Why Does the Narcissist Blow Hot and Cold – Part Two


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?

During Seduction

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

  1. 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;
  2. 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;
  3. 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
  4. 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:-

  1. No Test takes place akin to the IPSS;
  2. 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;
  3. Corrective Devaluation occurs – the narcissist will blow cold, more likely to be aggressive in behaviour and will stipulate a desired outcome;
  4. 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.





21 thoughts on “Why Does the Narcissist Blow Hot and Cold – Part Two”

  1. I guess i received a ‘disengagement devaluation.’ Damn! And here I was thinking I am narc free!

    Following disengagement, I did not block because i wanted to know if he would ever contact me. I wanted to know how good my fuel was. After 2 months of initial grief, i was more at peace without him. Then, i did not feel the need to block because I thought he would not contact me, yet a small part of me wondered if he would. Well, last week I was unblocked. Is this a hoover hg? No communication has taken place.

  2. Dear HG: I understand that after disengagement each IPPS becomes a former IPPS, correct? In that case, do we – as former IPPSs- forever after retain that status of former IPPS in the N’s mindset? Or are some denigrated to a diff status? Would appreciate your input.

  3. Dear HG: I understand that each IPPS from whom you disengage is always regarded as a former IPPS, correct? Does that mean that we (former IPPSs) always retain such status?

  4. HG – why don’t narcs just end it? Say it’s over? I’ve met someone else? Why does it have to be this horrible discovery deceit and degradation?
    Do they ever end the formal relationship honestly with anyone?

  5. This is a very clear and helpful article. It’s great to have the links to the other relevant articles that support answering queries.

    He tested me, in different ways, I did not pass his tests, I didn’t pander to him or chase him. I was clear with him that I valued him at the time, but I didn’t always respond to his baits or silent treatments. I was probably destined for the shelf by pure nature of my situation anyway. Unless he thought he could seduce me away from my husband .. but that would ruin his good guy facade so I doubt it.

    I do wonder if what I believed to be disengagement was actually a corrective devaluation. The day after we slept together he thought all was great, he had won the prize, finally got what he wanted, he was fuelled up.. I arranged to meet him and informed him that we could not see each other again alone, and the best we could hope for is to be acquaintances in social circles as we had a shared friendship group. He projected upset and envy through his comments and what he stated he saw from me, was actually what he was feeling. He triangulated me with his phone as only thing to hand. You know the I’m looking at my phone because you’re so unimportant thing they do!

    I spent two months not contacting him, saw him a few times, smiled at him but no direct conversation. I was not responding to bait on fb. I was being strong and doing what I needed to do but I was a wreak and he was on my mind everyday. I still cared for him, even after all I experienced with him and everything I knew. I posted a song I love on fb, it was not meant as a message to him but I wondered if he thought it was because everything is about him right? He unfriended me that night or the next morning- reject before he can be rejected? Finally get a reaction from me? Upset me so I contact him to ask why? Corrective devaluation?
    I would not have unfriended him a time that time due to my care for him. I didn’t know all I know now. But I knew enough to know he wanted a reaction, and I refused to give him one. I did not respond, I didn’t contact him again. And I have not contacted him since. But my god that unfriending hurt, it was the confirmation that I meant absolutely nothing to him.

    I value connections with people, I value people. The objectification was a part of the dynamic that I originally struggled with most due to my polar opposite approach to people. But I have learned to look at it from another perspective- its not personal because I was not a person to him. It was not about me, it was the same for me as everyone else he interacts with, because it’s his battle with himself. I was just a prop.

    1. I had similar experience Quasi. I didn’t pass the tests and got shelved VERY quickly as a result, with little or no intense seduction. I was triangulated and he would fail to answer messages almost from the beginning. I find some things here hard to interpret to my situation due to the fact that we are both married, there was never a question of whether we would “be together” in a true sense, and therefor romantic feelings/love bombing/significant insults never occurred. I have to translate it into romantic feelings = supportive friendship, love bombing = sexual attention, insults/devaluation = withdrawal of sexual attention, triangulation, silence, etc.
      I relate to what you say about baiting, he would do this to me as well, in combo with triangulation by changing profile picture etc so it made it clear to me he was seeking other flirtation sources. To be fair, I did it right back. He did this exact thing two weeks after I said my final “sign off” to him. It worked, I got all worked up emotionally and broke NC for a second. Right after that I found this site.
      Quasi you always sound so strong and sane in your posts, I enjoy so much reading them. I’m still struggling across the emotional sea, but have not contacted him, though thought about it a few times Then remind myself that the only thing I could gain is another hurt a few months down the road and putting my family in jeopardy all the while.
      I know he will contact me eventually, likely saying “I blocked you for your own good, I thought we needed space, I still care about you and want you, more lies, yada yada” He’ll unblock and send it immediately, likely very late at night so that I’ll be asleep and won’t be able to counter it until I see it. I know how he operates. The question is, how will I respond? I’d like to think that I won’t even read it, just block him. However….I know that at this point in time that is likely not true. I just have to keep working at it. Reading Exorcism right now lol

      1. Hi supernova…

        I really like reading your posts too, I can relate to what you say so much. I like how you have translated the different phases to your situation, it makes more sense for me to do that also. The love bombing was sexual attention, or trying to lead this so I would respond and reciprocate, down the line.
        The devaluation = withdrawal of attention, triangulation and silence was spot on for me too.

        Thank you for articulating this, it has been so helpful for me to think of it in this way also.

        Triangulation was most commonly with close friends of mine, people I loved.
        Baits were mainly music based as this was the way he got to me.
        My love of music was key in his targeting and approach with me. So he would post songs he knew I loved, to spark a response, a like, start a conversation. He used it to keep me engaging with him.

        Strength- oh this fluctuates and feels very much like a tide that can come and go.

        When he unfriended me that day I had not been on narcsite, but had listened to things on you tube and read a lot of other works. I knew what he was, I was expecting it one day, but it was still like a dagger.. he knew what it would do.
        He never blocked me, not at this point or going on from this. He wanted me to react, to be angry, to confront him to show I cared. It took ever fibre of logical mind to not respond.
        I feel I have good emotional regulation, and control over my actions. But I can at times purposefully let my ET lead, in the knowledge that no matter the outcome I will reflect on this and learn.
        I still allow myself to feel. I do not deposit pain in a bank for it to accrue, I do not block or numb what I feel.
        I allow myself to feel it all, when appropriate. I don’t collapse at work in floods of tears, or when I’m with people. But I will allow myself to process an emotion as soon as I can and feel comfortable to do so. I guess a perspective could be that this takes strength to do.

        I personally feel that this has let me deal effectively with emotions, and let them go. I am worse with emotion when I have worn myself out, too much work, spreading myself too thin, too much stuff!

        This may account for some of the strength I exhibit here, and the sanity… and also the rambling ET at times.

        But oh my I do not always feel strong. I am human, I am fallible, I can be weak, I can be vulnerable. But the key thing is that I’m ok with this, I am ok with me. I set reasonable expectations for myself, so I challenge myself and progress, but do not place it too high away from my reach.

        I am high in agreeableness re- personality trait this means that I like to be liked. I gain meaning from other people’s responses to me and my conduct.
        I need to work on this a little as I wanted the narcissist’s to like ME.. which is ridiculous because this is not possible for them.
        They can like what I give them, attention etc but they can not like ME, because there is no ME. There is an object before them.

        Supernova, you will think about contacting him that is so natural. But remember thoughts are just thoughts, they are not you!
        You have not contacted him, and as time goes on it will be easier to be strong in this regard. Some of the ET and thoughts fade. You are so right, reaching out to him will serve you no benefit as it will just elongate the journey/ detour, which may only bring pain.
        He won’t look at the content of what you say or it’s meaning, as this will mean nothing to him. He will only pay attention to the fact that you have made contact, which means he is still important to you.
        I would do a balance sheet of pros and cons ( of a particular action or decision) when I had particularly difficult days of ET and thoughts to contact him, this may help you too, as all your logic and emotion can go on paper and you can read through it methodically .
        I honestly think that if he makes contact in the future, you will delete and block him straight away.. decide this in your mind, write it down as a prompt, have this by your bed.

        You can’t control his actions but you can control yours ! Even then regardless of action- you will still learn from it. …

        Have faith in yourself supernova,
        You seem like quite a phenomenal woman to me. X

    2. Quasi,
      Thank you so much for your kind words! I apologize I have taken so long to respond, I’ve been away on mini-vacation with my husband and kids, so much fun!

      I agree with what you say about allowing the emotions to be felt. I personally have issues with perfectionism and bottling up emotions due to childhood issues with my mother (severely narcissistic or possible MRN). I have learned through years of therapy prior to the narc how to effectively deal with this. I feel the emotional tidal wave coming, and will either extricate myself to a private space and allow it to come, or hold off as best I can until I can allow the tears to come, etc. If you never feel it, it just becomes more important, more overwhelming.

      I also relate to what you say about needing the narc to like YOU specifically as a person. I always felt that with mine too, and it was always a frustration as I always knew it was not the case somehow. I guess this was by instinct or the way he would say things. The number of times I said something like, “I think you’re just playing me,” or “I don’t think you really care about me,” or “I’m just a form of pornography to you,” is infinite. I worked so very hard to try and make that different.

      I had a flash of memories regarding my narc recently. I grew up with him, met him when we were 14. I suddenly remembered him pursuing me while we were half the country apart in college at age 19. Now I realize that I was his CIPSS then that never embedded. Maybe all this now, after 15 years of not talking in between, was all for revenge. Kudos to him for the persistence if that’s the case!

      I know of some circumstances for him this summer that will severely disrupt his fuel matrix, and also just knowing his pattern, I suspect I have about 4-6 weeks before he’ll try to contact me. Enough time to steel myself, and gain even more emotional distance than I already have. He won’t be pushing on an open door like all the other times.

      You ARE strong Quasi. You have an ability to know your own emotional self, which in itself is a very difficult thing to achieve for most people. You clearly have the instinct as to how to balance yourself, or have learned it with HG’s help. We are all a work on progress, and you acknowledge this and keep working, I admire that in you!

      1. Hi supernova,

        Thank you, I really do enjoy reading your posts. Thank you for your kind words also, I think you have a good understanding of me and that means a lot to me.

        Wow it’s amazing when you reflect back, the length of time he was perusing you, gold star for persistence.

        It’s really good that you have worked out his patterns.
        I always believed there was a pattern with the person I was entangled with. I analysed it quite methodically ( I know so unlike me right …. lol). It’s quite easy to pick up on patterns when you do a timeline, he is just in a cycle – a repetitive cycle. I had a risk period end of may / early June, and The next one is from my birthday in early July for a couple of weeks.
        I really don’t think he will contact me, he fears rejection more then he would want to be in contact with me. He is opportunistic, in style. So I’m going out celebrating in another larger city close to me… so I will not see him.

        Saying that for the first time in literally years I have had three separate friend requests on FB in the last month, I think one is just a random, but two profiles looked very fake.. no idea if it was him. I don’t really care to be honest. I never have and never will accept a friend request from someone I do not know. I don’t get why anyone would ?

        Ok so you have 4-6 weeks likely, you will be grand! I totally believe that your resolve will be strong, he will either – not be able to contact you as blocked contact routes, or you will ignore, delete, or wound him if proximate contact.
        At this stage supernova you can do what you set in your mind to do. If your focus is on your life with your family, he won’t be able to have an impact on you… we see what we aim at.. place your aim in another direction…

        You also sound very strong to me… I don’t think he stands a chance, the most important thing though is your own self belief. I think your going to rock this supernova ! X

      2. Its funny to see that so many people here see the patterns in their narc’s cycle. I often marveled at the predictability of his silences too haha. In retrospect I brought on so much cold fury on myself, I am terribly sassy and a ball buster…something he said he loved about me, that he could verbally spar with me…but eventually I think it wounded him rather than impressed him.

        I still can’t tell what cadre he is. Sometimes I think somatic since our relationship was based on sexuality at the root, and he is definitely into fancy watches, cars, and having the newest phone. However, given that we are long distance, and text/phone was most often the form of communication, he could easily be a cerebral talking it up. He is very intelligent and I know him to post in forums on mathematics etc…so perhaps he is actually an elite. Ultimately it doesn’t matter I suppose, I just feel like I want to know haha.

        I do feel strong. My typical low point has always been at 2-3 weeks of not talking to him. In the past if he really pissed me off I have been able to avoid contacting him at that point in time. Then, if he waits much longer to get in touch with me, I have always been quite distant and kinda “over it” and he has had to use the salami slicing to get back in. The difference this time is that I know what he is, and it’s four weeks and counting since he blocked me and I haven’t heard his voice, seen a text, seen his picture, anything.

        However, the addictive part for me is very strong and hard to resist. I have had moments in the past where I am saying to myself, “I CANNOT do this cycle again” or “I need to choose between being in contact with him and my kids/family” and I never left…I always made that bad choice. I don’t mind the idea of being friends with him, he’s a blast to talk to when he’s not being a jerk. But I know from HG that once the intimacy is there, the salami slicing is likely to be in effect at some point. So is it worth it? Probably not. I can’t say definitely, at least not today haha.

        Sometimes I wonder if the narc can figure out OUR cycles too, and know how we will react to what approach given how we have acted in the past, timing of such reactions etc.

  6. I sucessfuly managed to find another narc first week everything great but noticed he was getting jealous possessive and angry over nothing then three days of complete radio silence fourth day finally responds to the last message I sent before he went silent with a quick answer no ensuing conversation guess I was a candidate ipss who either got shelved or discarded at least I know what hapened

    1. Ugotit
      That’s a good thing! When you see what they are and they see you’re not going to fall for their BS, that’s a win-win. I know it’s always discouraging to be passed over for anything, but it’s really a great thing when loser narcs pass on you. You go girl! 👏👏👏

    2. You successfully managed to find a Narc? That would NOT be a success! Or perhaps you were being sarcastic?
      Finding Narcs is easy, the trick is to stay the hell away from them!
      Like you would run if a tornado was coming towards you….

      1. Lol yes I was being sarcastic up until recently I only knew one narc romantically but this week I had the dubious honor of being dumped by the original narc and a new contender narc

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