What is “Narcissistic Supply” anyway?

After taking a lengthy respite from writing about my experiences with my narcissist, I am now diving headfirst back into the murky waters. Looking through my old posts, I just realized I never wrote an article solely about narcissistic supply. I am glad you are wondering what this common phrase encompasses, because it is essential to understand what it means and what role it plays to the narcissist. It is quite simple but complex at the same time.

As I described in a previous blog post, due to the very nature of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, the narcissist must at all times be in a state of idolization. They achieve this delicate state by absorbing other people’s emotional reactions to what the narcissist either says or does. Narcissistic supply is fundamentally these very emotional responses and feedback the victim gives the narcissist during and oftentimes after their toxic relationship ends.

Supply can be either positive or negative, it does not matter in what form it takes, as long as it is provided. The “supply” is the narcissist’s drug and if they miss a dose, they will go to great lengths to unearth some. Narcissists need a constant stream of narcissistic supply in order to function and boost their insecurity and feelings of ultimate control over other people. Without their supply, the narcissist goes into crisis mode and their whole world shuts down. They are incomplete.

The reason the narcissist needs this form of supply is because narcissists are missing the empathy component. They do not have the ability to really care about another human being’s wants and needs, therefore they are incapable of truly loving anyone other than themselves. The narcissist only cares about what he or she wants and needs. Because they have no ability to have authentic emotional responses, they feed on the emotional responses of others. This strangely resembles the Death Eaters in Harry Potter that sucks the life out of their victims.

If the response is positive, the narcissist soaks it up and revels in the praise and adoration from others. However, if the response is negative, the narcissist still rolls around in it deriving sick pleasure because they see that their actions or words are negatively affecting others. As a result of inflicting torment, the narcissist witnesses his control of those around him. This power goes straight to their ego and they thrive on it, as sick as it sounds. So when you retaliate against a narcissist, you may feel good that you got a jab in at them.  However, to the narcissist, you are feeding them the supply that they crave.  They are not hurt, to the contrary, they love seeing you so upset that you say or do something that they can take and twist and use against you. “See, look at yourself!  You are acting crazy!” In turn, it validates them.

There you have it, narcissist supply is a hell of a drug. Deprive them of it at all costs and they will be quicker to slink away and leave you alone.

 

The Show Must Go On…

We have all heard the phrase, “the show must go on.” But the ones who really understand it are those people who lived it by being stuck in a toxic relationship with a Narcissist. When you find that you need to put on a show whenever your partner is around, that is big sign that you are being controlled by a narcissist.

I am now three years removed from being submerged in a suffocating marriage with a narcissist, however, when I think back to what I went through and how I felt, I had an epiphany. I distinctly remember whenever my ex walked through the door, I had to prepare my 3 year old and 6 year old to treat their father a certain way in order to stall their father’s bad moods, suspicious antics or lecturing behavior.

I found myself telling my children that “Daddy’s going to be coming home soon and they better smile, and give him a big hug” and I would plead with them to be on their best behavior. I quickly learned that we had to go through this role playing because in the past, if my narcissist were to come home and we were all doing something other than waiting there to greet him with smiles on our faces and our full attention, he would be offended and feel that we “did not appreciate him.” He would then go on a pity trip and lecture us, scold us and say that we did not love him, etc. It was ridiculous, but true. It would put a dampener on the rest of the evening and we all walked on eggshells.

So, I would find myself trying to prepare my little actors to put on a show for Daddy. A show that would hopefully, delay the narcissist’s antics for a later time. But it was never for long. The children and I were always in survival mode, just waiting for the next little thing to set him off.

During the marriage, I didn’t actually see what I was doing, or how his behavior truly affected us because when you are living it, it can be difficult to see through it. However, now that I am safely away from my narcissist and in a healthy relationship full of mutual respect and adoration, I can easily see what lengths I went to in order to try to protect my children from their narcissistic father.

If you find that you need to be anyone other than your true self when your partner is around, that is not a good sign. Be aware that all of life is not a stage, or at least it shouldn’t have to be. My advice as someone who has lived through it, lower the curtain and walk away and it is best to ignore the curtain call, let the narcissist get the bows he craves from someone other than you or your children.