What Happens When a Narcissist Loses a Primary Source


The narcissist pursues the Prime Aims . All of the appliances in the fuel matrix contribute to some extent, to the Prime Aims.  The various elements of the Prime Aims are of importance, but one element is of critical importance.

The most important aspect of the Prime Aims is fuel and control and I  have explained how we seek control and draw fuel from primary, secondary and tertiary sources.  This article focuses on the impact that the loss of the Primary Source (usually Intimate in nature) has on the issues of control and fuel.

The different sources of control and fuel vary in potency and are affected of course by the method of delivery of the fuel. The primary source remains our most important source of control and fuel since it is this person, usually the intimate partner, who we are with more than anybody else but also who has the greatest emotional reaction to what we say and do. They fulfil the Prime Aims to the greatest extent, hence why they became the Intimate Partner Primary Source. Therefore, this person provides us with the most fuel and of the most potent kind. The primary source is naturally the most important fuel provider which is why we seduce this person with such dedication, unleash such a terrible devaluation and keep on hoovering following escape or discard. We make such an investment in you as the primary source that we regard it as our right to keep drawing fuel from you, whether that is positive or negative, whether it is now, next week or in ten years’ time.

The secondary sources are those which contribute good fuel and are invariably those who are part of our façade. Our lieutenants and the coterie are drawn from the secondary sources – friends, family and colleagues – who we interact with frequently but not to the same extent as we do with the primary source. Nor do the secondary sources give out the same heightened fuel as the primary source. The secondary sources serve an excellent function as part of the façade and the maintenance of this façade is important, therefore we prefer to keep the same people in at and keep adding to it. Secondary sources enjoy lengthy golden periods with us. This is because our call on them is intermittent and therefore we are far less likely to regard their fuel as stale. Moreover, we can have many secondary sources but we only ever have one primary source. Thus if a certain secondary source is perhaps not admiring us as much (but they are not criticising us and are still providing some fuel) it does not merit a devaluation.

They remain loyal, they remain part of the façade and we will just switch to another secondary source to increase the fuel. There is no need to devalue or ditch the initial secondary source. Thus you may see our kind have a friend who is “flavour of the month” because their fuel is better than other secondary sources and then the fuel dips in quality but it is not a concern as we can add another secondary source or switch to another who perhaps we have not seen for a couple of months. This is advantageous as it means our energy can be saved for devaluing the primary source whilst keeping a range of functioning secondary sources on hand and the façade intact.

The secondary sources very rarely stop providing fuel. They have no need to. A primary source may do so owing to the descent into ill health caused by the devaluation or learning how to tackle our kind as a response to the abuse. The secondary source, nearly always treated to an elongated  golden period, has no need to adopt a stance of not providing fuel.

A secondary source may however criticise us and if that is the case they may be subjected to devaluation but usually they are excluded from the coterie and replaced easily enough. They will be smeared and made to feel like an outsider, with the narcissist using the façade and other secondary sources to achieve this aim. We like to create our cliques and if anybody threatens our supremacy or delivers a criticism who is a secondary source they will be ejected from the group.

The occasion for devaluation of the secondary source is rare. It only happens in two instances. Firstly, the source has criticised the narcissist (this criticism might come through something said to the narcissist or something done, for example through exposing the narcissist’s behaviour to others)  and thus fury is ignited and the narcissist decides this person must be made an example of, before being discarded, in order to show the rest of the coterie who is in charge.

Secondly, in an even rarer instance it may happen when the narcissist has no primary source. If there is an absence of the primary source for a period of time, say a number of weeks, the narcissist’s fuel levels will have been tested. He will have sought to seduce and embed a new replacement primary source and most times the narcissist in such a situation is able to do so with success. However, let us assume this has not happened. The narcissist turns to his secondary and tertiary sources (more on tertiary in a moment) and relies more than usual on them to provide him with fuel during the absence of the primary source.

At first there is no problem, the secondary sources provide positive fuel which is sustaining the narcissist, but if he has only a few secondary sources, then it will not be long before his fuel demands outstrip the positive fuel they can give. The lesser quality of their fuel (compared to the primary source) is being exposed by the absence of the primary source. It is also because greater demand is being placed on them. Ultimately, the primary source will always go further for the narcissist than anybody else and they are also far more proximate.

No matter how seductive if the secondary source has to deal with his own family, his work and so on, he may not be available to provide fuel. If this keeps happening, combined with the increased demand and the lack of a primary source the strain on positive secondary sources will start to tell. This means the narcissist will either have to add new secondary sources and/or devalue the secondary sources to shift to negative fuel so he is sustained. This will work for a period of time with the confused inner circle friend who is a secondary source trying to work out why their supposed best friend is ignoring them and then trying to patch up the relationship. A secondary source however will not sustain devaluation as long as a primary source and may even infect other secondary sources by pointing out how they are being treated. The narcissist is already suffering reduced fuel levels and the supremacy of his façade is being challenged. This increases the demands on him.

The tertiary sources provide the least fuel and generally they are also treated to lengthy golden periods – for example the lady who works in the petrol station or the postman – since they are only extracted from on an intermittent basis. Tertiary sources can also be used straight away for negative fuel, for example, upbraiding a waiter or shouting down a shop assistant. We do not regard them as necessary to the maintenance of the façade, their negative fuel provides a useful boost and such high-handed behaviour may impress a primary (or secondary source) and draw positive fuel from them where appropriate.

If there is no primary source for a period of time, the reliance on tertiary sources increases. There will be increased activity to use technology to draw these people to the narcissist – such as on dating sites, chat rooms or through social media, but if the reliance is frequent and sustained the quality of the fuel will diminish quickly and those who have been attached to the narcissist in this way will be discarded and replaced with new remote tertiary sources promptly. There will be a high turnover. At the same time, the narcissist is likely to lash out at physically proximate sources more and more as the fuel level dips. This happens for two reasons. Firstly, he needs the fuel more than ever from tertiary sources and negative fuel is better than positive. Secondly, he will be furious at being placed in this position (through having no primary source but he has not got one to lash out at) so tertiary sources bear the brunt of this rage.

A narcissist without a primary source will eventually alienate secondary sources and in certain environments – say a small town – will struggle to replace them as people become wise to what he is. He may lack the energy to keep up the turnover of remote tertiary sources and spends his time lashing out at those which are physically proximate. At this point the narcissist faces losing the façade (since so many people know about his behaviour) in order to keep drawing fuel. It is now that he has three choices: –

  1. Secure a new primary source immediately;
  2. Move his environment so he can seek out fresh secondary sources and tertiary sources and rebuild his façade; or
  3. Sink into depression and inactivity as his fuel levels plummet.

The narcissist becomes a fading star. Once brilliant, magnificent and illuminating, his loss of the primary source and inability to find another means that the alluring shine is fading as a black hole awaits. Thus you can see just how paramount the primary source is to the existence of our kind and why we make such an effort to secure them, replace them and hoover them back again.

To understand in greater detail how the vapours alterations in the fuel matrix impact on the narcissist obtain Understanding Changes To The Fuel Matrix

11 thoughts on “What Happens When a Narcissist Loses a Primary Source

  1. Carrie says:

    I was my husband’s primary source. We were together for 6 years. I finally had a name to this destructive behavior. He didn’t do the love bombing in the beginning or move the relationship to quickly. I did have red flags very early on. Always about me cheating or messing with other men. And what I wore. He still had contact with his ex girlfriend and I think they cut it off eventually. Long story short. We got into our first house. That’s when thw physical abuse started. He had to control everything. I found spycams in the bedroom. He put a small tracker in my wallet. We were married at this point. He ended up cheating on me 3 months after we got married. Ex girlfriend a different one. She reached out to me on FB. No clue how she found me. He denied he slept with her. He said he was going out of town. A retraining order showed up at our 2nd house in 2019 from am ex girlfriend. He denied it and why on earth would a woman go through this for no reason???? Didn’t add up. He bought a new house behind my back in 2020. He never financially took care of me he said it wasn’t his job to take care of me. I lost my job due to covid. He loved bombed me when I packed my shir up and was done. Thw only time he love bombs me. He says and does the same thing every time I leave and teach my breaking point. He manipulates, gaslighys me and distorts my reality. I felt like I was going crazy. He accused me of cheating almost on the daily. Usually during the week. He would even show up at my work. I had to explain myself with every move I made. He controlled what I wore and at times I couldn’t leave the house with my hair down. I had to tell him my day to day activities. Everything was a double standard. The accusations of cheating got unbearable!!!!!! I had enough and I’ve been no contact for 5 months and divorcing him. He degraded me. Made me feel Like no matter what I did it wasn’t good enough. Not only did I take care of my two kids. I ran my own business. Took care of the house all by myself with no help!!!!! I never did it good enough!!!!! I found a tracker on my car recently it was there from before. I think he’s a sociopath??? He has lobs bombed me, same old stuff. He even pretended to be someone else and wrote me on fb on a fake account. He has made new emails and emailed me how this is all.his fault. This is just some of it!! And now he’s playing the victim. This is some real trauma that I will deal with I think for a long time….. your info has really been eye-opening. Thank you.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      You are welcome.

  2. Anm says:

    What is your theory on this… I have heard a read a few times that narcisisst DO need narcissistic injury in order for them to have a chance of “behaving” normally again. They have to lose really big in order for this to happen, like losing in court, being ordered a prison sentence, etc. I have never seen this myself. I do know one lady who’s husband is a narcissist, he kidnapped the kids, and was sentenced to prison. The judge was going to order the narcisisst supervised visits for the kids, but she demanded joint custody because she didnt want to hurt the children. She claims her ex DID get better after prison to the point that he could coparent. But I really dont know if this.is possible with the sociopathic kind. I dont know.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      No, that is entirely incorrect and is based on what people hope can happen, rather than what will actually happen. Narcissism is a hermetically sealed self-defence mechanism. Being wounded (what you refer to as the clumsy term of narcissistic injury) does not cause any chance of behaving “normally” again (query the use of “again”, the narcissist was not behaving normally to begin with (at least from the majority perspective). Wounding results in the assertion of control as per The 3 Assertions of Control. Sustained wounding will result in the assertion of control as explained in The 3 Assertions of Control and Fury, it will not ever cause a permanent “correction” in the behaviour of the narcissist.

  3. December Infinity says:

    Interesting points being made here. I was the primary source and the one who got the worst treatment for a very long time. After all the chaos and drama with him which was only getting worse, I was angry and fed up with being used. I figured he had a few other ones on the go in a town 5 hours away (which he lied about, saying they were ‘friends’) given all his supposed ‘work’ trips … not sure how he got paid for those trips as he never brought back money to help with expenses.

    So the anger was building and then I erupted. I got the chance to finally say a few things to him that had built up over 4 years since I was NEVER allowed to communicate. I told him I was fed up with all the drama and chaos and perhaps a break was required, after which he thought he would get to come back. He went 5 hours away (go figure) to supposedly work and he basically stopped talking to me. Prior to his leaving he wrote me a lame note stating he was sorry he was under stress and that was his reason for treating me badly and disrespecting me. Obviously total BS. Then I came to my senses and realized that it had to end. I ended it by text message – I tried to communicate nicely and explain things but of course he blew up and called me and texted saying I was stupid and I don’t know what I am doing. I held my ground and that was it. What was hilarious is that when I said what I had to say and that I had spoken to a counsellor about what had been going on (with respect to the abuse that was financial and every other way as well) and that I needed time to think about things as they clearly weren’t going well, is what he said in the most monotone robotic voice ,,, “I am devastated”, to which I looked at him and said, “What do YOU have to be devastated about?!?”. He was about to lose a great deal from his time with me. As for me, I was fed up with financially supporting a no good POS and enduring his non stop tirades and he was living in my apartment (and destroying it and me).

    Clearly the narcissist in my case would have had to get something happening really quick with one of the other ones he was involved with 5 hours away as I had made it clear I wanted nothing more to do with him following the damages he had caused over the last 4 years and that there had never been any relationship to speak of. He was going to need a place to live and someone to leech off as he was in and out of jobs and trying to get government assistance. Plus with coronavirus putting every town/city on lockdown he would have to work extra hard to get people in his harem. I am sure he already burned his bridges with various people in the place where I reside. He will have to find other sources where he has relocated. Whether he is still there or not I have no idea and I don’t care. I have blocked his number and blocked him on social media.

  4. karmicoverload says:

    I think this has just answered a question I had sent via email. So this depression due to a lack of appropriate sources is what some people call “Narcissistic Collapse?”

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Yes, it is a consequence of a fuel crisis.

      1. karmicoverload says:

        I can’t fathom why, if he’s having a fuel crisis, he hasn’t attempted a hoover yet. Is he that low on energy?

        1. HG Tudor says:

          1. He may not be having a fuel crisis, but if he is
          2. His narcissism directs him away from hoovering you for a variety of reasons too detailed to address in a comment.
          3. He has access to other fuel sources and they are being hoovered.

  5. Eternity says:

    What a brilliant article! Losing an IPPS is devasting for the Narcissist. It actually looks like they do fall into depression by not eating and sleeping properly I find the Narcissist is looking for pity from secondary sources so they can feel sorry for him. HG when the Narcissist is look sympathy from other is that fuel for him?

  6. Beguiled says:

    “The narcissist becomes a fading star. Once brilliant, magnificent and illuminating, his loss of the primary source and inability to find another means that the alluring shine is fading as a black hole awaits.”

    Over the past few months, I have witnessed this with my NARC. His IPPS escaped and I was next in line, however, she took everyone down with her and he could never get me under control…although my addiction didn’t allow me to disengage, completely.

Vent Your Spleen! (Please see the Rules in Formal Info)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Next article

6 Smears About the Ex