It seems as if narcissists actually crave conflict. I have taken on several cases where my clients had been working for years and years trying to settle their divorce or custody case. I actually did a survey of members in my community and found that a huge percentage of people were dealing with narcissists for a long period of time. It was upwards of 85% who had dealt with narcissists for more than 18 months. Upwards of 46% of that 86% were trying to settle their case for more than 3 years. Although the narcissist will say that they want to settle the case, they will drag it on for as long as they can continue to get narcissistic supply from you. Narcissistic supply is what fuels all of their behavior- including their thirst for conflict. Narcissists get narcissistic supply from conflict for the following reasons.
Playing the Hero
One of the reasons why narcissists create conflict is so that they can play the hero. The narcissist would like to be the one that saves everything and everyone, even if they themselves created the conflict. In doing this, they can get validated and praised for their heroism and get the attention that they so desperately need as a form of narcissistic supply.
Playing the Victim
Similarly, they love conflict because it gives them the opportunity to play the victim. Another reason why they create conflict is so that they can play the victim. I once witnessed an individual intentionally say something to upset another person so that a third party could see the chaos and the aggressor could step into playing the victim. There’s no question that someone who creates conflict with one person so that they can become the victim in the eyes of others is a very sick individual. They crave conflict because they can derive narcissistic supply from playing the victim. While they can get supply from playing the hero, they can also gain a different form of supply from playing the victim.
Another reason the narcissist craves conflict is because they want something else that they can control. If a narcissist is feeling out of control, they might try to create conflict so that they can feel as if they are in control of something. I once had a client whose husband told my client that if their daughter (whom my client was in contact with) didn’t give him back his dog, he wouldn’t start mediation. This brought the entire process to a halt. Mind you, he had neglected this dog which is why his daughter was taking care of it. My client had nothing to do with the dog as their daughter was an adult who chose solely to speak to her mother. Yet the mediator came to our conference room and said, “Can’t you just get your daughter to give the dog back. We can’t even start the mediation. He won’t discuss any of the issues until he gets the dog.” It was all so insane. He’s creating drama solely so he could control aspects of a situation that otherwise made him feel out of control. It was never about the dog. It was solely about creating chaos for everyone else so that he could feel in control.
Narcissists are easily bored. They not only enjoy chaos and drama but might start drama solely because they are bored. They truly will stop at nothing to satisfy their own selfish needs.