How to starve the narcissist of supply

6 minute read

So you’re onto the narc, and the reality of your life under their control is finally confronting you. You know the damage they can cause, and you are realising just how deeply they have harmed you. Enough I hear you say! You’ve made the decision to begin reclaiming your freedom and joy – thank goodness and well done gorgeous one. Now you’re onto their game, you want to know how to starve the narcissist of supply.

This piece is going to get you ready to do just that by looking at the two sure fire methods that starve the narc of supply: 1) No Contact, and 2) Grey Rock.

First, we will check out what is supply for the narc, so that the method makes sense, and you are ready for any situation they throw at you because you will know precisely why they are doing it, and what they are trying to get from you.

Here we go gorgeous ones…

The narcissist’s greatest fear

As in all Narc Wise articles, we start out by looking at the cognitive processes to build the context for behaviours.

Let’s make this baffling disorder as simple as we can regarding the issue of ‘starving them’.

Those with diagnosable Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) inhabit a complex and constructed reality.

Pretty sure you are across the fact something wacky is happening, as you’ve lived it, and no doubt you have done a ton of reading to get you to the point where you want to know how to starve the narc of supply.

So, briefly, this is how they roll.

The markers of NPD cover a range of characteristics including grandiosity, omnipotence, and belief in their exclusive superiority over others. A sense of entitlement, absence of empathy, and arrogance, also indicators of the disorder, are the result of the belief-system that clings to the aforementioned ‘qualities’ (see NPD in the Narc Wise Glossary for the full DSM-V criteria).

The pathological narcissist leads a life where they have two selves. The false-self, and the real-self.

the narcissist's false self

These narcissistic characteristics belong to the false-self, whose job it is to protect the narc’s conscious awareness from their real-self.

It works like this: if the narcissist can sustain belief that they are indeed better than all others, more powerful etc., this then negates the possibility that the fragility and weakness of their real-selves is in any way valid.

To avoid the possibility of this, their survival hinges on convincing themselves that the ‘real-self’ does not exist. Which means that they must prove to themselves that those NPD characteristics that are their ‘false-selves’ are indeed, incontrovertible fact.

Through continuous denial of all that constitutes their real-selves, they stave off their very worst fears.

Nothing is more terrifying for the narc than glimpsing the truth of their real-self. It is at the core of their pathology.

Hence their entire existence revolves around ensuring, no matter what it takes, that this does not happen.

What is supply

And now, to supply.

Following on from the crux of the pathology…

The narcissist’s false-self cannot do its job solo.

Partly because, in a sense, the narc is constantly being chased by the awareness of their real-self coming to the surface.

This means that for the narcissist to survive, they necessitate external corroborating evidence of their specialness, power, superiority etc. And this gorgeous one, is supply.

You will need to really appreciate these next points, they are critical to understanding the ‘why’ of what starves the narc.

Supply is not limited to positive feedback like praise, adoration, subservience etc. These types of messages are fairly easily understood within the context of their disordered belief system.

What is less immediately apparent, is that negative supply is just as valuable, and explains many of the pathological narcissist’s seemingly inexplicable sadistic behaviours.

Negative supply is typically the product of any action taken to trigger you. Specifically, your emotional reaction.

The appeal for the narc in this scenario, is that you are confirming their beliefs around omnipotence (a.k.a. power and control), therefore still validating that disordered belief system of theirs.

And this is where your job comes in. To deliver on demand the narcissist’s supply.

How to starve the narc of supply

With this background in mind, it becomes apparent a) what drives their hunger, b) what feeds their hunger, and consequently of interest to you right now, c) what starves that hunger.

Once you are no longer a tasty treat to the narc by ceasing to hand over positive AND negative supply, you are starving them of supply.

Enter the two methods consistently advocated for in the narcissistic abuse recovery community…

1.      No Contact

As intended by its title, this is the severing of all contact with the narcissist. It is the complete cessation of communication, both verbal and non-verbal. It means you don’t reach out, and you don’t respond to their attempts to hoover and bait you.

By taking this stand for yourself and removing the pathological narcissist’s access to you in all ways, they are no longer feeding off you. You are starving them of supply.

You can expect that if you are doing this without them having discarded you first, initially the hoovering and baiting efforts will be intense. DO NOT ENGAGE. Eventually, as with any addict, once they understand you no longer deliver supply on demand, they will begin sourcing it elsewhere.

Furthermore, this approach is the ideal way to go because by removing all ties, you give yourself the space and time to begin healing.

As your internal chemistry and cortisol levels return to a more balanced level, the fog of the abuse slowly clears. This supports being able to take full inventory of what has happened to you which fortifies your resolve to never again re-engage with the narc. Or any other narc. For more on this read How No Contact supports narcissistic abuse recovery.

For more on what to expect when you begin reclaiming your power by refusing to hand over supply, read What happens when the narcissist knows you’ve figured them out.

2.      Grey Rock

Dear gorgeous ones, you may find yourself in a situation where going No Contact is not possible at this point in time. For instance if you share parenting responsibilities with a narcissist.

Do not despair! There is a path for you.

Grey Rock is a method used when your ideal escape isn’t immediately doable. This approach also starves the narc by denying them narcissistic supply as defined above.

It is the cessation of sharing information about anything personal, such as what is happening for you, or what your thoughts and emotions are. As well as refraining from seeking information about the same from them.

It’s about no longer reacting when they seek to trigger you by deliberately hoovering or baiting you by targeting your vulnerabilities. Focus on neutral, non-emotive, brief communication (for more on this read Reacting vs. responding: Overcoming legacy of abuse and narcissism).

It is no more handing over positive or negative supply. In any form. This is what starves the narc.

This stuff is hard when still in contact because they have programmed you to say how high when they tell you to jump.

But it IS doable.

It just takes practice. Don’t give up when you stumble, just diligently pop yourself back on your path and practice detaching.

If you limit interaction this will help, perhaps by seeking support through intermediaries to undertake this role. If not, minimising contact in every way you can whilst detaching is the way to go.

how to starve the narcissist of supply: practice detaching

For more on this read Emotionally unhook yourself & starve the narcissist of supply: Here’s how.

A Narc Wise addendum

I wrote this article because of the demand for it. Now allow me an addendum, dearest gorgeous ones.

Originally, I wrote ‘Emotionally Unhook and Starve the Narc of Supply’ on this topic.

In that piece the focus is on the far more important matter at hand as far as I’m concerned: you.

You will find in it practical tools to work on your inner landscape to set yourself free. The inevitable outcome of this is that you no longer service the narc’s supply needs.

I urge you to place primary importance on you rather than ways of ‘starving the narc’ for the sake of this alone.

Because for as long as your focus remains on them, gorgeous one, YOU ARE CONTINUING TO FEED THEM SUPPLY!

Whether they know your focus is still on them or not (for instance if No Contact is used as a form of punishment and testing, rather than a space of healing), the psychological effect for you is the same.

You are still handing over your power. You remain in their thrall.

Starting from a place where the motivation is centred in your own happiness, rather than their unhappiness (or their happiness…), is what leads you to freedom. This is the only way out.

True words gorgeous ones.

For more tools & knowledge building pieces on this read:

As always, please share your thoughts, experiences, and insights on the issues in this article in the comments below. The more we share, the more we teach & help one another in reclaiming our freedom.

With gratitude,

Maggie x


14 thoughts

  1. I’m on day 4 of totally cutting all contact with my narcissist sister and my mother who ich I’ve come to realize she is narrcissistic too. My mom is 75 and we are in our early 50s. They live behind me since my sister left her husband 10 years ago. I almost let sister get me this evening and I caught myself engaging in her game. But I’ve blocked all ways of them contacting me. Im done being their victim and my sister is losing her mind. And I don’t care.

    1. Dear Bonita, gorgeous one, this is so massively brave and strong! Parting ways with family-of-origin is so very hard. I cannot imagine how this must be compounded by the proximity of living quarters. Yet you sound entirely within your power. Sure & 100% solid. Kudos to you dear lady. May all the wonderful things you’ve always yearned for come and firmly take up residence in your life now you’ve removed what can only have caused you so many years of heartbreak and pain. Light & love to you Bonita. You are an inspiration of mighty proportions! Maggie x

    2. Bonita, it’s been a few months since your comment & I do hope that you’ve been able to maintain healthy boundaries and have begun the healing process. After 40 + years I too came to the realization that I was a supply for my narcissistic Mother.

      While in the beginning it was a very slow process putting the pieces together as the vail slide off, once the mask started falling off there was no putting it back on.

      When things got really intense was when I began putting more distance in place & securing up all access points. All of my live my Mother had VIP access to my life and all my life she the person I trusted the most used things I trusted her with against me, competed with me, went behind my back & the listed goes on. I went cold turkey once I gained the clarity I needed to see things for how they were & just how much this toxic relationship derailed much of my life. Such a huge drain for so long, however I am stronger because of it and now teach & support others.

      Bravo to you! Brighter days ahead for you!

  2. maggie

    i’ve gone grey rock and will stick with it. she’s been quiet for a few weeks but my problem is that she’s screaming at the kids for minor infractions and i absolutely HATE IT. yes, the kids need to be taught, but not the way she’s doing it, yelling for hours and inserting a ton of unrelated topics just to prove how ‘bad’ the kid .

    i know her rage can and has been VERY damaging to young minds and i want to step in and protect the kids. in the past, i have stepped in to stop it, but backed off afraid of escalating the conflict… but this was BEFORE i knew that her condition was not “normal”.

    I know raging back and getting angry will give them supply, but surprisingly, a few times that i did (over the phone), she backed off and acted like a sick puppy. i’m unsure if this is the right tactic but i really want to protect the kids.

    what to do?

    1. Dear Danny, I agree with you that rage is damaging for young minds, and that they need to be protected. There will be many variables that will be relevant to navigating your situation in their best interests. Danny I think the best way to go is to find some support local to where you are with some specialists in this area. Try and find an appropriately qualified professional with expertise in family systems, abuse and/or NPD so you can get really tailored advice. This is really important stuff with your little ones involved. I know you are acutely aware of this, hence why seeking support from someone who can get across the details of all individuals impacted and the dynamics will be a really solid move. Not only for the advice, but also to give you the support you need through this. If you are unsure where to find such a professional, you could reach out to your national (or local) domestic violence hotline for a referral. Happy to source this for you if this helps – let me know where you are and will get it to you. Danny let me say, your children are so very blessed that you have their very best interests in mind and at heart. THIS is what will protect them. Light and love to you Danny. Maggie x

  3. “As your internal chemistry and cortisol levels return to a more balanced level, the fog of the abuse slowly clears.”

    I know what this ^ is like. I was no contact with my narcissister from May to December, 2018. Life became peaceful and happy again.

    Out of the blue she calls me drunk and crying (typical) and basically doing some heavy “Hoovering” and trying to reconcile and yet at the same time trying to tell me how “fake” I was and to never be fake to her again. I felt myself falling into my old patterns of trying to keep her happy and agree and listening to her nonsense for hours out of some sort of politeness. But the main purpose of her call was to find out if I still loved her. Hahahaha.

    And my internal chemistry and cortisol levels blipped a little this time but now I study her like a science project. 🙂

    1. Dear Anonymous, I’m so very sorry you know what was being spoken of with how the abuse translates chemically, physically. I’m sorry because this surely means you’ve been exposed to the ugliest bits that make up narcissistic abuse (not that any of it is pretty, of course, it is all hideous). Hurrah for you gorgeous one, in drawing the line you did, and refusing to continue dangling at the end of your narc’s line for entertainment. And how completely predictable, and frankly pathetic that they would deem to poke you once more, just in case there is more to be gained from agitating you. Foolish attempt it seems. Your programmed reaction did its thing, but only for a moment ’til you remembered who you are. Kudos gorgeous one. You are fierce. You are mighty. Keep on letting that science project froth and corrode without your sweet self’s involvement. You’ve got this. I know you know this. Light & love to you warrior person. Maggie x

  4. Very helpful
    On my way back to my freedom
    Thank you each one of you for being my biggest support system
    God bless you all

    1. Dear Anonymous, you’ve got this gorgeous one! God bless you right back. Seize that freedom you are striding towards & may joy infuse this new life you are creating. Buckets of light & love to you Anonymous. Maggie x

  5. I am married to a narcissist. We married a little over 2 years ago. He has 4 children by previous marriage and I have one from a previous marriage. He swept me off my feet, took me on trips and gave me anything. I didn’t ask for any of it. After about 7 months of marriage he became controlling, always thinking I was talking to someone. I noticed after a year of being with him, I was not seeing my friends or family like I use to. One night I remember telling him I was meeting my friend, she was pregnant at the time and her 3 year old son for dinner. He already had a tracker on my phone but made me call him when I got there and left. On Jan 31, 2019 he told me to move out because he was done with this marriage. My daughter had already moved out because she could not handle the tension in the home anymore. It has been 2 months almost with me living with my friend. He doesn’t care that I don’t have my own place. He’s become so angry. I feel he’s seeing someone. It has been a very hurtful process as I just started a new job. I also worked for my husband for two years. He is a general contractor and makes a lot of money and he thrives off the power of it. He told me his kids hate me, deserve better and that I was not the person I portrayed to be. He told m cooking, cleaning, going to the grocery store and doing laundry does not was up to being a wife or stepmother. Advice please. So much more….I would write a book if I don’t stop now.

    1. Dear Christina, sending you strength and courage as you work through all the hurt. I hope that now you have some space, you can focus on healing yourself. Take care of you gorgeous one. Maggie x

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