The Narcissistic Cycle

At first you are put on a pedestal- the queen of his world, a goddess- no one could be more perfect- he can’t get enough of you. A short time passes and then all of a sudden you are being criticized, called worthless and the cause of all his trouble- and he dumps you. Only to return sometime later to beguile and charm you and win you back, telling you that you are perfect, etc. The cycle continues. Repeated over and over, for as long as you are willing to take it. The narcissistic cycle consists of the narcissist “over-valuing” his partner, unfailingly followed by a period of “de-valuing” his partner. One day you are the greatest person on earth to them, but when you don’t do or say something they wanted you to, or you ask something of them that they don’t want to do- they demean you and ignore you. You are no longer important to them.

Why do they DO this?

It’s all about “Narcissistic Supply”.  Narcissistic Supply, as defined by Wikipedia, “is a type of admiration, interpersonal support or sustenance drawn by an individual from his or her environment. The term is typically used in a negative sense, describing a pathological or excessive need for attention or admiration that does not take into account the feelings, opinions or preferences of other people.” Narcissists are akin to addicts and they require their “fix” of Narcissistic Supply and will engage in both positive and negative behaviors with their “sources” to obtain it. The quality and reliability of Narcissistic Supply are of paramount importance. The more the narcissist convinces himself that his sources are perfect, grand, comprehensive, authoritative, omniscient, omnipotent, beautiful, powerful, rich and so on – the better he feels. The narcissist has to idealize his Supply sources in order to value the Supply that he derives from them. This leads to over-valuation and results in the formation of an unrealistic picture of others. He puts his idealized sources on a metaphorical pedestal.

The fall is inevitable. Disillusionment and disappointment ensue. The slightest criticism, disagreement, differences of opinion – are interpreted by the narcissist as an all out assault against his very existence. The previous appraisal is sharply reversed. For example: the same people are judged stupid who were previously deemed to possess genius.

This is the devaluation part of the cycle – and it is very painful both to the narcissist and to the devalued individual. The narcissist mourns the loss of a promising source of Narcissistic Supply and the person who has been devalued mourns the loss of the narcissist.

But what is the mechanism BEHIND this cycle? What drives the narcissist to such extremes? The answer is that the over-valuation/devaluation mechanism is the most efficient mechanism available. To understand why, one needs to take stock of the narcissist’s energy, or, rather the lack of it.

The narcissist’s personality is a precariously balanced affair and it requires inordinate amounts of energy to maintain and to sustain it. So dependent on the environment for mental sustenance, the narcissist must maximize the use of the scarce resources at his disposal.

Not one iota of effort, time and emotion must be wasted lest the narcissist finds his emotional balance severely upset. The narcissist focuses his attention on the constant pursuit of the highest available emotional yields (“best” source of Narcissistic Supply). The source with the highest rating is, naturally, selected. It represents “the best value for the money”, the most cost/reward efficient proposition.

The narcissist immediately over-values and idealizes this source. It is the narcissistic equivalent of getting emotionally involved. The narcissist “bonds” with the new source. The narcissist feels attracted, interested, curious, reawakened. Healthier people recognize this phenomenon: it is called infatuation. He lavishes all his energies, capabilities, talents, charms and emotions on the newly selected source of Supply. This has a great effect on the intended source and on the narcissist. This also serves to maximize the narcissist’s returns in the short run.

Once the source of Supply is captured, preyed upon and depleted, the reverse process (of devaluation) sets in. The narcissist instantaneously (and abruptly) loses all interest in his former (and now useless or judged to be so) source of Narcissistic Supply. He dumps and discards it with no remorse or guilt.

He becomes bored, lazy, slow, devoid of energy, absolutely uninterested. He conserves his energies in preparation for the attack on, and the siege of, the next selected source of Supply.

Why Do They Return to the Old Source?

As stated, a narcissist will simply discard people when he becomes convinced
that they can no longer provide him with sufficient Narcissistic Supply. Suddenly
because of boredom, a disagreement, an act or a failure to act, the narcissist
swings from total idealization to complete devaluation.

He then disconnects from you (the source)immediately. He needs to preserve all of
his energy in order to obtain and secure new sources of Narcissistic Supply
and sees no need to spend any of his precious time on you, whom he
now considers useless. However, if he does not find a new significant source of Supply or he is not getting enough daily Supply in his environment, he will return to you as an already trained source and a secondary source of supply. He may repeat the cycle by using the same charm or other façade that he used to win you over the first time; he again idealizes you and you become a precious source of Supply. Until once more you are depleted as a source. If his charm does not work with you, he will engage in manipulative and cruel behavior in order to elicit negative attention from you. Remember- any attention works to fulfill his need for attention.

If you can truly get him out of your life-with no contact- he will eventually find a more willing victim. He will repeat this same cycle with his new source of Narcissistic Supply. It is inevitable. As difficult as it might be, be grateful this toxic man is out of your life.