Dirty Little Secret


Sometimes it is not all Relationship Bulletins, declarations to the world about you and me or announcements across the fabric of social media about our perfect love. Sometimes you are the dirty little secret.

This is never the title afforded to the primary source that we have chosen. It is those who are  secondary sources who find themselves labelled in this way.

Do you have a friend who makes demands of your time, often calls you and ensures that you give up your time so he or she is able to tell you all about what they have been doing, obtain your advice and uses you as a sounding board? Does this person tell you all about the brilliant weekend or she has just had with a group of other friends at some weekend away or at a concert but somehow no invitation came your way? Do you perhaps politely and subtly ask whether you can attend some forthcoming event which this friend is enthusiastically telling you about, maybe even gloating about how brilliant it will be, but this friend shows all of the perception of a plank of wood and never picks up on your hints? Even if they do or perhaps if you are more forceful as you ask whether you can attend or you point out how you never get invited along, are you met with comments such as:-

“Yes, I know you would have loved to have come but I didn’t organise it, John did and it is his fault he didn’t ask you.”

“I didn’t think it was your kind of thing.”

“There was only a few places available but I will make sure you can come to the next one.”(Of course this never transpires)

“I thought you hated rock music. I am sure you told me that you did.”

“I have been so busy I must have forgotten to ask you.”

“I did ask you and you said no.Dont you remember?”

(Of course this is a lie.)

These people are our inner circle. The select few who are our guardians of our reputations, loyal lieutenants and brainwashed and indoctrinated to fawn over us, carry out our demands and provide us with fuel and you are not in the inner circle.

In fact, the inner circle does not ever know about you. When we spend time with you, we string you along with future-faking, we allow you to bask in our greatness and at first it feels good to have such an interesting, charismatic and seemingly attentive friend. You may attract the label of friend and you sit in the outer circle but you are a dirty secret secondary source. We do not want our inner circle to know about you because whilst you serve an excellent purpose in providing us with fuel, your enthusiasm when we tell you with a moment’s notice that we are coming to visit is just the tip of the fuel berg. We know you are loyal, dependable and faithful. We know you will provide us with the fuel that we need and you above everybody else will be the go to person when fuel stocks are running low. Whether it is 3am call or an appearance on a wet and windy Monday evening in winter, you always welcome us in, always take the call and you always oblige. We do make you feel special, trotting out the easy to mouth platitudes about how much we like being with you, how we enjoy your company, how it is good to know that we can depend on you but this is just to keep you sweet and functioning. The reality is we do not want other people knowing about you because you do not fit with our idea of how our life looks. You might not be as good looking as we would prefer, you might not shine in a group, or you are apt to saying unusual things which we feel would make us look less impressive in front of our all important facade. No, you are kept in the background, used but rarely abused because you are the long-serving indentured servant of the narcissist. The loyal hound that sits in the corner of the kitchen, always ready to wag your tail for us but too old and unappealing to be paraded at the show. This is the role of a dirty secret secondary source.

There is also the Dirty Secret Intimate Partner  Secondary Source (“DSIPSS”). You were seduced and made into a secondary source and within the blind of an eye you were bedded and the platitudes of love and dedication came pouring forth in order to secure your loyalty. There are those who are earmarked for promotion to primary source, they are destined for better things so long as they come up to proof with regard to the provision of fuel, character traits and residual benefits. Those who are on the fast-track to being installed as the primary source can expect to meet our children, meet our families and our friends, be paraded and attend certain events with us, all at the humiliating cost to the currently devalued primary source who is on their way out, all being well with the seduction of this Intimate Partner Secondary Source. The future is rosy for this person.

The DSIPSS , at the outset, is never considered for promotion. Words may be whispered to that effect but they are just false promises, more future faking and the crumbs of comfort which are scattered to stop you foraging elsewhere. When we allocate you the role of dirty secret next to nobody knows about you.

Whereas the IPSS who is in waiting for the top role may find themselves being picked up and put down, with intervals of silence in between the weekend hook-ups, as we test that person to gauge their suitability for promotion, it is a different story for the dirty secret.

The dirty secret actually may well see quite a lot of us. in the backs of cars, in seedy motel rooms, in the back of the warehouse, the disabled toilet, the alley behind the house and such like. You are never to be seen by our family, our friends or even our colleagues. You remain hidden because your presence will offend our facade. We are the dedicated family man and thus we cannot be seen hanging out the back of you down some leafy lane at dusk. We are the champion of morals in our local community and it would not be the done thing for us to be know to be engaging in the debauchery that we insist on when we are with you. The primary source may well be devalued but we do not want them to be sullied by the knowledge of the filthy whore that have twice a week. You are a pit stop for a delicious injection of fuel. That snatched two drinks in an out of town bar where you had to sit and wait for two hours before we showed up? You are a dirty secret. Never allowed to call or message us before we have contacted you first? You are a dirty secret. Never allowed to meet our friends? You are a dirty secret. We wish to portray an image and you do not fit with that image but you are a potent bundle of fuel, dedicated and desperate, always hanging on for that stolen hour in bed together, the occasional afternoon when we pretend to work to have a meeting in the next state or county. You live for those moments because in that instant we make you feel wonderful, we focus on you, we give you the best sex, the excitement and the promises, oh the promises of what could be yours.

The future faking with an IPSS is born out of being torn between not wanting to lose a good source of fuel and the potential this IPSS has to perhaps become a primary source at some juncture. We do not want to lose that, thus we keep the IPSS hanging on as I described in the article ‘What Am I To Him?’ It is a different set-up for the DSIPSS. You were not initially selected for potential promotion. You were selected because you are a dependable, reliable turbo-boost of fuel and when we demand it, you always provide it. Why would we ever let that go? We would not.

Like the friend who is the dirty little secret above, you are the same but with you comes the intimacy. you are the recipient of our oft-spewed sugary charms and in receipt of our desire to use you for sex and the provision of fuel. We rarely take you anywhere, for fear of detection and our engagements are covert, hurried and secretive, yet this adds to our charm, our mystery and you find it as addictive as we do. It is only when we are going and you wonder what we are doing and who with, that you are left to rue the emptiness and the loneliness. You want to provide us with what you think we need, to allow your goodness to shine for us, but we will never let you do so, not outside of those hotel walls where we meet every Thursday evening.

Unfortunately for you, you do not fit in with the image we wish to convey to the world. You do not fit with what we wish to show. If we ever saw you, by chance, when we are out with our facade, be that family, friends or colleagues, we would ignore you and pretend we did not know you. Of course, later that day we would lay on the charm to excuse our behaviour because we do not want to let you go either. You are a brilliant stick on emergency fuel patch. You provide fuel and you remain hanging on, waiting for the day that you hopefully emerge blinking into the light of the golden period for the primary source.

That is never going to happen directly and at the outset of your allocation to this role.  Not that we will admit it to you.

Stay in that dark corner and wait for our call.

You are a dirty little secret.

78 thoughts on “Dirty Little Secret

  1. Em says:

    As a DLS I was used as extra negative fuel. I know now.
    Every wonderful thing he did or achieved I thought alone but he was with his IPPS or IPSS he would tell me about and hint that there was someone else involved.
    He would show me programmes of concerts he’d attended and autographs he’d got, he’d show me photos of holidays, that woman in the photo? Oh just another guest, and watch my face as I tried to be pleased for him and disguise the pain I’d feel in not having been with him.
    His narc snigger.
    I once got a message that there was someone at his holiday hotel who reminded him of me. Oh just another guest? He then rang from abroad and I wished him a good time and told him he deserved a break with his son, he got the kick from talking to me while she was there, obviously needing more fuel.
    When I’d try to escape he’d try to win me back with cheap crappy gifts in plastic bags from the corner shop. I’d try not to be angry. I’d try to be grateful. Ffs. I now know he’d buy her expensive gifts and holidays and squeezing more neg fuel out of me. Till I eventually physically shut down, physical illnesses, weight gain, stress, blood pressure, admission to hospital. My body was telling me.
    I thought he was being kind in an awkward way. Now I know I was always in triangulation and devaluation for extra negative fuel. I can’t believe I didn’t see it.

  2. Supernova DE says:

    When I first found this site I felt such relief (“hallelujah I’m not crazy!”), but now that I read more and more I feel more despair and sickness over the fact that none of it was real.
    I still struggle with whether my ex-affair partner (we are both in longstanding marriages to others) is an actual narc or just severely narcissistic (perhaps with a dash of sex addiction and alcohol issues thrown in). Many of his behaviors match a true narc, but others don’t.
    For others who have been the DLS (and I am a DE-Infidel, didn’t mind the arrangement at all for the first two years) – did you experience the same intense seduction talked about here? Did you experience the narc telling you he had romantic feelings or love for you? Did you experience the intense jealousy mentioned here? Were you accused often of being too attached to him? Did he try to stop you when you said you needed time for yourself and a break?
    So confused, and since this is an affair, I have no one I can talk to.
    Hoping to find some support and comfort here amongst all of you.

    1. W says:

      I understand, even yesterday I was looking at mine, and struggling to make sense of the fact that he must be a narc. But I’m at the point now where I’m going “who does this ?who can cheat on their girlfriend like this ?who knowing, I care deeply for them, would keep me in the situation willingly?selfishly.?who doesn’t feel any guilt” And then, WHAT AM I , that this was somehow OK, that I could rationalize it, or overlook it?”
      I’m out of the affair, but I’m still figuring out my shit. Before him, I’d never ever have done his. And now, I never would again. So how? Why?

      Cool hard logic is in control,now, I’m able to identify when the ET starts up, and I’m mostly able to apply CHL to it.

      In answer to ur questions, no, I never had troubles with him, I knew he was never leaving her, I was upset he chose her instead of me at the beginning tho. Yes, seduction but I think I was classified as SIPSS from day one, (not that I knew this)so not as intense at all as hers.
      He’s always benign, never ending golden period. If I want time away he’s ok with it, but will apply benign hoovers. I did not have intense jealousy , strangely. But I attribute this to my own emotional unavailability.
      I don’t think my case is super common in that I never thought he’d leave her once he chose her, but he wanted me as a Shelf, then I became DLS. (Instead of only when she’s away, it’s all the time)
      Yes he tells me he loves me.

      Really it’s the feelIng of finally finding “the one” at age 39, I’m grieving, and couldn’t let go of for four years. It’s not him, it’s the death of the dream.

    2. Em says:

      Hi supernova DE
      I was a DLS without knowing (although I knew it wasn’t quite right) and I would never have wanted to be his IPS because I hated doing the ego massage. I thought we were fbs.
      One day put of the blue when we were in bed he suddenly said oh you are attached. I thought he meant something clingy but now I know he meant it how a narc means it.
      I was hugely jealous but kept it under control because I didn’t like the trait in myself. I didn’t realise he was deliberately creating that feeling in me. And he’d snigger when he knew he’d hit a nerve. I felt I could not demand anything from him because I was a DLS. He told me I was in a box. A just for sex box. He told me he wasn’t capable of feeling love except for his kids. I accepted that. Doh! Then one day he called his kid and told them he loved them. Now I realise it was the latest IPPS and he was getting fuel from doing that in front of me. She was on her way over. He lied and lied and lied. At least I didn’t get lied to in terms of being told I was loved. I do believe he can’t love. I feel sorry for her and when her breaking point is reached and she realises it was all al lie. I can’t imagine how it will feel to find out he never loved you.
      So even though I was ok with it he wore me down and broke me. So unnecessary. I went back hundreds of times. It was like a pattern. We’d meet have sex I’d message and say no more and he’d pull me back in again. The narc dance.
      I asked to be left alone. I got angry. I pleaded. I calmly explained. Nothing worked. I nearly went mad. Crazy mad. But I’m stronger than that. I’m healing now.
      I’m no contact – I threatened restraint order. It worked a bit he doesn’t knock my door anymore. But I’ve had the odd lieutenant contact and break through on my messaging apps.
      I think you are with a narc for sure. You need to be kind to yourself. Go no contact be strong. It will only get worse until you are broken. It gets better after a year or so. He’s still in my head but I care about me more.
      Let me know what you think.

      1. Supernova DE says:

        EM and W –
        Thank you so much for responding.
        I believe I was initially a NIPSS or NIPTS. To be perfectly honest I started the flirtation/sexual innuendos (again, dirty empathy here). HG – would a narc when promoting someone from NIPSS to DLSIPS, would you do an additional seduction? Or would this not be needed?
        I feel like if there was a seduction it was extremely short lived and he basically immediately triangulated me, silent treatments, not responding to my messages. He always fell back on the “we are both married, this is just sex, you’re being crazy” thing…but I never asked for more than just sex, just human decency, consistency in the way you treat me, etc.
        I am very strong, more intelligent than him, have more money, etc. He told me several times that being so aggressive with him was a challenge and turn on…who knows.
        Initially I let him come and go and it wasn’t a big deal. But I got really sick of not hearing from him for three months and then oh hey how are ya wanna send me some pics and sext? I went supernova, triangulated him with other guys I met online, gave him the silent treatment, disappeared on him by deleting social media apps for days at a time, did not respond to his texts, lived my life and was not at his beck and call.
        Oddly, speaking to other men online gave me the clarity that this is not normal. Other men, even when in an affair, treat you with respect and courtesy, are consistent in how they respond to you, etc. This fueled me to challenge him further. He has given up I think and conceded that he can’t control me. He told me that he “isn’t cutting me off”, but that the online erotica is done – our affair is long distance and online/phone only. Unsure if this is cut off of sex in devaluation or true discard.

  3. Lori says:

    This scenario will induce shame in almost everyone. If you already have some of those issues this will scenario will do a real number on you

  4. Tra says:

    Reading through some of your comments of those of you who are or who were the DLS-did you ever have empathy for the wife or the primary source when you were sleeping with their spouse? It seems like the NARC doesn’t have empathy and doesn’t care who he/she is hurting–but what about you?? (DLS) Please enlighten me. Thanks!

    1. HG Tudor says:

      See Dirty Empath – Marriage Breaker.

      1. Tra says:

        I will–thank you!

    2. W says:

      I was able to compartmentalize the gf.
      I had been w him b4 he got w her, and I warned her from the beginning i wasn’t going anywhere,
      I simply put her out of my mind. I wanted what I wanted, and she’d been warned. I rationalized he situation that I’d been there first and it was her
      problem since I warned her he had already been seeing both of us at the same time.
      I didn’t try to out us, or get caught. I had no interest in hurting her, but I just didn’t want to let him go.
      Eventually when I quit alcohol , my mind cleared, and I reconnected w my higher power , and with my integrity….and began to see what he was doing to us both, and then I began to feel sad for her, as I now suspect the devaluation going on behind closed doors must be awful for her.
      I consulted with HG, and I ended it, and was NC for a couple months until he hoovered me the other day, but I’ve re-established w him it’s not going to start back up, and am again NC.

      1. MB says:

        W, I get it. They will try anything, right!?!

        Tra was struggling with how us Dirty Empaths could be with someone in a relationship. I think the video explains it quite well.

      2. Tra says:

        Thank you for you candor. Did you know at the time that he was a Narc, and did you fall for the lies he told you about the other girlfriend?

        1. W says:

          I did not know he was a narc until about a few months ago, the DLS relationship hs been going on more than four years now,
          Some lies about his wife I believed, some I figured he was saying to make me feel special,or appreciated. Recently I realized how convoluted his words must be….who knows what was a projection, what was a blame shift, what was an out and out lie. I can’t trust anything he says now, which helped me end things, as I no longer think the sun shines out his ass.
          Even still I’m processing — I’ll remember things he said and realize they likely were lies.

      3. Challenge Fuel says:

        W, I was about 15 months in before I came here and began learning. I cannot believe you were in it for 4 years! A lot of what you wrote resonated with me being a DLS as well.

        LOL at the “sun shining out his ass”. I nicknamed him Sunshine. Gahhhh LOL.

        1. W says:

          4.5 years. Strict NC for the last 2 months, was feeling great. Over it, mostly, felt happy, relief .
          Then I got hoovered at literally the first sad,hurt,insecure,vulnerable day I’d had. Seen him twice now, in the last few days.
          I’m struggling to let cool hard logic reign again. I’m not in love, but the hole in my soul he left was triggered. It’s like having to go NC all over again, grieve all over again, lose what I thought he was again, lose our history again, …its like losing something I never had again…its fucked up!!
          HG refers to an emotional infection and I’m seriously wondering if it’s not a literal possibility. I’m reeling that, after two months of not even thinking about him much, how can I feel so sick and sad?
          HG, I’d love to read more about your perception of the “emotional infection ” you speak of.

          1. HG Tudor says:

            See the book Exorcism, it is addressed in detail there.

          2. W says:

            I will download and read it immediately

    3. MB says:

      You will also hear (very deliciously) in HG’s recent YouTube video reading the article “Why Does the Narcissist Return to the Ex?” The narcissist portrays the current partner in such a way that the empath is saving him from this horrible relationship. They actually mitigate the guilt they know the empath will be feeling and use their empathic traits to make them feel like they are doing a good thing.

      Give it a listen. Here’s the link. Not sure if it will work, may have to copy/paste.

      1. W says:

        My UMR always had a reason.
        His recent Hoover he finally used the ole “we don’t have sex anymore” line. I said, that’s a bummer, shoulda picked me lol

      2. Tra says:

        Thank you for the video–I think… lol…DIABOLICAL–such manipulation–Yikes!
        It’s not surprising then–per HG’s articles regarding traits–Narcs seek out empaths to ensure their livelihood. No doubt perfecting their craft.
        I hope through becoming more educated DLS’s can avoid the traps and pay attention when words and actions are congruent.
        Obviously, some Narcs are great at what they do.

    4. Challenge Fuel says:

      I was/am a long distance Shelf IPSS/DLSIPSS combo. (I use the term “combo” because I was not a total secret, I did meet a few friends but not close friends, never family and we would only be out in public if we were more than 30 minutes away from the town he lived in).

      Anyway I digress….HG and some other commentators already gave great responses to your question (the Dirty Empathy article is a great read. I classify myself in the DEMB/white knight scenario however if I was geographically closer it would have easily been “point of no return”. I continue to be in love with my MRN, I want, desire and crave him in every way. His attention, his validation, the intimacy, etc. I still chase him but I have made slight improvement with the frequency in which I chase/reach out.

      I heard all the excuses other people have referenced (we never have sex, we are together for appearances, etc. etc.) He also flat out told me he sees nothing wrong with it as long as it does not interfere with his marriage, which to me means he will continue along doing as he pleases. It is an addiction which is very hard to break.

      My feelings towards his wife tend to vary and go back and forth similar to the roller coaster I am on with him. I just recently learned that she is pregnant with their 2nd child so now I feel more disgusted when I chase him. This has made me back off somewhat. He has sensed this and he continues to throw out crumbs at me here and there to keep me involved (everything as HG reaffirms in his writing)…..

      I am told that I should feel sorry for his wife but I do not. I am jealous of her and I wish I could be her. I want him to be mine. I do feel sorry for his daughter as I have a child who is around the same age. He often goes on and on about how much he loves his daughter to me but rarely mentions anything about the wife at all.

      Anyway, if you have other questions I would not mind answering them. I am a bit nervous putting myself out there as some people here have bee very critical of some things I have shared, so that is a chance I am taking. I just hope my explanation helps you and/or someone else understand perspective from the other side.

      1. Tra says:

        Thank you for your open answer. You said it’s an addiction. How? Is the addiction doing something that is risky and you get a high from it? Or is the addiction the way he makes you feel when you’re with him? It seems like your in love with him. Did you think he would leave his wife? From HG’s perspective, it appears that NARCS never just have one person because of their need to fuel their addiction.
        I appreciate your comments.

        1. HG Tudor says:

          Narcissists never have just one person, but that does not mean there is always more than one intimate person.

      2. gabbanzobean says:

        “How? Is the addiction doing something that is risky and you get a high from it? Or is the addiction the way he makes you feel when you’re with him? It seems like your in love with him. Did you think he would leave his wife?”

        The addiction of how I felt with him. Yes I am in love with him. I would do anything for him and he knows it. Realistically due to it being long distance I knew that the chances of either of us uprooting our lives would be a slim one. He used to give me more in the earlier stages of the relationship before “shelving” me essentially. I doubted that he would ever leave her but I was lonely and no one else took an interest in me so I got caught up with him and it just kept on going. I have not let go of him. He is financially dependent on his wife so I doubt he will ever leave. His good guy façade is too important to him. He continues to insist that he loves her and she is his one and only, the love of his life, the only one for him, blah blah but he continues to be unfaithful to her with me (and others I am sure although I have no proof, due to the long distance factor which is likely why he chose me). Bottom line, he is with her for his façade. Façade being a “happily” married father who plays piano player for the church.

    5. Supernova DE says:

      I did have empathy for her all along – his comments about his treatment of her made me know he treated her poorly – though I fell into the trap at times of comforting him when he complained about her.
      I feel more empathy for her now that I see what he is.
      I never felt empathy that I was given his sexual energy, I wanted it more than anything.

    6. RG says:

      I didn’t know I was a DLS 🙁 my heart bleeds for the poor woman who is stuck in his life as he strips her bare of her self esteem and self worth. I broken at finding out he was I lie , how must she feel?! It’s so heart breaking.
      And even still he will contact me saving he is single!!! Lies!!! Utter disrespectful lies 🙁

  5. Spiritual Warrior says:

    HG this Video was was used as an outing to the Narc. in my life. AS he had 20 years of US women as his dirty Secrets…a Lot of your videos make my stomach get sick…But I need to hear it, ALL of us do, as it is the truth of how they think…this makes me sick!!!! as NARCS GROOM US…..AS Pediphiles who molest children..The con artist Priest in the Catholic church, that got away for years the sickness in them and using God to hide behind. Thank you for showing us the evil darkness that makes us stronger in our fight for recover…to know them is to know how they think…and you my teacher has giving me that edge.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      You are welcome Spiritual Warrior.

  6. Insatiable Learner says:

    Thank you, HG, then why would a mid ranger not elevate an objectively superior gushing with positive fuel and compliant DLS who, as he himself admitted makes him feel fantastic? Any idea?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Many different reasons. Outshone by a different source, damage to facade if elevated, other activity within fuel matrix. There are many relevant factors which may mean that the narcissist’s subjective view sees another source as superior to the DLS.

      1. Insatiable Learner says:

        Thanks so much, HG! This is very helpful and makes sense.

  7. Insatiable Learner says:

    Thank you, HG!

  8. NM says:

    Yes, it’s awful. Yes, it’s earth-shattering(ly) painful.

    Feel it exactly for what it is. Now leave.

  9. Mary says:

    HG, it is possible to be a combination of DLS and the Dirty Empath? Or do you have to be single to be a DLS? I am married, but don’t feel like just a Dirty Empath. My online narc got progressively more twisted in his fantasies, pushed my boundaries further, and insisted on humiliating me emotionally during our “playing” and when I would tell him it hurt my feelings, he’d say that’s silly because it’s all fantasy. The last time we sexted, he demanded I tell him I hate my husband. He ordered me to write him the next time I had sex with my hub and tell him how unsatisfied I was. It felt like it was all about controlling me, yet he would say I’m the controlling one, because I questioned him at times. It was so demented.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      You could be both, yes.

      1. Mary says:

        Thank you, HG.

    2. Insatiable Learner says:

      Hi Mary. please allow me to introduce myself. I am a Dirty Empath and a shelf DLS. I am not proud of this status but it is a fact I cannot deny. I have been doing a lot of self-work to get to the bottom of the origin of my issues. I am sorry your narc treated you so abhorrently.

      HG, a part of why it is so hard for me to get over the narc is because he never treated me in an overtly abusive way, like name-calling, some perverse demands, and such. He actually praised me a lot. His abuse was more subtle, like future faking, lies, words and actions not matching, not hearing from him, and the like. Why do you think that is? He is a middle mid-ranger.

      1. HG Tudor says:

        So you did not grasp what was really happening to you, to cause doubt to linger, to allow plausible deniability and so forth – all the better to control you and to gain fuel.

      2. Insatiable Learner says:

        Thanks so much for your response, HG. Your invaluable insight makes a lot of sense. Indeed, there is still a lot of lingering doubt despite all the evidence and your confirmation. I was under his complete control and basically worshiped this man. Not sure if he even realized just how much control he had over me. He could have used it in so many ways. I have never given so much control over my emotions and my will to anyone else. Scary!

      3. narc affair says:

        Hi insatiable learner and HG ….both your posts are exactly my situation with my narc!
        The more covert forms of abuse i feel are the most dangerous bc you doubt and its the best case of gaslighting. To be sweet 80% of the time and the other 20% creating doubt, insecurity, intermittant reinforcement. Salami slicing away who you were. Its so hard to break away from someone who could be such a sweet loving person even if it was a facade especially when the abuse is subtle and passive aggressive in nature. Then theres the anxiety over what lurks just below the surface of the mask. Wondering if one day youll come face to face with it and have your world implode from shock and heartbreak.
        I remember once after wed had a devalue cycle followed by a makeup session being in my vehicle talking to him and a song came up on my satellite radio.. .”he will break your heart” was what it was. That still sticks in my mind. Either way to stay or go is shitty and will be hell to go thru.

      4. Mary says:

        Hi Insatiable Learner,

        Thank you for reaching out and sharing your feelings about being a Dirty Empath/Shelf DLS. Keep working on understanding yourself. It’s a very good investment of your time and will protect you down the road.

        I’m sorry you have been treated horribly also. The subtle abuse can be just as damaging because it makes you really wonder if it’s abuse at all. “He has been supportive about x y or z, so how could I think he would want to hurt me?” I’m familiar with making these rationalizations in my marriage, and did so with my online narc when we were involved. It’s still mind-fuckery, even if less appalling on the surface. It does the same amount of damage to your self-esteem.

      5. Challenge Fuel says:

        Insatiable….from what you have shared your situation is so eerily similar to mine. My MRN treated me very similarly to how you describe. He was never flat out rude, insulted me or called me names. Although from consulting with HG I have come to realize that he has used many “back handed compliments” such as “I care for your well being” and “I often forget how smart you are”….and “I think you are in dire need of therapy and medication but in all other aspects you are brilliant and amazing”, etc. Also he never was perverted or demeaned me sexually. He often asked if I was okay doing this or that and we always had open talks about what we liked and didn’t like and he was always respectful. I got the praise too. His abuse was also subtle like you describe. Lots of future faking, a TON of hypocritical and contradictory behavior, LOTS of silence and shelving when he’d ghost me and disappear.

        The nastiest he ever got with me was always over text or email. And it was usually when I called him out on his contradictory bullshit. He projected a lot. And when I pointed out his inaccuracies he would not like it. He would say things like “I know that I may do that but that is just how it is”….or “What do you want me to say that I have not already said before? Nothing, that’s what! I am sorry okay?” or my favorite “You are the only one I have these issues with! You are the only one who does this to me!”

        Or he’d simply sign off with a typical “Enough of this today I am done” and then disappear. Then when he reappeared it was like a huge reset button had been pushed….until the next rabbit hole.

      6. MB says:

        These MR’s must all be cut from the same cloth! How can they all be so similar?

      7. Supernova DE says:

        Insatiable Learner — I am in the same situation as you…literally. Dirty Empath (Infidelity type) and a shelf DLS. My narc is also a middle ranger, likely somatic. Agree with everything you said about abuse being VERY hard to spot. He repeatedly told me he “ran hot and cold” and “am just an enigma” and “I like the intermittent nature of this” and “I don’t think I can give you everything you are asking for”. Future faked in terms of expressing a desire to meet for steamy weekends, but it never panned out. He knew that made me feel rejected. He also used silent treatments, short cold responses like it was his job haha. Our affair was online and he often would start something sexual with me via sext, then disappear entirely in the middle or have a 10 minute absence then say, “Oh, I came already, goodnight.” No regard for my needs. I initially thought he must have been interrupted by his wife, but now I see it was probably meant to hurt and draw negative fuel.
        I’d love you hear more about your experience!!

    3. narc affair says:

      Hi mary…i can relate. My narc is respectful of my hubby when we talk most of the time except when it comes to sex then he says things that make me feel tremendous guilt and uncomfortable. Like he wants to sneak over to my house and use my bed. That is something id never do. I never respond to that. Or that i love other men sexually. Again i never set out to want “other men”. I had problems in my marriage. If those problems werent there i wouldnt have even looked at another man. It bothers me these things turn him on bc i find them disrespectful towards my situation.

  10. Challenge Fuel says:

    I have chimed in on every other DLS article so I figure what the hey….may as well chime in again here. There is nothing to say that has not already been said. Narc Affair (above) already summarized it quite accurately.

  11. narc affair says:

    I think being the the dls position can be the most hurtful bc you feel youre being hidden and everything is shame based. Your self worth is diminished. Youre like a nobody.

    1. Julie says:


    2. Mary says:

      Yes, THIS!!! You are absolutely right, Narc Affair.

    3. narc affair says:

      My heart really goes out to the people in these dls positions. In many cases they know their relationship is built on deciet but they feel so addicted and their self esteem is so low that they settle for being someones bit on the side. They deserve so much more!

      1. Insatiable Learner says:

        NarcAffair, some DLS’s are in committed relationships themselves, so it is not always a situation where a DLS is single and is sitting at home alone pining for the narc while he is with his IPPS. Besides, ANY relationship with a narc is built on deceit, including yours, mine, and everyone else’s entangled with narcs. Additionally, all of us have issues with self-esteem if we stay after narcs continue abusing us.

        1. HG Tudor says:

          Valid points.

        2. sarabella says:

          I am in a committed relationships but at the time, it felt almost over, I was living for a few years in a different city, lots of things made me feel single, even though I wasn’t. All those things have changed now, but at the time, they were true. So that did keep it quiet.

          There is something else too, that played into my situation. We were long distance and even though we were nothing at all in the end, it was still long distance. So most of our interacting was offline, in email and chat. I actually wasn’t on social media much then. But then as I saw soon that he was interacting with everyone online (ie, FB) but me, and he and I were supposedly ‘real’ the whole structure of it all felt like a dirty secret. It was a repeat with he and I. And yet, its not like we could be that public, either. So it was pressure in every way. But the reality of it was when I visited him and he thought he was clever, but I knew what he was doing when he avoided a very public place with me for dinner. He thought he was so clever. But I knew. And that was the beginning of a long painful end. I tried to think it had a chance because I was so shocked and hurt, but once he let that be known and I faced the humiliation of it, I could never get past it or forgive him for doing that to me again. ITs exactly what he had done before… why ever would I ever want him in my life? It just took a while to kill off…

      2. Challenge Fuel says:

        Narc Affair,

        “but they feel so addicted”


      3. narc affair says:

        Hi insatiable learner….i agree with all youve said in your post! So true! I guess what i was saying was more geared towards the dls that want to be in a formal relationship but the narc has put them in the hidden away state of dls. That being said no one can do that to us if we dont allow it.
        Youre right there are some dls that enjoy being the bit on the side bc they can have their cake and eat it too.

      4. narc affair says:

        Hi gabs…it is a terrible addiction! In my case its a codependancy. I do ask myself what if i was 100% ok without him what would i do? I know what id do id have him as a friend only and see him once in awhile but then i get that panicky feeling and i know its an addiction. Even to think about not being with him as much causes me anxiety. Its not good bc in life things change and its not realistic to think this can go on forever. Its a hard pill to swallow reality.

    4. Em says:


    5. Em says:

      Although being his out there partner and then discovering his lies and deceit and his DLS etc must be humiliating

  12. Em says:

    I was his DLS but he was also mine. I didn’t even tell many friends at first and I somehow felt shame as well as excitement when I was with him.
    I just wanted some fun and kindness and for it to be just us.
    He shattered that.

  13. Kate says:

    I have had Dirty Little Secrets!

    I have done this to protect my son because I raised him without his father’s help. I looked, but the right man for us never came..

  14. lexiconlover says:

    When I was a child and was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up I smiled and said, “I want to be someone’s dirty little secret.” loved this post HG

  15. Julie says:

    Maybe I had a malfunctioning narc because I was a DSIPS. We were together all the time and As far as I can tell what I found out is he had other secondary sources , one I caught him red handed in bed together. With us being together every day and even working together I dont see how he couldve remotely not thought me to be the primary source. Unless I have missed something?? Ive been Ipss and I can see the diffrence in how I was treated. I want a refund! Lol

  16. 12345 says:

    I’m not fond of the word dirty. I tried to think of a replacement like soiled, filthy, smutty but they’re all unflattering. I guess that old saying is true… you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck then it must be a duck.

    1. NarcAngel says:

      Let them call it whatever they want but we do not have to accept a negative connotation. I prefer to call it more accurately as I stated in a previous post:

      Delicious Little Sip. (of fuel)

      1. Julie says:

        Being that victim is incredibly hurtful. Call it what you will but at the end of the day it is what it is in my opinion. The end result is the same. Hurt, shamed, degraded and the list goes on. I used to call it being “his suitcase whore” before I knew what exactly had happened lol

      2. Morning sun says:

        The ‘dirty little’ is just how (puritanical) society perceives it. Not all societies are quite as uptight. There is no such expression in my mother tongue, for example, and being someone’s lover does not automatically get you stamped with a red “A”. I’m not saying it’s encouraged, but it’s not condemned either.

      3. 12345 says:

        I like that!

      4. Lori says:


        When they assign you to this role It is THEIR shame they are projections on to. They cannot experience shame they have to have a surrogate experience it for them.

        Now I say we all have maybe a bit of shame the Codependent more because it is also a shame based condition but a Narcs shame is off the charts

        If you are the DLS the Narc needed to hang is shame somewhere and you were the closest hanger

        It’s nothing about who YOU are and all about how he wants you to feel you are. You must feel the shame for him

        1. sarabella says:


          I agree. He was ashamed of me. He allegedly was shamed for liking me as teenagers. He even now DESPERATELY needs to show off with someone. He lied about being ashamed of me back then, and I am sure he actually led the smear against me and didn’t stand up for me back then. He pretended he was a victim of his friends making fun of him for liking me. (triangulated me with his friends and projected HIS shame onto them)

          Some people knew about us now, 30 years later. But when I saw quite quickly he wasn’t going to let alot of people know, but he had no problem literally fawning over utter strangers online, the hurt kicked in fast and I fought to get away. I will NEVER EVER be someone’s shame ever again, least of all HIS. And when I found out why he is so ashamed of himself for his own life? It just filled me with anger. Rage was more like it. He once told me that I was a victim, he was badass (he is good at negging). When everything finally went down, I just looked at our lives and ripped into him. How dare he have called me a victim… I am about to retire with 2 pensions, I have little to no debt, a good savings account, land, excellent health, I look great for my age and him? Barely any money, called himself a whore once, a deviant, looks like a concentration camp survivor, sickly, weak, lives with his sister, can’t keep any relationships, a cheater, pathological liar. Who exactly is badass? not him. He is a somatic narc whose time has come and gone but his head never caught up and he still runs the ego game and is eaten up by shame, bitterness and anger that his life didn’t turn out so grand afterall. He is being eaten alive by his own shame.

    2. Julie says:


      1. Lori says:

        You are somply wearing HIS shame. Know this isn’t YOUR shame. You will know exactly how he feels about himself by examining what you are feeling at present.

        You didn’t feel like this before he came around but now you do. That’s is because the shame doesn’t belong to you. It belongs to HIM

  17. Lori says:

    In a way out of all the supply, I think this one is maybe the most hurtful.

    I was not this person but Wow this is awful.

    1. Em says:

      It hurts

  18. Em says:

    Yep IPDLSSS that’s a perfect description. I didn’t sign up for that it just kind of happened. And i got brainwashed into acceptance. Now 1 yr post escape and 9 months no contact bar the hoovers.

  19. Arabella B says:

    I seem to have been the ‘Dirty Little Secret’ to a very coarse, crude Lesser Victim Narc. And I’m confused. I’m pretty and well-spoken, an ex-model, 30s, Cambridge graduate, good career. The narc ex is one of those types who pretends to be deeply spiritual and is a yoga teacher (that’s how I came into his sphere of influence) but in reality he’s a convicted criminal, drug addict, former drug dealer etc. Rough, and not at all bright. Asian Muslim background, British born, comes from a rough council estate. I’m confused about how I came to be categorised as his Dirty Little Secret. Is this reverse classism?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Objectively you are superior to him. That appeals re character traits and maybe some residual benefits. However, his inherent paranoia means he fears you outshining him on a more open platform (say with family and friends) or people thinking he is punching above his weight and therefore by keeping you as a DLS he avoids such issues, has the gains mentioned above, finds i easier to control the situation when with you and also he demands you by making you think there is something wrong with you because he has you as a DLS.

      1. Insatiable Learner says:

        HG, would this line of thinking apply to a middle mid ranger whereby DLS is objectively superior to him?

        1. HG Tudor says:

          Less likely because he wouldn’t recognise the objective superiority so readily or at all.

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