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.

20 thoughts on “The IPSS: Shelved or Disengaged?

  1. Michelle says:

    Black and on the shelf for a year now with Narc Friend. About two weeks ago there was an ideal hoover opportunity which he did not take — he probably knows I could have outed him to the entire crowd I was with, so it wasn’t worth the risk on his part. He has never blocked me and I could still text him any time I wish, but of course I do not. We do not live in any physical proximity to one another so the only thing he can do to hoover me is to text, which he might feel is the equivalent of sticking a fork in a toaster to see what happens as he has no idea what I really think about him at this point. It may be true that narcissists’ conscious thoughts always lead them to believe they will be welcomed back, but on a subconscious level they must know not to go where they aren’t wanted lest they get their egos bruised. Every now and then I do miss Narc Friend, or rather, I miss the way he made me feel. Having reunited with some of our mutual friends, it was interesting to realize in hindsight how much his charisma and his desire to win over everyone once defined that crowd. With him gone, things felt much less coherent, but it’s also apparent to me that his aims were entirely selfish. Oddly enough, some of the narcissists I’ve met are some of the most dynamic, unifying leaders also — just don’t look too deep beneath the surface.

  2. Muha says:

    Is it possible? How to make a narcissist interested in me? I think I’m his ipss and he contacts me so reduced level and minimal. I know this is my emotional thinking. Just can’t bear anymore. Is it possible to make my as a ipps to him? Please hg tudor can you please let me know this thing?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      No, you cannot control the narcissist to secure a guaranteed outcome.

  3. Patrick Bateman says:

    If you are a IPSS and have just been disengaged from, what is the best thing to do to make the narcissist second guess there control over you

    1. HG Tudor says:

      1. This is emotional thinking and should be resisted.
      2. The narcissist has not interest in you since you have been disengaged from.

      1. Patrick Bateman says:

        OK, it is recent as in an hour ago, she said don’t come over, so i didn’t, then she kept messaging and saying i can’t see you anymore..
        i complied by not coming, then i received missed call, and repeated messages, (so i did come by her place)
        She let me in then became unresponsive and told to go.
        I left after much pleading (i know its silly)
        Then she kept messaging as i left I’m guessing for some negative fuel which i started to erupt towards, then i suddenly cooled it and left..

        1. HG Tudor says:

          That is not disengagement.

          1. Patrick Bateman says:

            Hmmm. I’m blocked on facebook just now, but she messaged me on another app. Asking “what are you doing where are you? OK i won’t text you again bye” Probably concerned i have sufficient evidence to damage her relationship with the IPPS

          2. Patrick Bateman says:

            I realise that i came over without telling her, that could have cost a run in with the ipps, that upset her, then because of my forceful behavior and negative comments it escalated to this disengagement or corrective devaluation?

          3. Patrick Bateman says:

            I think The Tudor scope is correct, i just got a reply many hours later does it sound like corrective devaluation?

            [7/22, 00:00] Catherine P: From tomorrow my bf will be free from work so pls don’t come here again. I will be at work
            [7/22, 00:00] Catherine P: Don’t answer now
            [7/22, 00:00] Catherine P: Good night
            [7/22, 00:00] Catherine P: He is In the shower
            [7/22, 00:00] Catherine P: Gtg
            [7/22, 00:00] Catherine P: He will be free for 4 days
            [7/22, 00:00] Catherine P: Cya

          4. HG Tudor says:

            Context is required

          5. Caroline R says:

            She’s playing you like a yo-yo.
            This is the trauma bond being intensified before our eyes.
            She’s loving the drama that she’s creating, and the pain that she’s inflicting on you.

            She reminds me of my sister.

            GOSO…far away as fast as you can, while you still have remnants of your sanity.

            And consult with HG!

        2. Chihuahuamum says:

          Hi patrick…it sounds to me that she was spooked and is trying to avoid exposure yet is back and forth with keeping you on the side.
          One things definite youre a dirty secret and she places priority on her primary source she doesnt want to be found out.
          Shes treating you like dirt. Maybe youre ok being the hidden guy on the side?

  4. cb says:

    I’ve never knowingly been someone’s mistress. Not just empathy for wives.
    The main reason is I am way too narcissistic for that.

  5. Susie says:

    Husband/mid or greater left and is living with new gf. He does not know I know about gf and is trying to string me along to workout our marriage- we have 3 teens – why would he do this if the new gf is his IPPS?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      I would need more information to give you an accurate response and suggest you organise a consultation, Susie, however :-

      1. She may not yet be the IPPS, although this does seem unlikely if they are indeed living together;
      2. The girlfriend has entered devaluation (you have not stated how long they have been together) ; or
      3. He is keeping you ‘onside’ because of a residual benefit.

      1. Susie says:

        Thanks HG – moved end of May – we have been working on marriage since then (sex) -I found out about gf in July, I guess #3 ouch – does your no contact book address how to do so (GOSO) with 3 teens? He is possibly upper or maybe mid

        1. HG Tudor says:

          The book addresses no contact, this addresses GOSO

          1. Sue says:

            Does being an ipps or ipss always involve physical contact??

          2. HG Tudor says:


Vent Your Spleen! (Please see the Rules in Formal Info)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.