Narcissistic Supply

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Narcissistic Supply, or fuel, is the lifeblood of Narcopaths. They desperately need it for their very existence. Understanding this is key to understanding the Narcopath, and to successfully managing a relationship (or split) with one. 


The Need for Narcissistic Supply

We all like a compliment on the way we look or conduct ourselves. We all like recognition for our achievements. We welcome the thanks for the effort we put in to help others. It’s nice to receive applause for our triumphs. Generally speaking, we like to feel that we are getting on in the world and have certain trappings of success to prove it. For a normal-range person to want or enjoy these things is normal, but they should be sufficiently self-confident of themselves not to need them per se.

Likewise we all want to feel important, that we have a degree of influence, that we have a degree of significance in life.

The Lifeblood

For a narcopath, however, simply wanting these sorts of things is not enough  – there is a desperate need for the lot, and on an on-going basis. Why? Because they desperately lack self-confidence, and so build much of their “false self” on the back of these things. It is a drug to which they are addicted. Their thirst to feel good about themselves is unquenchable, hence their continuous need for Narcissistic Supply. Their false sense of self is both biased and labile – positive messages about themselves are championed, whilst anything negative is instantly attacked as worthless and is thus discounted.

Directly or Indirectly

The narcopath can either enjoy these things first hand, ie receive the compliment or witness the reaction directly, or indirectly by just knowing that a certain reaction is likely to have happened. So whilst a normal-range person may be get a certain buzz to learn that their worst enemy’s car has broken down, a narcopath will get a similar feeling from sending a snotogram to their partner.


Two Flavours

Broadly speaking, it is easiest to consider the two forms of narcissistic supply as moving public perception, and indeed their own self-perception, upward along the Grandiosity Gap from “real self” to “false self”. Positive narcissistic supply props up and reinforces the false self, pushing perception towards the charade of the popular, admirable, wonderful and amazing. Negative narcissistic supply protects the real self and serves to counter any suggestion that underlying personality is faulty, essentially pulling perception away from the self-loathing, toxic, empty soul that it in fact reality.


Positive Narcissistic Supply

Positive supply takes any forms that boost the narcopath’s false eg in a positive manner – admiration for the narc directly or any of their trappings of wealth/success, adulation, compliments, loving gestures (such as a meal cooked for the narc), a sense of omnipotence, omniscient, being well-connected, sexual conquests, fame, the centre of attention, gaining the lead in any conversation etc.

Negative Narcissistic Supply

As effective and nutritional to the Narcopath as positive supply, but thoroughly unpleasant to everyone else, is negative supply. They can’t stand being insignificant or unimportant and will cause drama just to provoke engagement. So expect arguments, baiting, chaos etc so feed a policy of divide and conquer and grab the attention. An obscenity screamed by a driver who the narc has just carved up, or the sense of annoyance/hurt by a text sent to a friend or loved one – amazingly all these things give the narc a rise, a feeling of importance and well-being. It’s infuriating – although it will help you enormously to understand what it is, why it happens, what the Narcopath gains from it, and how to turn off the tap!


Managing the Narcissist Supply

By battling them, you’re giving them narcissistic supply. It’s negative, for sure, but it’s the vital narcissistic supply that they desperately need. Depending on the context will depend on how they try and maintain an ongoing supply from you:

  • For romantic partners, for examples, it may well be that the narcopath has run off with someone who on the face of it is young and attractive, or moneyed etc. They may well be plastering happy pics all over social media. They may well be talking of dreams that you thought that you shared, now being lavished on someone else. But understand this – it’s an entirely false image. First off, all the lovebombing is extremely exhausting for them. Emotionally they are in give mode, and cannot yet be on the take. Underneath they are desperately insecure, their new supply has yet to prove themselves as able to withstand the abuse once the lovebombing stage is over, they are worried if the move was the right one.
  • A similar thing with happen with friends.
  • For children of Narcopaths, anticipate a regular flurry of messages, calls or posts trying to lay a guilt trip on you, all designed to keep you engaged. All designed to prolong their Victim Narrative.
  • In the workplace, anticipate retribution in the form of professional smear campaign, employment tribunal etc.


Post-Discard Narcissistic Supply

Whatever the context, they have the stigma of the split from you to manage. They suspect that you are badmouthing them to their friends and the local community (which is what they are doing to you, I’m afraid). They are busy constructing a series of lies to cover their actions – and just trying to remember which lies they’ve told to who is quite a feat.


Deriving Negative Narcissistic Supply from You

What they do want to feel comfortable about is that they can rely is on negative narcissistic supply from you. They need to feel important, and that you are devastated by their loss. They need to be reassured that you will still be available should they decide to come back for a Hoover. They need to confirm to themselves that they can still run circles around you in drama. They also need to ensure that they are being perceived as the wounded one by everyone else as part of their Victim Narrative – and so need you to look desperate, crazy, abusive and smothering.


< Real vs False Self | Narcissistic Supply | The Grandiosity Gap >

See also

Managing the Narcopath | Negotiating with a Narcopath | Narcissistic Collapse

External Links

On Narcissistic Supply: How You Provide Necessary Ignition for the Narcissist’s Fuel

The Delusional Way Out: The Narcissist’s Reactions to Deficient Narcissistic Supply

How To Deal With a Narcissist (NPD)

Narcissists, Narcissistic Supply and Sources of Supply

How to Avoid being Narcissistic Supply