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

25 thoughts on “The IPSS Shelved or Disengaged?

  1. Tanya Gray says:

    I’ve been disengaged from and he has a new supply that he is currently love bombing. He has blocked me from all avenues of contact and I know that I have inflicted an injury upon him. I wonder if this is the end or will I ever hear from him again?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      1. It is not the end because you are breaching no contact because you know that he is love bombing somebody else (assuming he is a narcissist).
      2. If he is a narcissist, there is a risk you will be hoovered, how great that risk depends on a variety of factors, many of which you have control over.
      3. Your focus should be on ascertaining that this individual is a narcissist and which one (use the Narc detector) and once this has been confirmed, you should implement Total No Contact (arrange an audio consultation with me so you know how to do it properly, most people do not know how to do it properly) and use the fact that the suspected narcissist is focussed elsewhere as a heard start on your own recovery.

  2. karmicoverload says:

    I am on the shelf. Quite literally, when I asked if he just wanted to return to being neighbours rather than be in the relationship, I got a long message about how he’s trying to sort his life out etc etc etc and he “hasn’t made any heavy decisions as yet.”

  3. Sabri says:

    forgive my translated english. 4 months of intimate IPSS. I committed him too. I think he’s a superior narcissist. in February he gets angry for a nonsense reason for me. I write him several messages in the first week. he doesn’t want to hear me. blocked me for 3 days. for a month he looked at all my whatsapp statuses. for a week he stopped. I wrote him three messages in these two months. today he replied immediately (I asked him how a visit had gone). I didn’t continue the conversation and neither did he. why after two months of silence did he answer in your opinion?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      1. Use the Narc Detector to establish what you are dealing with.
      2. You believe him to be a narcissist, if so, why are you still communicating? If you had implemented no contact you would not have to be asking “Why did he answer me”. You have brought the problem on yourself.
      3. He answered because the conditions were right to assert control over you through a hoover i.e. the first assertion of control. Go to The Knowledge Vault and see The 3 Assertions of Control.

  4. Ciara says:

    I agree( LFS) They are testing the waters … already have an IPPS. I’m sure he was one, he did all the narc things. He definitely showed me he didn’t give a damn.😏

    1. leelasfuelstinks says:

      Yes, they often hide their IPPS when they think there could be someone better or there could be a new shelf-IPSS or (for somatics) a good one night stand. As you perfectly say: Testing the waters. 😉

      1. Asp Emp says:

        LFS, reading your comment resonated with me as I was felt / thought that way, that I wasn’t good enough.

        Earlier today, for some reason or another, I recalled Mother made me feel ‘shunned’ (as if I was the ‘faulty appliance’) compared to my younger sister.

        These sort of ‘thoughts’ have been around a few days.

        Apart from all that – I pop into a local place today and I see this guy that used to work in a restaurant – he was always pleasant & polite. Because it was in a different place, he demeanour was the same yet I could not help but notice the ‘shifty’ / almost a ‘slit’ type – eyes and it was the first time I noticed this in this guy. I am also careful of what I say because I do not know for a fact whether he’d go back to talk to a mate of his and starts the ‘Chinese whispers’ shit.

        LOL, not saying he is a narcissist, but you never know 😉

        1. leelasfuelstinks says:

          Not feeling good enough? Typical for ACONs. No matter what happens. It´s always because “we´re not good enough” (that´s what we think).

  5. karmicoverload says:

    I am a shelf IPSS who is currently hurtling towards devaluation. I wound him and threaten his control regularly because I belong to someone else, and it drives him crazy that he will never have full control of me. So he has moved on to someone else, I think. I believe he is with her right now. I will never get my head around the fact that I said with complete honesty;
    “If you meet someone else, we can pause for a while to see if it works out between you and her, just tell me,” and instead he chooses to keep his secrets.

    1. leelasfuelstinks says:

      There is no permanent devaulation for secondary sources, only corrective devaluations. Only the IPPSes get the permanent devaluations with some occasional respite periods. Anyway you should get out of there. Whether he´s with an IPPS or not. Who cares? Just get out!

    2. Alexissmith2016 says:

      Karmi, he thrives on secrets plus if you say it’s okay, he’s not in control, you are. So you always, always have to let them believe they’re in control, if you want to be the one in control that is.

      1. karmicoverload says:

        Yes, you are right. I talked to someone else about the same thing just last night, and she said the same, regarding the control. His secrets give him the control he lacks when I say things are ok.

    3. leelasfuelstinks says:

      Forgot to say: Wherever there´s a secret, there´s a HUGE dark abyss. Secret with a narc isn´t a good sign at all. Narcy-secret means there´s A LOT to hide! And a LOT of very very dark stuff. If the narc keeps secrets about something, there are lots and lots of skeletons in the closet. Secret about IPPS = This individual is in devaluation and is being treated like shit.

  6. Char says:

    I was disengaged from, he even told me point-blank it’s over and to not reach out ever again, and did so in a very curt manner which was uncharacteristic of him. I later on found out he has an IPPS who has been in the picture the entire time. I feel very silly now. However, I know for a fact he has found my social media account, yet he hasn’t blocked me. Help me not twist this into something more than it is, please. :/

    1. leelasfuelstinks says:

      Count your blessings and GOSO (get out, stay out).

    2. BC30 says:

      Thank the heavens you got out and stay out. BLOCK HIM He doesn’t deserve to see what you are up to. He has nothing to offer you. You walk away, you stop playing the game, you win. You win freedom and peace of mind. Do not feel silly. The Ns very existence is a bed of lies. You didn’t know, but now you do. Seize the power and control– NC.

  7. BC30 says:

    It’s odd knowing that I was shelved and they treated me very differently, very true to their schools/cadres. I take comfort in knowing it’s all the same and I won the game. You win when you stop playing. The wounding of NC is just a bonus.

  8. leelasfuelstinks says:

    Some narcissists seem to be always “single” 😀 while in fact they never are. In other words: “My IPPS is in devaluation and I´m looking for a replacement, a shelf-IPSS, a shag or a DLS-IPSS” 😉

    1. A Victor says:


  9. Contagious says:

    Is hacking or spying a crumb of comfort?

    1. HG Tudor says:


  10. Ciara says:

    I gave him an option, either you and me or you and whoever. I didn’t know if it was somebody else. I was just putting it out to see what happen. However, we started a relationship.Im not sure exactly what I was to him in the beginning; l met the family, mother and friends. I believe I was IPSS ( 1- intimacy and dating) From my lens, it seems too much shuffling: to disengage, shelf ,block, unblock etc for/to an IPSS. This is complicating. On another note, I am not driven by fuel either. However, by grasping to facts from reading your blog, I have a greater understanding.

    1. leelasfuelstinks says:

      There are many narcs who hide their IPPSes, they claim being single which is very unlikely for a narc. Whenever a narc claims or even pity plays that he or she is single, that means mostly: IPPS in devaluation, looking for a replacement. And either you become Candidate IPSS and he or she tests your suitability as IPPS or if you´re not suitable, you remain shelf-IPSS.

      If it´s really a narc then this individual very probably already has an IPPS and he or she is just looking for a good shag, a replacement or a shelf IPSS.

      1. A Victor says:

        Leela, do you think they can suffice with just IPSS’s when they are younger? Before they co-habit or marry? Or will one of the victim’s still be of greater importance even if there is no formal commitment? What about ones that just sleep around all the time? That’s what my ex did before I knew him. We met when we were 24.

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