What Am I To The Narcissist?


For those who have become ensnared with our kind, it is a frequent question to wonder what you are to the narcissist. Of course, the short answer is that you are an appliance that is there to provide fuel first and foremost and there may also be the acquisition of traits from you and residual benefits. However, those that have begun to understand the narcissistic dynamic to some extent want to know how they have been regarded by the narcissist in terms of that dynamic. Of those questions, these are the ones which appear most often:-

Was I a primary source?

I don’t think I was devalued, why was that?

Have I been discarded?

Why did he not commit to me?

How has he moved on to somebody else so quickly?

Why did I have such a short golden period?

I feel like I am always hanging on for him, why is that?

It is typically the case that those questions are usually asked by someone who is an Intimate Partner Secondary Source (“IPSS”) although that person may not actually realise that this is the case. This article will discuss the IPSS and some of the peculiarities which arise with being an appliance placed in this role.

By way of brief re-cap, someone who is a primary source may be an intimate partner or a non-intimate partner. In the vast majority of cases the primary source is an intimate partner, thus a spouse, partner, boyfriend/girlfriend. You spend most of your time together and this arrangement occurs so that we are able to draw fuel from you each and every day, that fuel is of a high calibre (because of the greater emotional connection you have to us by reason of being a primary source and also because of your empathic traits). Occasionally the primary source is not an intimate partner and is usually then a family member.

A secondary source is a colleague, a friend or a family member. The secondary source will be seduced so that their loyalty and fuel is secured. Of course this is not done in a romantic fashion but through charm, pleasantry, doing favours and handing out benefits so that the appliance is drawn to the narcissist and is then installed in the position of secondary source.

A secondary source has an elongated golden period. This is because of the following factors:-

  1. The narcissist only draws on the secondary source’s fuel intermittently (compared to drawing on the fuel of the primary source);
  2. The secondary source is usually more compliant and does what the narcissist wants because the demands made of him or her are not as extensive as those made on the primary source;
  3. The fuel provided by the secondary source stays fresher and more potent for longer because it is only drawn on intermittently;
  4. The secondary source is less likely to challenge,wound or defy the narcissist

Accordingly, a secondary source will  enjoy a lengthy golden period. They may not be ever be devalued. If they fail to provide fuel, become disloyal and fail to do what the narcissist wants, they may be devalued but usually they will be immediately discarded. This is because it serves the narcissist better to remove the ‘rotten apple’ from hanging around and polluting the minds of other members of the coterie. It is also easy enough to seduce a new secondary source or turn to other existing ones. Thus, where a secondary source becomes unreliable they are usually discarded. Devaluation may only occur where an example needs to be made of the secondary source (this is usually more of the case for colleagues and family members as there is a connection beyond friendship) or the narcissist feels a need for the negative fuel and does not regard the devaluation as likely to damage the façade.

All secondary sources commence their relationship with the narcissist from a non-intimate position and there they may stay for a very long time. Some however are promoted to the position of IPSS.

This happens when the narcissist is devaluing their primary source and is looking to replace them. The promotion of a secondary source to that of IPSS means that we are considering whether you are worthy of then being promoted to a IP primary source and the existing one is discarded.

When this happens there is also the likelihood of somebody else occupying the role of IPSS. We often have more than one as in effect we are holding auditions for those who may be promoted to the position of primary source. This results in several scenarios arising.

  1. The existing primary source, let us say this is a wife, is being devalued. The narcissist embarks on affair with another woman who is the IPSS. She may have been someone he has known as secondary source friend for some time and has recently promoted, or he may have approached her and become a secondary source friend who is very quickly promoted to IPSS. In this dynamic you, as the IPSS, may know about the wife and she is smeared to you, she is abusive, unloving and so on. You are seduced and your responses convince the narcissist that you will make an effective primary source so the existing primary source is discarded and you are then installed as the replacement primary source.
  2. The scenario is the same as above however there are periods during your seduction as IPSS when the narcissist goes quiet. You may think that you are being devalued. You are not. As explained above, the narcissist regards a secondary source as an intermittent provider of fuel and therefore when this happens it is likely that a Respite Period has been granted to the existing primary source, thus the narcissist allows a golden period again, he is preoccupied with the existing primary source and you are kept on ice until the Respite Period ends. The devaluation of the existing primary source continues and your seduction continues once again. Eventually, the narcissist deems you worth of promotion, you are embedded and the existing primary source is discarded and you are installed as her replacement. This may take months or even years. During this period, if you accept the periods of quiet without complaint, there will be no comeback from the narcissist. If however you question what is going on, you will most likely be subjected to future-faking from the narcissist in order to maintain your interest. He will talk about needing to sort divorce arrangements out, or how the house is taking too long to sell, the children need to be sorted out, he hasn’t told his parents yet, it is not a good time for the soon to be ex-spouse as her father has died, it is her birthday next month, it is nearly Christmas and so on. This future faking is done because the narcissist regards you as too valuable to drop and wants to keep you in place as you are earmarked for promotion, but he has not yet decided that you are worthy of such promotion and thus has allowed the existing primary source Respite Periods until he is convinced you are a worthwhile replacement.
  3. The same scenario as two above but there is another IPSS. In order to better our chances of securing an excellent replacement primary source, we are devaluing the existing primary source and we are cultivating leads with at least two IPSS. Thus, we spend the occasional wonderful weekend with you but make various excuses as to how we can only see you once a month. This is being done for two reasons. The first is because we must make time for the ongoing devaluation of the primary source and also to spend time with the other IPSS who is being cultivated. The second reason is to test your resolve. If you reject such an arrangement then we will conclude that you lack certain traits that would make you a good primary source, such as you challenge us too readily, you lack ‘stickability’ and you are not responding to our charm and seduction as deeply as we had hoped or planned. In such an instance our attention will switch to the other IPSS but you are unlikely to be discarded. This is because you have shown potential, provided fuel and therefore we may as well keep you on ice to call on for fuel or to triangulate with the existing primary source and/or the other IPSS in order to satisfy our fuel needs.

If you do not challenge this arrangement then it is a straight fight between you and the other IPSS as to who will eventually be crowned as primary source. You may know about the devalued primary source but you probably will not know about the other IPSS. You will both be tested, so you can expect cancelled arrangements, occasional bouts of odd acts and distant behaviours. These are not acts of devaluation but are rather tests during your seduction to ensure that you are made of the right stuff to be promoted to primary source and also that you are better than your competing IPSS. The nature of this competition is such that you may be in front one month and thus things will seem to be going well with us and then you will be behind your competitor the next month so things will be less pleasant. You are jockeying for position and all the while we are obtaining fuel as we ascertain who will be the best person to be promoted. This could go on for years as you are strung along.

If you then learn that the primary source has finally been discarded but somebody else is being paraded around as our girlfriend and you cannot understand how that has happened, because there is still (albeit minimal) contact with you, then you have lost the race to become primary source. This other person seems to have come out of nowhere but they have not. They have been cultivated behind the scenes and we have decided that they would make the best primary source. The existing one has been discarded, the competitor IPSS who you knew nothing about (or might just have been referred to as a ‘friend’) is installed as primary source.

Even when this happens, you are still unlikely to be discarded because we still see value as keeping you as a secondary source. There has been some investment in you and if you do not cause a problem for us, you will be retained and at some future point there will be a resumption of the relationship to draw fuel, to use you to triangulate with the now being discarded primary source and even to consider installing you as primary source. This latter consideration arises where you would be a good primary source, but the competitor was deemed even better. However, once that competitor is devalued, your status as a good potential primary source is revisited. Unless of course another competitor IPSS is sought and this one is deemed better than you.

If you rail against this treatment as you find yourself side-lined when you expected to become the primary source, but some usurper has appeared instead, this may be tolerated for the negative fuel and the purposes of triangulation. If however you become problematic whereby you may expose us, causes problems with the façade and interfere with the newly installed primary source, you can expect to be devalued, smeared and discarded.

4. You may find that there is no primary source. You are referred to as partner or girlfriend but your engagement with us is intermittent, excuses are made as to why we cannot see more of you, there are occasional periods of silence and you are strung along in this position for some time, unsure of what you actually are. Are you our girlfriend or just a friend with benefits? When this happens it is the case that we will have several IPSS on our books. The combination of all these interests and the attendant fuel means that there is no pressing need for a primary source and we are content to alternate between the various IPSS until we establish one which is installed as primary source.

The IPSS does not experience the standard template of seduction-devaluation-discard and this is why many commentators fail to explain our behaviours effectively to someone who is an IPSS. The narcissistic dynamic is different. The reason for this is that you are effectively placed in limbo. You may not be good enough to be promoted to the position of primary source but you are too valuable to be cast to one side and thus the dance continues for as long as you will allow it without wounding or challenging us.

Those who do not understand our kind tend to fall into the trap of thinking that we are some kind of commitment-phobe and will dole out erroneous advice to you in terms of making you try to bring about that commitment. All this will do is cause you further consternation as the decision is ours, not yours.

If you find yourself in the position of engaging with somebody who treats you well, but only does so intermittently, who occasionally seems to test you (and it is often difficult to spot this) and issues lots of promises about what will happen in the future but there is never any delivery, there is every chance that you are an IPSS entangled with one of our kind.

17 thoughts on “What Am I To The Narcissist?

  1. amanda SNapchat says:

    WHEN you are on the shelf, do narcs like when you don’t contact them either? It lets them focus 100% on their other appliances so they are happy? or do they expect people to be constantly contacting them to know why they disappeared?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      It depends on the nature of the contact. If you are repeatedly texting us when new are focused elsewhere, it will provide some fuel however it could cause issues with other interactions and therefore may result in a Corrective Devaluation being issued whilst you are on the shelf. If you do not contact us when you are on the shelf, this is not a concern as our fuel needs are being met elsewhere and you are not throwing a spanner in those works either, although of course do expect at a future point to be castigated for not staying in touch with us, even though we were content for that to be the case, because as you know, anything and everything will be used against you and for us.

  2. michellebaird4129 says:

    CS – One of the first and most important steps in to breaking trauma bond is loving the self. Approving and accepting one self exactly the way you are will allow you to be open to “real love” ( healthy relationships ) and in turn accept real love. (Maintain a healthy relationship ) This is just the first step, but It will require a lot of work – like bathing, it is something you will need to continue to do for a life time. There is lots of information out there on trauma bonding and I suggest you look this up and in the interim start practising positive thought patterns about yourself, as it’s a really good start ! You might not feel like this now, and that ok, but there will come a time when you just can’t continue like this anymore and will invest in yourself. It’s almost 2019 what a great time to start! Hope this helps and *hugs* to you … keep positive and stay strong !

    1. CS says:

      michellebaird4129 – while I understand you mean well, as a schizoid, I don’t have a large range of emotions. I like myself just fine. I’m fine with who I am. But love is not an emotion I think I am capable of. A trauma bond has a chemical component like drugs do. “Loving” myself will not change the chemical component in my brain. And even if I did bar all narcs from my life as in never take a hit of a drug I have an addiction to, I’ll always be at risk if one slips in my life to trigger the addiction. It’s outside of my control unless I never talk to anyone again. (This is why I’m attracted to them, meaning my brain turns on and it wants that drug.) Plus, I’ll probably never “love” someone as I don’t know I could begin to have that emotion. I’m 43, married 2x, I’ve never loved anyone. I’ve never been fully in a relationship, I’m half in half out. This is why healthy guys get hurt. But unlike a narc, I can be alone, I don’t need people like they do. I don’t want to hurt someone. I get nothing from hurting someone. A healthy relationship may not ever be something I am capable of no matter how much therapy I go to, or “self-love”. (Which I am in therapy.) But I do appreciate the reply.

  3. michellebaird4129 says:

    SuperXena – This is very true and good advice

    1. SuperXena says:

      Thank you michellebaird4129.

      Sometimes people equate acting in their own best interest and establishing strong personal boundaries with being ‘selfish.’

      I see a considerable difference between the two.

      Being selfish is being self-absorbed, and adopting self-seeking behavior that disregarding the rights and needs of others , tramples them deliberately in favor of personal gain. It can easily turn to be self-assertion as aggressively and boastful self-assured.

      Establishing strong personal boundaries is(for me) not the same as being ‘selfish’.

  4. Blondie says:

    Fell off the wagon .. i got full on pity play..feeling shit fell for the hoover one week later ignored and silent treatment …Back on the horse tty again new year new intentions.

    1. Caroline R says:

      Good work Blondie.

      1. Blondie says:

        Thanks Caroline..

  5. Mona says:

    The only thing, I really know, I meant nothing to him. Not in the beginning, not in the golden period, not in devaluation. That sounds bitter, but it is not – in the end. Nothing ever matters to him- and I do not want someone, who does not feel anything else than fury, envy and jealousy. Therefore he does not matter- in the end. He is only a shadow of a non-existing person. He has no conscience, he has no idea of what is really important in life, he has no real personality. Only a chameleon.
    But I have to confess – a really pretty one (in the past).

  6. CS says:

    This might be exactly what I’m dealing with and the answer I’ve been looking for. My mother is a non-diagnosed narcissist, I’d say lower. My ex-husband is a non-diagnosed narcissistic, I’d say mid. 18 years living with my mother, 20 years with the ex-husband. 40+ years of one in my life. 2 days after I called it all off with my ex, I met a guy online. He never love bombed me or acted like either my mom or ex. We had a few dates and he decided to just be friends. I’ve known him for over 2 years now. He’s never love bombed me, devalued or discarded, just leaves everything up in the air and claims he values our friendship. We are not intimate. Everyone tells me he’s just not interested in me. But I see signs of narcissism. Subtle signs that you’d have to know what you were looking for, criticizing, selfish, no compassion, no self reflection, blame shifting, lack of boundaries, but all very small on his part, nothing overt… Not only that but I’m attracted to him, and I seem to only be attracted to mid range narcissist. A nice good guy does nothing for me. So I’ve been very confused if he is or isn’t a narcissist. One thing is, he’s never been married, never seems to have a girlfriend, has never talked about exs, never tries to make me jealous about other girls, but he will tell me how he’s drinking with the guys, always has time for that and only a little time for me. I’m not a narcissist or an empath. I wouldn’t call me normal either. I’ve no clue where you’d place me on your scale, but I seem to have a lot of traits of a schizoid. Lower narcissist are way too emotional for me. Somatic are way too flashy. I can spot the loud overt ones in a min and won’t give them the time of day. But a mid range has the ability to somehow access the emotions that are normally flat in me. They are also usually emotionally unavailable, and schizoids are usually more comfortable with that. Sad thing is, I still want to date this guy and would like to move from non-intimate to intimate. (Sexual contact is the only schizoid trait I don’t check.)

    1. michellebaird4129 says:

      If you feel you are attracted to narcissists, you could possibly be a co- dependant. Children of a narcissistic parent usually ( but not always) fall in to two catergories, they either become narcissist themselves or co-dependants. HG has a book on this topic called “chained” it’s an excellent read and will help you distinguish whether you are or not.

      1. CS says:

        I’ve looked up codependent before. I’m not one. Narcissistic parents can also create schizoid personality in their children. A schizoid is very independent, I have no need to fix my mother or my ex. I actually get annoyed by their victim role. I am not empathetic, feelings are overwhelming to me and I’d prefer not to have any. I think the link between empath or codependent and narcissists overshadow the link between narcissist and schizoid. While a schizoid not raised by a narcissist might not find a connection with one, one raised by the narcissist would find it more normal. I don’t think I gave my ex a lot of fuel, I mostly ignored him and lived in my bedroom. A codependent wouldn’t be able to do that. However my ex narc valued the appearance of a good family man. I gave him that to the outside world. I also pretty much ignored his infidelity. He did get some negative fuel from me when I discovered yet another indiscretion but I let that go mostly. He got most of his fuel from outside sources while I could care less about socializing so he took all the attention from that. No worries, I actually am grateful for that. He took care of running to the store, talking to the wait staff…things I have no problems doing but no desire to do either. Praise and criticism has little effect on me, so his crap didn’t bother me too bad as he is either a higher mid or lesser greater. I’m sure he’s aware of what he does, and he didn’t rage or get violent. He sulked more or silent treatment. I would not put up with violence, I’d just leave. But as they are not emotionally available and keep a distance it actually works for me in that I keep my distance too and want my space, which in my alone time gives them time to gain fuel from outside sources. I seem to either be attracted to narcs or bored and smothered by a neurotypical guy. I’ve tried dating neurotypical men, but as a schizoid personality I don’t connect to people and the guys have issues with me. I’m also emotionally unavailable. Therefore I find myself in a quandary.

      2. CS says:

        I probably have more of a trauma bond than codependent. I probably downplay the abuse more than most because my emotions have been blunted from very early childhood emotional neglect. But being in a relationship with a healthy guy usually leaves them heart broken.

      3. SuperXena says:

        Hello michellebaird4129,
        As you said it is usually the case but not necessarily falling in just those two categories.
        If you mean children of parents with full-blown narcissism the outcome of the children may be different than becoming either a full-blown NPD or a codependent. The outcome can be different and somewhere a long a spectrum depending on :
        -the innate character traits of each child( genetics )
        -the different coping mechanisms each child adopts to the NPD parent’s behaviour.
        Furthermore each child has a different role in the matrix of a parent with NPD affecting them differently resulting in various outcomes not just NPD or co-dependent.
        All these factors contribute tipping the personality towards one end or the other falling on the extremes or a long a spectrum.

        A good way of knowing if you are a co-dependent is by examining your personal boundaries if they are weak or strong and if you have the ability of assessing and protecting them. Personal boundaries that protect your self-worth, your emotional well-being, your physical health, your safety and your self-respect.That can give you a guideline.

  7. lolalestrange says:

    Wow. Thank you.

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