The IPSS Shelved or Disenaged


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 yourself 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 receive 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.

35 thoughts on “The IPSS Shelved or Disenaged

  1. raquelirockwell says:

    The narc is my very recent ex-spouse. We have a child together and I don’t think he will ever fully disengage. Shelved, maybe? This has been a 20+ year relationship. 15 years married. He left for another woman and after the divorce was final he began to hoover. Slow trickles. All of a sudden…nice. This after treating me like absolute shit for two years during the divorce. The pandemic has only given him more excuses to communicate. The fake concern for my family “let me know if they need anything.” I have wondered if he is now painting the OW/new IPSS black since she works in healthcare. I’m pretty sure that she is not giving him the type of fuel he’d prefer since I would assume she is pretty consumed with her work. He’s not good in the role of being supportive. His abandonment was devastating to myself and our child, the divorce was hellish. It would be insane for him to think of me as shelved, but it’s so interesting that I went from being a non-worthy “peasant” to a person he is now trying to confide in. My responses are short and flat. Not over-friendly, but nowhere near as nasty as I could be considering. I need the parallel/co-parenting situation to go as smoothly as possible. To ignore his every text would only ramp up his drama. It’s a constant chess game and it’s all so very exhausting. But it’s been exhausting for the past 20+ years really. When a narcissist “shelves” do they really believe there’s a possibility for the relationship to begin again when all signs point to absolutely not??

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Yes because of the sense of ownership. I recommend that you access The Knowledge Vault, RR, and obtain Shelf Life : Deciphering and Black or White on the Shelf.

  2. Michelle says:

    HG, how does one tell the difference between a corrective devaluation and being shelved?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Hello Michelle,

      Go to the Knowledge Vault and access Shelf Life and Black and White on the Shelf, the answers are provided in detail there.

  3. Renarde says:

    Bloody excellent work as always, HG.

    I was shelf. I think I was candidate at times but he vaciliated. Older than me but not by much. He had an extensive tertiary network. He was bi and would readily agree that he WAS engaging on Grindr for energy. That didnt really concern me to be honest. I knew his game, what he was up to and when.

    After what I’ve been through with the UMS, this was tame by comparison. Indeed, at the start, there was talk of threesomes but he couldn’t snag the unicorn. Made me chortle when Grindr boys said they preferred me.

    We became more and more enmeshed. What was two days a week became four. With texts and phone calls aplenty in between.

    I loved seeing him. He made me feel like a Queen. Everything revolved around me. An excellent cook. Hed pick me up and we would go shopping. I didnt always pay either. But I was glad to. It wasnt much. He never asked me for money. I was never devalued but he overstepped the mark at Xmas. But even then, he had gone to a massive effort.

    Then there was the TV. Finding things be knew I would like. We would often stop programmes and debate them. All friendly. Never a cross word. Then there was the sex. Jesus Christ. The sex.

    Sometimes, secretly, I was glad to get back home and to my cats. Where I could recover my energy.

    The big problem was that he couldnt be relied upon in a crisis. But he never hurt me. Ever. There was certainly no IPPS.

    And therein lay the problem. My fuel was becoming stale. I could see the physical effect it was having on him. Xmas happened. Then I did the NDC and finally it ended.

    Ending it and more importantly not going back was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I will miss this man for the rest of my life. But he was utterly incapable of love.

    So therein lies my salutary tale. He, out of all my partners, was the absolute best. A MME.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Thank you Renarde.

      1. Renarde says:

        No worries.

    2. Anm says:

      was your father a narcissist? I do not remember what you have mentioned about him. Do you intentionally date narc men because it feels like home?

      1. lisk says:

        I was thinking the same thing, but not specifically about Renarde.

        This particularly jumped out for me: “But he was utterly incapable of love.”

        Isn’t this the person we are all either attracting, desiring, or escaping from at one point or another?

        If that’s the case then doesn’t that mean that we, too, are incapable of love? Or perhaps we are actively avoiding love?

        Or maybe we don’t know what the hell love is?

        1. Anm says:

          Lisk, I do not have the exact answer to that. I questioned that a lot when I first left the narcissist, and found out that he was one. I desperately wanted to know where I WENT WRONG to attract and stay with a narcissist. Honestly now, now I just try to be at peace with it. I hate that saying, “before you expect anyone to love you, you must love yourself.” Says who?!?! So we have to put conditions on ourselves before we are deserving of love? Lisk, I have never met you, but we are doing an exchange of energy right now, and I do have love for you. I do not care if your heart is broken, if you have childhood wounds, or you are “perfect”, you are just as deserving of my love for you.

          1. lisk says:

            Anm, I do think everyone needs love and deserves love. But no one deserves abuse (which is different from punishment if real wrongdoing) and that’s where our conditions need to come in, e.g., “I care too much about myself to allow him to treat me poorly.”

          2. Anm says:

            But people do not ask to be abused! I didn’t know what was happening, and child doesn’t know either. Stockholm syndrome is real. Now that I am out of the abuse, and know what narcissism is, no doubt I will practice self care and heal my wounds.

          3. lisk says:

            For sure. It sucks, sucks, sucks that lessons come late, always very late, whether you’re 12 or 80.

            My mom—who trusted no one but my dad (who I LOVE)—taught/told me certain things about how to protect myself against jerky guys.

            But my Narcx was very covert and got through my defenses, like a bad virus. He was so covert that my Mom *still* said things like, “But I don’t see it . . . he seemed like such a nice guy!” until I stopped talking about him, period.

          4. Lorelei says:

            ANM, I only butt into this conversation because I love what you just said, “I hate that saying, “before you expect anyone to love you, you must love yourself.” Says who?!?! So we have to put conditions on ourselves before we are deserving of love?” **If I hear nothing else this profound for a month I am ok. I have (as HG says) an excellent self conceit. I never didn’t love myself or was incapable of it. I was conditioned to recognize abusive behavior as normal because I grew up in such an environment. In fact, it may have been the ultimate antithesis to do it differently in life based on my origin. There was never a deficit of self-love, there was a misunderstanding of what love was supposed to look like directed toward me. It won’t tolerate the bullshit any further–any malign behavior from a narcissist is not a reflection of my self-love or capabilities, but a demonstration of their crude pathetic defense mechanism. Period.

          5. lisk says:

            “There was never a deficit of self-love, there was a misunderstanding of what love was supposed to look like directed toward me.”

            This seems to hit the nail on the head.

          6. Lorelei says:

            I am having reply trouble so if the former one sent please delete as would be mid-thought. Correct. I didn’t have the role models or guidance. I am also not tolerating passive aggressive shit or gaslighting any further. It’s elementary shenanigans and disgusting. I like how K calls it out with terms for her kids like triangulation. Therein lies the key to protecting our children. Real life examples.

      2. Renarde says:


        It’s a very good question. I’ve seen youre other comment which I thank you for.

        My father, my mother and my brother are all Narcs. Probably lower middles but there is a malignancy in PN which marks him out as somewhat odd. Whether this is because he is Cerebral, I do not know. My mother is also schizophrenic.

        All I have known is abuse. HG is the only narc I’ve known who has never abused me.

        My abuse started before I was born. PN wanted to call me ‘Merceedes’. I should be thankful it wasnt ‘Skoda’. When I was born, Mum apologised to him that I wasnt a boy. How do you get over that?

        Then a tussle happened over me which PN won. Fortunately, I was not only born extremely intelligent, I was born with empathy. So many things in my childhood were dead wrong but PN kept us all isolated. He couldn’t make friends you see. He was pater familaris. What he said, went. Mum cow-towed to this because of her lower, cognitive function, knew she couldnt make a living wage. That’s cunning. He would occasionally trot out IPSSs in front of us. Later years. They were all hard, brittle women. All came from work.

        After one of her many hospitilsations when I was 19, I escaped to Uni by the kindness of a Professor. Within days I met the UMS, psychopathic tendencies.

        Spent 18 years with him trying to make it work. I was barely 20.

        I thought I’d escaped in 2015 but he kept on with his campaign. Encouraging others to do so. I felt continually hunted. Never supported.

        Finally, I broke down.

        All of my partners with a few exceptions wanted me. So the question, do you date narcs because of your father is a odd one because NONE of them behaved like PN. Even the UMS.

        I am drawn to intelligent men. But equally, they are drawn to me. Intelligence is really one of the few things worthwhile apart from empathy and kindness.

        I hope this has answered your question and no, I’m not offended you have asked.

        1. Lorelei says:

          Renarde–so sorry to hear of these repeated abusive experiences. I understand. The draw to intelligence does not rule out narcissism as you know, we just attract, and are attracted to these types but the lack of self awareness and presence of a defense mechanism must render them as idiotic to us for motivation & change to be practiced. Knowing what you/we now know does not render us safe, the change to “not go there” has to be motivated with a cognitive shift in how we process these individuals as candidates for anything in our lives. Granted, I have a cold little icy mid-range handyman here working now. He has value in my life and I consider him a fairweather friend. If he paints me black or pewter (I prefer a shade of pewter) then he can go and there is no emotional damage to me. From a romantic or “close” friend aspect—no fucking way. No one can get that close and have value that is a narcissist of any school/cadre.

          1. Renarde says:


            Thank you for your words. I know I’m my own, worst enemy at times. I’m working on that.

            I was not responsible for my abuse but I am responsible for my healing. And believe me, I’ve tried.

            I am very wary of accessing talking therapies because whilst they largely know how to manage the therapeutic environment, I know more (as we all do) on NPD.

            The psychiatrist the other day is probably a UMC. I just cant do that again. My God, he was so arrogant.

            Intresting on your fairweather. We cannot not interact with them.

            What a strange, fucked up world we live in.

          2. Lorelei says:

            Talk therapy is often such a waste because you are placing stock in an individual that has acquired a particular course of education. It isn’t always pointless, but it typically is not even the soup du jour. Sometimes a hair dresser is better than 1000 psychiatrists. I can only think of a few psychiatrists that stuck me as incredibly helpful to their patients. It was dedication and expertise, aligned with their good nature that made them useful. I still don’t call them for advice on the stock market though.

          3. Renarde says:


            You make very intresting points. I agree, not all therapists are bad/dangerous but they can cause more harm than good due to their well meaning but ill founded intentions.

            Psychiatrists? Well, they are likely more often than not to be narcs themselves. I now do not trust them as a profession and I will never see another again. As I’m technically ‘not bonkers’, there is no reason for me to.

            I think what I’ve been through has now placed me in an unssailable position. I’ve been through the worst. I’ve seen peoples MH not only crumble but left them destroyed.

            I percieve NS and HG are the only places and of course person, who truly provides therapeutic support.

            I consulted with HG not that long ago and what he said to me helped, enormously. Not with narcs, I’m beyond that but with me. I suspect that as I grow stronger, that is the avenue I will persue. Me.

            Thank you for your care and concern, Lorelei. It’s truly making a difference. X

          4. Lorelei says:

            Renarde—I’m glad it was helpful. Really though—per the point made on this thread about the problem with self love as a concept.. I can totally see a therapist (well meaning) using that as a useless platform for therapy. I worked exclusively in mental health for around a sum of five years. Many are great people indeed. There is good work out there, I also think that are fewer narc psychologists than psychiatrists. Based on my recollection of personality etc. Psychiatrists are truly lower echelon doctors from the perspective of the docs I work with. That is a grandiose admission on my part but it’s often perceived this way. They are low paid often, not typically the highest achiever in the class.. (not always) It’s a great “tuck away” for middle and some upper mids. They get to be doctors but not really per se! I have had to get very basic with them if they’ve been out of residency for over five years especially. Seriously, we fight over certain work ups. They, at times, ask for things that aren’t necessary and overlook necessary things. Even dermatology isn’t so insulated. My eyes roll into my head. Their greatest contribution to science in the century was a correlation of prolonged QT interval with neuroleptic drugs. If I hear it once more I’ll scream. Big ducking deal.

          5. Lorelei says:

            Renarde–also if it brightens and lightens I don’t know what just happened.. I’ve been waiting on two carpenters to start work since Friday. They just breezed in carrying some wood. Did a “gay imitation dance” while discussing their design after being 4 hours late to show up. They have since breezed out for a liquor store run. I am not making one ounce of this up. If he wasn’t a friend’s husband (and she is kinda normal) I would be even more alarmed. I know he is safe around children but I’m unsure about the how the liquor store ties into the design..

          6. Renarde says:


            Outrageous. I’d get them tied up over their carpenters bench and give them the thrashing they deserve.

            And not a poncy one. A serve beating. For that insolence on time keeping and ducking out.

            It’s easy to do. Message me if you wish x

            They are not safe around children. Sorry x

          7. Lorelei says:

            No Renarde—they are ok. It’s a friend’s husband I’ve known for years, the liquor store run was for a $140 bottle of Jamison. But they are funny. Today the conversation is about turkey hunting. If I were a narcissist I’d mirror the conversation and know about such matters. All I know for sure is they wear special clothing for the excursion and they are quiet while stalking their prey. I have stayed in a turkey hunting venue once. A mouse was in my water the next morning.

          8. Renarde says:


            Gair play. You clearly lmao them better than I.

            I do however question the motivations of spending that much on a bottle of malt.

            Your mouse comment made me laugh. I have my fearsome black female hunter beside me right now. Shes incredible. Cat obvs.

            Last week, just before I spoke to HG I woke up to a dead mouse on my floor. All three cats are now looking at it.

            I was firm but clear. Which one of you fuckers did this? I knew it was her.

            How the mouse got in remains a mystery. But there it was. Large as death.

          9. Lorelei says:

            Oh yes—you should hear their music play list! I’m amused! It’s the last house project—this has been ongoing since summer once the divorce was final. I could not improve the property while living with my ex, but once it was final I could refinance and do it. Well next to last project—my roof is bad. I knew it was in need of replacement. It’s true about the mouse. I woke up and it drowned in my water. I worked at a residential treatment center for sex offender youth at the time. It was with a group of the staff. A fun weekend indeed. As I type this to you my daughter says, “What’s up with that stupid music?!” I said, “Shut up!!” Anyway—i had a few mice invade the garage last winter but replaced the seal along the floor. It fixed it. There was break point allowing them to come inside from the neighboring field. Someday I dream of being painted white again by my ex so I can talk him about mice and such. I believe he is likely going to be so Interesting from his adventures over the past year and a half. He will be well acquainted with rodents and the like.

          10. Renarde says:


            Ha ha! You my lovely need An Overlord.

            My male Overlord is going bonkers tonight. Hes been sleeping all day and now hes going for the fearsome black female (I chase dogs now) hunter.

            Good luck I say! Shes far quicker than him and has a wicked punch.

          11. Lorelei says:

            Renarde—I’m ready to do a do-si-do dance to wagon wheels this morning! These guys are singing and dancing as they work. I could start drinking their Jameson whiskey. It doesn’t take much!

          12. Renarde says:


            Drink it!!!

    3. Anm says:

      Renarde, I was also respectfully asking, and you do not have to answer if it is too personal of a question.

  4. Michele says:

    I left out the crucial detail in that last vent –
    He inadvertently answered a question truthfully and quickly said to me “Oh no! Change that answer that’s not the answer that proves I’m not a narcissist”
    The wheels started turning and here I am

    1. Anm says:

      what kind of a test was it? was it an mmpi eval?

  5. Michele says:

    My emotional thinking tells me -He’s in the hospital fighting coronavirus- I mean why would he decide to disengage with me NOW? After all, being a SuperNova Empath (raises by and then married narcissist) I now embrace my SuperNova narcissist traits as I interact with (take my narcissistic personality out on) a middle mid range) though he denies being a Narcissist- he has managed to learn and defeat any NPD personality “test” which is how I came to know HG Tudor and the world of Narcissist and Narcissistic narcism. I may be incorrect in my “diagnosis” of him being middle Mid-range. He fits the criteria but the one thing puzzling me is how he actually took the in depth time to learn how to “defeat” the NPD test (albeit, online and not accurate) I learned this through his inability to control his wanting to prove he’s not a narcissist by actually proving he is one! I had no idea until he introduced me to the test and inadvertently answered a question that a narcisstic person would answer showing narcissist traits. He actually came out as zero! Zilch! Nadda! No narcissist traits whatsoever!
    Yes, he’s the only person in the world that has not one trait!
    Oh the fun I’m having (or was having) lol

    1. Michele says:

      Him telling me to change his answer- (his honest answer) because he didn’t mean to say THAT choice. “oh no! That’s not the answer I wanted to chose – that answer would show I’m a narcissist”

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

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

Previous article

The Perfect Ten of Seduction

Next article