When you love or fall in love with somebody, one does not tend to think or put an emphasis on that person’s negative qualities. As human beings, we generally tend to seek out the very best in people, especially those we are infatuated with. Therefore, not only do we become uninterested in the problematic behaviors of the person we express romantic feelings towards, but over time we become absolutely oblivious to them.
“Nice people don’t necessarily fall in love with nice people” – Jonathan Franzen, Freedom
Most of us feel an inclination to give people the benefit of the doubt, however, this might result in severely damaging consequences to the naive, enamored person.
The mentioned situation, nonetheless, could go south even quicker if the person of your affection is a narcissist.
What is a narcissist? Many might be already familiar with the term, but to sum it up “narcissism” is a diagnosable personality disorder (Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or NPD for short). It is classically characterized by unrealistically inflated egocentrism.
According to the Mayo Clinic research group, narcissism “is a mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of extreme confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.”
“I thought narcissism was about self-love till someone told me there is a flip side to it…It is unrequited self-love.” – Emily Levine
This abnormal display of self-adoration, the extreme sense of superiority, and the obsession with wealth and power are all indicative of deficient levels of self-confidence and general insecurity in oneself.
In actuality, in order to sustain the self-image mentioned above, the narcissist is dependant on a frequent and continual surge of “narcissistic supply“. Therefore, the ones in a relationship with a narcissist are seen as a means of fulfilling a narcissist’s selfish ‘needs’.
The Narcissistic Supply
So, what does the terminology behind “narcissistic supply” mean?
It is the ‘psychological addiction and dependency’ (see Preston Ni), in which a narcissist urges for a continuous display of admiration and constant validation of his higher worth, or in other words be put on a pedestal.
In order to “fill” that supply the narcissist intentionally devises plots in which they can frequently acquire and experience invaluable attention. Additionally, in order to soothe their fragile self-esteem without difficulty, narcissists intentionally seek after relationships with individuals who will fall victim to their initial charm and are vulnerable to manipulation.
The 6 Acts of Manipulation
Here are the 6 main plots narcissists typically like to act out in order to fill their narcissistic supply.
“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.” – Stephen Hawking
The expert on all personal or social situations. No-one could really possess a viewpoint even remotely as intellectually precise as the narcissist. That is common sense. Well, at least that is what they want to paint themselves to be. They have to constantly feel that they know better. As you can imagine, criticizing and correcting your views is part of the fun.
2. Exude dominance
“I came and saved the day! What would you have done without me?”
Professionally or personally, narcissists tend to target people who will subdue to their regular show of dominance, critiques, and harsh judgment. The narcissist feels the most satisfaction as a result of their control over an individual/individuals. However, there is also a different kind of pattern in which narcissists like to put themselves: the “savior”, or the irreplaceable figure in one’s life or decisions.
3. The Pedestal Seeker
Ah, the God complex.
Without their presence on the planet Earth, nothing could work as properly as it is now with their presence. Narcissists tend to like to be put on a pedestal because of their (fake) sense of superiority due to their professional or social status, or just because they can find a way to do so. All in all, they deceive themselves and others that they are working towards the ‘greater good’ or any other grand cause of choice.
4. Crossing boundaries unremorsefully
Due to their charm and sometimes even flawless eloquence, the narcissist typically is not one to respect personal boundaries. What’s more, they take pleasure in enacting their persuasion on their victim, in order to have his/her way. This type of people gets enjoyment out of having their judgment or belief change the course of a person’s decision, path, behavior, etc. They like to be perceived as the center and moving force of their victim’s world. Consequently, that is how they maintain their boosted sense of significance.
Me, me, me.
The narcissists LOVE to boast about their social status, high-paying job, income, and financial capabilities as a whole. Any achievement will do for them in order to be able to (artificially) inflate their ego. Nevertheless, they do so in order to plant seeds of envy in others. Feeding off recognition through this “humble-bragging” is considered a quite successful way to fill their narcissistic supply.
6. Consistently difficult
Oddly enough, being difficult, unhelpful or unwilling to cooperate is also a narcissistic manipulation tactic. It adds to that illusionary ‘powerful’ persona they spend the entirety of their time constructing. Hence, there is a certain form of power that comes with being disliked, dreaded and especially feared.
On the other hand, this “play” if you will, may come to life due to subconscious thoughts such as not deserving love and acceptance. Self-loathing is a common characteristic of a narcissist which adds on to the previous discussions of why they need to maintain their “superior” facade.
On a lighter note, a narcissist could potentially change his/her ways. However, a great dosage of self-awareness and willingness to walk the difficult and humbling path of self-discovery is necessary. Needless to say, help and progress are available to those seeking to change their toxic ways in relationships.