Narcissistic Supply Explained – What Happens When It’s Cut Off

Are you dating a narcissist, and have been reading up on Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)? Then you might have heard the term “narcissistic supply.”

Narcissistic supply can be an addictive drug for narcissists. It can give them a powerful boost in self-esteem, making them feel good about themselves. However, their need for it is never-ending.

What exactly does it mean? What does it supply and what is the demand?

And what happens when you cut off this supply?


What Is Narcissistic Supply

Narcissistic supply refers to the attention, admiration, praise, and adoration that a person with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) craves. They need constant validation of their superiority and uniqueness, and they seek it from others. Narcissists depend heavily on this supply and may use any means to obtain it.

Narcissistic supply: a term used in psychology to describe the attention, admiration, and validation that narcissists need to feel good about themselves; people who give the narcissist the admiration and attention they crave.

The narcissist will go to great lengths to get their supply, using charm, manipulation, and even aggression to get what they want.

They may put on fake charisma to win people over, lie their way into your heart, or use their power to intimidate others into giving them what they want.

Honestly, Do Narcissists Know They Are Narcissists?

Types of Narcissistic Supply

Narcissistic supply can come in these forms:

  • Praise: Praise is a form of positive attention that is typically expressed through compliments and acknowledgment of one’s accomplishments. Narcissists love to be praised. They actively seek out praise from others or brag about their achievements to secure it.
  • Adulation:  Adulation is more intense and worshipful than praise, and is often expressed through flattery, compliments, and fawning behavior. Narcissists also crave adulation and admiration from others. They may want to be seen as special or unique, and they may seek out people who will tell them how great they are.
  • Validation: Narcissists need to feel validated by others. They may seek out people who will agree with them or who will support their opinions.
  • Power: Narcissists often seek power and control over others. They may want to be in positions of authority or they may want to be able to manipulate others.
  • Attention: Narcissists need constant attention from others. They may be very talkative or they may seek out people who will give them their undivided attention.

How Does Narcissistic Supply Work

A narcissist feels empty, worthless, and insignificant without their narcissistic supply.

There are two main ways that narcissistic supply works:

  • Positive supply: The most common form of narcissistic supply. It comes from people who admire, praise, and validate the narcissist. This can include family members, friends, lovers, colleagues, or even strangers.
  • Negative supply: This is less common, but it can be just as powerful as positive supply. It comes from people who criticize, belittle, or otherwise put the narcissist down. This can be a way for the narcissist to feel superior to others or to get attention.

Narcissists are constantly seeking out narcissistic supply. When you provide them with their supply, you’re feeding the narcissist’s ego.

You may not even realize that you are doing it, but every time you praise them, admire them, or give them attention, you are filling them with the supply they need.

You’re giving them the attention they crave and thrive upon.

How Do Narcissists Secure Their Supply

Narcissists may use these tactics to get their supply:

  1. Grandiosity: Narcissists often boast about their accomplishments or exaggerate their abilities. This is a way of trying to impress others and get them to give them the attention they crave.
  2. Manipulation: Narcissists are very good at manipulating others. They may use guilt, pity, or other tactics to get people to do what they want. This is a way of getting the attention and validation they need.
  3. Gaslighting: Narcissists often gaslight their victims. This means making them doubt their own thoughts, feelings, and perceptions. This is a way of controlling the victim and making them more dependent on the narcissist.
  4. Entitlement: Narcissists often feel entitled to special treatment. They may demand that others give them their attention, praise, or obedience. This is a way of asserting their superiority and getting the attention they crave.
  5. Jealousy: Narcissists are often jealous of others who they perceive as being more successful or accomplished than they are. They may try to sabotage the success of others or make them feel inferior. This is a way of feeling superior to others and getting the attention they crave.
  6. Triangulation: Narcissists often triangulate relationships. This means that they will pit two people against each other in order to get the attention they crave. They may spread rumors or gossip about one person to the other, or they may play the victim and make one person feel sorry for them. This is a way of controlling the people around them and getting the attention they crave.
  7. Playing the victim: Narcissists are often very good at playing the victim. They may make themselves out to be the injured party in a situation, even if they are the ones who are responsible for the problem. This is a way of getting sympathy and attention from others.
  8. Enmeshment: Narcissists often try to enmesh themselves with others. This means that they will try to control the lives of other people and make them dependent on them. They may do this by isolating the person from their friends and family, or by making them feel like they need the narcissist to survive. This is a way of getting the attention and control they crave.

Are Narcissists Addicted To Narcissistic Supply

Yes, narcissists are often addicted to narcissistic supply. They are abnormally drawn toward the attention and validation they receive from others. They crave it like a drug and may use social media, dating apps, or other online platforms to seek out new sources of supply.

Narcissists have a fragile sense of self-worth, and they need constant attention, admiration, and validation from others in order to feel important and good about themselves.

Narcissists will go to great lengths to get their dose of narcissistic supply. They will use their power and control to manipulate those around them into providing the attention and admiration they need.

They may use intimidation, coercion, or emotional blackmail to get what they want. They may also use flattery, charm, or seduction to win people over.

Narcissists are skilled at manipulating others to get what they want. They may use gaslighting, projection, or blame-shifting to avoid taking responsibility for their actions.

They may also use triangulation, where they pit people against each other to create drama and chaos.

How To Cut Off The Narcissistic Supply

Cutting off the narcissistic supply can be a challenging but necessary step towards healing and moving forward.

Here are some ways to cut off their supply:

Setting Strict Boundaries

Setting boundaries is an essential first step in cutting off narcissistic supply. It involves being clear about what you will and will not tolerate from the narcissist.

This may include saying no to requests for your time, attention, or resources. It may also involve setting limits on how much you are willing to engage with the narcissist.

Going No Contact

Going no contact is the most effective way to cut off the narcissistic supply.

This involves cutting off all contact with the narcissist, including phone calls, texts, emails, and social media. It may also involve avoiding places where the narcissist is likely to be.

Going no contact is not always easy, but it is necessary to break free from the narcissist’s control.

Preparing For The Aftermath

Setting boundaries and going no contact are effective ways to cut off supply, but you have to be prepared for the aftermath.

Cutting off a narcissist’s supply can lead to a narcissistic collapse.

This can result in a range of reactions, including anger, rage, and even violence. You have to be prepared for the aftermath and take steps to protect yourself.

This may involve building your courage, seeking support from friends and family, or reaching out to a therapist. It may also involve taking legal action if necessary.

You have the power to take control of your life and break free from the narcissist’s grip.

What Happens When You Cut Off Narcissistic Supply

Supply Withdrawal: Impact On The Victim

If you’ve been with a narcissist for some time, you may realize that the attention and admiration you once received from them were not genuine.

They were some forms of motivation that they fed you so that you reciprocated by giving them their narcissistic supply.

When you cut off this supply, you can expect to experience a range of emotional tolls, damaging effects on self-esteem, and a cycle of abuse.

1. The Emotional Toll

Cutting off narcissistic supply can be emotionally draining. You may feel a sense of loss, grief, and confusion. You may also experience anxiety, depression, and PTSD-like symptoms. This is because narcissistic abuse is a form of trauma that can leave lasting emotional scars.

2. Damaging Effects on Self-Esteem

Narcissistic supply is often used to boost the narcissist’s self-esteem at the expense of the victim’s. When you cut off this supply, you may find that your own self-esteem takes a hit. You may feel like you’re not good enough, unworthy of love, and powerless. This can lead to a cycle of negative self-talk and self-doubt that can be difficult to break.

3. The Cycle of Abuse

Cutting off narcissistic supply can also trigger the narcissist’s rage and abuse. They may try to regain control over you by using tactics such as gaslighting, manipulation, and even physical violence. This can lead to a cycle of abuse where the victim is constantly walking on eggshells, trying to avoid triggering the narcissist’s anger.

Supply Withdrawal: Impact On The Narcissist

When you cut off the narcissistic supply, you’re essentially taking away the narcissist’s source of validation and self-worth.

They may react in these ways:

1. Feel Afraid & Vulnerable

When you cut off their supply, the narcissist starts to feel exposed and vulnerable.

They fear that you may expose them to the world. This can make them build a new mask to hide their true selves by projecting a false self onto others.

This new artificial persona is often defined by an indifference toward your actions, your maligned reputation, and your habit of taking advantage of others.

2. Aggression and Retaliation

Narcissists often react to a loss of supply with aggression and retaliation, or even extreme violence.

They may spread rumors about you, or play the victim to gain sympathy from others.

They may also try to manipulate you into feeling sorry for them or into giving them more attention.

They may try to guilt-trip you into returning, or may seek out a new supply to fill the void.

3. Hoovering Attempts

The narcissist often tries to get you – their supply – back through hoovering attempts.

They could reach out to you through social media, send you messages or gifts, or even show up at your doorstep unannounced.

They may try to lure you back in with promises to change or by playing on your emotions.

Moving Forward After Cutting Off With The Narcissist

Cutting off narcissistic supply can be a difficult and painful process. It can leave you feeling lost, confused, and unsure of what to do next.

With time and effort, you can heal from the damage and move forward with your life.

Here are some steps you can take to help you regain your self-esteem, build emotional intelligence, and find joy again.

Regaining Self-Esteem

One of the first important things you should do after breaking off with a narcissist is to work on regaining your self-esteem.

Narcissists often try to tear down their victims’ self-esteem, leaving them feeling worthless and powerless. To rebuild your self-esteem, you can:

  • Practice self-care: Take care of yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally. This can include things like exercising, eating well, getting enough sleep, and engaging in activities that you enjoy.
  • Challenge your negative self-talk: Notice when you are being self-critical and challenge those thoughts. Ask yourself if they are really true and if there is evidence to support them.
  • Set boundaries: Establish clear boundaries with others and communicate them assertively. This can help you feel more in control and less vulnerable.

Building Emotional Intelligence

Another vital step in healing after cutting off with a narcissist is to work on building your emotional intelligence.

Narcissists often lack emotional intelligence, which can make it difficult for them to empathize with others and form healthy relationships. To build your emotional intelligence, you can:

  • Practice mindfulness: Pay attention to your thoughts and feelings without judgment. This can help you become more aware of your emotions and be better able to regulate them.
  • Practice empathy: Try to see things from other people’s perspectives and understand their feelings. This can help you form deeper and more meaningful relationships.
  • Practice effective communication: Learn how to freely and courageously communicate your emotions and needs effectively, and listen actively to others.

Finding Joy Again

After being in a relationship with a narcissist, it can be difficult to find joy in life again. However, you are not defined by your past experiences. To find joy again, you can:

  • Explore new hobbies and interests: Try new things that you’ve always wanted to do but never had the chance to. This can help you discover new passions and find joy in life again.
  • Connect with others: Build healthy relationships with people who support and uplift you. This can help you feel less isolated and more connected to the world around you.
  • Practice gratitude: Focus on the things in your life that you are grateful for. This can help you cultivate a positive mindset and find joy in the present moment.

Remember, healing after cutting off with a narcissist is a journey, not a destination. It takes time and effort, but with the right tools and support, you can heal and move forward with your life.


  1. How do narcissists react when their supply is cut off?

    When their supply is cut off, the narcissist may react with anger, desperation, violence and retaliation, hoovering and love-bombing attempts, and stalking. They may panic and increase their manipulative behaviors to regain control. They might also discard their current source of supply and seek validation elsewhere. They might go into depression or anxiety.

  2. Can a narcissist find new supply after being cut off?

    Yes, a narcissist can and often will seek out a new supply after being cut off. They may use tactics such as love-bombing, charm, or manipulation to win over a new supply.

  3. What are some signs that you’re being used as narcissistic supply?

    Some signs of being used as a narcissistic supply include constantly feeling drained or exhausted after interacting with the narcissist, feeling like you are walking on eggshells around them, and feeling like you are constantly giving but never receiving in the relationship.

  4. How does cutting off financial support affect a narcissist?

    Cutting off financial support can be a major blow to a narcissist’s ego, as it may make them feel less powerful or in control. They may react with anger or aggression, or they may seek out new supply to make up for the loss.

  5. What motivates a narcissist to seek out new supply?

    Narcissists are motivated by a need for validation, admiration, and attention. They may seek out new supply to boost their ego or to feel in control of a relationship. They may also use new supply as a way to fill the void left by a previous supply that has been cut off.

Final Words

Here are 3 key takeaways:

  • Narcissists rely on narcissistic supply to survive, so when that supply is taken away, they can become furious, dangerous, or vengeful.
  • Have a have a support system (friends, finances, house) ready. Let people know, especially the common friends, that you are breaking up with the narc.
  • Narcissists may get violent when you stop giving them narcissistic supply, so move away when you break up or stop communicating with them.

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Author Bio: Researched and reviewed by Dr. Sandip Roy. His expertise is in mental well-being, positive psychology, narcissism, and Stoic philosophy.

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