It’s time to stand up straight, leave your fantasy world, and figure out how to take care of yourself. Expecting a narcissist to nurture you is like expecting a crocodile to sing a lullaby to a baby gazelle.
Many people, both men and women, which have been in a narcissistic relationship for any length of time tell me that one of the most frustrating aspects of the relationship was when he gave them a gift. It’s didn’t matter whether it was Christmas, an anniversary, or a birthday it was going to be a crapshoot on how things went down.
There are several ways a narcissist gives and your spouse may have exhibited one or all of them depending on the situation, his personality, and other factors. You see, the narcissist has a toolbox.
You Didn’t Want That – This Is Better
I know someone, actually more than one someone, whose husband has a habit of asking her what she wants for her birthday or other celebration and then getting her something totally different. It’s almost like he has to find out what she wants so he can be sure not to get it!
If this has ever happened to you then you are probably gritting your teeth right now. It is definitely one of those triggers that can make your head spin faster than Linda Blair on a windy day. You have to ask yourself why?
That’s easy. They are superior beings and as such have a much better grasp on what your inner desires are than you do yourself.
- Tell them you want a red coat and you can bet that you’ll be getting a green umbrella because it’s much more practical and you don’t look good in red anyway.
- Mention that you’d love a new phone and you’ll be opening a box with tickets to the basketball game – and you don’t even like basketball. By the way, while he was there he picked up a cool new phone at the store next to the ticket counter. You know, he needed one badly.
The fix for this is pretty simple. Don’t tell him what you want, let him do whatever he wants as far as a gift and buy something for yourself that you love.
Remember Who’s in Control
Another reason that narcissists give gifts the way they do is to remind you exactly who is in control. It’s a form of abuse although many people would argue that.
When he asks what you’d like you mistakenly assume that he is interested in you for a change – maybe he is changing!
In actuality he wants you to believe that because you will know who is in control when he disappoints you get again. He’d laugh at you if he could but to do that would admit that he had planned to pull the rug out from under you all along. Instead he will get the hurt look on his face and whimper about not ever being able to please you.
Sometimes the gift looks good to every one else but you know the truth. For example - have you ever gotten Valentine’s Day candy two days after you announced you were going on a diet? Image Courtesy of Flickr's Creative Commons- User: Chauncey Davis
Hey! Look at Me!
Another reason that a narcissist will give is to make a public display of what they are doing so that they can catch all of the atta-boys that they long for. You might live in a house where the toilet has been plugged up for months, the roof leaks, and the paint is peeling from the walls but by golly you are going to get an expensive, fancy gift for Christmas so everyone you know can see what a really cool husband you have.
He’ll do this in another way, too. A narcissist will give generously to charity even when his family does not have their needs met as long as no one knows. Whichever will get him the most attention will be the way that the door swings on that one.
For the most part my ex was pretty decent about gifts, especially in the beginning. He liked for people to get the idea that he was doing well for himself financially even though I don’t think he broke 35k the entire 30 years we were married – and that might have happened once.
In the words of Yoda, Provider he was not.
Still, that never seemed to stop him from buying shirts at custom shirt shops, buying expensive suits, shoes, pens, and watches. He was the only person I know of that wore designer ties, custom made shirts, expensive watches, and wrote with a $200 Mont Blanc pen while his family was getting groceries from neighbors.
Still, he had numerous watches. Ebel, Tag Hoyer, Longines, Seiko, and more. He had at least ten of them at one point. He had a habit of giving those watches to pastors and missionaries who came through our church.
I was always being told how generous he was by these people and never once did I point out that his family’s need were not provided for.
I Am the Victim
If the jig is up and the narcissist has come to the conclusion that you are not going to play his game by his rules anymore he’s do one of two things. He’ll look at you like a six year old boy who didn’t get chosen to bat and literally whine, “I’m out of here.”
The other possibility is that he will figure out a way to make you look like the abuser and he will be able to maintain his fix of emotional blood indirectly. He’ll buy you something that he knows you’ll hate so that others will pat his back and tell him how ungrateful you are.
You’ll start getting the stink-eye at church. After all, he is generous, sweet, kind, and he is so downcast about your problems. Can’t you give it one more try?
Always Ask, What’s the Catch?
Whenever a narcissist gives you a gift or does something nice for you it’s important that you train yourself to look for the angle. You may not see it but it’s there somewhere. He has a plan that will cause the gift to benefit him more than it does you.
- He’s playing Godfather and you are going to owe him something.
- He is setting you up to look like an abusive idiot while he comes off looking like the poor victimized one.
- He has decided that he is losing your trust and this is a good way to get it back.
There are as many more possibilities as there are narcissists. You’ll just have to figure out which scenario he’s using on you. There’s something going on.
Learn to Be Proactive
Stop expecting that this time it’s going to be different. Is it possible that he could change and become the person you always believed he could be?
Sure. Possible but likely.
One thing a narcissist will do is they will complain that you always bring up the past. That’s because they know that once you look at the pattern you are going to see that it really doesn’t change. Once you accept that you can decide what you want to do about it.
Truth really does set you free. Once you accept the truth of what a narcissist is, make a plan based on that truth, and make the first step you’ll feel that heaviness fall away.
Part of being able to see the truth is knowing that you aren’t alone. Many others have endured similar things and come through battle-weary but victorious. You will too. Are you ready to share your experiences and learn for the experiences of others? Join First Wives World today to be part of this vibrant community.
Lead Image Courtesy of Flickr's Creative Commons- User: H.Koppdelaney