The IPSS : Shelved or Disengaged


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How does this competition manifest?

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

Thus this is The Competition.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

16 thoughts on “The IPSS : Shelved or Disengaged

  1. theindiandot says:

    Hi guys, I’m going to comment but please understand that I’m deeply troubled and not really sure of what I am doing.

    There is a lot of new terminology being thrown at me so bare with me…

    I think I was one (of many, many) IPSS’s. He had time to build trust with me- about one year- as a county advocate. Ironically I met him because of his line of work and because I fled a drug addicted narc..

    It is all too arduous to explain. I want to say it doesn’t matter but if it didn’t matter I wouldn’t care.

    I believe he wanted to replace his IPPS. During our meetings he would devalue her by making comments about her interactions with his sons. I of course pitied him.

    So for one year I was kind of groomed through this “professional tension.” We were not physical. He was hot and cold emotionally…looking back on it I was “shelved.” I told him I had strong feelings for him and he baited me back in December. He then sort of “ghosted” me through work- cancelled two meetings and took a vacation all while ‘having a gift’ for me. He then kept ignoring me. In February I committed myself as 5150. I have BPD (which he knew) and the sense of abandonment that he conveyed…mainly because of my mental illness, really had me ready to kill myself.

    We engaged last month for about3 weeks and it went up in flames. He idealized me, love-bombed meI have “acted out” but not been devalued. Or is silence devaluing?? I feel like Im experiencing a corrective devaluation right now.

    He is giving me the silent treatment. I am not blocked. I have lashed out. Apologized. Stroked his ego. Told him I forgave him. And last night I sent my “last” email declaring I was taking my power back.

    Friends… I met this man in a time in my life when I was in a DOmestic abuse shelter with my baby…after fleeing first a husband (October 2016) to then a short lived narc bf (August 2017- when I met the new narc).

    I’m a mystic and an empath and I am just recently embracing these qualities. Before I met this man I asked the universe for a manifestation. I asked for a man my age with children. I asked for someone that worked with people- social work. I asked for someone that could be understanding of my mental illnesses (BPD, PTSD, Major Depression, Anorexia) I could go on and on…All of his good parts I asked the universe for, and BOOM, there he was.

    Did anyone else manifest their narc? Mine has a peculiar name and years before I met him this name kept randomly popping up. After I met him it was like everywhere I went people were now using this name (that no one is fucking named) and asking me, “you’ve seen blank-blank right?” (The movie with his name)

    The day after our big blow up I picked up a book at random in the local library. It called to me. I don’t know what’s it is called when you use books to find answers? (Not by reading numerically) but by holding a question in your mind Andy opening to a random page? Well I don’t know what it’s called but I have learned to do it…and wouldn’t you know it this book had his name on the first page. It said, “the holy land of—-“

    So in summary I think maybe my issues go deeper than intellectualism. Mystically, he is inter woven in many aspects of my life, most I couldn’t really express here.

    And after all that writing I’m no better off. I still think I’m in love.

    1. windstorm says:


      Your name reminds me of my politically incorrect sons who whenever they hear the word “Indian” will ask, “Dot or feather?” Hopefully that doesn’t offend anyone. It often offends me, but they are all grown men and beyond my control.

      I will go out on a limb and reply to your query. I am not a mystic, but I ask for and see “signs” and answers to questions in the world around me all the time. I have done the book thing often with the Bible and have come to attach meaning to seeing certain numbers of crows (3 being an affirmative to the last thing I was thinking). There are several people that if I focus my thoughts on them, it is very likely they will call me or text with 5 minutes.
      [I can hear you laughing from here, NarcAngel!]

      I, too, in a very bleak and hopeless period prayed desperately to God for someone I could have a relationship with. I thought of a guy I’d met on a train 40 years before, but he lived 5000 miles away and I hadn’t heard from for 36-37 years. I begged God to let me hear from him. Within 3 weeks I had an email from this guy wondering if I was the same girl he’d met all those years ago on the train. He was so excited and almost immediately wanted a relationship with me.

      Now while I truly do believe these events were connected and my fervent prayers were a part of what drew him back into my life, what I failed to realize is that even if you can psychically push events to occur, that doesn’t make them good or even desirable. Just like all the other things I have a hand in making happen, some of them have very bad results for me. This was one of them because this guy was a midrange narcissist and led me through hell and shook up my life. I’d like to think this shameful horror has some positive benefit to someone, hopefully to me too in the long run. It has certainly changed me in permanent ways that I hope are for the best.

      So what I would say to you is yes, it is possible to psychically pull people to you, that doesn’t mean that they are the “one” or even good for you. It is entirely possible to feel a psychic connection to someone who is harmful for you. Abusive people will abuse you, no matter what type of bond you have with them.

      1. NarcAngel says:

        Haha. I would have called or texted after a murder of crows, but I didnt have your number.

      2. theindiandot says:

        Hi Windstorm,

        Thank you very much. I believe you are right on this one. I’m on day two of not contacting.

        PS, being offended is a funny thing. A lot used to offend me as a woman in my younger 20s. Now I’m almost 30 and have 1 child- I don’t take things so seriously. 🙂

        I’m a Caucasian woman that started wearing a bindhi recently. I have had mixed reactions. And this persons name is shockingly similar to the word India. I think it’s my way of coming to terms with these two drastic things happening in my life- My faith, and this man. Blah. Lol

        Thanks again!

  2. Kelly B says:

    The narcissist seems to think they can come back whenever they want. And we will take them back at anytime. After all the bad things they have done. I’m so full of negative fuel.

  3. Lori says:

    What amount of time constitutes a shelving turned into a disengagement ?

    I haven’t been acknowledged since May though I have been blocked for short periods from his phone the unblocked. This shit is over for me but in a narcissist mind can he not talk to someone for months or even years and still consider them on the shelf?

    And HG do they purposely abstain from “strawberry ice cream” knowing that if they do it will taste good again?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      It is not about the timing.



  4. Newby 1111 says:

    Lordy be. How DO you ever keep it all straight? I gather I was a DLS IPSS. Social Media was not his mode. I instead used it to my advantage to uncover my suspicions. Keep up with modern times, old man! You thought no one would look.

  5. Michelle says:

    Very helpful article. This type of information is so difficult to find from other sources.

    What process does a narcissist go through in order to justify hoovering someone who has previously wounded them? What role does the wound play, if any, in the future relationship?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      1. The narcissist does not justify it because of the lack of accountability requirement, thus there is no insight to create a need to justify.
      2. Wounding raises the hoover bar, but not permanently. The degree of elevation depends on the extent of the wounding.

      1. ZenithEmp says:

        Other than going no contact, how can The Greater be wounded?

        1. NarcAngel says:

          How to wound a Greater narc?
          Start by noting that he reminds you of James Corden.

      2. Michelle says:

        Thank you for your help. Does the narcissist realize that the victim’s opinion of him may be tarnished by his reactive behavior?

        1. HG Tudor says:

          Largely no because of the blinding effects of the narcissism.

  6. tigerchelle78 says:

    I love this picture…

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