What is narcissistic supply?
People who suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) have a pathological need for acknowledgment, praise, and constant attention. It’s referred to as narcissistic supply, or fuel.
At first glance, that doesn’t sound so bad, right? After all, humans are social creatures. So, what’s the big deal about narcissists wanting a little extra attention?
Narcissists don’t just want a little attention. They demand it constantly, at your expense, and without taking your feelings into consideration.
Whether the attention is negative or positive doesn’t really matter, as long as it’s focused on them. Fear is just as good as adoration, because power and control are also forms of narcissistic supply.
Boredom is a chronic problem for people with NPD. Consequently, they create drama and start arguments as a means for extracting fuel. If you’ve been in a relationship with a Narcissist, you were subjected to circular conversations that seemed endless. And getting a word in edgewise felt impossible.
How do Narcissists get supply?
Narcissists have many ways of getting narcissistic supply. For example, they tell grandiose stories of false achievements in order to gain admiration. Other common methods include: bragging, bullying, triangulation, manipulation, seduction, and conning others.
Sex is used regularly, as well, but not just with their partners. In fact, Narcissists and serial infidelity go hand in hand. Cheating is a given, although they’ll swear to be faithful. It won’t matter if you turn cartwheels in bed and perform circusworthy stunts. They’ll still cheat.
Narcissists always have multiple sources for obtaining fuel, since nobody can possibly keep up with their excessive demands. No matter how much you make them the center of your universe, it’s never enough to quench their thirst.
Insecure attachments in infancy.
What they really need is an emotional connection to another human being. Feeling connected is as necessary to a human’s wellbeing as food and water. Bonding gives us emotional fulfillment, improves self-esteem, and brings joy to our lives. Quite simply, It’s just how we roll.
Our bodies die without food and water, so what happens to people without connections? Well, they’re basically dead inside. It’s like their emotions were smothered, but their bodies stayed alive.
The ability to form secure attachments occurs during infancy. When we’re properly cared for, and our basic needs are met, we feel soothed and content. We learn that it’s okay to trust someone else to meet our needs.
But when those needs aren’t met, infants must soothe themselves. They don’t learn to trust others, and they never gain the ability to form secure attachments. Later, as self-serving adults, they see everyone else as the enemy. In other words, they become Narcissists.
Narcissistic supply is used as a substitute for emotional connections.
Because they can’t get emotional fulfillment from connections, narcissistic supply is what they use as a replacement. And since there’s no substitute for the real thing, Narcissists never get a true sense of fulfillment.
Instead, they go through life feeling empty, like a tank with holes in the bottom. And though they constantly fill the tank with narcissistic supply, it leaks out faster than they can pour it in.