Narcissist V Shelf IPSS


The following is a breakdown of an interaction between a Middle Mid-Range Narcissist and a Geyser Standard Empath. The two are in a Formal Relationship of Narcissist and Shelf IPSS (“SIPSS”), which those not benefiting from such knowledge would see as a married person who is having an affair with someone who is The Other Woman/Man.

  1. The narcissist and the SIPSS have spent the weekend together away in a coastal city. Therefore the SIPSS is off the shelf for the extent of the duration. She is painted white. The narcissist received positive fuel of a very good potency (SIPSS), massive quantity (in person, sexual interaction) and constantly (together all weekend).

2. The weekend ends and they leave the coastal city together. SIPSS off shelf and painted white.

3. The two part company and return to their respective homes. The SIPSS is now ON the shelf. This is not devaluation. The SIPSS remains painted white.

4. The following day, SIPSS sends a text to the narcissist

“It was great spending the weekend with you. I can’t wait until we do it again.”

This is pure positive fuel. Very good potency, one off frequency, very low quantity as short and in writing.

There is no response for an hour. The narcissist responds with

“It was great. Yes, we will do it again soon. I have a busy week ahead, so I will text you later on. Missing you.”

The SIPSS remains on the shelf. She remains painted white. This was a comfort crumb from the narcissist. It was pleasant, it maintains the engagement but signals to the SIPSS that she should not expect to hear from the narcissist often.

5. The following day there is no contact between the two. This is not a Silent Treatment, the SIPSS remains on the shelf and painted white.

6. The day after, the narcissist is reminded of the weekend. The SIPSS has entered his sixth sphere of influence. This is a Hoover Trigger. His Intimate Partner Primary Source has gone out for the evening unexpectedly. She in devaluation. Her departure has wounded the narcissist, he sends her an unpleasant text to provoke her in order to gain fuel. He requires fuel to address the wound, he can easily contact the SIPSS by text, social media or telephone, she has no partner, she has not wounded him, she provides excellent fuel and therefore the Hoover Bar is very low and the Hoover Execution Criteria are met. The narcissist telephones SIPSS. She has been taken off the shelf. They speak, fuel is provided, he berates his wife to the SIPSS (triangulation) and speak for about an hour. The call ends. The SIPSS goes back on the shelf and remains painted white.

7. There is no contact between the two of them for three days.

8. The SIPSS sends a text message early in the morning to the narcissist

“How are you? Just wanted to let you know I am missing you.”

Positive fuel. Very good potency, one-off frequency, very low amount.

There is an instant response from the narcissist by text

“I miss you too.”

The SIPSS sends a further text.

“I cannot wait until we can see one another again.”

Positive fuel, very good potency, one-off frequency, very low amount.

There is no response from the narcissist. The SIPSS remains on the shelf. She is painted white. The narcissist has not given a silent treatment but the lack of response is purely symptomatic of being on the shelf.

9. The following day the SIPSS texts the narcissist again early in the morning

“Hi, are you okay?”

Positive fuel, very good potency one-off frequency, very low amount.

There is no response. The SIPSS is still on the shelf, painted white and this is not a silent treatment.

10. She waits thirty minutes and texts again

“Please will you answer me, I hate not hearing from you.”

Positive fuel, very good potency, one-off frequency, very low amount.

Ten minutes later the narcissist replies by text

“I was in the shower. Busy day ahead. Will text later.”

This is a comfort crumb. The SIPSS is on the shelf and painted white.

11. There has been no contact between the two and it is now 5pm. The SIPSS texts again

“I really find it hard not hearing from you.”

This is positive fuel, very good potency, one-off frequency, very low amount.

There is no response from the narcissist. The SIPSS is on the shelf and painted white.

12. She waits ten minutes and texts again

“I thought you said you were going to text me later? This hurts.”

This is now Challenge Fuel. Her admission of hurt is negative fuel (albeit a very small amount as it is contained in a text) – however she is seeking to hold the narcissist to something he stated. The narcissist is NOT wounded by this, but regards this as a challenge to his superiority because the SIPSS is trying to make him feel accountable and this feels like his control is being eroded.

13. The narcissist replies with a text two minutes later

“I told you I had a busy day ahead, I am in a meeting.”

He is providing an explanation and asserting his superiority by looking to close the matter. He has not been provocative and is not seeking fuel from the SIPSS.

14. The SIPSS answers immediately

“Sorry, I didn’t know. When will you text me, or will you give me a call?”

This is Challenge Fuel again. The apology is a very small amount of positive fuel, the request for a call is mildly Challenging BUT aggregates with the earlier text message. The narcissist has not been able to assert the superiority to the extent required.

He texts back immediately

“No idea. V busy. Cannot talk now.”

He is not seeking fuel (he will be well fuelled whatever he is doing – maybe in the meeting or if not in a meeting in some other interaction) but needs to assert superiority and is seeking to close the challenge down. The SIPSS remains on the shelf and remains painted white

15. The SIPPS does not relent. She texts back straight away :-

” Will it be tonight? I want to talk to you, I always enjoy our chats. I hate not hearing from you.”

Again positive Challenge Fuel.

There is no response from the narcissist. His lack of response is designed to assert superiority by halting the conversation and thus the challenge from the SIPSS. The SIPSS remains on the shelf and painted white.

16. The SIPSS texts again :-

“Will it be tonight? I want us to talk, please.”

No response from the narcissist. Same point as above applies.

17. The SIPSS texts again :-

“Just yes or no, that’s all, I miss you.”

Positive Challenge Fuel.

No response from the narcissist. Same point as above applies.

18. The SIPSS texts again :-

“Will you answer me? It will only take you a second. Don’t ignore me.”

Negative Challenge Fuel. The irritation is fuel and the request to answer, prescriptive statement on the time taken and command not to ignore are the challenges.

No response from the narcissist. Same point applies.

19. The SIPSS texts again :-

“Answer me. This is not fair. Stop ignoring me. You had better answer me or I will call you at home on the landline.”

Negative Challenge Fuel. Annoyance plus criticism and threat.

20. The narcissist responds

“I said I am BUSY. Stop texting me. I said I would text you later but you cannot leave it can you? You dare ring my house. If you do, that’s it, it’s over. You’ve pissed me off.”

The narcissist is irritated by the SIPSS failure to accede to his superiority. She is not wounding because fuel is being provided.

The SIPSS repeated failure to stop texting and be patient now means she is painted black. She has failed to accept the narcissist’s superiority. She has not been compliant. The narcissist will now ignore her texts completely. She is being given a Corrective Devaluation which is an absent silent treatment.

21. The upset SIPSS fires off ten more texts. She makes no threats but insults the narcissist and complains about him being unfair and uncaring. These are either pure fuel or challenge fuel. The narcissist does not respond. The SIPSS realises there will be no response so she stops texting. She does not call the home landline.

The narcissist, in accordance with the Corrective Devaluation does not contact the SIPSS at all that night.

The SIPSS is on the shelf, painted black and subject to a Corrective Devaluation.

22. The next day the SIPSS sends a text at midday

“I am really sorry I pestered you yesterday, I know you work hard, it is only because I wanted to hear from you. I won’t do it again. I adore you and I will just wait to hear from you.”

This is pure positive fuel. The narcissist on reading this instinctively recognises that his superiority has been accepted again by the climbdown. The text is a Hoover Trigger. The narcissist sees this climbdown and views the SIPSS as white again. The Hoover Execution Criteria are met and he telephones the SIPSS. The conversation only last 5 minutes but he assures the SIPSS that they will speak tonight.

The SIPSS is still on the shelf, painted white and the Corrective Devaluation has ended.

23. The narcissist recalls his promise to call. This is a Hoover Trigger. The Hoover Execution Criteria are met (he recalls excellent fuel from the SIPSS, she is easy to contact, she has not wounded, there are no obstacles) and thus he does indeed telephone her and they speak for two hours that evening whilst the IPPS is out at the rifle range. For this telephone call the SIPSS is off the shelf, painted white. Positive fuel is provided during the conversation. It is of very good quality as coming from an SIPSS, the frequency is constant for the duration of the call and it is of moderate quantity since it is a telephone call.

Once the call ends, the SIPSS is back on the shelf and painted white.

24. Around midnight with the IPPS sound asleep and the narcissist in his bolthole, he recalls the telephone call (hoover trigger) and again the Hoover Execution Criteria are met ( similar to points above at 23) so he sends a text to the SIPSS. She replies immediately. They text back and forth for an hour. During this exchange the SIPSS is off the shelf and painted white. Positive fuel is provided. It is of very good quality, very frequent and low quantity because it is in writing. The narcissist is in-between engaging with another SIPSS online through social media and thus has two fuel lines open at this point.

When the texting ends, the SIPSS is placed back on the shelf and is painted white. The narcissist engages still with the other SIPSS and does so through Skype engaging in some mutual masturbation. Once that has concluded, the call ends and that SIPSS goes on the shelf also.

Accordingly, this short series of interactions provides the pattern of behaviours, clarifies how the appliance is regarded, how a Corrective Devaluation works, shows the shift from white to black to white, the fuel gathered, the type of interaction occurring and also the entwinement with other appliances also.






  1. HG. I just bit the bullet (again) and blocked my mmrn. I know this will wound him but is disengagement always part of blocking? I am hoping you say yes so my hell can finally start to go away.
    Thanks for everything

  2. HG…You previously wrote the explanation below. Can you clarify what you mean by “…….and then pursue alternative options.”?

    Thank you.

    “A Shelf IPSS. If they are on the shelf, the narcissist may not notice the escape and since occupied elsewhere may do nothing. When the narcissist seeks to bring the IPSS off the shelf and finds the hoover ineffective (or if they reach the victim and are rejected) there will be some effort applied to keep them, but if there are other Shelf IPSSs, the narcissist may try for a short while and then be malign towards the IPSS by way of punishment and then pursue alternative options.”

  3. HG. is disengagement the only way the formal relationship ends? If not could you supply some examples please?
    Thank you

    1. So if disengagement or death are the only ways that the formal relationship ends, me telling my mmrn narc that I did not want the arrangement we had agreed on, FWB, and he said “I understand” nothing has really changed in his mind.

      1. So it was a big waste of time for me to have said anything?
        LOl….I am just blown away.
        Did my status on the shelf change? Was I painted black? Given a corrective devaluation? Just laughed at?

      2. Kim e,
        Thanks for asking this because it reminds me that even though I told him I was done and blocked him everywhere, it means no difference to him. I am still SIPSS, sitting on the shelf waiting my turn – at least that’s what he thinks.
        Hope you are doing well and feeling less anxious. I’ll be watching for your posts as you move forward – sending support your way!

        1. Hello Supernova DE,
          I have been literally laughing out loud since HG sent me the reply that what I had written from my heart and had hoped would be a step forward towards an end changed NOTHING in his mind/world. He read it and said “oh you think you don’t want this silly girl” and moved on. Sent me a meme of a hug.
          I am at this point right now…still laughing. Laughing at the strangeness of the entire entanglement.
          Guess I am back to square one but at least I got a good laugh out of of.
          Thanks for thinking about me and replying. And as always if I am to be totally honest, I do feel relief….kinda……
          ROFLMAO. I will remember this next time an anxiety attack hits.

  4. Hi all. I know HG would tell me that I have to go NC but ……well….. you know
    But yesterday I did tell my mmrn (I am sipss) that I did not want to be in the arrangement we had agreed on any more. It feels like a small victory for me as I have never told him no before. I of course got a text back telling me he “understands “.
    Sounds lame but it is a small step forward
    Thanks for listening

    1. It’s not “lame,” Kim-e”…it’s a significant standing up for yourself & your own forward movement.

      Now (probably) will come a harder aspect… hearing from him again and not replying.

      You just took some of your own power/freedom back… so hang onto it! Write down what you did in a journal and also how he replied… look it over as a positive conclusion that you don’t want to mess with… I’m proud of you! You should be too. :-)

      1. Caroline. You are always so supportive and I hope you know how much that means to me.
        Funny thing is I had/have no problems ignoring his texts. Maybe because I feel like it gives me a little bit of power. It just pisses him off and he hoovers me in really weird ways. LOL….like the other ways are normal.
        I am sure I am painted black now….now not… am…..but that is ok. Gives me a reprieve. He is gone 3 weeks in March so that is more breathing room for me.
        Not promising or even pretending to know when NC will come about but I am taking this victory and running with it.
        If the anxiety I felt over just telling him NO is anything like the anxiety I will feel with NC, I will need to be medicated.

        1. Kim E
          Just a note to say: There is no shame if you need to take medication to help you over. It will be temporary. Unlike the anxiety and other physical and mental issues you will likely experience if you continue on. As always it is your choice but don’t discard the idea if you think you need assistance. Speak with a trusted doctor and be honest about the reason you feel you need help.

          1. NA…thanks for this. I am hoping it just kinda dies out enough in me where I say F it. And maybe a good consult with HG hacking in my ear for a while will do the trick.

          2. HG…you make me laugh. I can post 10 times and you never make a comment. But just let me type HG and Consult in the same sentence and there you are…like a good teacher looking out for his flock. I don’t care what the naysayers say about you I think you are always looking out for us on the site.

          3. Kim E
            If you do Plan A (consult with HG) you may be in no need of Plan B (meds), but sometimes a combination is beneficial. Your call.

          4. Hi NA. Gonna ask a question here that I know I should not really care about but did me basically telling him no effect him in any way? Or was I just given comfort crumbs and a gif of a hug and put back on the shelf like a good little sipss?
            Knowing that I might have hurt/wounded in some way makes my pain less. I do not hate him for what he cannot control but there comes a point in time where I think …….GD it. I hope it hurt you too”. I know this is very self serving but isn’t that the steps I am trying to take towards myself?
            Sorry for the rant.

          5. Kim E
            I’m no expert, but my answer would be that it meant nothing to him because (in his mind) he decides and dictates how it will be. Not you.

          6. NA…of course. And when he shows back up again, it will be like I never even sent the text.
            Oh well…it least I told him NO for once. Still a small victory for me.

        2. Kim-e,

          You are so welcome. I’m always here for you… except when I’m not, lol, and then just find me & I shall return!

          I can absolutely relate to the anxiety over saying “No” to a narcissist! Hey, present day for me: Try saying a very diplomatic/trying-to-keep-your-pride-intact-while-also-getting-you-into-therapy-while-not-encouraging-you-to-make-me-your-Candidate-IPPS “NO” to a Greater! Do not try this at home — or anywhere. lol

          BUT you did it, Kim-e. You pushed through your anxiety to say NO. I think all these building-up steps you take will add to strengthening you, so that the anxiety should also diminish, along the way. Keep the momentum going. Savor your added power/feeling of more freedom!

          It’s interesting what you say about the anxiety factor. I’m sure most empaths feel that strongly, with their entanglement. I know when I was in the formal relationship, it was the anxiety factor — so much more, for me, than feeling any kind of addiction — that weakened me. Once I said “No more shaky hands!” and pushed myself, it was astounding how quickly I was able to walk away for good.

          When he’s away in March, are you thinking of doing zero contact during that time?

          1. Caroline. It is always zero contact when he is away as it is with the military. Even when I was a candidate there was no contact.
            I am going to just keep it the way it is for now and go back to day by day. I am still in the “OMG I will never hear from him again” phase. Today is a little better than yesterday which was hell. But then him hoovering me with anonymous calls after I sent my text didnt help any.
            I guess it is good that he is a MMRN and really is not one to text me unless he can force me to text him. If I ignore him enough with his passive hoovers he will send texts.
            But for right now…it is minute by minute. Not even going to go as far as to day day to day.

          2. Kim-e,

            Well, thank goodness for active duty military, enforced no contact! I can understand why that March no contact would be a peaceful time, as it puts you & him in “freeze frame” mode.

            The “OMG I will never hear from him again” phase… yes, I understand the surge of panic you’re currently feeling. To ease that panic some, I gotta say that even if you do not reply at all before the March thing, it’s *so highly unlikely* you’ll not hear again from him. So although this may seem like backward thinking (there’s a method to my madness), maybe reminding yourself that narcissists rarely just “slip outta there” that easily with their supply — maybe that will help you stay firm now… and staying firm then adds to you feeling brave, the longer you go… and by the time you do hear from him again (so likely!) after his military commitment, you’ll be that much stronger.

            Hang tough! This is your OWN sort of civilian mission… all you have to do is stay firm until he leaves.

            That said, yes, take it moment by moment. Try to stay busy, Kim!

      2. KIM
        The anxiety goes away with NC,
        The longer you go, the more peaceful you become

        But it’s easy as hell to fall right back into the anxiety with one conversation. Especially if your narc is particularly malign

        I speak from experience

      1. I guess I’m confused as to what “on the shelf “ means- is it similar to out of sight out of mind?
        As a DLS, am I on the shelf for two hours between texts? How is that different from me not thinking about HIM during this two hours (or days)

        1. It means there is no interaction.

          A half hour conversation means you are taken off the shelf for that conversation.
          A weekend away means you are taken off the shelf for that weekend.
          An hour in bed in the motel means you are taken off the shelf.
          A text exchange back and forth for three hours means you are off the shelf for those three hours.

          However, one or two texts in the course of the day are comfort crumbs, a short one minute call is a comfort crumb and you remain on the shelf throughout.

      2. Ok but- how does that differ on his end from mine? What’s the difference psychologically speaking, between being on the shelf, and simply not interacting ? Is the IPPS always in constant interaction all day & night?

        1. The IPPS is not always in constant interaction but very close to that but they are in effect always ‘in play’ in the mind of the narcissist thus they are not on the shelf.

          Being on the shelf is where there is no interaction BUT the ‘door’ remains open for interaction to occur, i.e. you have not been blocked, the narc has not moved and not given details etc.

        2. I ALWAYS wondered that difference too in being shelved and being in the relation but not seeeing the person everyday.

          In other words… if you are in constant contact – calls – texts – see each other’s every 4/5 days for 24 hours sometimes more or less … are you shelves – so IPSS are always shoved by definition?
          Sorry HG sometimes I am slow :)) But I guess my ego does not like the idea of being «  shelved «  !!

          1. You are not in constant contact, if something is constant that means all the time. You constantly breathe, for example.
            You have repeated contact. When there is sustained contact – say texting back and forth every minute or so for 30 minutes, that is off the shelf. There will be a break – say a couple of hours, you are back on the shelf.

  5. Hello all,
    HG…it seems that corrective devaluations are done for the narc to think he has gained control/superiority back. In the example in this interchange, when the corrective devaluation is given, the SIPSS really has no idea it has been issued against her. She just knows he went quiet.
    Not sure I am saying this correct.
    Does the narc expect the SIPSS to know that this CD was issued or is it just a AST to teach the SIPSS a lesson?
    Hope this makes sense.

    1. Lesser or Mid Range Narcissists do not know they are issuing Corrective Devaluations – they expect the appliance to behave/back down/apologise/do what is required etc.

    2. Kim e,
      My understanding is that a silent treatment is always a corrective devaluation.

      I received countless silent treatments from my MMRN. It could be for many reasons, such as I made a remark showing I am more knowledgeable about a particular subject than him, I held him accountable for something he said, I pointed out his contradictory behavior, I demanded he treat me with respect, or that I was busy with my family when he texted and did not respond for a few hours.

      Of course, I did not know it was “corrective devaluation”, but over time I knew that when he went silent it was because of something I had said that set him off. It became obvious that it was his defense mechanism within the relationship.
      It often made me lose it and I would (like the IPSS in this scenario) send 10 texts in an angry blur. Often, I wouldn’t remember what I actually said to him in those moments because I was so blinded by emotion. I ALWAYS apologized the next day and backed down (just as HG says the IPSS here does). Therefor, he always got fuel and always regained control. It worked for him.

      1. Oh, Supernova DE, you were queen riddle-solving, like me. Lol. “Why this ST? Let me think… ” I bet there are more of us who took the bait for this game :)

  6. Been through this scenario many times, though the MMRN is never quite so sweet, he would never say, “I miss you.”

    HG can an appliance move back and forth between DLS and IPSS status over time? Are the roles somewhat fluid, especially for a married narc?
    Thank you.

    1. Defin
      I went from candidate IPPS , to IPSS, to DLS and I’m pretty sure he’s promoted me to back-up-candidate-IPPS. Lol

      1. W. You wrote the below. What made you think your status had changed? Just changes in his interactions?
        I went from candidate IPPS , to IPSS, to DLS and I’m pretty sure he’s promoted me to back-up-candidate-IPPS. Lol

  7. It’s so eerily familiar. I was in exactly the same situation and it’s only after reading one of your posts about shelf IPSS that I decided to go no contact.

  8. Dear HG: can one be an IPSS if there is no physical intimacy per se but just sexting, including photos, and plenty of intimate innuendo via messaging?

      1. Thank you HG. I was under the impression that Ns would always push for actual physical intimate contact with IPSS, but I guess dirty texting is sufficient fuel for them.

  9. I haven’t been taken off the shelf for 3 weeks or more. I’ve been tossed a few crumbs here and there via social media but that’s about it. Maybe because I won’t play his idiotic sexting games 🙄 Or maybe I’m just reaching the end of my “shelf life.” 😂

  10. Oh it is my favorite article as it describes my life.

    Yet again it is like you are following me around with some hidden narc camera HG! Freaking diabolical.

    Mr. Pity Party Saint Piano Boy has been in the stranger zone for a few weeks now. My birthday is next weekend which is probably why…by the way he is still a “maybe” for my party too. I guess he is making up his mind at the last minute. He has acted like he wants space but he will not say so. He has complained repeatedly about his wife scrutinizing his every move though.

    After he shared that with me I said, “Are you ending things with me then?”

    Him: “NO! I am not ending anything. Do you hear me? I AM NOT ENDING ANYTHING!”

    So I asked him point blank “So then do you need space from me or what?”

    Him: “I don’t know what I want. All I know is I am exhausted right now.”

    Me: “Okay then”

    Then I get…. “I do not think I want space (not yet anyway). Let’s just keep moving forward….”

    “I do not think I want” – What does that even mean? Either you want space or you don’t you fucking idiot.

    I didn’t reply.

    Next weekend will be interesting.

    1. Gabrielle,

      Regarding his “I do not think I want”…

      Remember: he lives in the loopholes of life. He will always want wiggle room…it’s how he feels some semblance of control, especially being the type of narcissist he is. Plus, in a sense, he never knows exactly what he wants because he’s trying to fill a hole inside, and he can’t discern why that is.

      Happy birthday early, sweetheart. XO

    2. FOS. I just wanted to wish you a very happy birthday. As my stepmother always says “ eat pie. It will make you smile and when you are smiling your are… if just for a split second….content”.

  11. This piece is amazing ! Every time I want to send a second text because I am annoyed or don’t get a response- I think about this dialogue.
    Every time i spend time with him and want more , I think of this dialogue .
    Once you have digested it – and see the triggers – you stay quiet.
    Now when there is no response after a nice night – I say “ oh he is on to another source of fuel”
    And I go my way. I don’t insist anymore – i tell myself – of course he is doing this – he is a narcissist.
    I love those dialogues HG , they are so helpful because it helps understand which part we play in the movie !
    More more more dialogues :))

  12. The IPPS who is in devaluation is at the rifle range hahaha. Not that I ever wanted to shoot my narc, but it’s a cute touch to your story.

    1. Lol. Every time I read this one I stop at “rifle range” like really? Not shopping or out with friends? Never made that connection until now 🤣🤣

    2. That is hilarious! I asked H. G. once if he ever thought one of his “victims ” would try to kill him.

  13. From a scientific point of view; this is fascinating. Truly fascinating. The quick shifting of thinking, black to white and vice versa.

    Question if I may HG? How does the rate of change of thinking manifest within each school itself?

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