Are You Feeding Narcissistic Supply?


Vampire, Narcissist, Narcissist's SupplyNarcissists hunger to have their needs for power, admiration, and attention filled is constant and relentless. They require continuous validation and praise but don’t hope for the same in return. If you’re in a close relationship with a narcissist, they expect you to supply them.

The term “narcissistic supply” is based on the psychoanalytic theory that concerns essential needs of babies and toddlers to maintain their mental and emotional equilibrium. Loss of necessary supplies in childhood can lead to depression and later attempts to get them through addiction and other means.

Narcissists’  deficient self and inner resources make them dependent on other people to affirm their impaired self-esteem and fragile ego. They only validate themselves as reflected in the eyes of others.

Despite their facade of confidence, boasting, and self-flattery, they crave attention, respect, and constant admiration and actually fear that they’re undesirable.

How Narcissists Get Their Supply

Other people are used as objects in order to provide their supply. Freud identified two main paths to fulfilling narcissistic supplies: Aggression and ingratiation. Eventually, he called them sadistic and submissive. To be admired and to get their supply, narcissists employ various strategies, including impression management. They ingratiate themselves using their charm, cognitive emotional intelligence, bragging, seduction, and manipulation. Receiving attention and admiration boosts their weak self and lack of self-esteem.

They manipulate and try to control what others think in order to feel better about themselves, making narcissists codependent on recognition from others. If you refuse to provide what they want and need, they resort to their secondary means: Aggression with narcissistic abuse. They go on the offensive, attack, and belittle you. By discounting you, in their eyes, their self-image is elevated. In relationships, they can become sadistic. As their abuse escalates, their partners and coworkers become passive and submissive to avoid coming under attack and to maintain the relationship. By assuming a submissive role, you establish, an unhealthy dynamic in relationships with a narcissist.

Types of Narcissistic Supply

Because their sense of self is determined by what others think of them, narcissists use relationships for self-enhancement. Everyone must feed them. In addition, they seek validation and attention in their public and professional life. Other people are used as objects in order to provide their supply.  For example, they may need constant compliments or applause, more status and money, or may check their appearance in the mirror several times a day. Some examples of narcissistic supply are:

  1. Praise and compliments
  2. Accomplishments and professional success (even if by cheating or using unethical means)
  3. Financial gain by any means
  4. Status symbols, such as a big home, gold toilet, expensive car, 5-Star dining and hotels
  5. Acquaintances with celebrities, public figures, and other high-status people and institutions
  6. Wearing designer labels and expensive accessories and jewelry
  7. Winning
  8. Using alcohol, drugs, or other addiction
  9. Sex
  10. Provoking arguments, emotional reactions, and chaos
  11. Receiving awards
  12. Attention in the news or social media
  13. Being admired and loved by romantic partners
  14. Having a mate that is desired by others, such as a trophy wife or an influential or successful spouse
  15. Expressions of gratitude

Narcissist’s Insatiable Needs

To a narcissist, like a drug addict, it’s survival. They crave recognition and have an insatiable need to be admired. Psychoanalyst Heinz Kohut observed that his narcissistic clients suffered from profound alienation, emptiness, powerlessness, and lack of meaning. Beneath the surface, they lacked sufficient internal structures to maintain cohesiveness, stability, and a positive self-image to support a stable identity.

Narcissists’ early losses, emptiness, and needs are so great and painful that when not fulfilled, they mentally disintegrate. Thus their need for their supply is never-ending. They require continuous reassurance from those around them, but, like a parasite, no matter how much you give, it’s never enough to fill their emptiness and satisfy their hunger. Like vampires who are dead inside, narcissists exploit and drain those around them. Once their charm wears thin, notice if you feel drained around a narcissist.

If you continue to sacrifice yourself for them, you, too, will feel empty and dead. You may start to experience what it was like for them to have an invasive, cold, or unavailable narcissistic parent. Anne Rice’s vampire Lestat in The Vampire Trilogy had such an emotionally empty mother, who devotedly bonded with him and used him to survive.

Trying to please them feels thankless, like trying to fill a bottomless pit. The hole is their inner emptiness, of which they’re unaware, but expect others to fill. Of course, it’s impossible. Instead, focus on meeting your own needs and healing your own emptiness.

Get Dating, Loving, and Leaving a Narcissist: Essential Tools for Improving or Leaving Narcissistic and Abusive Relationships.

© 2021 Darlene Lancer

Share with friends
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 year ago

I find your work to be very educational and informative. But Im confused with the statement that narcissist use their “emotional intelligence “ to get their supply. I don’t feel they have true emotional intelligence.
From what I’ve seen and experienced they have very limited experience of a breadth of feelings. It’s all manipulation based on their needs. Many that I’ve worked with (& my own mother) have told me they don’t feel much outside of empty, anger, lust, some care – especially for their children- but that’s still about them because it’s “their children “. Even love for them is based on a need being met in a transactional sense. Can you please explain how they use their emotional intelligence to manipulate ? I’d like to learn more about your perspective on this. Maybe I have a blinder on. Thank you so much !

Last edited 1 year ago by Lisa
11 months ago
Reply to  Lisa

They know what makes you give them supply, that make them high in that sense of EI. They know how to push the right buttons. The same thing as I feel…and making me (mostly) avoiding doing things that upsets someone else .. because I have empathy…I do not live for supply but for connection and love(most of the time… sometimes I fail, but then hopefully show remorse).

Recent Posts


To get your Free “14 Tips,” please provide your name and email to join my mailing list and monthly blog.

Check your spam folder, and email me if you don’t get an email confirmation. (See our Website and Privacy Policies)