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.

72 thoughts on “The IPSS : Shelved or Disengaged

  1. Learninglessons says:

    HG. From what I’ve been reading on your site this is my scenario and questions – bear with me re: the length of this note. My N and I knew each other for years (similar social circles) though we were far from friends. After about 6 years I was newly single, within 2 years he attempted first seduction – which I didn’t engage in. A year later, I became the DLS which was fine as I considered him (N) the same. He had a very long term (15+ yrs) IPPS – we saw each other a couple of times a year and I was good with that – this over the course of 5 years. From time to time, we’d hang out with a couple of his close friends that I knew – they slowly became aware of our “affair”. About 4 yrs ago, his longterm IPPS left him. There was many factors from then until today which is included: Securing a new IPPS for about 1.5 yrs. That new IPPS left him, firmly blocked him – I think she caught on to who he was and moved away. As a result of that second breakup for him I believe I went from DLS to CanIPPS (I was seeing someone & the N relentlessly pursued me until I ended it motivated him I believe). Unbeknownst to me at the same time, he was engaging with his first longterm 15+ yr IPPS (who thought they were getting back together) and a NIPS female friend. This NIPS friend he intro’d me. I spent time with this female NIPS friend as well as his circle of close male (non-intimate) friends for a few months. Overnight (it seemed), I was eliminated or regulated back “down” to DLS and this NIPS female was quickly elevated to a candidate IPPS. I was never invited around his friend group again, only she was. The N and I had occasional interactions but within two months, they were becoming few and far between. I’m not one to send endless texts but do quickly respond when he would initiate. As of 5 weeks ago she was “officially” his IPPS though i think it’s been longer. He didn’t block me but did ghost and ignored a couple of texts I sent asking WTF. I walked away – as I do – without much fuss to try to move on. 2 weeks ago – he reached out to “clear the air” with me, admitting his former bestie is now his gf – at the same time asking if I’d be interested in booty calls.I’ve said no and that our run has ended and it’s over.

    I guess my questions are:

    Can a DLS be promoted to CanIPPS in one go?
    OR was I just a rapid/temporary IPSS filling time until he found his ideal IPPS?
    This “clear the air” message – a goal to keep me on a shelf somewhere for future? to which I hope I never fall for again.
    Given he’s secured 2 new IPPS in our time – assuming I was only ever considered a DLS?

    Thank you.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      This is a matter for consultation given the need to provide you with detailed information.

  2. Charly says:

    Hi HG,
    What happens if you’re shelved because there’s a grand initial hoovering happening with the IPPS and you take the minimal contact with N to your advantage as your escape plan because you cannot go No Contact, as this might jeopardize your career as N is the big boss. Now when N starts attempts to take you out of shelf because he senses that he is losing grip on you (or for any narcissistic needs) what would be the best action/response? Note I have carefully planned my escape (5 month – period and going) which involves allowing N to find IPPS when I realised he is one and since then have been observing his progress of securing an IPPS from a distance without interrupting it’s success, so to be released as the candidate IPPS at the time of discovery.
    Appreciate your response

    1. HG Tudor says:

      You do what is always the correct action when a narcissist is seeking to hoover you (taking you off the shelf is hoovering you) you impose no contact so the hoover cannot occur.

  3. a DMSE somewhat in distress says:

    Hi HG.

    Just to clarify something.

    You write: “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.”

    What would you say is the “expected and desired manner”?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Submitting to our control in a form which is recognisable to the narcissist.

  4. Kim e says:

    Hi HG
    Please clarify the statement below. Is there no disengagement because it was not initiated by the narc?

    “No, there can be no disengagement because you have escaped because you ended the relationship and then imposed no contact. ”

    Also, if not blocked anywhere, how would a SIPSS know if they were disengaged from?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      If you are not blocked, you are not disengaged from. You would not know you are disengaged from, because you are not disengaged from.

  5. Vale says:

    HG, I think I am a IPSS disengaged because I am blocked since two weeks after I told him I am not sure about my feelings anymore. Could I do something to “repair”?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      You can – you consult with me which I believe you have already organised to do so, so I shall help you through that.

  6. Supernova DE says:

    If I may clarify my question:
    Would it be common for a narc to approach an appliance on a dating site or social media (with a false profile) in order to try to build rapport with her, see if she will agree to meet him, provide photographs, flirt etc? As a test, or to catch her in the act of treachery against him?
    This would, in effect, be the same kind of testing as sending a lieutenant to ask her on a date, but applied by the narc himself via digital means.
    Great thanks in advance

    1. HG Tudor says:


  7. Supernova DE says:

    Is it common for narc to catfish appliances (specifically IPSS) on dating site or through social media during entanglement in order to test them and also to see what they are up to?
    Thank you.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      If you mean hoover using false profiles, absolutely.

  8. Joanne says:

    Thank you, Lori.
    I’m haven’t gone no contact. I’m married – I had a brief affair with the narc 😔 I’m scared that blocking and unfollowing will upset him and cause him to smear me to my husband and destroy my marriage. He can easily do that with pictures and texts I’ve sent. Things didn’t end badly per se, he just changed, and then shelved me. I couldn’t lash out or chase him (due to my being married) so I had to just leave it be (while dying inside). This was back in early December. We have not actively communicated since Christmas – benign texts. So while I am not reaching out to him and he is not reaching out to me, I’m doing “wrong NC” out of fear.

    I’m relieved to hear the mental grip will ease up soon. This has become so consuming – moreso than the actual affair itself! The fact that “shelving” and “Hoovers” and terms like that have become part of my every day vocabulary is just insane to me.

    1. Vnarcobsessed says:

      I am in the exact same boat right now. Before I knew he was a narc, I became quite involved in many aspects of his life. He sees me or hears about me several times a day from friends and family. I feel trapped.

      1. Joanne says:

        Are you also married? Or just doing the wrong NC?

        1. Vnarcobsessed says:

          Married 20 years.

          1. Joanne says:

            Yes, I am 20 years married too. I’m realizing my initial comment was from several weeks ago. I’ve still not gone NC but feel a lot less stressed over being smeared to my husband now. I feel as if I’m too low level a fuel source to this narc (positive or negative) for him to go through the trouble of smearing me. Plus, we are still playing stupid games over social media and when he compliments me I react positively, so I think he enjoys having that reliable, sweet fuel available even if it’s low quantity. He seems happy with my position on the shelf and tosses me the crumbs. Hopefully I’ll be able to just cut it all off in time and go NC once there is more distance (time) between us.

            How are things going with you now?

          2. Vnarcobsessed says:

            Hi Joanne, glad to hear that you’re doing better. How did we manage to get into such a mess?!? I’m okay right now; some days are very emotional and some are not. I’ve not yet decided how to go forward- I changed some Facebook settings so that I can’t see his online activity which I obsessed about. Small things; trying to get right. Slowly but surely. I hate myself for being so sexually attracted to this man. I must be on the shelf as he hasn’t initiated contact this week though he responded immediately to my previous texts. So…good starting point. I’m not going to text him first. I wonder how long it’ll go…I still can’t believe I EVER got involved with anyone else, and as punishment for my sins, that person is a narcissist.

          3. Joanne says:

            I used to say the exact same thing; that I was deserving of the pain I was feeling as punishment for my infidelity. And when it first came crashing down, the pain truly was unbearable. I also used to do the same thing with stalking the “online” times which I have adjusted. All these dumb little things that they’ve driven us to! I never thought I’d be 45 years old, MARRIED, and carrying on like this over a guy who doesn’t care about me at all! Do you see this narc in person? I don’t see mine and most times he does not contact me until I place myself within his 5th sphere through my Facebook posts. Knowing what kind of post will trigger him to message me, I find myself baiting him. It’s really so ridiculous.

  9. Supernova DE says:

    HG what is the longest you have kept an SIPSS or SDLS in play? Seems common amongst us empaths here for it to go on for years, wondering if this is the norm?
    Would the dynamic typically deteriorate over time with the shelving cycles, as most of us describe here? Or is that sample bias?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Many years.

      1. alexissmith2016 says:

        Would I be right in thinking the more residual benefits an IPSS provides the longer they are kept in play?

        E.g. if an IPSS was also the accountant of the N they would be kept in play far longer than one who simply provides good fuel?

        Or is the potency of fuel equal to the residual benefits?

        1. HG Tudor says:

          Correct subject to control issues.

          1. alexissmith2016 says:

            Thanks HG

          2. alexissmith2016 says:

            Hmmm so when you say subject to control HG, are you intimating that generally speaking and of course this is very general that IPSSs for most Ns are easier to control if they have fewer residual benefits?

          3. HG Tudor says:

            No, the extent of residual benefits does not impact on the ability to control, but does impact on the necessity of control and the effort applied to do so.

          4. alexissmith2016 says:

            Very interesting HG. Blimey! It’s madness, because the rest of us are friends with or attracted to whom ever we like. They could be a dustman or a doctor. We would never think of what they have to offer?

      2. Except in the case of a MMR? Perhaps they cling on to any fuel source they can get.

        1. Supernova DE says:

          I have wondered the same thing. I feel like I certainly wasn’t an “ideal’ fuel pump for my MMRN (challenged him constantly, and constantly needed corrective devaluations), yet it was 3 years before he attempted to pull the plug entirely.
          The Greaters can afford to be choosier….

          1. Supernova DE that is something to be thankful for. It is the ideal, it is what we should all be aiming for, not to be the ‘ideal’ fuel pump for an N.
            We should all be looking to cease fuel and any residual benefits. That’s not love, it’s using us.
            You did well to challenge. Be proud of yourself!

  10. Lori says:

    Boy oh boy have I struggled with this one and when I’m thinking logically, I think does it matter ? No really it doesn’t other than having nice neat answers to exactly what happened.

    Before I was completely comepletemt shelved and/or disengaged from I was sent a gift anonymously from someone. Of course the narc was treating me shitty and I showed him. I probably should not have done that as if seemed to bother him thought he made a good attempt to hide it. He even insinuated that I may have sent it to make him jealous but then rescinded that after I said do you know how much this costs ? Do you really thing I spend that kind of money to make you jealous. He knew I didn’t do it. Then a couple of months later he told me he was engaging with someone else.

    1. Would something like that be wounding to a lesser and considered and intrinsic factor would it ignite fury ?

    2. Did this fast track me to the shelf or disengagement?

    3. I have asked this before but if any channel is left open that a Narc is aware of say phone but not social media, you are shelved not disengaged correct ? In which case you are just ignored if you contact correct ?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      1. Depends how you raised it, most likely it was Challenge Fuel.

      2. No.

      3. Correct.

      1. Lori says:

        Thank you HG. As usual, you have most helpful and maybe my questions will help another ipss. I’m about to hit the 3 month mark. It’s still day to day but his mental hold over me is getting less. I make no guarantees and I say again today, I will not contact him today

        Thank you for your time answering my questions. I really don’t know how you manage it all

      2. Supernova DE says:

        HG if you are disengaging from SIPSS how far do you go to block them? Would you change usernames on platforms, shut down accounts and start fresh so they can’t find you etc?

        1. HG Tudor says:

          Generally block them.

      3. BetterwoNarc says:


        What if you are blocked for a few months and then suddenly unblocked on all social media? Is that shelved or disengaged? NO crumbs at all, and I have not texted or sent messages. I was not blocked on the phone as far as I know.

        1. HG Tudor says:

          The unblocking is a passive hoover. You are on the shelf which you never left if the telephone remained an open channel.

          1. BetterwoNarc says:

            Thank you. What is the purpose of the passive hoover?

          2. HG Tudor says:

            To draw a reaction and thus fuel but to do so in a manner which minimises the risk and extent of wounding. To create a bridgehead for more intensive (and rewarding) forms of hoover.

    2. Joanne says:

      My logical thinking also tells me it doesn’t matter, yet I still feel like I need to know where I stand in his stupid game. Am I on the shelf or have I been disengaged? I am not blocked anywhere, so I would assume I”m still on the shelf. Am I painted white or am I black? It’s exhausting.

      1. Lori says:

        You are on the shelf and you may stay there indefinitely. If you did something to be painted black then you are painted black.

        My situation was a little different in that I was blocked on Facebook but not phone and I could text him but he just ignored me. Your situation seems a little clearer.

        How long are you no contact ? I have found the mental grip begins to lessen around 3 months. You’ll still want answers you’ll still come here to discuss but it hurts less and you start focusing more on yourself and less on them

  11. J.G says:

    Hello, H.G. Tudor.
    I went and I will be IPPS. Although when you are devalued and discarded you feel like the first S of shit.
    When I read texts with acronyms, I don’t know anything…
    Please an acronym table, I could use it… hahaha. I make my deductions through the content of the text…

  12. Chihuahuamum says:

    My narc periodically shelves me while still being with me. When this first started happening i was so confused! First i thought i did something wrong and he was punishing me. I wracked my brain trying to figure out what id done. It came to a point i would write him a long email and disengage. He would reply with apologies and explanations saying he didnt mean to take me for granted blah blah blahhhh….things would be hot and heavy and then further down the line shelving would creep back up again. I could not understand how he could go from super sexual to friend zone and back again. Its not normal behaviour when you have feelings for someone. The key word is “feelings”. Once i came across narcissism and hgs writings i realised i was just one of many in a network set up to keep my narc entertained. He had many flavors of ice cream that he shifts between. When he gets tired of my flavor he puts me in the freezer and takes out a new flavor.
    Going into the relationship he never attached. Narcissists are capable of never attaching bc they are wired differently and dont have the same perspective as others. They feel justified in serving their needs irregardless of how it affects others. They will say sorry and promise you the moon but its cognitive only never how they really feel.
    Now i understand the cycle and i no longer write long emails explaining how i feel hurt and why is our relationship changing. What happened? No its futile bc its a cycle. It never changed. I never was a one and only i am one of many. So when hes in his present shelving phase i know hes into some other flavor and when hes hot and heavy hes bored and back. Not very flattering but there you have it. That is the reality of narcissism. We are objects for their use if we allow it.

    1. Joanne says:

      How do you feel when you’re picked back up off the shelf? Are you able to go back to business as usual or do your feelings lessen each time?

      1. sighofrelieff says:

        I wonder that also.

      2. BetterwoNarc says:

        This happened to me, and my feelings did not lesson. I almost felt relief each time. That’s called trauma bonding. I’m 5 months no contact now.

        1. Joanne says:

          Good job on the NC! Well done. I understand the feeling of relief when you’re picked back up. I feel that in a way, only in my case it’s a little more like a game since I am married and there’s someone else who wants to play with me all the time. I’m not left feeling so badly. Yet, there is still relief in feeling that the narc still wants me, whether it’s on his terms or not. I still crave that validation from him.

          1. BetterwoNarc says:

            Hi Joanne. I’m married too and have no desire to re-engage in a relationship with narc. But when I was in the relationship I felt relief. Obviously I didn’t know what I was dealing with.

          2. Joanne says:

            Hopefully I will be there someday, too. Unfortunately I still have a desire to engage, even if it’s only by way of some silly texting games😞

            It’s interesting that there are so many of us married targets…

          3. NarcAngel says:

            “It’s interesting that there are so many of us married targets…”

            I imagine it’s easier for them to hunt in the land of the already bored and disillusioned.

          4. MB says:

            There’s the NA I know and love! Re: married targets.

          5. Joanne says:

            Yes indeed, NA 😞

          6. BetterwoNarc says:

            One reason I think they target married people is b/c we won’t take up as much of their attention and time because we have a seperate life to tend to. I let my narc get away w/stuff that I would never tolerate in a “normal” relationship.

            Not engaging gets easier over time. We stopped talking because his wife found out about the affair and told my husband. So I’m rebuilding w/my hubs. I’m pretty sure the narc let his wife find out to punish me for ending the relationship. Be careful Joanne, you cannot trust the narc won’t make sure your husband finds out.

          7. Joanne says:

            Yes, you’re right. Much easier for them to keep multiple plates of IPSS spinning when one or more of them are married. I was so foolish to feel like he was working so hard at hooking me during the love bombing phase. All it was, was words and I know now that they are master wordsmiths after all.

            Not engaging is definitely getting easier. In the beginning I thought I would die when he withdrew his attention and affection. The withdrawals were torture. When I come off the shelf these days, it’s for very brief exchanges and I end up reshelving myself (by way of exiting the conversations). He throws out bait of meeting up again but I evade his suggestions. The addiction is still there but I no longer live for his attention.

            I’m so sorry that all happened with you. I can’t even imagine what a nightmare that was for you. I’m definitely aware of how easily my narc could ruin me. The threat is so much higher with someone who has zero empathy… They are diabolical.

          8. BetterwoNarc says:

            I know exactly what you feel with the withdrawal. I felt the same way. 💔 It takes a long time, but it does get easier.

    2. Lori says:

      Girl you have been here awhile. You know what you are dealing with. I know you feel you have control of the situation and understand what’s going on but do you? These people are toxic and the longer this goes on in any capacity the more the toxicity. It can never work out ever. Have you asked yourself why you are keeping him sound ? What purpose is he serving ? Then fill that need another way because I promise you this is pure toxicity

    3. Supernova DE says:

      I understand all you write here, as its my situation also, as you know.

      The one difference might be that I just could never accept the cycle. Each time it happened, I would get angrier and angrier, and fight for more control every time – partly because I wanted to avoid getting hurt, but also I wanted him to know I was strong and not a doormat. I went back though because, like you, I wanted him to desire me. But, as you say, it is less authentic on both sides each time.

      It was less desirable for him too, because with each cycle I could see a bit more past the façade, that he isn’t a great person, that he doesn’t actually love his wife, that he doesn’t actually care for his children, that he doesn’t have great friends, etc. etc. And, being a mid ranger, he really wants to be seen as a “good guy.” So the fuel level was diminished for him, hence more manipulations being put in play to make up the difference.

      I think you can get out, if you want to. You are self aware, you know the issues this stems from. Get angry with him – I mean who the fuck is this guy to shelve you and then come back whenever he pleases!! You are worth more, and in the long run, this bring nothing but anxiety and pain.

      1. Lori says:

        He finds you less desireable because each time you put up with their shit their shit they respect you less. Also, they know what they are doing and they think anyone that would have them isn’t worth having.

        Each time you take them back, they respect you less until you become weak and pathetic to them and they cannot tolerate weakness of any kind. It’s all a catch 22. They need you to be weak but they can’t stand you to be weak

        1. NarcAngel says:

          Very true, and that’s what people need to accept – that it is futile to expect that there can be any other outcome with a narcissist. They write the ending and we have no effect on it regardless our insistence or belief that we do. I believe on any given day (or even minute to minute) most of them may not even be sure themselves what they want – until they do or don’t, so how can we expect to? They may not have a choice about what drives them, but we do and that should be our focus.

        2. Supernova DE says:

          I appreciate you writing this. My response to it is conflicting. My immediate reaction is to defend myself, “I am NOT weak, and I am certainly NOT pathetic!!”
          I understand that over time the MRN wore me down and I certainly would have appeared this way to him, and acted that way towards him. I don’t think it is abnormal (given the narc/empath dynamic), and I have to forgive myself. Forgiving myself has been a lifelong struggle for me, it does not come easily for me, I expect perfection from myself at all times.

          I do agree with this perspective though, and it is a good reminder of why to stick with NC.

      2. shesaw says:

        NA, that’s a good thing to be aware of, that we simply have no influence on the outcome. It means that if we keep trying to control the outcome, we will feel stressed and insecure (out of control).

        If we want to experience control and power, and move forward – we must focus our energy and time on things where we can make a difference.

      3. Lori says:

        SuperNova DE

        It doesn’t matter if in fact you are or are not weak. All that matters is their perception of you and if you continue to engage with them after they continuously put you through crap, they will lose respect for you. Narcs do want to be a member of any country club that would actually have them as a member if that makes any sense.

        They subconsciously or not so subconsciously want the one who doesn’t want them that is why once you go nc you become more attractive to them again.

  13. PhoenixRaging says:

    Very helpful, HG! Question: if an IPSS DLS becomes aware of what mid-range narcissist is, confronts him with knowledge of the abuse and then escapes immediately afterwards by enforcing strict NC, will the narcissist likely discard out of wounding, defeat or fear of exposure (since they are only losing a DLS)? Or, will they risk going above and beyond to deploy a grand hoover in order to secure the IPSS role since they have a smaller fuel matrix?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      No, there can be no disengagement because you have escaped because you ended the relationship and then imposed no contact. There may be an IGH but it depends on whether there is a Hoover Trigger (more or less certain) and if the Hoover Execution Criteria are met (less certain owing to the various factors which may be applicable at that time).

  14. Joanne says:

    This shelf business is annoying. Do social media comments/likes equate to comfort crumbs?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Yes, they can.

      1. Joanne says:

        Long sigh……….:/

      2. Michelle says:

        A friend of mine has recently been dating a narcissist and was a candidate ipss but she wounded him a few times as above the Instrinct factors) he said he was dissapointed and wounded but they made up. she felt he only connected with her again to heal the wound and so then blocked him as she felt hurt but a few days later she unblocked him and tried to message him he ignored all her messages but then finally replied with something along the lines of he is busy with work/ family problems etc.. and that he is is not ready to commit to anything serious and that he is sorry. He has not blocked her on the phone or social media but he’s made it clear it is over. Is she shelved or disengaged or is this a test / corrective devaluation?

        1. Michelle says:

          Also he does not have an ipps and from what she has described looks like a Lower greater. Thanks

        2. HG Tudor says:

          This is a matter which requires more information and context and therefore is best addressed through consultation.

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