Narcissists need an endless amount of Narcissistic Supply. This can come in the form of just about anything that might feed a Narcissists ego. Supply can come in the form of “positive” things such as compliments, validation, respect, companionship; but, it can also come in the form of “negative” things such as devaluing, debasing, bullying, judging, passive-aggressiveness, etc. Narcissists are on an endless quest for Narcissistic Supply because they have no inner sense of value. They must use Narcissistic Supply to falsify value for themselves.
The whole purpose of their relationship with you is because you potentially provide at least one form of Narcissistic Supply for them. From the beginning of a Narcissistic Relationship and often until way after the ending, Narcissists will constantly be testing you to make sure that you are still a viable form of supply for them. Once a Narcissist feels like they might be losing supply from you, you become public enemy number one. They will start to test you, tirelessly, to ensure your position in their life. This will often look like a transition from taking positive supply from you to taking negative supply from you. Here are some of the most methods that Narcissists employ in order to test their victims’ viability for giving them narcissistic supply,
The Silent Treatment
One of the most common ways a narcissist, especially the covert types, will try to test you is through the silent treatment. They will simply stay silent and ignore you because they want to get a rise out of you. They want you to go back to them and grovel for their forgiveness and validation.
The narcissist might just have a tantrum – a full on meltdown. Although they do this in response to something that you might have said or done, they really just want to see how far they can push you. They want to see what your reaction will be. Will you leave? Will you stick around? Will you be there to support them? Will you use this against them?
During the discard phase, they might come back to you and love bomb you. This manipulation tactic is called hoovering. This is a means of keeping you under their hand of control.
I often see behavior like this happen during divorces. For example, a Narcissist might be acting heinous towards you, they might be gaslighting you, using the court system as a weapon against you; however, all of a sudden they send you an email or reach out wanting to amend the situation – asking you why things are happening the way they are. They do this in an effort to reel you back in and to see if they still have a hold on your emotions.
Another common way that a Narcissist will test their victims is through interrogation. For example, if you are on the phone with your Narcissist and it seems like conversation is wrapping up, a normal reaction is to try and hang up the phone. If you do this, a Narcissist might ask you why you want to hang up, why you want to stop the conversation with them, what could be more important than talking to them, why you don’t want to talk for longer. Your stepping away from even a simple conversation may be perceived as rejection. Your reaction to their interrogation will give them everything they need to know about your boundaries, or lack thereof, and your commitment to them. .
Another way Narcissists will test you is by threatening the relationship. During a conflict, a Narcissist might threaten to leave you if you do or don’t behave in a particular way. This is entirely done to control you, your behaviors, and your emotions. They want to see if you will fall in line, what lengths you will go to keep them in your life, and if you will chase after them. This is also done to prepare you for the discard stage of the relationship. If you decide to discard a Narcissist, or if they discard you, they will refer to each of the times you couldn’t do what was asked of you in order to maintain the relationship. They will use this history to place all of the blame on to you.
Playing the Victim
Narcissists also love to play the victim as a means of manipulating their victims. They will often say things like, “You don’t love me.” or “You don’t respect me” or “You never want to spend time with me.” They say these things to, again, gauge your reaction to these comments. Their hope is that you will put them and their needs first, provide the comfort and security that they are asking for, and to forget about everything else unrelated to them. They are making sure that the supply they are used to getting from you has not been depleted.