent fuel. If we dig a ditch which is ten feet deep and shove you into it, you will probably be hurt as you fall into the ditch. If we build a tower thirty feet high next to the pit and push you from the top of the tower, then you have a forty foot drop and will suffer greatly owing to this starker contrast.

When we are seducing you, we are devaluing someone else.

When we are devaluing you, we are seducing somebody else.

When we allow you a Respite Period during the devaluation it is because we have turned against somebody else and thus we see you as ‘white’ once again.

When we start devaluing you again it is because we are savouring the resumption of seduction of another or perhaps starting a seduction anew with a new appliance.

It is all about creating that contrast.

If there are times where we have walked in to the house and we begin berating you from the moment we arrive you are at a loss to even identify what you could have done to cause this. The belittling commenced the moment we stepped through the doorway. What has happened is that we have been with someone else (not necessarily in an intimate way, it might have been an Non-Intimate Secondary Source, a friend) and having gained their positive fuel, it remind us of why we are devaluing you. This causes us to continue to regard you as ‘black’ and therefore we are unpleasant to you as soon as we first appear and continue being so until your emotional response fuels us and we stop.

If we are driving and we cut up another driver who we then pulls up alongside us and we swear at him and threaten to get out the car and stamp on his trachea until it bubbles, we gain negative fuel from the other driver’s frightened or upset or angry response. We can then turn to you (even in devaluation) and smile and kiss you on the cheek, to enjoy your contrasting positive response to the negative one which we have just obtained.

Accordingly, when we are seducing somebody else, we seem them as ‘white’ and thus you are ‘black’ because we need the contrast between the two of you. The IPSS we are seducing is seen as wonderful (and all the more because we despise you) and you as the IPPS are seen as awful (and all the more because we adore the IPSS). The contrast makes the fuel from both sources all the more potent.

If we decide to give you a Respite Period it may be because a NISS has been disloyal and we have devalued them, so we see your dogged loyalty as a good thing for a short time. It might be because the IPSS we have been cultivating is not delivering as we expected and whilst our disappointment in them is not sufficient to cause us to devalue them it means we will park them for the time being  and you gain by getting a Respite Period.

All of the various appliances that we are connected to have an effect on one another and most of all on  the IPPS.

Thus during the devaluation period you will find us behaving “okay” with you when we are neither especially pleasant or horrible, but then suddenly we shift to being unpleasant and then a Respite Period comes out of nowhere. It will appear arbitrary and inconsistent to you but there is a logic behind it.

The Discard

What about the period post discard when you were once the IPPS and you have been demoted from  that heady position? We once adored you and now we do not even acknowledge you. This is because we are obsessed with the new primary source and have no interest in you anymore. This is why if you stay out of our spheres of influence and the Hoover Execution Criteria is not met, you hear nothing from us in the immediate aftermath of discard.

Then, some time later, we appear with smiles and compliments as we apply a Benign Follow-Up Hoover. Our approach to you has altered again and you have done nothing. In such an instance we are now devaluing your replacement and we want some delicious  hoover fuel from you. You triggered a hoover, the Hoover Execution Criteria was met and thus we come after you for that positive hoover fuel. Deny it us and we may suddenly shift in an instant to a malign hoover, again you are puzzled as to why our attitude towards you has altered so quickly, but from our perspective it makes sense. If you have rebuffed our hoover and we have decided against withdrawal, the easiest way to gain some fuel from you (to heal the wound caused by your rebuffing criticism) is to dole out a malign hoover and seek negative fuel from you.

If you approach us when we are infatuated with our replacement, you will receive a malign hoover (if not ignored as explained in The Immediate Aftermath ) because at that time your replacement is regarded as ‘white’ thus you remain ‘black’ as the opposite and equally strong reaction.

We blow hot and cold because of the ignition of our fury in the instant and also because of this constant need to create contrasts and accord with the principle of opposite and equal reactions. This is why we engage in black and white thinking, it enables us to create the contrast that our needs demand and consequently causes us to blow hot and cold with you. Sometimes the hot appears as passion and desire, other times as rage, sometimes the cold appears as indifference and disinterest and other times it is a silent treatment and ignoring you. So long as there is a contrast, we will blow hot and cold.

The effects of blowing hot and cold are as follows:-

  1. First and most importantly the gathering of fuel. This is to power the construct and also in certain instances to heal the wound caused by your criticism;
  2. To maintain control over you;
  3. To underline our omnipotence by being able to control you;
  4. To emphasise our notion of superiority;
  5. To disorientate you so you give fuel and fail to comprehend what is happening;
  6. To create an apparent lack of consistency which prevents your understanding and adds to your confusion;
  7. To prevent you from being able to move forward because you are emotional, confused and disorientated.

All of the above fits together so that there will be wheels within wheels as we blow hot and cold with you.

Part Two examines why we blow hot and cold with the Intimate Partner Secondary Source, the Dirty Secret Intimate Partner Secondary Source and the Non-Intimate Secondary Source which includes the familial narcissistic dynamic.

21 thoughts on “Why Does The Narcissist Blow Hot and Cold?

  1. Katie says:

    Over time, this cycle has provided me a comfortable place of numb.

  2. Laura says:

    HG correct me if I am wrong. I assume then that a narc parent usually designates and conditions  their  children to the role of golden child or scapegoat for contrast also. The narc gets a continuous stream of contrasting  fuel with the minimum effort, accompanied by the narc’s feelings of control and superiority.  
    HG   can you please elaborate on whether there are any other reasons for Narc’s  creating this contrasting of roles with their offspring.
    HG even with the Narc’s creation of a perpetual  golden child or grandchild does the Narc’s  destructive urge  eventually overwhelm them  and lead to the Narc  assigning them the scapegoat status? 

    1. HG Tudor says:

      You are correct. It is also linked to control.

      A golden child can become scapegoated. The child (as a minor) is a NISS and largely the golden child remains that way because
      (a) they are compliant and mild transgressions are overlooked because they are painted ‘white’ ; and
      (b) they appear wonderful compared to the scapegoat whose every act is criticised (even when they have not done anything wrong or done something ‘good’) because they are painted black.

      However, if the golden child stepped out of line, in the same was a friend NISS might, they would receive a Corrective Devaluation. Since the children are minors and thus remain in near enough daily contact with the narcissist, there would not be disengagement. Instead, if that golden child did not get back into line, they would then be scapegoated. A new golden child would be found (possibly the original scapegoat) or someone from outside of the family unit – a cousin or a friend’s child, so the triangulation would continue.

      1. Iris says:

        My golden child sister has one child, a girl who is her mini-me.

        As there is no other child to be the scapegoat child can it be that I am her scapegoat or her husband (a greater narc who she hates)?

        I know that you don’t know our specific situation, but speaking in a general sense?

        1. HG Tudor says:

          That is possible yes.

  3. H. says:

    I call it the nice/mean cycle which accelerated with more cycles of this with time.

    The nice was less nice and the mean was more mean.

    1. geyserempath says:

      Exactly,H. Each time the silent treatments got expanded in time and the nice periods were reduced.

      1. H. says:

        Your lucky to get the silent treatment, I would get the belittling on the other side of the nice. I finally figured out was going on after reading all the blog posts here. I kept going back for more trying to figure it out. Now I know, I had to go. No more Mean/Nice cycles…I have my closure.

  4. Iris says:

    My last ex-narc used to be moody almost all the time, the rest of the time he was rather flat and boring and sometimes we argued, which usually escaladed in a big fight that could last for hours.

    I remember wondering if he was ever truly happy or content. Were these huge fights his way of feeling happy? Or isn’t feeling happy something narcs want?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      We do not do happy, Iris. We may talk about it and appear happy but we are not, it is the manifestation of the fuel.

      1. Iris says:

        Thanks for this conformation. I already thought that their joy and happiness wasn’t the same as mine. Nice to know for sure.

    2. Jenna says:

      Hi iris,

      My nex was flat and boring alot of the time too. Hg, wud u describe ur default setting as flat and straight faced?

      Also, since u do not ever feel happy, do u at least feel at peace sometimes, when u r well fuelled? Or is this not possible due to constant underlying churning fury? I did read ‘fuel’, ‘fury’, ‘jealousy and joy’ which helped me understand alot.

      1. HG Tudor says:


        There is no peace. When well-fuelled one feels power not peace.

        1. Jenna says:


          So when u feel powerful, u say u do not feel at peace. I am trying to understand this. For some reason, i struggle with this.

          Do u feel a sense of ease and calm when feeling well fuelled and powerful? Do u feel that everything is fine and ur satisfied? Or, is there always a feeling of not being satisfied since there is no peace? Ty.

  5. SadSteffi says:

    Dear HG,

    A few months ago I called a halt to the relationship with my cerebral UMRN when I found out I was a DLS, having been under the impression our relationship was exclusive. I didn’t get emotional about it in front of him but I think I wounded him by telling him I was moving on from our relationship and that I knew about his girlfriend. He was angry that I mentioned the girlfriend and denied her existence.

    He has only contacted me once by text since to ask after my wellbeing – I didn’t reply and I guess that’s why it was just once. Our paths have crossed a few times since and we have exchanged pleasantries – I initiated conversation. A few days ago, I was proximate to him (he was alone) and he ignored me. I am aware he is engaged elsewhere.

    HG, am I on the shelf or have I been dis-engaged from the formal relationship?

    (I don’t know if the fact that he knows I have assets is significant and if I am in fact on the shelf would this be the only reason?)

    I know that there is always the prospect of return, but, realistically what are the odds of MY UMRN returning?

    Many thanks for your timely article.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Hello SadSteffi,

      You are neither on the shelf nor have you been disengaged from. You called a halt to the relationship, therefore you escaped. The constitution of the fuel matrix, the fact you were a DLS and the fact you do indeed appear to have wounded him meant that he made no effort thereafter to hold on to you. This is why thereafter the interactions have been limited in nature – he is wary of being wounded again and has no pressing need to draw you into the fuel matrix.

      In terms of the risk of him returning this depends on there being a Hoover Trigger and the Hoover execution Criteria being met. The impact of your wounding will lessen as time progresses, thus that will not be a factor which will raise the hoover bar anymore. Beyond that, it depends on the factors in place as at the time of the hoover trigger. If you do not impose any form of no contact, the risk will remain higher than it should be.

      1. SadSteffi says:

        Thank you HG

  6. Vera says:

    The clarity that your blog and books bring is such a double-edged sword. I’m grateful that I know what I’ve been dealing with for several years now, but each new thing I read feels like a complete kick in the face (albeit a much needed one). I’ve been accused of being hot and cold myself (of course), but the need for “contrast” as you describe makes a lot of sense to me based on what I’ve experienced. Since I am rarely on the receiving end of any “nice” behavior, it’s become more prominent in situations where I’m aware that someone or something has pissed him off more than he’s normally put off by me generally, so his venom gets directed at someone or something else, and I get a bit of a respite. In the past I would have taken this as a sign that things could improve and would be something that I would pile in my always present hope bucket. But now I use the sporadic respites to heal myself. To slowly piece myself back together. Thank you for what you’re doing HG. I shudder to think what my life would have become had my eyes been kept shut to the truth.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      You are welcome Vera.

      1. Vera says:

        Is there a way to break a narc out of a “respite” phase? By that I mean, when you know the “nice” is fake and just designed to make you lower your guard, is there a way to get the true narc to reappear to basically call his bluff?

        1. HG Tudor says:

          Wound him or her.

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