Maria Yeager

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Narcissism and Gift-Giving

This is going to be a hard topic to write about because I struggled with it for so many years during the time in my life that I dealt with narcissists, and I don’t want to sound selfish. I was raised by my parents to always appreciate everything that was given to me, and I tried to do just that. However, at times, I found it very difficult to be truly thankful when receiving gifts from narcissists. Let me explain.

During holidays, I was asked by many people to let them know what I wanted as a gift. This happened most often at Christmas. My mom was wonderful when it came to this – she never, ever questioned my list. I tried to ask for things that I needed but weren’t that expensive – towels, wash cloths, dish rags, a pot, sheets for the bed, etc. She always bought the things on the list, and I was so thankful for that.

However, the narcissists that I dealt with were truly the worst gift-givers. I truly appreciate any gift that is given to me, but dealing with gift-giving with this group was a nightmare. One of them would ask for a list, and I would give one to her just like I did with my mom. She would look at the list and get a funny look on her face. Then she would say “I don’t want to get this kind of stuff. I want to get you something fun!” To try to keep the peace, I would tell her to just get me whatever she wanted, and that made her happy. There were times that she even gave the list back to me. The presents that I received from this person almost never went along with my tastes; regardless, I always thanked them and told them that I appreciated the gifts. Most of the time, the gifts would end up in a cabinet or a closet and would stay there for years. I ended up donating quite a few of these gifts to a thrift store.

Narcissists will give gifts that they want to give according to their own tastes. They don’t consider the recipient’s tastes because narcissists are the center of their own world.  According to Susan Krauss Whitbourne, PhD. in an article in Psychology today:

“To put it in psychological terms, the poorest gift-givers are likely to be the highest in the personality quality of narcissism, particularly the component of narcissism having to do with empathy.”

She goes on to say that in its extreme form, narcissists will go “off-list” which is exactly what happened in my case. Narcissists are out to please themselves – they don’t care if they please the recipient. Again, don’t get me wrong. I appreciate all gifts…but it can get difficult when gifts are given to feed a narcissist’s ego rather than just given out of love for the other person.

I look back now and feel like these narcissists were trying to change me into what they wanted me to be. Even the gifts that were given to me were things that they liked, not things that I liked. This ties into one of my previous blogs on the “false-self”. I unknowingly was being molded into someone that they wanted – they were not willing to accept me just as I am.  It has been a true blessing to be separated from this family as it has allowed me to progress to self-awareness. I have learned to love my true self, and I have found peace at last!

Lack of empathy is another distinctive feature of someone with narcissistic personality disorder, and that will be discussed in-depth in my next blog.

Happy Memorial Day, everyone!

 

Whitbourne, Susan K. (2015). The narcissist’s guide to gift-giving. Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201512/the-narcissist-s-guide-gift-giving

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2 Comments

  1. revengestar says:

    So sorry you have been through this. My malignant narcissist mother was the exact same. 90% of the gifts she gave me where either things she received and didn’t like or stuff that implied insult inside like ”i bought you the black leggings because black makes your butt look smaller”, this type of thing

  2. Hi, I know I’m commenting a long time after the original post, but I thought it was relevant to point out the other side of the coin – narcissists’ reactions to receiving (or not receiving) gifts.

    My mother spent an entire day sobbing in bed at my aunt’s place because she was upset that I had given a handmade quilt to my aunt and she felt that I should have given it to her instead. My aunt had been there for me in many ways that my mother had not, but the gift wasn’t even really a recognition of that – it was more a case of having made the quilt as a personal project that I had originally intended to keep for myself, when I did decide to gift it, it seemed more sensible to give it to someone who would use it than to someone who was likely to pack it away in a cupboard because it didn’t match her home decor. Not really understanding my mother’s narcissism back then, I genuinely had no idea that this choice would be interpreted as a personal slight.

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