The Narcissist’s Behavior During the Holidays
1) Disappearing acts. It’s not uncommon for the narcissist to literally ghost you and go missing. Oftentimes, it’s without explanation. However, there are times when upon their return they offer a weak excuse for their disappearance and lack of communication. It’s very convenient for them to disappear over the holiday and return afterwards like nothing happened. They typically do not bear gifts or much of anything else upon their return.
2) They intentionally make the holiday hell for everyone. If the narcissist must participate in holiday festivities with the family against their wishes, then they are sure to lash out and make everyone pay for it. They will often display inappropriate anger and sulk throughout the holiday and create unnecessary arguments. No one is exempt from feeling their wrath.
3) Making a point to embarrass you in front of others. Similarly, to the last point, if the narcissist is asked to participate in holiday festivities or parties; it’s not uncommon for them to embarrass you out of nowhere. From sharing an unflattering story about a low point in your life, to being sexually inappropriate or belligerent with guests; there is no limit to their over-the-top behavior. Your biggest challenge may be maintaining any of your relationships after their open display of inappropriateness for which they are unapologetic about.
4) Using gifts to make statements about your worth. Another common tactic is statement gifts. A statement gift is given intentionally, and it is a gift that contains a low or high dollar value gift and is given specifically to attract attention while letting you know what they feel like you are worth. So a gift that is demeaning and worthless is one that is intentionally given to make the recipient feel small. It’s not uncommon for scapegoats to receive menial gifts or nothing at all. A new supply, golden child, or someone that the narcissist is trying to impress may on the other hand receive a high value or ostentatious gift which is used to garner good praise and attract positive attention. Gifts do not determine worth, however in the eyes of the narcissist they use it gifts as a way of expressing their thoughts or intentions.
5) Forcefully taking gifts back as a method of retaliation. Holidays can be a challenging time for the narcissist; therefore, they want to make it challenging for others as well. It’s not uncommon to experience mood swings with the narcissist, where they are incredibly giving, but in the next breath they become extremely angry and forcefully take the gift back that they got for you. When their anger gets the best of them, they act just like a child and try to punish you for whatever infraction they believe you committed by snatching your gift back and running out the door. Another tactic is to throw all of your gifts in the trash or to donate them elsewhere to show you that you don’t deserve these gifts.
6) Refusing to open your gifts or degrading your gifts. Another act of defiance of the narcissist to ruin the holidays is to refuse to open your gifts or degrading the gifts that you gave them. You take the time, energy, and effort to get a wonderful gift only for them to refuse to open the gift. Or perhaps they do open the gift, only to speak poorly about it or make fun of it in front of other people.
7) Refusing to participate in the holidays with you, only to be seen elsewhere having a great time. There are those narcissists that give you a sad story about the holidays being a challenging time for them. They state that they have some trauma around the holidays and are unable to participate and prefer instead to isolate themselves. And you offer them a sympathetic understanding only to be blindsided by finding out about them going to a party or some other gathering and having a great time. Their festivities may be displayed on social media or through talking with other friends. It becomes clear that they didn’t have challenges per se, but rather that they didn’t want to spend the holidays with you.
8) Not acknowledging you at all. An extension of silent treatment or the lack of a relationship, a narcissist may refuse to acknowledge you at all during the holidays. They treat you as though you do not exist in their world and therefore, they do not want to acknowledge you.
9) Stealing or selling gifts meant for others to support their addiction. When people are struggling with addiction, their priority is fueling their addiction. Feeding their own addiction comes before the welfare of others, which is narcissistic. Therefore, to support their addiction they will get the funds by any means necessary which means either taking holiday shopping money or stealing the gifts meant for the holidays.
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This blog was written by Dr. Natalie Jones, PsyD, LPCC. This blog is meant to be educational and not meant to diagnose anyone or to be used in place of therapy or treatment with a licensed mental health professional.
© 2021 Dr. Natalie Jones, PsyD, LPCC
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