Narcissists thrive on something called “supply” – it’s basically the praise, adoration, and stature that helps in making their world go round. While all of us enjoy feeling special once in a while, a narcissist takes it to the extreme, always on the lookout for a better source of supply like it’s an addiction.
Now, if you’ve been on the receiving end of narcissistic abuse, you might be curious about how narcissists treat old supply and the reasons for the same. Well, here’s the lowdown: it’s less about you and more about the narcissist’s current mental state.
When a narcissist craves supply and believes they can get it from you, they’ll pull out all the stops to reel you back in and trick you into offering the supply that they crave. On the flip side, if they’ve found a shinier, newer, and better source of narcissistic supply, you suddenly mean zilch to them – you’ll either get treated with disrespect or flat-out ignored.
To really get what narcissistic supply does to relationships, we’ve got to dig into what a source of supply really means and how it holds the narcissist in its grip.
What is the meaning of narcissistic supply?
People often see narcissists as sly and sometimes downright mean individuals who prey on others. However, most narcissists aren’t heartless psychopaths; they’re actually filled with emotions such as self-doubt, self-hatred, and insecurity.
To cope with these negative feelings, narcissists crave positive affirmation and validation from those around them—be it their partners, friends, colleagues, or neighbors. This affirmation or validation is what psychologists call “narcissistic supply”. Without it, narcissists can feel pretty desolate and worthless.
But what happens when a narcissist runs out of this source of supply? Well, initially, they might get upset with their old supply sources. In their minds, these folks are expected to trigger feelings of happiness and contentment, and if that’s not happening, the narcissist might get frustrated.
If that doesn’t work, a narcissist will likely start searching for new supply sources —people who aren’t hip to their manipulative ways. And if they still can’t find any source of supply, they might become pretty downcast, withdrawing from a world that fails to accept and appreciate their supposed talents and value.
Types of sources for narcissistic supply
The sources of narcissistic supply can be of two kinds – primary supply and secondary supply.
Primary narcissistic supply
For most folks who aren’t super famous or super well-connected, getting that top-tier recognition, or what we call primary supply, becomes a bit of a challenge. It’s the level of attention and adoration received from folks you’re not really close to – you know, those adoring fans every narcissist has.
So what do narcissists do? They go on the hunt for this kind of supply with things like making moves in their love life, climbing the ladder in their job, or sometimes even getting into some not-so-great stuff. Basically, for narcissists, any kind of attention is good attention, whether it’s positive vibes or even the not-so-nice spotlight of the law. It’s like they say, any publicity is good publicity, right?
Secondary narcissistic supply
The secondary source of supply refers to the people regularly interacting with a narcissist – this can be their friends, neighbors, coworkers, or current partner. These individuals play a vital role in the narcissist’s daily life, providing them with constant praise and adoration. If they fall short in this, they may find themselves in a lopsided narcissistic relationship where constant approval is demanded to avoid the narcissist’s displeasure.
The partner of a narcissist often ponders whether these individuals genuinely care about them – their supply. Over time, both primary as well as secondary sources can become expendable, but does a narcissist ever have genuine feelings toward them?
The truth is that narcissists lack the emotional capability to have genuine feelings for their supply on a personal level. Instead, they view them solely as sources of supply to tap into when needed.
Do narcissists really care about a new supply?
When a narcissist starts a relationship, there’s this initial phase of affection and excitement—like a honeymoon. However, the catch is, that excitement isn’t really about the new partner; it’s more about the narcissists themselves.
So, do narcissists ever feel true love for their brand-new supply? Not really. They love what the person can provide them, mainly as what is known as “supply.” It’s all about how their new supply boosts the narcissist’s feelings.
As time goes on, the thrill fades. The narcissist gets frustrated because their partner can’t keep up the excitement. The thing is, every new supply is going to disappoint the narcissist.
As the thrill of the new supply wanes for the narcissist, they resort to devaluing their partner/supply in a bid to dominate them and extract more of that much-needed supply. But even this strategy eventually falls flat. At that point, there is no choice left for the narcissist but to ditch their partner/supply and scout for a fresh supply.
When narcissists do the discard, they often find new supply swiftly or may have even lined one up before they discard. Abandoning is a bold move that narcissists make when they feel confident about getting more supply. It’s like a strategic move in their quest for that emotional boost they crave.
Ways Narcissists Treat Old Supply
Right after the breakup, especially in a situation of narcissistic discard, a narcissist, most probably, won’t be too bothered about the old supply. They’ve moved on to a new supply and don’t see a need for the old supply anymore.
However, this phase of indifference doesn’t stick around forever, and narcissists treat old supply in various ways later on.
They turn into your enemy number one
You might think that a sudden and nasty breakup means that the narcissist vanishes from your life. Well, that’s wishful thinking. Sadly, it’s not that simple. The narcissist may choose to stick around their old supply, but not in a good way. Instead, they could keep a negative connection, throwing insults and trying to make you feel miserable.
This messed-up relationship is like fuel to the narcissist. They get what they want – your undivided attention and complete domination over you. In case you’ve moved on to someone new, brace yourself. They might try to mess up your new relationship. After all, they want you available for their narcissistic supply needs, and being in a new relationship makes that tricky.
They will come back to you
We all know that narcissists operate on a constant need for attention and validation. It’s like they have an insatiable appetite for narcissistic supply. Even if they’ve shifted to a new partner or haven’t molded their current partner into meeting their demands, they might find themselves circling back to their old supply – which could be you. They reminisce about the familiarity of past relationships, especially when they felt in control and could extract what they needed.
Sometimes, they come back to their old supply, expressing regret for leaving or complaining about their current partner. It’s not because they miss their old supply; it’s because the new supply isn’t fulfilling their needs. They don’t consider the feelings of their old supply; their focus is solely on their own dissatisfaction.
What’s crucial in this scenario is to resist their attempts to reconnect. Politely remind them that the narcissistic relationship wasn’t fulfilling for both parties and that moving on was the best way out. Don’t let their apologies lure you back to them, into their cycle of seeking a narcissistic supply.
This behavior isn’t about missing you; it’s about missing what you provided—a source for their emotional needs. It’s essential to recognize that you deserve a healthy, reciprocal relationship, not one-way emotional manipulation. Setting boundaries and focusing on your own well-being is key when dealing with a narcissist’s attempts to re-enter your life.
How do narcissists discard their old supply for a new supply?
People who have narcissistic traits are known for juggling their supply sources, especially when their supply demands are not met. Imagine this: a person with narcissistic tendencies is having an affair while still being in a relationship or marriage. It’s like they’re trying to have the best of both worlds.
For them, the key is to keep their new romantic interest a secret from their existing partner. They enjoy the excitement of a hidden affair (their main focus) while enjoying the status and respectability that comes from a marriage or a relationship (the bonus).
But here’s the thing – they’re not fully committed to the new relationship. They’re testing the waters, making sure the new supply can provide the same level of attention they’re used to. So, if you notice the person with narcissistic traits coming back to you, it’s likely because their new supply isn’t living up to their expectations.
This deceptive game won’t go on forever. Once they feel secure in their new relationship, they might decide to show off their relationship to the world. They become more and more careless about hiding their interactions with their new supply as if they’re ready to shout about their newfound happiness.
However, if their affair is exposed, be prepared for the classic narcissistic move – they’ll blame you, the previous partner, for not being worthy enough to make your relationship worthwhile. Manipulation of this kind is a classic example of narcissistic behavior.
How do you know that a narcissist is with a new supply?
A narcissist is a pro at juggling their sources of attention. They’re not exactly concerned about your feelings, but they sure want to keep connections open. You can learn from these sneaky signs that the narcissist has moved on to a new supply source. They might not wave a flag announcing it, but here are a few telltale signs to watch out for.
They are over the moon
When narcissists find a new supply, they’re ecstatic about it. They’ll flaunt their new relationship to everyone—they want the world to see how great things are. Plus, this new supply boosts their status and confidence, making them seem super outgoing among friends.
But here’s the twist: when they come back to you, the same outgoing vibe disappears. Suddenly, you’re like a mirror reflecting their past, and they’re not thrilled about it. You remind them of stuff they don’t like about themselves.
You no longer feature in their future plans
Do you remember that time when the same narcissist claimed you were soulmates and promised to make you happy forever? Yeah, that was likely just some love bombing in action – you know, the emotional trickery to prompt you to believe that you are the most special person ever. But here’s the kicker: when they cease to consider you as their source of supply, the lovey-dovey stuff hits the brakes. It’s like the switch flipped off.
All they can see are your flaws
Look, nobody’s flawless, right? We all mess up sometimes but imagine someone reminding you of your flaws and every little goof-up you’ve ever made every single day. That’s the thing with narcissists – they’ll keep picking at your faults nonstop until they spot a new supply to latch onto. Only then will they consider breaking away from the narcissistic relationship.
They try to improve their appearance
When a narcissist finds a new supply, they often ramp up their effort on their appearance. Normally, when you alone are seeing them, they might slack off – skipping workouts, neglecting to groom, you name it. But if suddenly they’re splurging on new clothes, changing their hair, or hitting the gym, chances are there’s a new supply in their life. It’s like they’re putting on a show to impress someone new, while they might not have cared much when it was just you seeing them daily.
Does a narcissist compare supplies?
Narcissists have a unique way of approaching their supply sources —it’s less like comparing options on a menu and more like evaluating what they need at the moment. It’s a bit like choosing between different dishes based on their current cravings.
At times, a narcissist might seek a new conquest for a boost in their self-esteem, while in other instances, they could be after the praise and comforting reassurances from a close relationship. The evaluation process involves figuring out the kind of narcissistic supply they require at a given moment and whether the potential source can provide it.
However, in the grand scheme, narcissists tend to lean towards new supply rather than sticking with the old supply. The novelty factor makes it feel more special, and not being acquainted adds an exciting edge to the relationship. Moreover, the new source is often unaware of the narcissist’s manipulative tactics, making them easier to dominate and control in the eyes of the narcissist. It’s like they’re drawn to the allure of the unknown.
When a narcissist leaves you for a new supply, let them go
Going through a breakup where your partner seems unfazed can be incredibly tough. It leaves you feeling undervalued, and the pain lingers, making it hard to move on. But here’s a silver lining: when a narcissist breezes through a breakup, it’s often because they’ve found a new relationship to focus on.
While the clean break might hurt initially, it’s actually in your favor. The narcissist’s attention is now fixated on their new relationship, offering you a chance to distance yourself and escape from the narcissistic abuse. Take advantage of this period to create some space and start the healing process.
It’s a common pattern for narcissists to go back to their former supply. They often do it with a charm offensive, making it tempting to welcome them back wholeheartedly. However, it’s crucial to recognize that their return is not a sign of personal growth. It’s merely a quest for the familiar supply they once received from you.
To break free from the cycle of narcissistic abuse, resist the allure of their return. If you want a life free of drama and a healthy relationship, saying no to the narcissist and refusing to give that supply is the key. It might not be easy, but it’s a crucial step toward your own well-being.
Narcissists often devalue and discard their old supply once they have found someone new to fulfill their need for admiration and attention.
A narcissist may seek a new source of narcissistic supply when they feel their current supply is no longer meeting their needs or when they are in the process of a breakup with their current source.
Narcissists seek various forms of narcissistic supply, including admiration, attention, validation, and praise to make them feel superior and important.
Narcissists obtain their supply by manipulating and exploiting others to meet their emotional and psychological needs, often through controlling and abusive behavior.
When a narcissist loses their primary source of supply, they may urgently seek a new source to ensure they do not experience a shortage of the admiration and attention they crave.
The supply cycle in narcissistic abuse refers to the repetitive pattern of idealization, devaluation, discard, and hoovering that narcissists subject their victims to to maintain control and power.
When a narcissist has found a new source of supply, they often disregard and mistreat their old supply, showing little to no concern for the impact on the individual they once idealized.
Red flags that indicate a narcissist is seeking a new source of supply include increased detachment, a sudden focus on an individual outside the current relationship, and minimizing or dismissing the importance of their current supply.