73 thoughts on “Narcissists and Gift Giving

  • December 21, 2017 at 3:34 pm

    Many scapegoats of narcissistic and sociopathic parents receive nothing at all at Christmas, not a card, not a bobble, not even a word. The silence is supposed to make us feel guilty, you see. We are supposed to want them to give us things, and in order to get anything it might mean, and probably means groveling, crying at their expense, being willing to be scapegoated for any tiny little bead of a problem under their mattress (because they really do think they are princesses), accepting gaslighting, accepting twisted facts, accepting blame for the million things WE DID NOT DO, accepting any and any kind and amount of abuse. We are supposed to feel we don’t deserve parents because we are so bad for having an autonomous thought, for making a decision about OUR lives without THEIR input (like getting married to someone we love and who treats us with the dignity and respect that our parent never did).

    We learn that Christmas is a time of peace (and perhaps even forgetting we have a parent) because we aren’t being talked to, or guilted around the clock. Note: even a bobble would make us indebted to take parental abuse for the rest of our lives.

    • December 22, 2017 at 3:21 pm

      I strongly Identify with this ,I loved your honesty and I thought you made excellent point about how they manipulate us with money and gifts.I also think that they try to make it all our fault.I am not bitter,just laughing at the ridiculous ways that the sociopaths in our lives,actually believe that they are fooling us!!I find comfort in your viewpoint.Well said!

  • December 21, 2017 at 7:59 pm

    Oof, this describes my ex-husband to a T. He worked part-time and spent the rest of his time playing video games. I was a paralegal working 75 hours a week and bringing my work home, hoping to make something of myself so we could advance in life. For Christmas one year he bought me all video games. Granted, I do consider myself a “gamer” but not the ones he got me, and at that time he knew I not only didn’t have time, but I wanted to get out more and experience life, not sit around on the couch all day. One year for my birthday he took me clothes shopping. He dragged me to Aeropostale where he bought all his clothes. I walked out with $200 in sweat outfits, instead of real clothes I could look decent in. And for our five year anniversary he bought tickets to see Coheed and Cambria. HIS all-time favorite band. I knew a song or two, but did I want to spend my anniversary there? No. Did he care? Nope. It was all about what he wanted, and GOD FORBID I say be so ungrateful and rude as to suggest something we BOTH would enjoy.

    • December 22, 2017 at 3:24 pm

      I wanted you to know that you are not alone,crazy or selfish.I know that the sociopaths,and narcissitic personalities,would love to make us believe it is us.As we have discovered ,it Is all about them!This is a comfort bc it really is All their issues!Ironic!

    • October 11, 2019 at 10:45 am

      Sounds like my husband. He’s a health nut who makes green smoothies daily. Last week he got me a $200 vacuum blender for my birthday. A gift truly for himself. One Christmas he got me a men’s bike too high for me to touch the ground. When I pointed it out he said he’d keep that one and give me his old one. 🙁

  • December 21, 2017 at 10:53 pm

    The best gifts I receive are always copies of what he gets his side piece. Expensive panties, a Venetian mask, my favorite chocolate…. Otherwise he exclaims how much he hates the holidays and he never knows what to buy.

  • December 21, 2017 at 11:49 pm

    Ha. When i was a teenager my dad gave me a tennis racquet. I had NEVER played tennis, never cinsidered playing tennis, and didnt put the thing to use until i was about 30 years old and my sister in law wanted to play. Havent used it since. Apparently he thought i needed to play a sport and he pucked tennis- of course, common sense would have told him I loved to play softball, cross country ski, and ride bicycle- but nope, he thought I needed tennis.

    • December 22, 2017 at 10:35 am

      One year, with great fanfare, I received a beautifully wrapped, framed birth certificate (his) from my husband which he insisted I open in front of all my relatives present at our holiday celebration.
      No one knew what to say or do, I was mortified, and they never returned to my home.

  • December 22, 2017 at 7:57 am

    My mother always gave me some article of clothing–very expensive, not my style, and at least 3 sizes to big and in her own favorite color–red. I now do not own a single article of clothing in red. And I decorate my house in silver and blue at Christmas time–haha–I wonder why that is,

    Merry Christmas to all. Stay strong and happy!

    • December 22, 2017 at 1:57 pm

      I was always made to wear red for professional family photos and hated it. I don’t own one red item, clothing or otherwise, either.

      • September 23, 2018 at 12:12 pm

        My covert narcissist mother also loves red and forces the entire family to wear red for family photos, events, etc. I find it interesting that others have had the same experience. Red represents power, strength, anger, rage and malice.

    • November 14, 2018 at 4:01 pm

      My ex husband used to buy me expensive clothes in styles and colours that he knew I disliked – (shirt dresses, pencil skirts, frilly patterned shirts) on the basis that HE liked them, and he wanted me to dress in what pleased him (not what pleased me – Im an architect with a penchant for modern design, lived in pant suits, hate dresses) He’d then huff at regular intervals – “how come I never see you in that beautiful navy dress I bought you, you DO know how expensive it was?” He did the same with jewelry, invariably bought me antique items…then huffed about how ungrateful I was

    • October 15, 2019 at 2:04 am

      My Narc boyfriend and I met in June and have been dating since July of this year, 2019.
      He claims poverty, yet purchases more costly gifts for himself than for me. I must say though that he gave me the prayer beads off his wrist which are significant to me because we’re both spiritual practitioners. He gave me a beautiful jade Buddha on silk cord to wear around my neck too which means alot to me. The wierd part is that he’s always giving me useless, little trinkets that look like toys for a tiny, little child. He shows no tolerance when I express opposing opinions and often deliberately comes over to kiss me as soon as I start to speak – probably because he doesn’t actually care about my opinions and what I think.

      • October 18, 2019 at 3:58 am

        My ex would do that kissing while I was speaking bullshit too. It’s so incredibly fake and passive aggressive. I think my ex did it for the exact reasons you mentioned: he didn’t think too much of me. I’m sorry you have to deal with that. Much love to you.

  • December 22, 2017 at 9:18 am

    I, too, was technically an only child. However, my parents, both N’s, took in teenaged foster girls from the time I was quite young. Yup. They actually IMPORTED the Golden Child of the moment. Why? “So you would have someone to play with!” Um. Right. With a thirteen year age difference?!?

    The girls would come, be offered perks I never got, like, “What color would you like your room, honey?” or “Would you like to have a pet?” (I was repeatedly and forcefully castigated for ever applying the word “my” to the dog or cat that were “family” animals. She even trumped up an excuse and gave “my” cat away, blaming the why on me to this day.) They woul get settled into adoring their Savior, then my mother would head off to her full time legal job sticking my father and me with the mess of teens with major needs.

    My mother, as one counselor explained it to me, wanted to LOOK like she was saving the world but never get her hands dirty.

    At Christmas, she started a “tradition” of making gingerbread houses for the less fortunate. This was fun, actually, something I thought I loved growing up, but I did not realize that her “anonymous” house giving was actually just a way of perpetuating her rapacious need for adoration from the people involved. She got to look like she was trying to save the whole world, even martyring herself and her family for the cause. [insert violins]

    Christmas was a chaotic, confused MESS until, my husband and I called a halt well into our marriage. Most were spent with one or more family members, often my mother, sitting around feeling like death but putting on that damned brave face.

    And the gifts? Oh, gosh. I am so glad you posted this!

    Every Christmas, including the last one before we went No Contact, was chiefly comprised of me taking great joy and pleasure in tracking down exactly what would make each recipient the happiest and going to great lengths to make sure all was ready for Christmas morning. I made things, bought things, etc. over the course of montgs. Then…what I got in return?

    Well, to start, no one but me was ever ready, generally speaking. They were always running around trying to find whatever it was to wrap. One of the WORST years ever, as an adult, I wound up buying, stashing, and wrapping the presents for everyone but me. I was wrapping THEIR presents to EACH OTHER at 2am like a freaking elf! Were mine done? NOPE. Some were not even IN. I got a bunch of wrapped cutouts of what was not in yet and IOUs.

    My mother specialized in buying the crappy stuff the neighborhood school children sold for their annual fund drives — then giving it to me. That happened more years than I can recall. She would make stuff, sure, but it took me years to realize that most if it was stuff she was making anyway rather than what I would like the most. And woe to you if you did not love whatever it was beyond all reason! My father specialized in doing nothing until the last minute –and sometimes not even then, just being content to hitch a ride on whatever someone else had done.

    And all the while, the whole day was often a procession of visitors, many times old fosters or those who had been satellite rescues, all the people my mother had “saved” over the years. Thus, the perpetual smile of welcome, the pretending of happiness, and the slow acidic dying inside that I was never aware of, so disassociated was I.

    Thank you for posting this today. I had been feeling down about our lack of Christmas celebration anymore, but now sitting around in my robe watching Mel Brooks’ movies with my husband, dogs, and cat sounds pretty damned good by comparison!

    • December 22, 2017 at 1:56 pm

      My husband I don’t celebrate Christmas. His were all horrendous so it’s literally the ONLY day in the year when he’s NOT his usual happy self. And I don’t care about Christmas because my family never had a tree nor gave gifts on Christmas. I just enjoy Christmas carols and Handel’s Messiah and otherwise treat it like a normal day. Merry non-Christmasy Christmas to you, your husband and your fur babies from me, my husband and our fur babies!

    • December 26, 2019 at 1:53 am

      . Thanks for sharing. I am 67yrs and only found strength to go ‘no contact’ 14months ago – so this is 2nd Christmas. She is 88, living in independent apartment in care setting. She’s still at it – poisoning all my relatives with awful stuff about me – gaslighting, calling me a compulsive liar with a vivid imagination, a money grabber who spent 20yrs caring for her in order to get her money!…. the list goes on… all projection.. describing herself, not me. I found information about the Echo syndrome helpful as I seem to be the antithesis to the way she describes me. It’s hard that she has slowly, from childhood, manipulated me out of having good relationships with 3 of my 4 brothers. I am disinherited of course but the 3 hang on for the small amount of money. The last year has been tough but I have had to go no contact and it is getting easier. All the ‘gift giving’ you described I have known, I recall the actual delight in her eyes when I opened the awful ‘gifts’.
      She too was a foster parent… all because of her need for attention, praise, adoration. When I was 13 she stuck a promiscuous, disturbed 15yr old in my room with me. That’s when she first labelled me ‘jealous’ and she has never stopped. I have diaries recounting how, when I was 15yrs she went to work in summer hols and left me to cook lunch for 8 younger siblings and foster kids. Over her lifetime she has picked up a series of ‘surrogate’ daughters to adore her – young vulnerable women with children. She is so skilled at seeing their needs and meeting them. They become emotionally indebted to her. Fortunately her longest prodigy (30yrs) has recently begun to see how she was fooled and manipulated away from her own mother.
      Beware the elderly Narcissist. When dementia sets in it can get worse.

  • December 22, 2017 at 9:51 am

    Also, the “one for you and two for me” gift-giving narcissist. My ex can’t buy a gift (or anything at all) for someone else without purchasing two of what he wants first. Plus, before his birthday and before Christmas he has to buy himself something very extravagant in case his presents don’t satisfy him. Then, no matter what he unwraps it can’t possibly measure up to what he bought himself. So no one loves him as much as he loves himself.

  • December 22, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    My Godmother would always buy me what she liked, would wear, etc. I could never figure this out…now I have. She is extremely emotionally detached. I have recently come to realize that her and mt 100 year old grandmother are Narcs. They played a major role in my upbringing and never cared to accept me for who I was and always tried to mold me into someone I wasn’t. My education and degrees were never acknowledged and when they were, minimalized at best. Continual therapy throughout adulthood has helped and I also realize the link between being raised by Narcs and becoming codependent.

  • December 22, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    My dad was a Frasier-Scrooge-Briber hybrid. He didn’t want to spend much, and he would get what he thought we *should* want, and it was wrapped up in attached strings. I got a Monopoly game (which I detest, and he knew it), from Goodwill (so there were pieces missing). Two years in a row. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. My mom got the worst of it.

  • December 22, 2017 at 5:04 pm

    Wow ,I honestly thought I was going crazy for years my ex is a Frazier he would ask me what I wanted and I’d tell him and it would never be anything extravagant or ott and he would totally ignore what I asked for and buy me the most expensive thing he could find nothing like what I asked for or wanted . For my 30th I’d always wanted a party with my family and friends and I’d been telling him for years that’s all I wanted a lovely party , he totally ignored me and didn’t bother. And I’d always said I didn’t want an expensive engagement ring but my dream was to design my own , he decided to propose one day with a ring he had chosen and got made , it was not about the ring it was the fact he did it how he wanted he didn’t listen he just didn’t care, the thing is every time he did this for over a decade I would smile and act grateful but I could never understand why he did it and was hurt he ignored who I was , now I know he wanted it he wanted the gifts. I said to him once you don’t treat me like the person I am you treat me like a person you made up in your head, he said he fell in love with me at first sight , now I realise maybe he did and when my personality he’d made up didn’t match that’s why he was always so mad at me.

  • December 22, 2017 at 6:22 pm

    I’m not sure if this qualifies as narcissistic or not…but I have a relative who waits til the end of the gift-opening at our extended-family Christmas party, and then he trots out one last gift (something big and showy) for his favorite grandchild so that everyone notices what a wonderful thing Grandpa has done. Barf. The poor kid almost seems embarrassed by the showiness of it all.

  • December 23, 2017 at 8:29 pm

    I can totally relate, One year I gave him $200.00 and hen got me a used purse,2 beer glasses,all used gifts.

    • March 10, 2019 at 6:18 pm

      And I can relate too!! It was the early 90’s and I still smoked. I was dating a doctor for several months. For Christmas I recd three (gaily wrapped) boxes of the nicotine chewing gum (when it first came out you needed a prescription) samples drug reps had left at his office to hand out to patients. That was it.

  • December 25, 2017 at 11:09 pm

    The last excruciating Christmas I spent at golden child/narc sister’s house, I received a can of peanuts, a bag of dental floss picks, and a beer pong drinking game. I don’t drink, mind you. Get this, she has over 600 cheap nutcrackers in 3 rooms of her living area and you can hardly get in the doors. She has an annual nutcracker party and invites anyone to come, but you have to bring food to contribute. One year, she had an organ grinder in the living room in the middle of the wall to wall mayhem. There was an Elvis impersonator in the kitchen, too. Just too surreal for me. That was my last year to go to one of her nutcracker parties.
    My narc brother would always give me his old stuff and then go out and buy himself a new one. Now he puts his wife up to buying my gift and it’s always something she wants. He never acknowledges anything I send him. She does the thanking by text for him. Thank goodness they live 800 miles away and I only see them once a year at Thanksgiving.

    My narc ex husband once gave me a box with a rock wrapped with an advertisement. He said he was too busy to go shopping and for me to go pick out whatever I wanted that was printed on the advertisement. Good grief! These folks are insane!

  • December 25, 2017 at 11:09 pm

    The last excruciating Christmas I spent at golden child/narc sister’s house, I received a can of peanuts, a bag of dental floss picks, and a beer pong drinking game. I don’t drink, mind you. Get this, she has over 600 cheap nutcrackers in 3 rooms of her living area and you can hardly get in the doors. She has an annual nutcracker party and invites anyone to come, but you have to bring food to contribute. One year, she had an organ grinder in the living room in the middle of the wall to wall mayhem. There was an Elvis impersonator in the kitchen, too. Just too surreal for me. That was my last year to go to one of her nutcracker parties.
    My narc brother would always give me his old stuff and then go out and buy himself a new one. Now he puts his wife up to buying my gift and it’s always something she wants. He never acknowledges anything I send him. She does the thanking by text for him. Thank goodness they live 800 miles away and I only see them once a year at Thanksgiving.

    My narc ex husband once gave me a box with a rock wrapped with an advertisement. He said he was too busy to go shopping and for me to go pick out whatever I wanted that was printed on the advertisement. Good grief! These folks are insane!

  • December 26, 2017 at 11:03 am

    Narc ex-husband’s gifts to me were ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS sale items, reduced inventory, a “deal” while his many gifts to himself were always the best, top of the line, most expensive available. This was after intense questioning about what I wanted for Christmas which answer he promptly ignored completely. Every year it was the same nauseating scenario. Talk about a kick in the teeth and a slam to your self-esteem!! Spending the holiday in my PJs catching up on Law & Order reruns a huge improvement to having Christmas with him is the understatement of the century. Blessed freedom from his abuse – yahoo!

  • December 29, 2017 at 1:51 pm

    With my narcissistic mother, every gift she gives includes a detailed story about how she bought it that she makes sure everyone can here. Then, when her gift giving time is up, she leaves the room.

    • February 2, 2018 at 1:38 am

      My narc mother in law does something similar. She hardly ever gives gifts. Though the one time she did, she told us the story all about how she drove to 6 cities in 4 provinces to find “the perfect” bathroom towels to match our bathroom. A 2 hour story. Forget the fact they never matched at all, a few months later I noticed they were embroided on the edge with a hotels name (she notoriously stole hotel towels because “that’s what they’re there for”). A hotel that had closed down 15 years before.

  • December 30, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    Completely agree with what has been written over here. I believe everyone has at least one relative who is narcissistic in gifting as well as in nature. beautifully written as well


  • January 17, 2018 at 9:42 pm

    From a well to do relative – how about a plastic flashlight from Publishers Clearing House? Isn’t that just redolent with thoughtfulness and the romance of the season? So glad we could improve your odds of winning the Grand Prize! You so enjoyed telling us where it came from so we could applaud your thrifty good sense!

  • January 18, 2018 at 5:26 am

    My wife bought me a disposable clitoral stimulator for fathers day (I know, not Christmas but…). My son was so excited, he was about 1,5/2,5 and it was really a gift from him, being his first real fathers day he could remember. What did you get daddy?!?!

    When I told her I thought it was inappropriate for her to get him to buy me a clitoral stimulator (I don’t have a clitoris btw…), she shat me out for a dizzy height. How dare I hate him and her. Of course it’s a gift for me. She’s never got me anything before or since. And naturally she told him that I hated the gift “he” got me.

    I was so ashamed for shunning my sons gift, being so ungrateful. I’ve harboured that shame. This is the first time I’ve told anyone.

    She kept it. Used it. So I guess it wasn’t a complete waste.

  • February 14, 2018 at 9:49 am

    Long story somewhat shortened. She inherited a sum and went into an invincible, high and mighty mode. I watched in silence as she purchased pricey goods for herself and flew abroad frequently to meet up with ex’s (watched her lie numerous times. Doesn’t know that I know about the ex’s. Kept calm).

    She gave me her old camera (bits falling off) as a present. Everything I did was wrong and I was always nasty to her (ahem). Left with the children to live with her ideal man. The relief I felt, did not want her back. Hard work. End of story.

    I guess the new man wasn’t prepared to be her carer (because that’s what the relationship developed into from my perspective) and now she is back after a short while. Her money has run out and I am blamed (all kinds of sordid scenarios). Now she has chronic recurring thrush or whatever the hell it is. Blames me of course (even though we have not been intimate), I never cheated on her and have been celibate for a long time (shell shocked).

    I am indifferent within reason. She won’t accept that we are over. Uses concocted blame as an excuse for her behaviour, etc etc.

  • February 22, 2018 at 1:45 pm

    My mom is a briber. She never asks me what I like and she can take back gifts as if she never let them go. She got very upset when I had sold the porcelain she collected for me during my teens. She loved it but never asked me if I liked the design. I never liked it.
    I sold it and bought a flight ticket to visit my husband in his home country before we could live together. It was so right to do it!
    My mother’s response when she heard of what I had done: But you got them from me!
    I confronted her and said: why didn’t you asked me what I liked before you bought them?
    She answered: You were too young to know and have a taste or style.

    OMG… I have always had a taste, but never dared to express it in front of her.

    She never gave us a wedding gift, while my brother of course got big presents when they got married.

    Maybe that was because I married without telling her? 😉 I was sure she would have tried to stop me. I don’t need her gifts, they just are a way to gain control. After I got married my mom said: men and women don’t fit together.

    That’s just briefly about my narcissistic mom.

    • February 22, 2018 at 1:50 pm

      She sounds like a real lulu. I’d love to hear more.

      Yes, narcissists never acknowledge our true feelings about things, do they? My taste buds were invalidated! How about that! Sounds like you did right to elope as the obvious scapegoat in the family. I nearly did too!

  • March 11, 2018 at 12:05 pm

    OMG! My instincts told me something was off all along! I would get fitted jackets (more than one)that only look good on tall, flat-chested women. Of course i am short with a “good pair”.
    He once gave me 5 bronze bookmarks for mother’s day. Nice, right? Then, in front of everyone, offered to give me more since he had ordered 20 on-line.
    Then there is the wooden swing that he “built for me” which of course I never asked for and of course was put on the front lawn.
    And always, because of that seething anger I always felt coming from him,I always had to pretend they were wonderful gifts.

  • April 14, 2018 at 10:33 pm

    My ex-husband is brilliant and made it his mission to be the best of everything. He gave me amazing gifts, really thoughtful and useful and often expensive. I always had this sense that he was giving them to me more for the credit he’d get for being thoughtful/romantic/generous, rather than because he wanted to see me happy. And he acted as though giving me things bought him the right to be condescending and demeaning with impunity – because hey, he’s a nice guy, he bought me an iPad, so I have no right to complain.

    • April 30, 2018 at 9:12 pm

      Yep. I once met two of his women colleagues who told me that my husband had told them about a gift he had given me: “and we thought what a nice guy he is!”. One of the first times I actually realized, in real time, as they were saying it, that it was about him.

  • May 22, 2018 at 11:17 am

    SG daughter of two narcissistic parents here. Last Christmas I bought them both nice clothes from my college’s apparel store. Kinda pricey but thought I could squeeze out the money and wanted to do something nice. Of course, on Christmas morning, I get told that they had wanted to “downsize” Christmas this year. Keep in mind that they make more than $150K per year. My two youngest siblings got a few toys, while my brother (GC) got a generous amount of money. I got a stocking filled with socks and a few other basic necessities. Not nice socks like Christmas patterns, not warm winter socks, not exercise socks that I’d actually use because I work out a lot. No, they were cheaper style dress socks in very specific shades of pink and blue. Not only do I never wear those kind of socks, they don’t match any of my clothes well. At the end of the morning, I was able to fit all my gifts in a small paper bag…At the same time (after I’d already spent a lot of money on their presents) my parents told me that they were temporarily taking away my allowance money over the holidays, and that they would instead give me “Christmas and birthday money” (I have a January birthday) before Christmas. The total amount of the combined monetary “gift” about equaled my allowance, so they effectively gave me my allowance for my birthday and Christmas combined and thereafter didn’t think they were morally obligated to get me any decent gift on either occasion. To add insult to injury, my parents placed a note in the stocking along with the socks, saying they’d placed money in my account. I took the bait and thought that they were being generous for once. An extra $150 turned up in my account and I assumed it was from them and thanked my mother profusely. Turns out the $150 was actually from a check I’d previously deposited, and they hadn’t given me any more money. This mistake on my part led to me overspending my account and a huge fight. I told my mother that she shouldn’t have given me the note because it was misleading and that she should have thought through the logical consequences of her actions. That didn’t go over too well. She threw a tantrum and forced me to apologize because I had complained that she had deceived me about the money, thereby hurting her “feelings.” I asked her why she thought I had been thanking her so much. She said she’d thought I was grateful to her for “giving me such a nice day.”

    Also same Christmas received some bath and body works products from my cousin’s family, which was one of the few decent gifts I’d actually gotten that year. A nice cucumber scent that I liked. So what happens when my birthday rolls around? I receive a HUGE package from my grandma and open it to find…a torn open Christmas cellophane package with the remainder of the cucumber-scented products, from which my other Christmas gift had been cut out the month before…of course I had to thank my grandma for this very thoughtful gift. She hadn’t even bothered to wrap it or conceal the fact that it was actually the remainder of the prior gift I’d received. Seriously starting to think that my (this is my maternal) grandma is a narc too. Like mother, like daughter. The vicious intergenerational cycle ends with me.

  • June 26, 2018 at 12:17 am

    My husband LOVES giving money to homeless people on the street (only if other people are watching) or buying shots for everyone at a bar or walking in with an extravagant present for a family member (that he usually sends me to pick out) but he usually doesn’t bother to get me anything. It’s as if no matter how many times I remind him how many weeks/days until Valentine’s Day, he never remembers to pick out a card until the day of. Some holidays I just get nothing because he has been “too busy” and on a few occasions (like anniversaries) he’ll take me to the store that day so I can pick something out or so he can grab a card for me. He feels he doesn’t have to go out of his way to do something special on a specific day because he is so thoughtful all year long…? It got to the point where I started asking him to just pick up a keychain or something from 7/11 while he’s buying himself cigarettes so I at least know he is aware of my existence when I’m not directly in front of him. In a year he’s done that twice but no Christmas, birthday, or Valentine’s Day cards/gifts. He spent our 6 month wedding anniversary out fishing all day since it isn’t a real anniversary anyway.
    He does however buy me the most extravagant gifts if he’s just gotten away with something. Sadly it took me years to make that connection since I never find out about the other women right away. Usually a necklace for going out with another woman and he bought me a car when he slept with one. He still can’t figure out why I wear the cheap handmade jewelry I made myself while diamond necklaces go untouched in my drawer.

  • June 30, 2018 at 7:58 pm

    I was married for 31 years to unbeknownst to me [until she deserted ] 4 years ago ,a malignant narcissist with attachment disorder.Our children to this day refuse to accept any gifts from her as she now owns you.She has her pack of “flying monkeys” that spy for her and slander me at church etc.All the while she plays the victim.She sends almost human e-mails to try and get back in close where she can hurt you again.Very cruel .I like this one……..Why did the narcissist cross the road? Because they don’t respect boundaries.

  • December 23, 2018 at 12:37 pm

    This year my husband and I received a costco case of toilet paper wrapped with a card that said ‘when you’re ready, give me a call’ which actually was something she promised she would do (call me) after she and the family had done some horrible stuff and I finally had the guts to call her out. The message essentially was “you’re shit.”

  • December 27, 2018 at 3:50 am

    My ex wife almost always resorted to buying me DVDs I never had time to watch or the cheapest version of something I asked for. The most expensive item she ever bought me was a $56 watch. I had specifically asked for a Seiko and gave her the money to buy it. The last Christmas before we separated she went “all out” and got me pants for work and a couple of LEGO figures. After the watch incident I stopped asking her to get me anything and would just buy my own presents. When my 40th birthday came around my best friend threw me a party. I was at a point where I stopped expecting anything from her so it was easier to say I didn’t want anything. If I did ask for something, she would guilt trip me by saying it was too much to ask for. Or, if she did manage to do something, no matter how insignificant, it was held over me for years. I’ve noticed a similar behavior with her and our children. She’s never planned a birthday party. It’s always been left up to me. The one summer I was working a project, 80 plus hours per week, I asked her to plan parties for two of our children and she never did. Their birthdays are a month apart with the oldest being 7 years and 1 month older. I ended up planning a combined family party for both of them a month after the younger’s birthday had past. Our last 5 or 6 Christmas’s together I would cook for family and friends. I would hire a cleaning service to clean the house. I would do all of the cooking and would ask her to grab a pan here and there. To hear her talk about it to her friends, she did all the cleaning and was my souse chef, all while watching the kids, we have three, which is what our oldest did. She might have had to pick up a few toys but I always helped with the final touches. Mostly she watched TV. She ran a social media smear campaign against me and tried it with our personal friends but they cut her off. She puts on a personality that makes people think she’s the sweetest person they’ve ever met and then talks bad about them behind their backs. Nothing is confidential. She’s not a good liar but that doesn’t stop her. I think because she doesn’t care if she gets caught. She’s very passive aggressive with snide comments, gaslighting, convenient memory, and outright lies.

  • January 5, 2019 at 8:57 am

    My ex husband, won’t buy the children any gifts unless they go with him. No birthday or Christmas gifts. He has another child with his new girlfriend who’s in her very early twenties while he is 40.

    He doesn’t even ask them what they want for anything anymore. The only thing he does is post a lavish video or pictures of the child on their birthday and writes about how much he loves and misses them to his followers. But rarely call my child. He may text them on social media and wish them a happy birthday, but that’s for his favorites, not all our children together get that even.

    It’s sickening to see the constant emotional/mental abuse being played w my children and the lack of confidence and insecurities I see them struggle with. My children are 21, 18, 16, 13 with the narc. His newest one is 1. The effects of his mind games has and continues to hurt my children.

  • January 12, 2019 at 11:12 pm

    My abuser rarely gave gifts or necessties for that matter. He would allow me a shirt from Goodwill while he splurged on a $90 pair of jeans. He refused to pay $5 for a crossword book (my one of few approved activities) but he would spend $150 on an entire roll of scratch off lottery tickets. He loved to make a big deal of buying an occasional gift and required a reasonable amount of praise when this rare event happened. Anything he purchased for me was always given with the understanding that he could take it back or destroy it whenever he deemed necessary. After awhile I stopped accepting anything he offered to avoid the disappointment or having to give it back or watch it be destroyed. I learned to make do and appreciate what I did have. When my abuser was finally behind bars and I was free from him I had one gift he let me keep it forgot to take: a Wu-Tang t-shirt I picked off the clearance rack at Walmart. He paid $2 for it.

  • February 6, 2019 at 6:53 am

    I am 66 and only recently ‘joined the dots’ in a life of abuse from my npd mother – it is a relief to gain awareness but now dementia has ‘joined the mix’ – she’s still ‘at it’ and I’m still ‘trauma bound!’ Well done to all of you who managed to escape or set boundaries earlier in life.
    PRESENTS: The dreadful cheap and nasty, tasteless presents I received from childhood eventually turned to a £10.00 note in an envelope at Christmas. I can’t even remember them I just expected to receive them. Two ghastly presents stand out:
    Age 14, (1966) nylon was the ‘in thing’ – I wanted one of the new baby doll nighties. What I got was a flannelette, animal print PJ! – it was a monstrosity: brown and white with knitted neck and cuffs, all out of proportion with short sleeves, short waist and massive bottom.
    Age 15, nylon was mixing with rayon – everyone had soft grey machine knitted thin round neck jumpers from BHS (well known British store). What I got was a thick double knit royal blue itchy jumper obviously knitted more or less overnight as an afterthought – short waist and sleeves. She was a very fast knitter and no doubt no love in the stitches!
    DANGLING THE CARROT – 10 years ago she told me she had changed her will slightly in my favour (of 5 siblings I was the only one who supported her). I thought it meant ‘sorry and thank you’. Silly me. Since then she has changed her will in favour of the golden child and his daughters – twice! and recently disinherited me entirely – for no rational rational reason. Each change of the Will followed a time when I had dared to try and set a boundary. She’s 88 and still ‘at it’.

  • February 6, 2019 at 3:22 pm

    My ex-Narc boyfriend game me a beautiful fairy with stained glass wings. (I collect fairies.) Then he told me that his ex-girlfriend made it but left it at his house when she moved out. He thought I’d like it.

  • August 20, 2019 at 8:46 pm

    I remember when I was 12, all I wanted for Christmas was a clock radio. It cost $5. To my surprise Christmas morning, I unwrapped a clock radio! As I removed the last piece of wrapping paper, mom reached down and took it out if my hands. She needed a new one.

    I don’t remember receiving anything else.

    I realized that, in her mind, Daddy would know that he bought me a gift I truly wanted and he’d never know I never actually got it.

    I have a gazillion memories like this one. The woman used me to get what she wanted all her life. She passed away in 2013 and, try as I might, I can’t come up with an honest to goodness “good” memory of her.

    I came to the realization a few years ago that I married a narcissist. A covert narcissist. I’ve been doomed my whole life.

    I’m wondering if this is a pattern that we just repeat?

  • August 21, 2019 at 6:55 am

    Hi. thanks for sharing your experience about the ‘clock radio’ your mother appropriated from you at Christmas. My mother has, throughout my life, used gift giving in order to hurt, steal, bribe, ease her conscience…….. I am now 67 and went ‘no contact’ one year ago. She has disinherited me, tells everyone I am mentally ill, that I talk of nothing but money, only cared for her for to get her inheritance and, of course, that I am a compulsive liar with a “vivid imagination”. It would only have been a £5 – £10,00 inheritance as I have four brothers who have hung in there in recent years. I cared for her in their absence for years, knowing of her personality disorder. I did this because I thought it was the ‘right thing to do’ and also I truly believed that I was supporting my brothers by letting them get on with their family life. I actually thought I would be appreciated. How stupid was I !!! When I cut contact with Mum only one brother has maintained a thread of contact. They collude with her even though they know how she lies. I try to forgive them. This behaviour is a product of the splits and schisms she created during and since our childhood. They truly don’t know their sister. ….. For others in similar situations: , recognised these ‘gift giving patterns’ for what they are – signals to help you manage your mother or alarm bells to support you in cutting contact and taking the consequences.

  • October 31, 2019 at 8:45 am

    I have always loved cats as a child and I still do. Want to know the reason? My Cat was the only thing there for me when I cried and had panic attacks. Panic attacks because of my Narc parents. So that’s why I was so crazy about cats growing up. That doesn’t mean I love cats more than people. but I do love my cats more than my Narc parents and I don’t feel bad about saying that. Anyways so liking cats doesn’t mean I want all my gifts from my Narc mother to be cat related! I get cat stuff, bath and body works stuff, clothes she likes, and so on. Does she ask or know what I truly want. No she doesn’t even know. She doesn’t even know much about me if i think about it. I probably knows alot more about her. She always talks about herself too. Also she is the one who likes bath and body works, most of the stores we go to, and the clothes she likes for me to wear! I like these things but I don’t love it.. I don’t like the fact that she makes me feel bad if i go to my stores. I have always loved other stores than her. As a child and teen I always wore what she wanted even though I was a tomboy. I always had to wear girly clothes even know I still do and wonder if what I’m wearing is what I want. Even when i was near 18 years old I felt bad about going where I wanted to go to shop! Then my mother would take me shopping and buy me alot of stuff. Then if I was depressed or didn’t seem happy about what I got I would be called ungrateful, spoiled! She would make me feel bad for showing how bad she felt. ugh Today she got me a cat bath fizz and expected that to make up for what she said to me. She told me I didn’t care about her when I just said goodnight to her. Then she went on this long rant about me not caring. She can’t say sorry or I love you thats just how she is i guess. So she hands me a stupid gift and expects me to run back to her. Anyways When she says she loves me it’s so fake it’s like I’m sorry and i love you thats it. She never says what she did wrong and why she is saying sorry. She only says it when she wants me to hear it so I forgive her. Well I didn’t give her that today. I didn’t forgive her. I just said thanks and thats mostly it. Anyways so I was rarely loved as a child and all i got were clothes and gifts.

  • November 8, 2019 at 7:40 pm

    Wow. I was feeling pretty sorry for myself until I read these. Thank you to all that shared.

  • December 23, 2019 at 2:38 pm

    My mother always weaponized gift giving in a myriad of ways. One was to make sure that my gift paled by comparison to my 5 sisters. For years my mother purchased things around her job, a salon. Some were mean bitch soap, bitch chapstick, bitch air freshener and bitch card all in a bag from her salon. Some were garage sale stuff, when my sisters would be opening expensive gifts. My wedding gift kinky lingerie way too small. In short insisting I come home for a holiday so she had a chance to hurt me. After a while I started looking at her like a mentally ill person someone who will never be happy. I try to see the humour in her lavish attempts at spite.

  • December 31, 2019 at 4:55 am

    It only took me 60 years and the recent death of my father to realize my mom is quite likely a raging narcissist. I only really stumbled upon this suspicion when after some of her typical ‘me’ behavior over the course of the memorial preparations became increasingly pronounced. But the first thing I did was Google ‘Why does someone dominate conversation?’ That is, if anything, my mom has always sucked the oxygen right out of the room and any conversation. She literally hijacks everything and anything anyone else starts to talk about. She doesn’t even pretend anymore with a perfunctory “oh really” before quickly following up with “When I …” She just interrupts and starts talking about her experiences and herself. So I n my search, I found this to be a classic Conversational Narcissistic. Of course this only led me to look up the characteristics of a narcissistic, and there she was … the classic gift giving narcissist as well. Giving me crap she no longer wants, or has been damaged in some way, regifting, etc. and rarely ever anything that is truly thoughtful. But after reading about this, it also triggered a memory some 16 years ago when my son was just 6 yo. We were on vacation in Florida and my mom told my son she would buy him something at the gift shop. Of course like most wide-eyed little boys, everything was cool, especially two items he wanted. So I found the situation to be a teaching moment about greed, and not always getting what you want, and told him and my mom that he could only pick out one thing. So he did. Imagine my surprise (and anger) when we got back to the condo and I caught my mom giving my son the other thing he wanted as well. No, this wasn’t at all about generosity or altruism or spoiling a grandchild. This was my narcissistic mom saying fuk you John. Fuk your lesson. This is about ME needing and wanting your son to like ME, and pay attention to ME. Classic narcissist gift giving.

  • February 2, 2020 at 7:11 pm

    When I was at junior school and went swimming, all the girls had flat, plain swimming hats. I had a 1950s style hat with multi-coloured flowers stuck on it.

    I started wearing glasses aged 8. I had an old pair of frames my mother had worn in the 1950s ‘with wings’. Not cool at the end of the 1970s / early 1980s

    My mother once gave me her old camera. I thought it was unusually generous of her until I paid to have a film developed and it was approximately 6 times the normal price

    When my son was born, for the first 2-3 years she would give me a Frankling wall plate for him for birthday/Christmas she had bought as a job lot. She never gave any presents after that

    My last Christmas present from her several years was a serrated kitchen knife (probably from her own drawer)

    When I was 7 I went to the cinema with my friend, for my birthday. The film was full so she took us to see ‘ A Space Odyssey 2001’ (I kid you not!!)

    When my sister got married, my mother’s hat was more expensive than my sister’s dress. Neither my sister or I were given any contribution towards our weddings. There were never any offers of help and our parents never discussed any element of the wedding, they simply turned up on the day.

    All birthday cards I used to receive from my mother were ones she liked herself (flowers and butterflies); they were a million miles from the type I liked

    The list could go on….

  • July 8, 2020 at 11:41 am

    My ex partner used to fish items from his sister’s charity bag and preset them as ‘gifts’. The worst was this horrendous knitted tea cosy that belonged to the sister’s deceased MIL. It was horribly tea stained and he gave it to me with a tea stained stainless steel teapot. I drink very little tea and have never used a tea pot. This kind of thing followed a pattern. He once bought me a soil clump breaker for about a tenner from Amazon, all because HE had been digging and struggled with the sods of earth. I didn’t ask for or want the thing. The more I read round this narcissist gift giving mentality, the more I can see how this was a kind of passive aggression which gave him a feeling of power. He was treating me with contempt for his own pleasure.

  • July 30, 2020 at 10:06 am

    I have so many examples of this from both of my parents that it’s hard to choose. My father was more of the cheap variety (until he completely stopped acknowledging any special occasion whatsoever). I remember visiting him one Christmas when my half-sisters that he was “raising” alone (having driven their poor mother completely insane and into drugs and onto the streets) were still little kids. They acted like complete savages when the gifts came out and ripped the papers off with abandon, not even looking at the contents, before going on to the next one. I realized why when I observed the “gifts” which included a stacking shelf unit that needed to be assembled and other mundane household items. I was the only person that had bought them age-appropriate toys. They thought Christmas was just this fun time when you rip colored paper up and throw it around. They had no concept that it was a time when the adults did nice things for you and surprised you with lovely gifts to show their love. When my father would buy me an actual decent gift (this happened a few times in my teens and 20s) it was always a reflection of what he was into. This worked out when mountain bikes were his obsession, or when he wanted to dictate my listening of Jazz by giving me a box of the “essential” records. But when he became a Jesus freak he also thought it appropriate to give a used bible to my sister for her Sweet 16. She also got some Salvation Army thrift store clothes. As an aside, I’d like to note that my sister (who became a professional model) was one of the most naturally beautiful girls of her generation. Her father had been in the entertainment business and so was aware of her potential. But did he get her a gorgeous dress? Pay for head shots? NO. Dead people’s clothes and falliing-apart bible. (My sister is not and has never been religious.)

    My mother has many, many, strange patterns around gifting. I remember one time she came from London to see me perform in Germany around Christmas time. Keep in mind that I’m on tour in a packed van with a bunch of other musicians. What does she bring me? A 3 foot tall statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary! Now, at the time, I was into this Brazilian version of Catholocism and I quite liked the good old BVM, but where the hell was I supposed to put the thing?! Of course my bewilderment was transformed into me being a horrible, ungrateful, daughter and SHE had carried it all the way from London after all.

    All the other stuff mentioned by others she has done: buying me clothes that aren’t my style but what she wants me to wear was very common. She also used to buy me decorative items that were not in keeping with my decor. One time she offered to pay for me to get a haircut and make a secret deal with the hairdresser (HER hairdresser) to completely straighten all my hair, pretending he was just relaxing some frizz. My naturally curly hair was ruined: stank of chemicals for weeks no matter how much I washed it, was dry, dull, brittle, dead straight, and breaking, lifeless and just horrible. Then she asked for the money back and became furious when I said, “you want me to pay you back for destroying my hair at your insistence???” We didn’t speak for several months after that due to her intense fury over this incident where I was the injured party. Even when the London bombings happened, and she knew I worked right in the area (I heard LIVE the explosion of the bus being blown up around the corner from the office and had to walk for miles through the chaos when I was trying to get home), she still could not bring herself to even call and see if I was OK. After several days, I called her saying “In case you were wondering, I’m not dead, injured or maimed, just traumatized” to which she replied with feverish concern “Oh I’m so glad you called! I’ve just been thinking and thinking of you and hoping you were alright!” I believe she was crying while saying this.

    Last year I was very sick and had lost a ton of weight so that nothing fit me. I couldn’t work and had no money and was living in Louisiana where it was a sweltering summer. My mother asked if I needed things and I said YES I was desperate for clothing and really needed some shorts that fit, lightweight clothing like slip on Tshirt dresses mini skirts and basically anything for hot weather. Three care-packages later and I have an abundance of woolen and crocheted hats (some of which she made herself, very nice, particularly when it is snowing), numerous cute T-shirts (the one thing I didn’t need), zero shorts, zero lightweight T-shirt dresses, multiple pairs of long trousers and ankle-length skirts and a curious focus on the color white (I had an ileostomy bag at the time, which frequently came loose). I ended up wearing the same pair of shorts that I’d already owned nearly every day for several more months until I gained a bit of weight back and could fit my clothes again. Most of what she sent went into storage because it’s so wrong for the climate where I live. Perfect for the climate where SHE lives however.

    But the weirdest one of all, and I’d love to know if others have experienced this, is where she’ll go out of her way to get me to tell her what it is that I want, leads me to believe that this is what is happening, and then throws a total curveball. E.G. one year she offered to crochet me a mini-poncho that just covers the shoulders. Cute, right? She asked what colors I wanted and I said I loved the combination of pale blue and pale orange, that you don’t see much. She worked on it in secret for months. When the big day came, and I unwrapped the poncho, it was overwhelmingly dark purple – a color that is almost entirely absent from my wardrobe – with lavendar accents (possibly the only color that actually makes me want to vomit). There was an odd blob of green here and there, and then near the top, about 3 rows of pale blue, and a single row of pale orange. She’s standing there gleaming with self-satisfaction, in anticipation of my thrilled reaction but instead gets a look of total confusion and puzzlement. “What’s wrong??? Don’t you like it??? That was a lot of work you know!” Me: “yes, but….you asked me what colors I wanted and I told you and there’s only a tiny bit in those colors! And also, you should know by now that I don’t really wear purple or have any other purple clothes!” Her bizarre explanation was that those were the colors she had. OK, well if you were limited by those colors (not sure why you can’t go to the wool shop and buy the right ones) then why did you offer me a completely open choice, and not say what the limitations were?

    Eventually I realized that this kind of situation provides some kind of triple whammy payback for Cluster B people. 1) She gets to set me up for disappointment, which was her goal; 2) She gets to duck out of responsibility for giving me a crappy gift by shifting the attention to her hurt feelings at my lack of appreciation thus allowing her to paint me as this horrible ungrateful person. Happy Birthday!

    Another time, when I was living in the UK, whenever I would go to her apartment for a few months she would bug me to look at a book catalogue from this company that puts out special editions. She wanted me to mark books I found interesting, so that then at any time when she wanted to buy me a gift, she would have that as a reference. This actually seemed like a pretty good idea, if I wanted to avoid getting all the usual stuff I didn’t want, so eventually I said “OK OK, I’ll look at it!” There were indeed some very interesting books and I ended up putting stars nect to about ten items. My number one pick was a book about the origins of language and writing that had beautiful illustrations.

    Whatever occasion rolled around and my mother gives me a wrapped present, obviously a book. I’m hoping it’s the one about language but when I remove the paper, not only is it not that book, it is not ANY of the ones I had marked as being of interest. Instead, it was a hardcover reissue of a children’s book, The Just So Stories, by Rudyard Kipling. Note: I was over 40 and did not have kids.

    When I asked her “what on earth?” she then reminded me that I’d had the same book when I was a child and I said yes, I remember. She then went on to tell me about a time she had visited me in San Francisco many years earlier. I mean MANY years earlier! On that occasion she had apparently come across a tattered old copy of the book at my apartment. OK, yes, and? She wanted to know if it was the one from my childhood. I told her that it was not, that I didn’t have anything from my childhood as it was all being held hostage by my father in his insane hoard, as she well know, much of her stuff being similarly trapped! I told her that I’d gotten it in a thrift store when I was back in University for a storytelling class I took in the theatre department, and that I’d performed several of the tales. So she then reveals that she thought she was doing something wonderful for me by buying me a brand new copy. So…..why did you force me to spend my time looking at the frikkin catalogue if you were just going to go with y our own whim in the end? To top it all off, the book that I really wanted she gave to my sister as a gift. The excuse she made that time was that Susanne had gone through the catalogue after me and liked some of the same ones (she was always copying me, even though she’s older) so there were two stars next to many of my entries. You have probably noticed that this doesn’t make sense. If both girls like the same book, why not get them both a copy, you might be thinking? That would even be sort of nice and they could study it together. But no, then she wouldn’t get the elixir of my disappointment, plus triggering sibling rivalry, plus reminding me of some irrelevant incident from years in the past when my mother had fabricated a grievance against me for letting my childhood book (which was not my childhood book) fall into such disrepair.

    My mother has often given me and my sister the same gift, but she only seems to find that fun when it is literally the same, as in there is only one of it. E.G. She bought me a top I didn’t wear very often and that got left at her house at one point. I liked it actually but it was pink silk and so impractical for common use. The top went missing and I never brought it up. A couple of years go by and I see my sister wearing it one day. “Where did you get that??” I ask. Of course Mum gave it to her. When I confronted her about why she gave my sister a top that she had previously given me, without even mentioning it to me, she explained that she could tell I didn’t like it because I wore it so infrequently. So rather than verify that this was the case, and that it wasn’t perhaps rather because it was pink frikkin silk in a land of expensive dry-cleaning, she just removed it from the closet and wrapped it up and gave it to my sister.

    That kind of thing has happened a TON.

    Don’t even get me started on what happens when I have bought either of my parents THE PERFECT GIFT that I actually KNEW for a fact they really wanted. Rejected, lost, stolen, given away, returned to the store, shoved in the basement, given to a sibling, allowed to rot in the sun etc. I once carried a very heavy organic pumpkin from the countryside to London for her, as she was always complaining about the quality of English pumpkins (she’s from the tropics). We got into some argument as soon as I arrived so I quickly left. By the time I made it from the 4th floor to outside, she had already hurled the pumpkin from her window so that it lay smashed to bits on the pavement.

    My love to all you survivors and I hope you have learnt the wonderful art of giving to oneself. I’m getting myself a Vespa motorscooter tomorrow!!!! I had mopeds and scooters as a teenager and they were my escape and independence from my family. I feel like I’m regaining a piece of myself. I was so fierce as a teenager and saw through all the bullshit. Just didn’t have a name for it yet.

  • August 30, 2020 at 5:32 am

    My m.i.l and her husband like to send unwanted gifts through the mail packaged in their prescription medicine boxes (no wrapping paper) and when you go grey rock and just say thanks and nothing else they hound and hound about what you thought of the (awful) ‘gift’ and think they hoping you also mention how ill they must be
    One year he gave everyone in his family a used or dirty air rifle (no one has any interest in guns and based in UK for more context)
    My mother for my birthday just gone, gave me a mini free hotel soap and then acted like it was the best/ amazing smelling soap ever and I should be grateful..


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