QUESTION: Like a bouncing ball, my narcissist boyfriend keeps coming back and constantly contacts me. I keep dumping him but he keeps coming back for more. He calls, emails, texts and even contacts me on Facebook until I take him back. I can’t resist him when he is his old charming self. I always take him back but then things get bad again and the cycle repeats itself. Why does he keep coming back? Why does he try so hard to contact me?
ANSWER: Narcissists are addicted to what is known as “Narcissistic Supply”. Attention (good OR bad), adulation, applause, fame, celebrity, notoriety – are all Narcissistic Supply. The people who supply these consistently, reliably, and predictably, are called “Narcissistic Supply Sources”.
Why should the narcissist look for another source of Supply if the current source of Supply is available and always accepts him back? Cultivating a new source of Narcissistic Supply is a VERY time consuming and energy-depleting affair. The narcissist always prefers the path of least resistance (reverting to old sources).
If a narcissist is deficient in Narcissistic Supply, he will seek it out from anyone he can get it from. If he comes to you after your relationship has ended, you must understand he is coming to you because he is not getting enough attention or validation from his current source of supply. This may sound harsh and may be hard to accept, but you need to understand that. He is not returning to you because he misses you or genuinely loves you (although he is apt to say that to you because he knows that is what most women want to hear). Remember, the only two feelings a narcissist experiences are fear and rage. Love is not a feeling a narcissist can experience. If he returns to you, it’s because he needs to be validated and nothing more.
Why do some narcissists return only to change their mind immediately after you commit or why do they return just to say something insulting or hurtful ? The reason for this is because he is only returning to get a “quick fix” for his addiction. Once you validate him by responding to him in any way- good or bad- he has his fix and will move on to the next best ‘high’.
Getting a reaction out of you is like a drug to him. He gets off on it and he needs it in order to feel alive. Without it, he feels dead inside. This is why he will come back even if it is just to insult you. If he knows he can’t get a positive reaction from you, he’s going to try to elicit a negative reaction. All he needs is a reaction-any reaction- from you to get his fix. He likes to know he still has some kind of effect on you. Furthermore, the old source has the advantage of having witnessed the narcissist’s past grandeur. Her much repeated ‘surrender’ and ‘yielding to his charm’ is the Narcissistic Supply he seeks. It is his victory, a ‘win’ in his game.
More generally, the narcissist sort of pushes the envelope, trying to determine and figure out how strong his potency is as an irresistible male and desirable mate. The more tortured the relationship – the sweeter the recurring “victory” (reconciliation). This is doubly true when the narcissist is in the throes of life crises such as loss of a job, divorce, serious illness, etc. He then tends to derive self esteem and a sense of self worth by proxy, by being associated with a successful woman.
Your narcissist keeps coming back, and remains fixated on you, because it is the easiest and quickest way to get a fix of Narcissistic Supply. And because you keep taking him back. Narcissists act (or refrain from acting) based solely on the availability of Narcissistic Supply (or lack thereof). If the narcissist keeps coming back – he does so because he is convinced that there is Narcissistic Supply to be obtained – or because he has yet to secure an alternative source of supply. Let him get his fix somewhere else. The only way to deal with a narcissist is to go “No Contact” and refuse to react to him.