Supply and Demand

It’s Narcissist Friday!     


I just listened to an excellent message on how the Law is based on demand, while grace is based on supply. According to the Law, God demands our obedience and service. Under grace, God supplies everything that is expected of us.

It struck me that this idea of supply and demand is a core problem in narcissistic relationships. The narcissists demand, and we are supposed to supply. But that isn’t what they think is happening. They think they are the ones who are giving. That’s why they demand.

Think about it. How many times have you heard your narcissist say something like, “After all I have done”? (Never mind that he/she hasn’t done much of anything.) The narcissist sees most relationships as deals. He may only be blessing you with his presence, but you are supposed to keep your side of some kind of bargain.

Narcissists almost always believe they deserve our attention, praise, service, generosity. Somehow, they think they have provided something for us. If we fail to reciprocate, they become angry. Part of the nearly constant anger of the narcissist is this feeling that he/she deserves more and is being slighted.

This allows the narcissist to see what is yours as his. This allows her to take your position, your secrets, your kindness—to use for her own purposes. After all, look at what she has done for you. You owe the narcissist. This is the way the narcissist reasons.

Now, I know. You can’t see anything he/she has done for you. Or anything you think of has long ago been “paid back.” But remember that the narcissist doesn’t see us as individual people with value and needs. The narcissist only knows that he/she feels cheated—all the time. He might be angry with the boss, but you are supposed to supply his needs. She might be angry with her parents, but you are supposed to take care of her.

This is why you always lose. You give a gift and the narcissist thinks two things: “It’s about time!” and “What am I expected to do now?” A simple gracious “thank-you” seems to be foreign to a narcissist. Instead, the gift somehow fits into this business deal mentality. The narcissist always knows the cost of a gift. It will either be less than he/she deserves, or it will require something from him/her. The narcissist hates feeling like he is in debt, yet always believes others owe him. So, even when you give the supply he/she demands, you still lose.

There is no choice in a business deal. If you take something out of a business deal, you are required to put something in. Buying groceries means you spend money. Simple. Being with the narcissist means serving. Simple—to the narcissist. The formality and “law” of the deal help the narcissist feel better about himself. Anything he receives from others is only what is expected.

Frankly, I think this is a terrible way to live. Always angry. Always hurt. Always looking for more. Never satisfied. Never truly grateful. Yes, that’s what it’s like to be the narcissist.

Of course, we all want our contributions to be noticed and valued. It hurts when they are not considered worthy. But most of us don’t do things for the sake of return. We don’t think in terms of supply and demand. Life is not a business deal for us, nor are our relationships. We give because we love. The narcissist knows nothing of that.

Narcissist relationships are like one-sided agreements. Like the harsh and cruel god of the legalists, they demand and we must supply. Under grace, there is no demand, just need—and love supplies. Get your head around that!


Filed under grace, Narcissism

15 responses to “Supply and Demand

  1. I love the way you ended this post.

    When the narcissist in your life is your mother, the reasoning behind her endless demands and expectations is: “You owe me because I brought you into the world.” Always implied and often spoken, a “debt” you can never repay. Yet she gave her own mother nothing but grief. I never understood her reasoning on that.

  2. Melissa

    I look forward to these posts every Friday. This one is perfectly timed because I had a huge argument with my (narcissist) husband last night. I try to avoid arguments with him because I know he is unreasonable and can never see an opposing side, even if it’s based purely on facts. I read your post and, in my head, said “Yes. Exactly.” After almost every sentence. I struggle with hopelessness and depression when I face the reality of a forever after like this. Life is difficult to enjoy with a narcissist. I focus on God and my relationship with Him, studying the Bible so that I can be reminded of the Truth and His perfect love for me. But I struggle with the day to day.

    • wellplannedgalceo

      Melissa, Is there a reason you stay? It’s hard to convey tone when typing so please don’t read it in anyway but kindness and concern? I stayed until the kids were old enough to understand and I felt the Lord gave His approval for my decision to divorce — I had Biblical reasons for all 20 years, but waited on God. It proved the best decision, but I also know that I didn’t realize how destructive my life had spiraled into until the 18th year of marriage, that’s when I read a book about narcassism. (perhaps that was the kindness and grace of God, protecting me until the timing was right)

      • Seeing the Light

        wellplannedgalceo, you mentioned that you stayed until the kids were old enough to understand. If they were still minors, did he fight for custody? That’s always my concern.

  3. Anewanon

    Reading this makes me consider if I am the narcissist …. I mean i did demand that he be honest and and like a responsible adult and stop playing head games! But yet, if HE read this, he could use it to point the finger at me and say, “Ah ha, see? You’re the problem!”

    I mean really, police demand that you follow the law. Your college professor insists that you do the homework. Its only courteous to call home if you are going to be late and offer an explanation out of respect and love for your partner.

    But the true narc will read this article and be able to spin it all back on the target. I can hear the voices and feel the fingers pointing now!

    • In general, we call that projection. The narcissist accuses you of doing what he does. It is a far more powerful accusation if there is some truth in it. For you to demand of him does not make you a narcissist, but it is a narcissistic technique. Of course, he would recognize it and turn it against you. But you have to maintain the distinction. Even when you use narcissistic behaviors, your motivation is not the same as his, if he is a narcissist. Many abuse victims learn to abuse. Many victims of narcissism learn that narcissistic behavior is the only way to survive in that relationship. But it is not their first or only choice. While the victim would rather love and talk and compromise, the narcissist will choose to manipulate and demand.

      The police do not demand compliance to the law, they enforce compliance. The professor may try to demand homework, but the best he can do is some type of negative consequence for not doing it. There is a difference between that and the simple forceful demand of the narcissist. I often counsel victims to seek simple cause-and-effect negotiations that motivate the narcissist to change behavior. For example, if the narcissist says he will be home by six for dinner, then dinner is ready at six. You and the kids eat, and his meal is cold if he is late. If you have any power left in the relationship, you can enforce this. Of course, you will have to endure his whining and cursing. He may even attempt revenge actions. But that only reveals the truth about him. The relationship is already damaged, but not by you.

      I receive email correspondence often from narcissists who accuse their spouses of behavior I have described in a post. It doesn’t take much to see through their projections. But this is, as you say, an expected tactic. To pick apart something asserted about narcissists and apply it to their victims. Many here have experienced this. We do understand.

      This post was written to help victims understand what is happening in their relationships, not to diagnose narcissism. Nor is it an attempt to say that all demanding is wrong. And, by the way, the fingers are always pointing.

  4. So true! “He” said he gave so much to me,and I did see how hard he worked and thanked him for it. Yet after he’d moved out, when my mother died,he expected me to give him my inheritance from her. When the judge in the divorce he put forward gave me five years of alimony (after 37 years of marriage!!) and half of our resources, he got angry with me and tried twice more in court to have the support decreased. When, before the divorce, I took over a bottle of beer and a package of beef jerky because I knew he was going to the NASCAR races with is brother, he said,”Thanks, but I wish you hadn’t,”and I realized he thought it made him beholden to me somehow.What a warped sense of reality! These sick people don’t know what true love is. I’ve prayed for God to break through to him for the last nine years.maybe I should save my prayers for my children and myself and others who will honestly listen to God’s voice, yet I take seriously Jesus’ words to love my enemy (knowing my true enemy is Satan, Jezebel, Mammon and all those evil henchmen) and pray for those who spitefully use me. I want to honor God’s Word and honor Jesus. Justice belongs to Almighty God alone,and God’s Justice is what I wait for (though admittedly not always patiently)knowing God does have mercy and goodness for me.

  5. JandJ

    Thank you again for another post that sheds light on the world of a narcissist. There is no such thing as win-win in their mindset. When our son-in-law was out of work, we employed him to help us out with home repairs, dog-sitting etc, as a way to help them stay afloat without feling like they were receiving charity. We babysat our grandchildren regularly, yes eagerly and with great joy, so that they could have time together as a couple (something we had missed out on ourselves). We gave because we loved them.

    Yet in the act of alienating us (now almost 3 years) our son-in-law accused us of always taking from them, that he was sick and tired of having to give to us. We spent ages trying to figure this one out!

    Facts mean nothing. With his mindset, he believes his version of things, and has persuaded our daughter through his brain-washing that everything we did was manipulative. His beliefs are so fixed that I’m not sure you can call it lying, though he does plenty of that.

    Your posts continue to help us keep our heads above water with their insight and the knowledge that we are not alone and not crazy. Thank you.

  6. Another post that is spot on. Relationships with Narcissists, even marriages, are merely “arrangements” in which the N has set forth the terms of the deal. I learned this the day before my wedding (and my birthday) on which my now ex-husband demanded I sign a 28 page prenuptial agreement that stated that everything he made throughout the income was his (not marital property), everything he bought with everything he made was his (not marital property), every asset titled in his name was his, and he could do whatever he wanted with his assets without ever consulting me. He had convinced me to quit my position as an executive with a publishing house, so I had nowhere to go, and no income. So I went ahead and hoped for the best. Throughout the 21 year marriage, every asset (house, car, bank accounts, investment accounts, children’s college accounts) was titled in his name, we had no joint accounts whatsoever (not even a joint phone account – so I could never even get phone records). After he was fired for being abusive to his employees (and then claiming to others that he retired), he squandered millions on bad business deals, because he never asked for my advice. The one time he did, he introduced me to his partner, who was a crook (just like him). I told him he should run the other way, because he wasn’t honest. He ignored me, and it cost millions and he ended up in a lawsuit. They have such a superior view of themselves, they think they can’t fail.

  7. UnForsaken

    Watch out, because the N accuses you of doing all these things to them! There is no reason in their impossible demands, expectations, or lies….but somehow they may manage to fool even us by the smooth act of “responsibility” and believable looking behaviors. For awhile. But the act cannot be continuous. If someone smiles and complements and acts sweet and accommodating ( probably a reflection of Your behavior/heart ), but then there is a split second sneer behind the back, get as far away as you can!

    It can be especially hard when you really do owe them. They maneuver you into it easily by pretending generosity like a true friend or family member, and then have high expectations afterwards. They can use this to isolate you, possess you, and denigrate you. You’re cornered if you can’t pay it off, and that was the purpose. Never owe a Narc if you can help it, but if you do, Look Up. You are valuable beyond the things they see in you and pull apart. Although you may not see it now, there is an out, and it’s Up. I try to remember that all the things I owe my N are really from God anyway, and He has given it in Grace. Such freedom and relief! ❤

    Dave, I was able to get your book after all, and have been immensely blessed. It filled in several of the gaps about what I believe and kept trying to put into words for myself. Thank YOU!

  8. Penny

    This was so good, and also timely.

    I have been attending a church for a while, in which I am growing increasingly uncomfortable.
    I am constantly reminded that I am a sinner, not a saint. That I am not good enough. That I’m not doing enough.
    This morning’s message was basically demands: demand to serve, demands to join, demands to be engaged in “ministry”, demands, demands, demands. All external of course, none of it with grace. I felt beat up, inferior & rather worthless.

    Oh the sweetness of God’s grace!

    How beautiful the love that compels me to seek His face, not the approval of men.
    How satisfying that my “widow’s mite” is precious to Him.
    How freeing that He actually likes me.
    How gentle that He responds with joy to my small but faithful life.

    Thank you Dave.

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