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Narcissistic Supply: How to Stop Giving the Attention They Crave

If you have a narcissist in your life, you won’t need telling how difficult it is to be around them. The answer? Cut off their narcissistic supply. 

Narcissistic Supply

Narcissism seems to be a buzz term these days. The problem is, dealing with a narcissist in real life is nothing to joke about. A narcissist can turn your world upside down, leaving you wondering what side is up, down left, or right. Put simply, you’ll be dizzy and extremely confused. That’s the upside. The downside is far worse. If you understand your own mind at the end of it, you’ll be lucky, which is why you should learn how to cut off their narcissistic supply ASAP.

Many people end up stuck in relationships with narcissists because they simply can’t find a way out. We’re not going to lie, it’s really not easy. When you love someone, you become blinkered to how they really are. Then, when you throw manipulation into the mix, it’s the most confusing story in the world. The thing is, unless you get out of the relationship, you’ll never be happy.

Before understanding why a narcissist is so dangerous, we must first understand what a narcissist is. [Read: How to spot a narcissist instantly and save yourself a world of pain]

What is a narcissist?

Now, a real narcissist is someone diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder *NPD*. This is not a choice and not something a human actually wants to be, but a narcissist doesn’t know a different way to live. So, their bad behavior continues throughout their life.

They must be the center of attention at all times and have praise thrown at them on a regular basis. They need you to do exactly what they want, whenever they click their fingers. Any rebellion against any of their needs will result in manipulation tactics and can leave a person emotionally scarred for a long time. One of those techniques is gas-lighting, something you’ve surely heard a lot about. [Read: Been gaslighted? The signs a narcissist is playing mind games with you]

When you first delve into the world of narcissism, learning about it, and understanding it, you’ll probably end up confused. Is this person actually an unlikable and nasty type of person? It’s understandable to think that way, but it’s also important to remember that a narcissist has a personality disorder that dictates their actions to a certain degree.

Is it any excuse for hurting others? Not at all. That is why if you are in contact with one and you’re suffering, you need to get out of it NOW. If you’re not sure if you’re dealing with a narcissist or not, check out these signs. [Read: 23 signs of narcissism people overlook until it’s too late]

1. An inflated sense of importance

Narcissists believe that they are the center of not only their own world, but everyone else’s too. Their sense of self-importance is so inflated, it’s a wonder they can actually walk through a door. They believe they are the best at everything and they won’t hear you say anything different. Their opinion is also the only one that matters – yours is worth zero in their eyes.

2. They have their head in the clouds

Because a narcissist believes they are the most important person in the whole world, they live in a world that supports that theory. Their ideas of grandeur are supported in their own minds by the fantasy world they live in and it’s often as though they’re the only ones in the world who understand it. [Read: 25 signs of covert narcissism – A special kind of mind game]

3. They need constant validation

Despite the fact that a narcissist thinks they’re the bee’s knees, they are actually seriously lacking in confidence underneath it all. Because they live in a fantasy world, they need your constant validation that they’re amazing, good-looking, so talented, etc. When they don’t get it, they’re likely to get pretty nasty, with vindictive comments, passive-aggressive behavior, cold shoulder tactics, or worse.

4. Extremely manipulative

Narcissists are master manipulators. They are able to turn any situation around to their own liking by twisting people’s minds. Gaslighting is just one example but they’re fantastic at manipulation in general. Of course, that’s not something to boast about. It’s for this reason that many people who are in relationships with narcissists don’t actually understand what the relationship is – they’ve been manipulated. [Read: Manipulative people – How to spot them and stop playing the victim]

5. They lack empathy

A relationship with a narcissist is going nowhere. Sorry, but it’s true. The main reason is difficult but it’s mostly due to the fact that they have no love for anyone but themselves. They lack empathy and that means they’re not able to love you in the way you love them. They might try and make you believe that they can, but it’s all an illusion of their orchestration.

6. They believe the world owes them a favor

If you look up ‘playing the victim’ in the dictionary you’ll probably see the word ‘narcissist’ not too far away from it. They’re fantastic at playing the victim and making out that the world owes them a favor. They’re extremely entitled and believe they deserve the best of everything. When they don’t get it, they throw a major tantrum – probably the likes of which you’ve never seen before. [Read: 15 off-putting and obnoxious symptoms of narcissism in a person]

7. They’re bullies

Narcissists often bully, belittle, and manipulate other people to get what they want and to make themselves look better. They have zero care for anyone else’s feelings because they don’t have any empathy. A narcissist has no problem tearing someone down in front of a room full of people and then laughing about it, even if the other person is visibly upset. They will feel nothing – no shame, no upset, no embarrassment. it’s just what a narcissist does.

8. Can turn on the charm like a switch

Probably one of the biggest issues with being in a relationship with a narcissist is the way in which they keep you where you are. When you first meet them, they’ll be on their very best behavior. You won’t believe you’ve met someone so amazing. Then, when they’ve got you where they want you, they’ll start to allow the mask to slip. If you show any sign that you’re onto them, they’ll turn the charm offensive back on. You won’t know where you stand and it is very successful at keeping you where you are. [Read: Do narcissists know they are narcissists?]

What is narcissistic supply?

Narcissistic supply is a term you’ll learn about in the twisted world of narcissists. This concept is key. It helps you understand not only how a narcissist works, but you are given the power to actually cut yourself free. You simply turn off the narcissistic supply you’re giving and walk the hell away. [Read: The games narcissists play to suck you back in]

We’re aware it all sounds a little scientific, so let’s break it down.

We know that narcissists love praise and attention. They don’t just love it, they need it. Without it, they don’t thrive, they rebel and act in rather unpleasant ways. So, you could say that praise, adulation, and attention are the supply. By giving a narcissist your undivided attention, you’re supplying them with what they need.

That’s the simple version, but as you can probably guess, it doesn’t end there. [Read: Loving a narcissist – How to tell if you’ve fallen for a narcissist]

There are different elements to narcissistic supply. As you can see, nothing is ever simple in this NPD world!

The source of the narcissistic supply is the person who gives attention to the narcissist, so in this situation, it is probably you. The actual narcissistic supply *bear with us* is the praise and attention you give. This sends the narcissist off on their usual tricks of grandeur, giving them the feel-good factor they desire. [Read: Emotional manipulation – 14 ways people mess with your mind]

Narcissistic supply can be anything that supports the narcissist’s fantasy world

If a celebrity is a narcissist *and you’d be surprised how many actually are* then the celebrity status itself is the narcissistic supply. This attention *the fame* gives the narcissist the attention they need, the praise, the adulation, and everything else that comes along with being a household name. Of course, celebrities also get ridiculed and insulted. As you can imagine, the narcissist does not like that one little bit.

Narcissistic supply doesn’t have to be fame. It normally comes down to power in many ways. When someone is constantly telling another person how amazing they are, the praised person is in a position of power. They’re adored and put on a pedestal and to them it feels great, but it also feels right. Why? Because in the mind of a narcissist, they deserve this praise, and they deserve nothing less because they are wonderful! [Read: What causes narcissism? The facts and theories to read a narcissist]

Are they wonderful? Nobody is really, but try telling that to a narcissist!

How to cut off the narcissistic supply and break free

If you are in a relationship with a narcissist, you have our sympathy. It’s not a nice place to be, and you’re constantly confused as to who the person you’re dating really is. You’re never really sure which way is up or down, your life isn’t particularly rosy. [Read: Why do narcissists ignore texts and do the shitty things they do?]

So, when you finally come to the conclusion that you need to get away for your own sanity and happiness, we commend you and pat you on the back. You’re brave. You’re doing the right thing.

Pep talk aside, how can you cut off the narcissistic supply?

This is the first step towards breaking free, but it will have the rather annoying side effect of pushing the narcissist into using manipulation techniques. Why? Because they sense that you’re about to leave, and they don’t like that. As a result, they’ll try to get you to question your own opinion and sanity, to keep you around and bring the narcissistic supply back their way.

Crafty? Very. Understanding this will give you power. Next, stop with the adulation, stop with the attention and do something for yourself. [Read: Emotionally abusive relationships – 15 signs you just can’t miss]

If the narcissistic supply you’re giving is that you’re always around for your partner and you’re always telling them how amazing they are, stop doing it. Don’t be there all the time, don’t do the things you normally do. Instead, go out and do something for yourself.

Yes, your partner will flounder, and they will turn on the charm to make you feel bad. Remember why you’re doing this. You’re cutting off the supply and you’re taking the first brave step towards ridding your life of narcissistic abuse. Because that’s what it is deep down. [Read: 16 subtle signs a narcissist is abusing you]

You deserve so much more than this

When you’re in a relationship with a narcissist you’re probably being abused on some level. Constant jibes, dragging you down, forcing you to see things the way they want you to see them, isolation from your friends and family. It’s emotional abuse. [Read: How to use the grey rock method to get a narcissist to walk away from you]

No matter how you dress it up. It’s certainly not love. How do we know that? Because narcissists aren’t capable of empathy, so how can they be capable of love in the same way as everyone else? They can’t.

This is the key to helping you see that you should leave. You deserve to be loved in the right way, and you deserve better.

[Read: A relationship with a narcissist and what it means to love one]

Cutting off the narcissistic supply can feel like cutting out your own heart at first. No matter how much you want to leave someone and feel better, you still love them deep down.

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Nicky Curtis
Nicky Curtis
Having stumbled from one relationship drama to another throughout her 20s, Nicky is now somewhat of a guru in the crazy world of life and love. Telling it how i...
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