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Seeking Approval: The Submissive Masochist's Kryptonite

The endless plight of a submissive masochist, particularly on emotional or psychological levels... seeking approval from someone or something outside of ourselves. Any excuse for self-punishment or internally devaluing or degrading ourselves we likely jump at. Because we can't be a trustworthy enough source - right? Because we aren't good enough, don't know enough, or simply our opinions/thoughts/feelings don't count for as much in the grand scheme of the world order. At least that's how it feels at times... or most of the time... or all of the time. We all struggle to different degrees.

When we feel someone will offer us the approval we seek, praising us as the "good girl/boy" a part of us longs to be, fulfilling part of our masochistic supply, that invitation may feel nearly impossible to refuse. Upholding boundaries in the face of an external, more dominant source offering you approval and validation can be intoxicating. Whether that is a person, a system/organization, a status level, etc. The fundamentally deep-rooted submissive masochistic belief that "I’m nothing, I’m worthless, I deserve to suffer" is therefore temporarily alleviated by placing our power in a person or system outside of us, who we view as superior, telling us we are worthy, good or have gained their approval. It can be so fucking addictive.

If the other person in that dynamic happens to be a narcissist or have significant narcissistic tendencies, it becomes even more challenging to untangle ourselves from. Understand that by breaking from the energetic agreement and choosing a different source of your masochistic supply, you are cutting off their source of narcissistic supply, which they hate, though likely don’t have conscious awareness of. The narcissist needs you to be involved in the energetic exchange so you continue to be a source of their narcissistic supply, though according to Sam Vaknin, author of Malignant Self Love: Narcissism Revisited, they often have multiple sources and view any those sources as replaceable.

They don’t want to lose such a devoted one as a submissive masochist, and likely do not want you to have various sources of masochistic supply outside of them. This way you are reliant on them for something you need, yet they can pick and choose where they get their supply from, be it you or others. This allows them to remain in power and control of the dynamic. Ahh the sadistic dominant our inner masochist craves... And when we're not in good standing with our core identity (soul) beneath our masochistic tendencies, then rarely does gaining a feeling of approval or worth feel as sweet or as powerful as it does than when coming from a narcissist.

When we fail to offer ourselves the approval, validation and sense of self-worth we are crying out for, and look for it in unhealthy outside sources, we become easy targets for manipulation and being taken advantage of. Once that dynamic begins, we stay, and either convince ourselves it's not that bad... that it is bad but that we like it/don't mind it... or that it is bad and we wish we could leave but can't/won't just yet. Because while we don't like being their source of narcissistic supply, we subconsciously hate the idea of losing our source of masochistic supply as well.

That submissive masochistic streak in us wants to be degraded, belittled, humiliated or abandoned. Perhaps even abused, mistreated or scolded. Whether we consciously identify with that part of ourselves or not, and whether or not we feel that identity could ever serve our health or happiness, it feels like a very difficult cycle to break out of. We don't glamorize or idolize being the powerful one, being the strong or controlling one, we don't want to hurt anyone let alone someone we care about, so the entire concept of upholding firm boundaries, saying no, cutting off contact or potentially hurting them or having them think less of us, is a practically repulsive thought to that underdeveloped submissive masochist within.

However, healthy submissive masochism says “I love myself unconditionally and accept all of me, light and dark. I have my best interest at heart and I will maintain my self-respect, values and boundaries. I deserve to be loved by someone so much, that they accept all parts of me and compassionately either fulfill my masochistic supply, or support me doing so on my own, through mindfully and artificially crafted scenarios designed for me to experience whatever I'm longing for. That may be pain, dominance, aggression, fear, humiliation, surrender, even consensual non-consent, and therefor excitement, healing and release of pent-up anxiety or desire."

We can trust that our need for masochistic supply is a-okay when fulfilled properly, and we do not need to collapse into toxic or unhealthy sources, dynamic a narcissist being only one of them. When the right person does come along, it will be safe to trust that person wholeheartedly, the respectful, conscious and loving Dom in your life. Though it may take time and weeding through bad apples before we attract someone who our intuition tells us can truly meet us on such a deep level of vulnerability and openness. We'll know it's safe when they show consistently that they trust, respect, adore and love us unconditionally, and that their primary intention and motivation for fulfilling our masochistic supply is as an act of service and love. Rather than to manipulate or twist our devotion into placing their own needs above our safety or emotional well-being.

During the in-between or period of waiting, standing firm in our boundaries, allowing narcissists to disapprove of us, getting comfortable with the discomfort of relying on internal validation, and instead seeking that approval from our own higher-self AND inner sadist/dominant (that part of us is in every masochist even if we don't "identify" with it), are all vitally important skills to nurture. Leaning on creative outlets, such as books/movies, writing, drawing/painting, or straight-up daydreaming and playing around in your imagination can be far safer options in moments where we feel weak and desire to give into the magnetic pull of a narcissistic, unhealthy power source.