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 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.

Go further – Shelf Appliances : Double Pack

11 thoughts on “The IPSS Shelved or Disengaged?

  1. CatchMeIfYouCan says:

    I am a DLS. This fits my needs (I am also a cluster B personality) and am fine with my station. I am 99% sure he has an IPPS who doesn’t know about me, is suffering and having physical manifestations (she is now anorexic thin) whether it be because of his devaluing her or the loss of her marriage because of their affair. Or perhaps both. For these I feel badly for her. I have no emotional attachment to him and feel fortunate. I am getting bored of this game with him, don’t really care if he disappears and thus found it acceptable to confronted him about her, “I have suspected that you have a girlfriend for a while and was just given confirmation that it is true (I have been told about this woman several times.) You dont owe me anything but you probably owe her some honesty (he struggles with honesty!) His response was, “just to be clear and I dont care if you believe it. I do not want her. I dont want you or anyone else.” To which I replied, “absolutely not a problem. See you around.” I was given the silent treatment, which really didn’t affect me. A week later I get a text that says, “just one final thing: when you want to know something about my life ASK ME AND I HAVE NOTHING TO HIDE. I told you I am not with her BECAUSE I AM NOT WITH HER. Put that in your thick skull.” To which I responded, “My skull is made of steel.” He then asked, “Do you miss me?” And I fed him some purposeful fuel to mess with him a bit, “Of course i do. I was hoping we could kiss and make up. What can I do for you to forgive my girlie trangressions?” His response was, “I forgive you sort of.” And then, “it is I. The past. We are good.”

    H.G. Tudor, what is your assessment of his responses?

    BTW, we do not have sex. He says he “doesn’t like sex.” I think he may have erectile disfunction. What do you think?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Hello CMIYC, this is a matter which requires more detail from you so I can provide you with an accurate response, I recommend you organise a consultation.

  2. step says:

    Thank you HG.
    I was not sure, now I’m:
    I was a Dirty Little Secret IPSS

    Probably the most abusive and horrible role for a N victim.

    1. Tired says:

      You’re wrong. The most abusive and horrible role is that of the IPPS , hands down. Subjected to devaluations 24/7 365 . In my case , 3 decades of BS.
      Consider yourself lucky you’re not an IPPS , it’s not an enviable position to be in .
      Look in the search function for “ Stepford” to see a small glimpse.

  3. I now know whilst in my relationship with the narc, there was always an IPSS in the background. ALWAYS. Either work, online or someone he interacted with on a day to day basis, even his relate counsellor or chiropractor. Anyone who he could shine his tractor beam light on who would then be an admirer he could ‘get off’ on. Sex Or a relationship was not necessarily offered but eluded to Through his ‘connection’ with them so the person he was shining his light on always lived in hope Of being elevated and who were probably living through their own confusion of why they weren’t. I remember getting intense looks from these people if we inadvertently came across them in supermarkets or out and about (Which was why i was deflected from mingling with people in his home town i suspect). I think it was probably because they never knew i had existed. Do you know HG, every time i re read your posts i have a wash and relish of enjoyment as every new penny that drops Or memory that reshapes is such a relief. I can not recommend people continue with their ‘education’ enough. At the moment i am enjoying putting my education to good use at work dealing with a narcissist colleague. Now logic prevails and i dont take their behaviour to heart or on board.

    1. lisk says:

      IT, this was my experience EXACTLY, including the intense or knowing looks from others in supermarkets or gyms or cafes.

      The other kind of look I experienced involved a sort of shy, embarrassed, pretend but knowing look from waitresses or bartenders. I am guessing that they had seen him out with someone else in very recent days or weeks before we dined or drank somewhere.

      I bet waitstaff and bartenders know a lot of Narc secrets–and have met a lot of IPSSs.

  4. Unbothered says:

    Sveden ees so Beauteeful.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Unlike your spelling.

    2. Violetta says:

      Pam, have you thought about changing your gravatar? It’s very easy. I’m a technological Luddite, and I could do it.

      1. Kim says:

        So kind of you to assist Pam😂😂🥳🥳🥳

        1. Violetta says:


          I think I’m highly Narcissistic, but every now and then, I have empathic urges.


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