The Stepford Devaluation
The form of devaluation of our appliances depends on a variety of factors. For instance, what type of narcissist is applying the devaluation, what is the nature of the appliance (IPPS, IPSS, NISS, TS etc) , what is the status of the narcissist’s fuel matrix, what is the position of the façade and other matters beyond that also.
With a Tertiary Source, there is no long lasting relationship to begin with and therefore any devaluation which takes place will be short and effective and is often done in the context of triangulation, for instance making the narcissist look good in front of say a new target (IPSS) or a group of friends (NISSs) by putting down the Tertiary Source as part of the devaluation.
Secondary Sources have two types of devaluation. Corrective and Dis-Engagement. The Corrective Devaluation is short in nature but can be rather savage and is designed to bring the malfunctioning secondary source appliance back into line. Thus, it might be ostracising a friend (NISS) by inviting everybody else to a BBQ but not the offending appliance. Recognising that he or she has offended the narcissist in some way, the NISS apologises, makes amends and ceases the troublesome activity which led to the Corrective Devaluation. Thus the Corrective Devaluation has proven effective and the NISS enjoys the golden period once again and is welcomed back into the fold. Should the NISS not respond to the Corrective Devaluation (or commits a particularly treacherous act at the outset) then a short Dis-Engagement Devaluation occurs and the secondary appliance is then dis-engaged from. The DED does not last for long because the narcissist and the secondary appliance will not see one another repeatedly (unlike the IPPS) and also because the narcissist can dis-engage from the secondary source readily and either turn to other pre-existing secondary sources (dependent on the size of the fuel matrix) or recruit a replacement with relative ease.
The phase of devaluation really earns its stripes when applied to intimate partners (IPSS or DLS) but especially the IPPS. The devaluation of the IPPS is the one which most commentators focus on and is usually the one which contains abusive treatment and the full horror of nasty manipulations from the narcissist. There is no denying that such an unpleasant devaluation occurs, but it is but just one of several forms of devaluation that is deployed against the IPPS. Other forms include The Stranger Zone, The Oblivious Mis-Treatment, The Full Horror and others besides. Within the devaluation of the IPPS there is also the Stepford Devaluation.
You may be familiar with the novel (and film) The Stepford Wives. Ira Levin’s novel follows the premise whereby a new arrival at the idyllic neighbourhood of Stepford begins to suspect that the wives who live there and are frighteningly submissive are actually robots created at the behest of their privileged and controlling husbands. This resulted in the term ‘Stepford Wife’ being used in the English language to describe a submissive wife (or partner) who appears to conform blindly to a stereo-typically old-fashioned subservient role in the relationship with her husband or partner. It may also refer to an accomplished woman who has sub-ordinated her life and/or career to her husband’s interests and who has affected submission to him even in the face of his own disgrace and poor behaviour.
A Stepford Devaluation is one form of the devaluation of the IPPS. Often, the relevant victim fails to recognise that she is being devalued because of the nature of this devaluation. The following traits are applicable to the Stepford Devaluation.
- It only ever applies to the person who is the Intimate Partner Primary Source of the narcissist.
- The IPPS is likely to have an almost idyllic lifestyle. The narcissist is usually Mid Range or Greater in nature (possibly Upper Lesser also). There is financial security and a superior lifestyle encompassing good house, clothing, dining out, gifts etc.
- The narcissist and IPPS are regarded as having an excellent marriage/relationship by external observers such as family, friends and neighbours.
- The narcissist and IPPS are regarded as having an enviable lifestyle by external observers.
- The IPPS may work, but this is not always the case. The IPPS does not need to work because the narcissist’s financial firepower is sufficient to avoid the financial necessity of the IPPS having to work (and in turn remove financial independence and create isolation). If the IPPS does work, their work will be regarded as unimportant and unnecessary by the narcissist who will take little interest in it and refer to it rather patronisingly. The narcissist will expect the IPPS to fulfil other duties (see below) on top of the IPPS’ professional commitments. The narcissist whilst varying between disparaging and dismissive about the IPPS’ job in private, will hold it out as an admirable element as he seizes it as a character trait to draw fuel from secondary and tertiary sources and to use as part of the façade. More usually, the IPPS will be ‘allowed’ a ‘window dressing’ role as occasionally helping out a charity shop, or sitting on a couple of infrequent ‘good works’ committees. The narcissist regards these as acceptable since they contribute to the façade and do not interfere with the IPPS’ other duties (see below) to the narcissist. The narcissist prefers that the IPPS does not work.
- The IPPS has or had an accomplished position of employment. If retained it is treated dismissively by the narcissist as explained above or more likely the narcissist will have engineered the giving up of this position. This will have been achieved through apparently benign reasons but is done in order to create submission, remove independence and remove distraction and support networks.
- The IPPS is expected to be a superb home-maker. Whilst domestic assistance may be permitted, the narcissist expects a pristine residence of show-home proportions. The home would not look out of place on the front cover of Interior Design or Elle Décor. The IPPS prides herself on such an achievement and strives to ensure that nothing is out of place in the home.
- The IPPS is expected to always be presentable. She will be beautifully dressed, hair done, make-up worn, nails manicured and will never be seen slumming it in track pants and sweat top. Any slight deviation from picture perfection will be picked up and commented on by the narcissist. Similar to the situation concerning the home, the IPPS will ensure that she presents as elegant and refined at all times.
- The IPPS is expected to play the role of convivial hostess at dinner parties, encouraging mother at school events and loyal housewife putting up with the narcissist’s demands for perfection.
- The IPPS is expected to be wholly submissive to the needs and demands of the narcissist in creating this idyll and portrayal of domestic privilege and bliss to the outside world. No dissention is accepted by the narcissist.
- The IPPS ‘enjoys’ a gilded existence. She wants for nothing in terms of money, prestige, acknowledgement by external observers, admiration and friendship by third parties. She gratefully accepts that she is a ‘lucky girl’ to have what she has and does not like to complain. She may have done so to begin with, but the irrepressible force of the narcissist’s demands brings about the desired submission.
- The narcissist’s demand for perfection means that part of the Stepford Devaluation manifests through the imposition of this desire for perfection and adverse response if it is not achieved. However, such is the nature of the relevant narcissist and also the extent of the compliance, that the narcissist does not have to devalue in any savage way. It will either be a remark (“I see the children have been active”) when referring to the house appearing untidy or the imposition of a silent treatment (Present or Absent) to express disapproval at a failing on the part of the IPPS. The usual range of manipulations applied during devaluation will be absent.
- The narcissist generally treats the IPPS ‘well’ in terms of engaging in conversation, doing activities together and maintaining the façade of the enviable home life.
- Whilst you may see this existence as demanding, you may also see that it has its rewards and the extent of the devaluation whilst unacceptable to you is nowhere near as bad as it could be. This is where the second strand of the Stepford Devaluation applies. The narcissist repeatedly engages in infidelity with IPSSs and has an extensive ‘stable’ of those he turns to. He will repeatedly have ‘golfing weekends away’, ‘business trips’ or a ‘late meeting which necessitates staying over in town’. The IPPS knows that the narcissist is engaging in repeated affairs and one-night stands. The IPSSs or IPTSs are never, ever brought to the marital home (that would damage the façade). The IPSSs and/or IPTSs may even contact the IPPS to try to expose the narcissist and the IPPS will listen to these tales of infidelity and poor treatment of the IPSSs and/or IPTSs.
- The narcissist will hold the IPPS up as a shining example of the good wife/partner and will often be disparaging about other women, picking fault with their behaviour, looks, occupations and so forth. Comments are made such as
“Thanks goodness I have you, yes darling?”
“I was right to pick you.”
“They disgust me, such whores and lowlifes.”
- The narcissist reveres the IPPS because she has created the stable and enviable home, she contributes to his impressive façade and he is allowed to do as he pleases through extensive engagements outside of his marriage. He may have long standing affairs, short affairs, intermittent Dirty Little Secrets, in fact all types and forms of extra-marital liaison but he will never leave the IPPS. None of them ever compare to the IPPS.
- The IPPS is expected to be totally compliant, never complain, always be supportive, always be presentable, always put the narcissist first and in return she is largely treated ‘well’ (in the eyes of the narcissist and third parties) but her devaluation occurs through two main strands
- A very high standard of compliance; and
- The total acceptance that her husband/partner is engaging sexually with various other appliances and will always do so.
- How does this Stepford Devaluation operate in terms of fuel for the narcissist? This is where there is something of a peculiarity. The IPPS will provide negative fuel (at first) when the devaluation first begins and she learns of the affairs and is also subjected to the controlling behaviour vis a vis appearances. She will initially fight back, rebel, be hurt etc and thus provide negative fuel. However, once the narcissist has effectively ‘broken’ her in, by achieving compliance, the IPPS provides positive fuel to the narcissist through her striving to maintain the idyllic appearance, her support in his endeavours and the maintenance of the façade and it is the IPSSs and IPTSs who will suffer horrendous treatment at the hands of the narcissist. The narcissist, being usually a Greater, or an Upper Mid Ranger most of the time in this arrangement (although it can occur with MMR and UL) has no problem in ensnaring mistress after mistress, booty call after booty call and so on and it is here that they are treated to the malice (with the Greater) and also the devaluation in order to gain negative fuel from them, in contrast to the (largely) positive fuel now provided by the IPPS. The Stepford Devaluation is part of the Madonna-Whore concept. The narcissist may engage in intimate relations with the IPPS still but it is not often and the IPPS may actually be cold sexually and be perfectly happy to be left alone in that respect, content for the IPSSs/IPTSs to bear the brunt of her husband’s devaluing perversions.
- Only a particular type of empathic individual is able to perform this role and endure it, which comes as a consequence of their own particular traits, their susceptibility to the overtures of the type of narcissist who engages in this behaviour and the fact that she is ultimately conditioned to see her position as one which ‘could be far worse if I was honest’. She is brain-washed, controlled and ultimately the automaton which was so desired in the Stepford Wives.
23 thoughts on “The Stepford Devaluation”
“The movers and shakers” who might ‘sign up’ for exactly the life you describe sound, to me, like someone who may be a narcissist themselves who ‘desire’ that lifestyle…
I’m not sure that empaths don’t actually expect ‘true love’ in such a situation…depends what the narc mirrors to them.
Mine mirrored my values and ‘appeared’ to want the same things as me – to trap me of course but turns out – as his reality gap experience suggests otherwise – he actually wanted the life of things like ‘the house’, ‘the car’ , the ‘trips to Europe’ etc…except I never wanted those…(well, maybe the trips to Europe) but I have never valued people for their status symbols…
I do hear ya on the “empath ego shit” though…I remember my narcissist asked me once “Why do you love me?” I said “Who else would love you the way I do?”
But then again, I used to say that about my cat too. He was a one person cat who sometimes bit others and people would exclaim “Why do keep that devil cat?”
My response: “Because no one else would love him the way that I do.”
Hello HG ,
I thought I was dating a normal .. but I think he’s somatic “ MidRange “ for a while now . Everything in this article matches his behaviour . I don’t know much about infidelity right now I did feel something was wrong but he keeps it all well hidden denied it all without being harsh hes like super nice to me he doesnt want me to worry stay up all night worrying about him no silent treatments never ignores my calls or text .. I’ve done so many things what would trigger devaluation or even dis-engangement but he just wont let go i’m so confused !
I guess I need a consulation “narc detector”
I agree, you do.
For a cerebral narc who is not as interested in proximate IPSS, could this scenario occur using virtual IPSS for negative fuel? Or using colleagues or even the narc’s own children for negative fuel?
Yes, there can be emotional infidelity.
Thank you, Supernova DE, for asking! Thank you, HG, for clarifying!
I didn’t think cerebrals could be connected to this until reading your comments.
I don’t entirely buy that people in this position don’t know that they are entering into a contract and not a relationship. That they think they can handle it for the residual benefits just like the narcissist. Until they can’t.
I think my other posts were likely unsuccessful, so if that’s the case I’ll retype my reply:
I think it is actually that many do not “see” the contract at first – or at least not the fine print…
If you’re heading into a relationship with *materialistic* residual benefits in mind…maybe in that case you could argue that one neglected to read the contract thoroughly.
In the beginning there are no difficult behaviours to ‘handle’ in exchange for residual benefits.
Even in my case, I’m not conventionally materialistic – as one would expect from the commonly understood idea of a ‘Stepford Wife’ or spouse; so it played out differently for me. (As I described in an earlier long-winded post to this article.)
Once I realized there was something wrong with my ex – I did actually think I could handle ‘it.’ So I agree with you there.
But I didn’t know that ‘it’ was Narcissism…which is a losing battle for the empath. (And I attributed all the difficulties to ‘stress’ of one kind or another and there was no outright verbal abuse and physical outbursts until near the very end.)
I recall, in the depths of devaluation, kind of romanticizing my situation and thinking about the movie, A Beautiful Mind.
And even, independent of those thoughts, (because I’ve never actually mentioned that movie before with regard to my entanglement) I recall a children’s protection services worker – who I talked with at length following my escape – saying that she was reminded of the movie A Beautiful Mind after getting to know my story…
But the only place such a story is “romantic” is in the movies…
In that comment I was thinking more along the lines of celebrity, royalty, etc. The movers and shakers. There are plenty of women who see what that life will hold and what will be expected of them (not all that will be of course but a considerable amount). They will know that they must always be immaculate, perfect hostess, and many of those things listed for instance.They will have children they can give many things and experiences they would never otherwise have. The lure is great. People of power are seldom satified. With anything. And a lot of them have a long history of musical partners. We see this looking in and can point to many examples, and yet given the chance at bat, many will convince themselves that they can keep up the facade expected, that they alone have the golden vagina that will keep him from wandering. That he will love them like no other because everyone before them has just been a failure. That is some serious empath ego shit right there. The ones who are narcissistic (but not narcissists) might readily sign on thinking they can handle it for the gains (Harvey Weinstein’s wife Georgina Chapman comes to mind). I see her as thinking: hes a fat disgusting pig and powerful. He can help with my fashion empire. I know what I must do and I don’t care who he fucks (all the better if he leaves me alone). As long as I am hollywood royalty and get my residual benefits I will stay with this POS and be blind to what he is doing. I thought Lady Diana another example who played blind but that will get lots of knickers in a twist. But someone going in expecting true love? Come on.
NA – I just saw this now, (no notifications!) thanks for replying…I’ll follow up in turn.
But for now: “golden vagina”….
NA, I understand your point but see it from another way due to self reflection.
I am the type of empath that would fit the particular type. The only reason I don’t think my marriage was like this is because I was devalued and my ex is a cerebral. Unfortunately, I can see this happening if I were to marry another type of narcissist. It would not be for money or items, as I make my own money and I am far from materialistic. I think he would be able to just wear me down as my ex husband did in other ways. I would never jumped into that kind of relationship but slowly accept it as the way it is (after having the same fights over and over). I learned in my marriage that sometimes it is easier to just do and not fight. Sometimes it isn’t worth the same fight and frustration; ok, not sometimes but usually. I’m a doer and will just do if it needs to get done.
I have allowed things in my life that I never expected and can tie a lot to: not wanting to even perceive hurting another; not wanting to fight when not necessary; being too tired emotionally and mentally from all responsibilities; prioritizing what issues I will take a stand on (not as many as I probably should); and just do what needs to get done and move on. Sometimes the peace and the calm is worth the extra work or not speaking up.
I know many would leave instead but if the person is treating you with perceived love and care, that is a hard situation to leave. I left my ex not for me but for our child to not be caught in the environment. As long as everyone acts like my ex or worse, then I will be able to have my strength. Act in a way like the next narc did, and I struggle with recognizing until it is too late.
I feel this way too in certain stepford relationships. One springs to mind and thats trump and his wife. His wife wanted all the glam that money had to buy but im sure she didnt expect to go thru all she has. She probably knew he was a jerk but loved the golden period and all that mkney coukd by but failed to see the hefty pricetag attached.Shes a prime example of a stepford wife. Its evident from her pictures and seeing her on camera shes miserable! Both of them frown all the time and never look happy. Of course those who support trump will disagree and i can respect they feel differently but i call it as i see it!
Chihuahua nun I agree with you on Melania Trump. She is IMO a good example of a Stepford devalued codependent. I think that out of the three that Trump married, she is the most tenacious at making her marriage work. I see several factors why. One, in interviews I saw how proud she is that her mom and dad are still together and never divorced. I think that I is her goal to be like her parents. In her mind, divorce is a failure and staying together like her parents did is a success. And I think that she is highly narcissistic to aim for that success. Two, from the things that I have read and heard in the news, it sounds like her mom is an empath and her dad is highly dominant and possibly a narc too. So that dynamic is probably normal in her mind. She has said so many times about how kind and beautiful her mom is and how she wants to be like her mom. Three, Trump is her Prince Charming. He met her at a party when her career was not as successful as she hoped it to be and he chose her out of all of the attractive women in that party. That can be deeply ingrained in her mind like the golden period. When she is unhappy now, her mind just goes back to that time. Also Trump even went to her country and took her parents to the fanciest restaurant in her country and asked them for her hand. Talk about a fairy tale. Especially since she and her parents had a very modest lifestyle in that country. I think that all of those plays a factor in her mind aside from her enjoying the gilded lifestyle, status and fame attached to her marriage with Trump. It was easier to brainwash her because of the circumstances of her life and how they met.
Sorry; long post. But I just need to put this somewhere…
Yes, I was accomplished (post-secondary education, embarking on a new career, plus creative pursuits with both financial reward and admiration.)
But I didn’t sub-ordinate my life and career to meet his interests. I encouraged him to meet me at my level.
In addition to encouragement I gave moral support and practical support (financial and otherwise.) It’s not like I handed money over to him; but I covered many of our financial needs during that time when he had an accident, was changing careers etc…
Yes, many thought (and commented on) that we had an “idyllic” lifestyle – but not in the form of what is traditionally considered a “superior” lifestyle (i.e. the house, the car, the trips, dining out, gifts) – instead they envied the freedom we had from being chained to those things. The passion or ‘chemistry’ we appeared to have; the way we could work together and appeared to support each other’s goals…
So yes, I worked; he did not disparage or dismiss my job success, but he did slowly undermine it and he was always very jealous of my positive work relationships. And I’m sure he did seize upon it as a character trait for fuel and as part of the facade…
Did he expect me to fulfill other duties? Sure he did – but I was already spread too thin – so he had to do them…or neglect them (that was a sure-fired way to get fuel.) No wonder he so viciously resented me at times.
He also did allow me “window dressing” roles – which still confuses me to this day, but he likely considered it acceptable because of contributing to the facade and with me being away he was free to draw fuel elsewhere.
Yes I did have an accomplished position of employment that was retained but was subject to the following scenario:
“…more likely the narcissist will have engineered the giving up of this position. This will have been achieved through apparently benign reasons but is done in order to create submission, remove independence and remove distraction and support networks.”
Yep. That’s the part that bites. It was slow and sure – but effective and insidious because it happened almost organically…naturally…because of the person that I am and because of the person that he is. And because he chose me. It is also one of the most difficult things to explain the workings of to others…
“The IPPS is expected to be a suberb home-maker…the narcissist expects a pristine residence of show-home proportions.”
How? When I was juggling a job and a half, commuting and a child…
That *had* to partly contribute to “The Reality Gap”…but I wasn’t the one suffering panic attacks from it – was I?
“The IPPS is expected to always be presentable. She will be beautifully dressed, hair done, make-up worn, nails manicured and will never be seen slumming it in track pants and sweat top.”
Yeah. Okay. I remember those days…
“The IPPS is expected to play the role of convivial hostess at dinner parties, encouraging mother at school events and loyal housewife putting up with the narcissist’s demands for perfection.”
Check. I have those skills…they just played out in a different way.
“The IPPS is expected to be wholly submissive to the needs and demands of the narcissist in creating this idyll and portrayal of domestic privilege and bliss to the outside world. No dissention is accepted by the narcissist.”
This is where I diverge from expected role of a “Stepford Wife.” Because in reading this paragraph as soon as my eyes hit “wholly submissive,” the rest of the words are translated by my brain as this: blah blah, blah and blah…until my eyes hit “No dissention” – now we have a problem, Houston.
“The IPPS ‘enjoys’ a gilded existence. She wants for nothing in terms of money, prestige, acknowledgement by external observers, admiration and friendship by third parties. She gratefully accepts that she is a ‘lucky girl’ to have what she has and does not like to complain.”
No. It wasn’t gilded…well, it was and it wasn’t…I *wanted* for much in the end, but I was a ‘lucky girl’ – because on the flipside: I had freedom galore!
“The narcissist generally treats the IPPS ‘well’ in terms of engaging in conversation, doing activities together and maintaining the façade of the enviable home life.”
Yes, for the most part. And I acquiesced…until I no longer cared about maintaining the facade with him – or anyone, for that matter.
“Whilst you may see this existence as demanding, you may also see that it has its rewards and the extent of the devaluation whilst unacceptable to you is nowhere near as bad as it could be.”
And as for infidelities, here is a difference too…I could never “see” them: there was no evidence and I busy being engaged in the daily living of life. And he must of been exceptionally careful – or, as I suspect he hid it in plain site because he knew: if I had an inkling, that would have been a deal-breaker.
I think this is happening to me 🙁
Stepford IPPSs scare me more than Narcissists… brr…
Clariel, there is something scarier than a Stepford Wife, it is a Stepford Child *runs for the hills*
HG – can you please advise as to whether it may still constitute a Stepford Devaluation if the IPPS is treated well (in maintenance of the fascade), taken care of financially and yet completely unaware of the multiple affairs? In this case the IPSS and DLS are treated poorly and replaced regularly unknown to the IPPS.
Hello Sarah, your question is unclear as when you write “in this case” are you referring to the article or personal circumstances?
The Stepford Devaluation is as per the descrption in the article.
HG, I apologise – that last part of my question makes no sense at all! You are a man of many talents but reading minds is a lofty expectation.
If you would be so kind, I would like to know if a Stepford Devaluation could occur where the infidelity was unknown to the IPPS who is generally treated well? In your example it appears the IPPS is aware of the affairs.
I wondered if the devaluation of the IPSS and DLS would make it easier for the N to maintain the fascade with the IPPS and result in an elongated golden period for the IPPS?
Second time lucky *fingers crossed*
Yes it can happen where the IPPS is unaware of the affairs. Thank you for clarification.
This is where there is devaluation but the IPPS is actually unaware that it is happening.
Thanks HG – very interesting information.