One of the most common questions we get asked by our community members is, “What exactly is narcissistic supply?”

The term “narcissistic supply” refers to the validation, admiration, reassurance, power, and control narcissists seek from others.

In this article, I will explain why narcissists need supply, how they get it, and give you 25 examples of narcissistic supply to help you better understand this topic.

Why Do Narcissists Need Narcissistic Supply?

Narcissists need narcissistic supply to construct a positive self-perception.

This is because narcissists have what researchers call fragile high self-esteem.

Those with fragile high self-esteem have unstable, uncertain, and unrealistically positive self-views dependent on external validation and self-deception.

This is really important information, so I will break it into two parts for you.

First, let’s talk about external validation. 

Simply put, external validation is the attention narcissists get from others. 

It’s the validation, admiration, and reassurance aspect of narcissistic supply.

Self-deception is the action or practice of allowing oneself to believe that a false or unvalidated feeling, idea, or situation is true.

Right now, you might wonder, “What are narcissists trying to convince themselves of?”

A person asking a question about narcissists.

Let me explain…

Despite their grandiose public persona, narcissists struggle with many painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions. 

Now, this can be hard to believe, especially if it is your first time learning about it.

But it is true. 

Deep down, narcissists feel unlovable, unwanted, inadequate, worthless, and weak.

However, unfortunately, they cannot process and overcome these painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions through healthy forms of regulation.

Learn More about This: How Are Narcissists Made? (Insights from Dr. Jolie Avena)

This is where self-deception comes into the picture.

To manage these thoughts, feelings, and emotions, narcissists use supply to suppress them to construct and maintain a positive self-perception.

This is self-deception. 

Narcissists use narcissistic supply to convince themselves of their unrealistically positive self-perception.

But the reality is that they struggle with feelings of being unlovable, unwanted, inadequate, worthless, and weak.

So, to wrap this section up, the reason narcissists need supply is because they have fragile high self-esteem. 

Those with fragile high self-esteem have unstable, uncertain, and unrealistically positive self-views dependent on external validation and self-deception.

Supply gives narcissists the external validation and self-deception they need to maintain their unrealistically positive self-views.

How Do Narcissists Get Narcissistic Supply?

Narcissists use manipulation tactics to get narcissistic supply.

I could spend all day writing about the different manipulation tactics narcissists use because there are literally over one hundred of them.

But four common ones are gaslighting, baiting, self-victimization, and love bombing.

So, let’s look at these tactics in action so you can better understand how narcissists use manipulation to get narcissistic supply.

1.) Gaslighting

This tactic is where the narcissist manipulates you into questioning your sanity or perception of reality. 

For example, imagine you and the narcissist in your life have agreed to meet you at a certain time and place.

It is time to meet up, but they are nowhere to be found.

You decide to confront them about this, but they insist they never agreed and suggest you must be confused or misremembering. 

A narcissist gaslighting someone to get narcissistic supply.

This is gaslighting.

Over time, this manipulation can make you question your memory and judgment, making you more dependent on the narcissist for “reality checks.” 

This dependence provides narcissists with the power and control aspects of supply.

2.) Baiting

This is when the narcissist deliberately acts in a way to elicit a reaction from you. 

For example, imagine the narcissist in your life deliberately making a passive-aggressive comment about something they know is a sensitive topic for you. 

When you react emotionally (e.g., crying), they may accuse you of being too sensitive, irrational, or overreacting.

If you didn’t know they were baiting you, this interaction could make you feel guilty or ashamed and give the narcissist a sense of superiority control (narcissistic supply).

Suggested Reading: What Is Narcissistic Baiting? (A Complete Guide)

3.) Self-Victimization

This is when the narcissist portrays themselves as the victim.

For example, imagine you try to address a legitimate concern about the narcissist’s behavior and they respond by accusing you of attacking them.

You try to explain that you aren’t attacking them, but they shut you down and accuse you of being ungrateful for all they do for you.

Because you don’t know they are manipulating you (self-victimization), you try to address your concerns one last time, but they shut you down again.


Well, by bringing up their unrelated struggles and hardships to divert attention from your concerns and elicit sympathy and support for themselves instead.

Again, because you don’t know you are being manipulated, you might give them the sympathy and support they seek.

But the second you do this, you are providing them with narcissistic supply because of the attention you are giving them.

4.) Love Bombing

This is when the narcissist showers you with affection, attention, and compliments to win your trust and affection. 

For example, imagine you’re in the early stages of a relationship, and the narcissist in your life is showering you with affection, compliments, gifts, and grand gestures.

They are doing this to make you feel special and valued. 

If you accept this love bombing (which many do because they aren’t aware they are being manipulated), their actions can create a sense of dependency on the narcissist.

What do I mean?

Well, you might start feeling dependent on them for validation and affirmation.

This makes it extremely difficult for you to recognize and address their manipulative behaviors later on, giving narcissists tremendous power and control over you (supply).

Suggested Reading: How to Protect Yourself Against Love Bombing (7 Steps)

25 Examples of Narcissistic Supply

1.) Receiving compliments. (Admiration, Validation)

2.) Being the center of attention at social events. (Admiration, Validation)

3.) Having a large social media following. (Admiration, Validation)

4.) Being sought after for advice or opinions. (Validation, Power)

5.) Having others express jealousy or envy. (Admiration, Validation)

6.) Being able to dominate conversations. (Power, Control)

7.) Receiving gifts or favors from others. (Admiration, Reassurance)

8.) Having others conform to their opinions or desires. (Control, Power)

9.) Being recognized as an expert or authority. (Validation, Power)

A man giving a narcissist supply.

10.) Having others express a desire to be like them. (Admiration, Validation)

11.) Being in a position of leadership or authority. (Power, Control)

12.) Receiving special treatment or privileges. (Admiration, Reassurance)

13.) Being able to manipulate others. (Power, Control)

14.) Having others express admiration or desire. (Admiration, Validation)

15.) Being able to belittle or criticize others. (Power, Control)

16.) Having a physically attractive partner. (Admiration, Validation)

17.) Receiving public recognition or awards. (Admiration, Validation)

18.) Having a successful career or business. (Admiration, Validation)

19.) Being associated with high-status individuals or groups. (Admiration, Validation)

20.) Having others express loyalty or devotion. (Reassurance, Admiration)

21.) Being able to control the emotions of others. (Power, Control)

22.) Having others seek their approval or validation. (Power, Reassurance)

23.) Being able to dictate the actions of others. (Control, Power)

24.) Having others express gratitude or indebtedness. (Reassurance, Admiration)

25.) Being able to provoke reactions in others. (Power, Control)

What Should You Take Away from This Article?

Narcissistic supply is the validation, admiration, reassurance, power, and control narcissists seek from others.

They need supply to construct and maintain a positive self-image (fragile high self-esteem) and use manipulation tactics to get it.

This article helped you grasp a better understanding of narcissistic supply. Thank you so much for reading it until the end!

About the Author

Hey, I’m Elijah.

I experienced narcissistic abuse for three years. 

I create these articles to help you understand and validate your experiences.

Thank you for reading, and remember, healing is possible even when it feels impossible.

If you’re ready to heal, visit The Institute of Healing from Narcissistic Abuse to get started.



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