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?
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
- 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;
- 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;
- 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
- 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:-
- No Test takes place akin to the IPSS;
- 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;
- Corrective Devaluation occurs – the narcissist will blow cold, more likely to be aggressive in behaviour and will stipulate a desired outcome;
- 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.