A friend of mine is currently going through a messy, painful divorce and property settlement with his indubitably narcissistic wife, soon to be blessed ‘ex’. He doesn’t feel ‘blessed’ yet, but God willing, he will in time.
Last week, as I rallied in support of him with mutual friends, the question of whether or not his wife might already be scouting out his replacement (or potential replacements, plural), I noted that it’s inevitable she’s lining up her possibilities (potential victims), courting and grooming them, ready to take over before the current relationship has reached a definitive end. A dyed-in-the wool narcissist, you see, can’t live for even the briefest second without a satisfactory narcissistic supply. Narcissistic ‘supply’ is to a narc what insulin is to a diabetic – essential to life itself. In an emotional and psychological sense, narcissists are insatiable. There’s an empty space inside them that’s impossible to fill, and they’ll suck you dry before discarding you for the next ‘meal’.
Narcissists seem confident; full of their own self worth and appearing to possess, in spades, all the attributes that mark them as capable, independent and emotionally stable. Their steps seem surefooted. They never seem to doubt their own judgement. They inspire people and gather them like moths to the light.
And yet, in truth, their egos are infinitely fragile, built on melting ice and unstable scree slopes. Narcissists have no real depth, no true spirituality or convictions, no strength of character built on their experiences and achievements, no true sense of who they are or what they stand for. Instead, they fill these emotional and psychological voids with other people who are willing to prop them up, and with grandiose schemes that rarely have a basis in reality. They appear independent and yet are desperately, desperately dependent on others. Their inner life is a void that must be filled. And the best and most satisfying way to fill that void is to ensure a steady narcissistic supply.
If you happen to be chosen as that narcissistic supply, then what you really are is their victim. As one victim fades from view, another or others, must be recruited quickly. In the meantime, narcissists keep their original victim dangling, toing and froing, while they throw out the occasional ‘carrot’, torturing and tormenting, right up until they’ve snagged their next victim. During this time period, you’re in serious danger of being manipulated out of your house, your money, your job, your assets and your bank account. You’ll also likely lose friends and the confidence of family. Narcs know you’re still bound to them via a deep trauma bond, and that you’ll possibly do anything (still!) to keep them happy and perhaps, just perhaps, ‘win’ them back.
But you won’t win them back. They’ve already moved on in their minds and in their shrivelled hearts.
All they care about at this point is making the greatest use of you they can while they reel in their latest narcissistic supply. When that supply is well and truly hooked, they’ll cut you loose without a backward glance.
In the meantime? Watch your reputation being shredded, dragged through the gutter and spread about town like a dust storm from the west. You’ll hear things about yourself you couldn’t possibly have dreamed, and sadly, given the narcissist’s talent for pulling the wool over people’s eyes, many will believe the lives. Your reputation may well end up in tatters.
It sounds dire. It sounds frightening. But forewarned is forearmed.
When you’re eventually replaced, it will hurt. You’re going to ask yourself what it is about this new person that makes your former partner love them and not you. What is it you lack? Where are your deficits? What, man!…the hell is wrong with you! If you’re anything like me, you’ll spend endless hours inside your head, going over and over every conversation, every incident, every accusation and complaint made against you. You’ll be looking for answers as to why you were so brutally discarded.
You’ll believe that the reason has everything to do with you and your shortcomings and nothing to do with the image of perfection the narcissist has carefully constructed about themselves in your mind. But you’ll be wrong. The end of your relationship has everything to do with the emptiness, the callousness, the selfishness and the utter delusion of your narcissistic partner.
You can never fill them up the way they need to be filled. No-one can. Whoever they choose as their next narcissistic supply will find that out eventually too, when the honeymoon phase fades into the sunset, as it invariably will.