Understanding Narcissistic Supply | Break the Cycle - Kamini Wood

Understanding Narcissistic Supply | Break the Cycle

narcissistic supply man looking angrily at camera

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One of the distinctive features of a narcissist is an excessive need for attention and admiration. Narcissists are typically obsessed with themselves. They have an exaggerated feeling of self-worth, often displaying self-centered, manipulative, controlling or abusive behavior. 

On the surface, narcissists often seem charismatic and charming, especially in the beginning of the relationship. However, being romantically involved with a narcissist can soon become exhausting and grueling. 

One of a narcissist’s strategies to manipulate a relationship and satisfy their excessive need for admiration and attention is narcissistic supply.

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What is Narcissistic Supply?

Narcissistic supply represents a form of emotional dependency where the narcissist requires constant validation and admiration in order to feel good about themselves. 

A narcissist has an inflated self-image and needs someone to constantly feed their ego. So, they will deliberately target people sensitive to their superficial charm and charisma, susceptible to manipulation, and vulnerable to narcissistic abuse. 

Because they cannot connect healthily with other people, narcissists seek for narcissistic supply. 

Why a narcissist depends on his or her narcissistic supply to feel good about themselves?

In essence, most narcissists grew up in families with insecure attachment styles where they were not protected, soothed, and attuned to. Because they could not get the care, warmth, and support from their parents (or caregivers), a narcissist internalized belief that they are not good or worthy enough, developing strong feelings of shame and inadequacy.  

What Is the Function of Narcissistic Supply to a Narcissist?

Narcissists believe that they are superior to others. They have little to no empathy for other people’s feelings. However, behind this mindset of superiority and exaggerated confidence lies fragile self-esteem and a great fear of abandonment.  

To compensate for feelings of loneliness, emptiness, and fragile self-esteem, children with early attachment trauma developed the opposite mindset to feel that they are actually better than others. They learned to create self-protective skills to defend against poor self-image. 

Unfortunately, self-protective skills in narcissists typically come in the forms of emotional manipulation and abuse, involving toxic tendencies to degrade, deceive, and despise others. 

That being said, narcissistic supply is mostly an unconscious strategy those with narcissistic personality disorder use to feel better about themselves at other people’s expense. It helps a narcissist defend against feelings of shattered self-esteem, shame, and humiliation. 

What is the Narcissistic Supply Cycle?

The narcissistic supply manipulation typically follows a pattern that involves three stages:

narcissistic supply diagram

This cycle can repeatedly happen, causing those caught in such relationships to feel afraid, anxious, depressed, and completely drained.

Idealization

At the beginning of a romantic relationship with a narcissist, you may feel like you were put on a pedestal. You may experience the whirl of passion, love, and excitement. This stage of an emotional high can last for days, weeks, or months. 

You may feel as if you found your soulmate and the love of your life. Your narcissistic partner may shower you with praise, attention, devotion, and the best sex ever. 

Devaluation

After some time, however, the relationship with a narcissist begins to change. The intimacy may start to fade, and your partner may begin showing some alarming behaviors. Narcissistic abuse typically begins subtly as a narcissist may use clandestine manipulation strategies to devalue you.  

Some of the most common devaluing strategies narcissists use involve gaslighting, blaming, and projection. A narcissist will twist the reality, blaming you for their issues until you start questioning your reality, integrity, and identity. 

They may use every opportunity to make fun of you, put you down, or occasionally withdraw affection, emotional, and physical intimacy, leaving you confused, ashamed, and desolate. 

Discarding

Most people who serve as a source of narcissistic supply end up cast aside like a used cloth. When victims of narcissistic abuse decide to stand for themselves, asking for empathy, integrity, reciprocity, and boundaries, a narcissist typically decides to discard them. When a narcissist chooses to abandon you, there will be no remorse, apology, or compassion. 

However, if you choose to end the toxic relationship, the narcissist will likely give you a fight, begging, or bargaining as they are not done with you yet.  

Signs You May Be a Narcissistic Supply

Whatever you do, a narcissist will never be satisfied. The narcissistic supply is not a lasting thing, so they will demand it repeatedly. Persons with narcissistic personality disorder use seduction, manipulation, and bullying behaviors to obtain an ongoing supply from their victims. 

Here are some signs you may be a narcissistic supply:

  • You always do whatever your partner wants
  • You always feel obligated to praise and compliment them
  • Often you feel as if your narcissistic partner has control over you
  • You are compliant and feel like an object most of the time
  • They continuously seek attention and admiration
  • You feel as if you lost your autonomy and integrity
Supply Cycle narcissist quote

How to Break the Cycle?

A narcissist cannot handle losing their supply of attention and admiration so you can expect that they won’t give up on you easily. If you decide to leave, your narcissistic partner will probably promise to change, plead, and threaten you. 

However, leaving a toxic relationship is often the only way to end the cycle of abuse. After you break up, follow the next steps to start the healing process and move on. 

1. Follow no contact rule.

No contact means no calls, emails, or contact with a narcissist whatsoever.

2. Acknowledge that you deserve and should expect more.

Recognize that you are a valuable and lovable person who deserves to be happy.

3. Allow for grief and embrace it.

Allow yourself to grieve the loss of a relationship and the person you thought your ex was, as this is an essential part of your healing.  

4. Repeat positive affirmations.

Positive statements about yourself will boost your self-esteem and help overcome self-judgmental thoughts

5. Forgive and self-forgive.

Forgiveness means releasing yourself and your ex out of debt. Forgiveness and self-compassion can help let go of resentment, hurt, sorrow, and other negative feelings, allowing you to focus on personal growth and move on. 

You don’t have to suffer through this hurt alone. Read on to uncover what a self-love coach can do to help you rediscover your authenticme.

Narcissistic Supply Summary

Secure attachment in childhood sets a foundation for healthy behavior patterns, emotional stability, and meaningful relationships in adult life. 

Narcissists usually have early childhood attachment trauma in their personal history. Because they didn’t learn how to rely on or trust people, they developed mechanisms to protect themselves at the expense of other people. A person with narcissism is not able to connect with others in a healthy and mutually-satisfying way. Instead of healthy bonds, narcissists reach for narcissistic supply. Ready to move forward after a toxic relationship?  Book a call now www.chatwithkamini.com

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