(I published this post a couple years ago, but thought it might be helpful again. I know that some will say this is letting the narcissist off the hook, but the plan is just to let you off the hook. The more you prepare, the more you understand why the narcissist does what he/she does, the better your chance at having a reasonable holiday. I will be praying for all of you.)
It’s Narcissist Friday!
I suppose that it’s true to say that narcissists usually ruin Christmas as they do almost all other holidays. There are so many stories of narcissists spoiling special family times. Their need for control and attention seems to rise to new levels on special days.
But it may be that narcissists don’t really understand holidays. The special days are either terrifying or exciting for them and for the same reason. Remember that everything must revolve around the narcissist in order for him to be comfortable. As long as he can control the things around him, he is okay. But when an extended family gets together, the narcissist’s comfort is threatened. There may be someone who doesn’t like him. There may be someone who is better than he is at something. There may be someone who understands him. None of these is acceptable. So, strange things happen to avoid or ruin family times.
It may be an office party with all the positioning. It may be a special time at church that could put him on the spot. It may be the exchange of gifts, where he can’t be sure that his gift will work to focus attention on him. Whatever it is, the narcissist is probably going to be uncomfortable at Christmas.
Just think about gift exchange. If the motivation for the gift isn’t love, what is it? Because the narcissist will be unhappy if his gift to another is larger than the one he receives, and he will be unhappy if his gift to another appears to be smaller than the one he receives, he can’t win. And, since he is unwilling and unable to take the time to actually know a person well enough to give a sensitive gift, he can’t ever be sure how well it will work. Often, the narcissist will focus on funny gifts, designed to make himself look clever, rather than enter into the real giving spirit.
And this is just one part of the holiday stresses for the narcissist. Are they coming to her house? How much work are they worth? Will she be expected to entertain them or wait on them? Will she have to cook for them? And laugh at their jokes? And smile for them? On and on.
So, this holiday season, lower your expectations. You will probably see your narcissist at his or her worst. Relax. Of course something will happen, but the narcissist only defines himself. As much as possible, enjoy your family and friends and remember what Christmas is all about. You are loved!