The Generous Narcissist

It’s Narcissist Friday!     


I watch the television with closed captions because my family is often not up when I am. On a live or real-time broadcast, it must be difficult to keep up with the dialog. Sometimes the little mistakes are hilarious. Recently, someone passed away and the news people were interviewing family and friends. One of them said, according to the closed caption, “He was the kind of person who would give you the shirt off your back.”

When I stopped laughing, I realized that I know people like that: generous narcissists. Oh yes, there are such people. In fact, they will puzzle you. They give generous gifts, volunteer for service, and offer all kinds of help. But, when you look more closely at how things turn out, the narcissist hasn’t really done anything.

An illustration of this was a man in a church who attached himself to a landscaping project we were doing. He came to the leadership and said, “If you get me a group of guys and a tractor, I’ll get that job done.” Fortunately, the leaders were wise enough to see the truth. They had to get the workers. They had to get the tractor. The workers would do the work, and the “volunteer” would sit on the tractor. He offered to give them what they already had—and was willing to accept the credit.

A narcissist will use your money to buy you a gift and expect your thanks. She will redo work you have already done and expect credit. He will take your words and repeat them back to you as though they were his and expect you to be impressed. He may bring you flowers he picked in your yard. She will convince you to bake a cake she can bring to the event. Generous narcissists are usually sponges.

Now, there are times when the narcissist gives sacrificially. Narcissists generally believe that people can be manipulated by certain words or actions. If a generous gift will open a door or convince a person, the narcissist might be generous. But he will remember. The person who receives the gift will owe the narcissist. Special attention, agreement, special privilege, whatever. The narcissist expects the gift to accomplish something.

Again, we have to understand the motivation and perspective of the narcissist. No one is deserving of kindness. No one is worth a sacrifice. The kindness must have a purpose for the narcissist. He can appear to be kind and generous, but he is still self-serving. She may appear to want to help, may even help, but her help comes at a price. Your loyalty, your time and energy, your favor, your reciprocating thanks—these may be expected.

The generous narcissist is a phantom. He/she might seem to exist…but nope!


Filed under Narcissism

31 responses to “The Generous Narcissist

  1. Lea Anna Curtis

    Yeah….I have noticed this, too. Somone who gives something in order to get something back, or to manipulate something else they are wanting is not truly giving the way God wants us to.

  2. Lisa

    It’s so true! Everything you wrote is so true.! I had a very prolonged and painful experience with this. But the Lord absolutely needed to show me a few things that could only be seen by this particular experience because it was someone I knew over a far geographic distance and over a twenty year period. The reason it was so important for the Lord to show me this is because I had always projected this person to be more of a victim codependent type. I honestly thought that she was a empathetic person even though I was well aware that she was extremely immature. But once she did me the “favor” she became ruthless and fully exploited me because she had one of my pets in her possession. She became what Dr George Simon called “The Wolf in Sheeps clothing” and I was able to see that she was a complete predator. It was critical for me to have this experience because this was someone I would have defended and , to some extent, could have even become a flying monkey to her in some other potential hypothetical situation. Because I honestly perceived her as a victim of life.
    But this experience showed me just how hard it is to detect some of these people. And how we should never be too quick to convinced that we know someones character because some very dark people can really appear to be an angel of light. And it’s an extremely important lesson. And I have actually found the reverse to be true as well. Sometimes people who are engaged in really bad behavior are really loving people at the core. They are people who have a heart for the light but got caught up in some unfortunate circumstances.

    Sonnet 147 ” For I have sworn thee fair and thought thee bright who art as dark as hell and as black as night”.

    • Absolutely love this post!! I believe God needed to show me a few things, and that this person was the one that he chose for my lesson!!

  3. Louisa

    Bam! Spot on!

  4. Osinga, Victoria L

    YES! My ex is a covert narcissist, and he was generous at strange times. Looking back now (after 16 years together), I can see how he used his generosity to manipulate people or to “one up” them. One time we got a large tax refund and he used a big chunk to bless some missionary friends of ours – he had just quit his job and I was working full time, we had a small baby at home. While I was glad to be able to bless our friends, I also knew that the money could be put to good use on our own bills. And when he “confessed” to 16 years of infidelity, never ever being faithful to me in our marriage, he tried to buy me with expensive gifts, but what I wanted was true repentance and work at building trust. He never did that and blamed me for “not trusting him”; hey, if you didn’t do the work buddy, trust isn’t given.

  5. Maggie

    I found when the narcissist does something for you they think you are forever in their debt and you should be always be paying them back. They never do anything out of the goodness of their heart, always a motive behind everything.

  6. Sylvie

    Wow, have you ever described my husband, spot on! And is this ever timely! (I am trying to get ready right now for weekend guests, and he has offered one small help of his choosing.) I have become very leery of his “help,” because every time I can remember, his “help” only made my work harder, partly because everything I did was supposed to revolve around his one drop in the bucket toward the effort (like a half hour ago). Also, whatever area he steps in to help with I usually soon find he has taken over in both direction (decision making) and ownership. I am nevertheless supposed to be effusively grateful, so much as to disregard all the offenses happening at the same time or just before! And I hear his praises sung repeatedly by outsiders for his generosity and help, which he’s even admitted to me he does to keep one up on everyone and be able to get favors when he “needs” them. It’s so good to hear from someone who “gets this.” Thank you.

  7. “The narcissist will give you the shirt off YOUR back.” Love it! Right on target.

  8. Sunflower

    The n became a ‘christian’. I asked what led him to his decision. Well, he’d been listening to a radio show called, ‘Money Matters’, and money really matters to him. The speaker said to try being generous and see if God wouldn’t bless you back, so that became the focus of his ‘christianity’. Apparently the speaker also said that Jesus talked about money more than anything else, and so does Proverbs. But he only remembered the one verse in Proverbs about the ant who saves up for winter. And was constantly angry that the pastor didn’t talk about money all the time, especially the way he saw it. Giving and saving money was about all that the Bible talks about.

    • Another ACoN

      Sounds like that radio preacher was teaching the “Prosperity Gospel”. This doctrine interprets Mark 10:29–30 literally, like a return on investment at the stock exchange. The Prosperity Gospel is a false gospel (or rather no gospel at all), in my opinion. Unsurprisingly, narcissists tend to be drawn to that kind of doctrine because it is carnal, selfish.

      • SAM

        This would be an interesting and helpful topic for a future blog–how narcissists respond to various doctrines and teachings.

  9. Penny

    When a narc “gives” you a gift, it comes with an invoice.

  10. Mary27

    Yes, our N son in law was generous (using his maxed out credit cards) when he thought it would make him look good. He bought a gold plated rose for his baby daughter, and later gave her an expensive large china doll. She wasn’t allowed to touch either one. It wasn’t about her at all. It was only about him.

  11. You know whenever a Narcissist offers you a generous “favor” to watch out – he is about to fleece you. I became engaged to a successful businessman, in 1992. After Tom and I were engaged, he asked me to quit my position as a publishing executive under the “generous” ruse that I could travel with him and be home with the kids we hoped to have. Trustingly, I resigned my position, hired my replacement and sent out wedding invitations. The day before the wedding – on my 29th birthday – he told me I had to sign a prenuptial agreement that stated everything he would ever earn during the marriage was his individual property – not marital property – and he could do anything he wanted with it without consulting me. It was basically an employment agreement for a wife. I tried to tell him that this wasn’t a good way to start a marriage, but he said he would never see me again if I didn’t sign it. Having no job, a mortgage payment and a five year old to feed, I signed it an hoped for the best. Within 2 weeks, he refused to even give me $5 to buy an ice cream cone. So I went to law school to support myself and my son. When I graduated, I had $80,000 in debt. Tom “generously” offered to repay my student loan — if I would pay him back. In doing so, rather than me writing him a check each month and documenting the loan, he cleverly took out $1000 each month out of my monthly household allowance, and then made me pay for all of the household expenses from my salary (even though he was a multimillionaire making over $1million a year). After 80 months, I reminded him of our agreement, told him the loan was repaid, and asked him to stop taking payments out of the monthly household budget. He claimed that he didn’t remember the agreement, and continued to take his money out for the remainder of our marriage. In effect, I paid him twice for my law degree. During the early years of marriage, he occasionally bought me extravagant presents ( I remember a motorcycle one year so I could ride with him), but then would title them in his name, sell them and pocket the money. A generous offer from a Narcissist only means that he has figured out how to fleece you so that you think he is doing you a favor.

    • Lisa

      Wow Charlene….what a nightmare. I hope that you are free of that relationship and I pray for your well being. Those were some really difficult and painful experiences.

    • Victim no more

      Wow… I am so sorry for the experience you had ! It’s devastating to me how people like that exist and take such advantage of others and the people the are supposed to love… They don’t know what love for another is … Their world is dark and karma is a bitch and the darkness they live inside is just the beginning …. You are so strong!!! I hope you have moved away from him… Huge hug!

    • KT

      How uncanny is it that the N do and say similar things although we dont know each other in this post? Is there a narcissist university somewhere in this world? My ex N wanted me to move in with him, said we’d get married, but only with pre-nup. He has a lot of collectibles and autograph memorabilia and wants pass everything on to his 5 year old grandson. Then he wanted me to buy a house so that he could rent out his condo! I could not bring myself to do either! Just kept thinking about what a nightmare it would be…all the lying, cheating, heated-intense arguments, outbursts and mind games!! No thank you, dude!!!

  12. Victim no more

    I fell for that…. I fell in love with the ghost… That’s what he wanted back and he got it!!he was very very good at faking his concern for me … All with second intentions … All because he wanted me desperately to fall in love with him….. He knew I resisted and was very hesitant to get into a relationship after a marriage of 16 yrs. and it was my first time out there as a mom… He played his cards so right a true professional… Got me to believe he cared…. Introduced me to his family…. Made me think this was serious…. Got me to allow our children to meet and have a relationship… The kids loved each other …. His family really loved us, his few friends kept saying she is a keeper and that is when I started noticing … His problem with people liking us… Instead of being proud it was almost like he didn’t like that… Well he didn’t … But I didn’t know narcissists existed I couldn’t understand anything that was happening and it only got worse and worse….. I only read about narcissism after I broke up with him…. At the end when I was suffering so much he would say all my friends say we are lasting too long… 6 months is my limit (we were together 13 months) when I broke up He said … This shouldn’t happen I’m not done with you yet…. And then made me understand all I was to him was a sexual toy… And nothing more and he would get another one soon….. He knew how much that would hurt me and it really showed how much he didn’t care… It’s amazing to me that people with darkness like that exist ….. He didn’t allow the kids to have a relationship or even say good bye . He didn’t let me talk to his son and explain why I had to distance myself from his dad….. We have no idea what story he told his family , his son…. I’m certain he was a victim in it…… I still have not been able to get close to anyone since then… It’s been over a year now…. I never hurt so much…. Disbelief that it was all happening … And to see the real him…. But I never went back… I didn’t let him in…. I put boundaries up and I was strong but in a million pieces inside…. I thought I was going to die….. Now I’m So afraid of falling in that trap again…. I don’t think I ever loved a man like I loved him…. And to think nothing was real…. I was in love with a ghost that never existed. Really hurtful….. And we stay really really lonely….

    • One of the hardest things in leaving a Narcissist is accepting the fact that you fell in love with a charming, thoughtful person that never existed, that your entire relationship was a sham, and that he did all these deceitful things just to lure you into a relationship with a liar, cheater, and manipulator who never truly can love anyone. Sexual abuse (along with emotional abuse, financial abuse, physical abuse, and spiritual abuse) is almost always part of the package, because a narcissist will use people like normal people use kitchen appliances. He will do the same thing in the next relationship, and the next, and the next…. But God can heal, and love can heal the broken heart. You can turn from a victim to victory!!! Make healing your #1 priority, lean into God, soak in His Presence, dig into His Word and you will see a zillion Narcissists that you had not even noticed before, surround yourself with good, safe people who appreciate the goodness in you, recognize that Satan is alive and well and has taken over the Narcissist, and be grateful that God has rescued you from what would have been a horrible future with him and has planned for you a wonderful future of peace, love, and rest. Guard your heart and wait for a godly man . . . and then have your Christian friends vet him and give their approval before you go down that path. If he is a godly man, he will understand and won’t mind. You are a beloved daughter of the King!! He delights in you!! He sings over you!! You are a Lioness because your papa is the Lion of Judah!!

      • Victim no more

        Thank you for your words Chatlene. I cried as you described what they do… No one that hasn’t been a victim of their manipulation and fallen in love with the person that doesn’t exist can understand…. Thank you for the words of strength …. I’m rebuilding … I always believed everyone was good with bad choices with the extreme exceptions of murderers, rapists etc…. After my encounter with this man the thought in my head was that evil lives among us and can fool us … Made me feel afraid and the first reaction I had when I realized who he was … Was to want to rub and wash my body like I had been violated over and over again by a person I didn’t know …. I wanted to wash him off of me …. I still remember crying and looking in the mirror at my naked body and trying to rub him off me …. As if it was a disease ….. I’m must must better now and so careful with men… Have not had the courage to get close to anyone …. But im working on myself and I’m a much stronger person now then I was before …. Thank you again…

      • Georgette

        Charlene, You are spot on regarding accepting the fact the narcissist was an illusion not real, never existed! Your words: God can heal, and love can heal the broken heart. You can turn from a victim to victory!!! The song tough love by Need to Breathe came to mind here is part of the lyrics:

        Trading punches with the heart of darkness
        Going to blows with your fear incarnate
        Never gone until it’s stripped away
        A part of you has gotta die to change

        In the morning you gon’ need an answer
        Ain’t nobody gonna change the standard
        It’s not enough to just feel the flame
        You’ve gotta burn your old self away

        Hold on tight a little longer
        What don’t kill ya, makes ya stronger
        Get back up, ’cause it’s a hard love
        You can’t change without a fallout
        It’s gon’ hurt, but don’t you slow down
        Get back up, ’cause it’s a hard love

        You know the situation can’t be right
        And all you ever do is fight
        But there’s a reason that the road is long
        It take some time to make your courage strong

        Hold on tight a little longer
        What don’t kill ya, makes ya stronger
        Get back up, ’cause it’s a hard love
        You can’t change without a fallout
        It’s gon’ hurt, but don’t you slow down
        Get back up, ’cause it’s a hard love

        This verse is my favorite:
        When the wolves come and hunt me down
        I will face them all and stand my ground
        ‘Cause there’s a fire burnin’ in me
        They will see my strength in this love I found

        Hold on tight a little longer
        What don’t kill ya, makes ya stronger
        Get back up, ’cause it’s a hard love
        You can’t change without a fallout
        It’s gon’ hurt, but don’t you slow down
        Get back up, ’cause it’s a hard love

        You are so spot on with this: recognize that Satan is alive and well and has taken over the Narcissist: I saw two dark souls going into the ex-narcissist. Your wisdom and your words of encouragement has helped me during the dark times. I go back and read your words and God through your words opens my eyes to see that I’m going down the narrow road and God is carrying me through this rough patch of road. Just want to say thanks.

    • Excellent books on these types of people are “The Sociopath Next Door” by Martha Stout and “Women who Love Psychopaths” by Sandra Brown She also has a great website at It will cure you of any notion that there is not evil among us. Just like some people are so filled with the Holy Spirit that they radiate God’s goodness, some people are so controlled by Satan that they ooze evil, and we feel very distressed when we are around them. They have no conscience, no remorse, no human empathy. And that’s just evil. Put on God’s armor and suit up for battle!

    • KT

      I know how you feel! I call them the walking dead. Completely soul (mind, will and emotions) dead. And they want to be the same way. So they infect you with venomous hurt, like you never knew existed then they dump you once they do so much damage to your soul and spirit and you’re hurt to your core!!! Then they start the cycle again with someone who can prop and boost their ego all while using them.

  13. hazelnut

    Thank you Pastor Dave for your dedication to write each week about the narcissism behaviors that for so many of us cause intense emotional suffering in daily lives. Reading your posts provides much insight, awakening to what is alive in me, and how to move along in life with hope and purpose. And to all those who post their stories and struggles – I’m moved and sometimes anguished with what people have endured and survived. It takes great courage to heal from the betrayal and soul destruction. You, we, all of us survivors are doing the work to move toward meaning in our lives. Love and prayers for all here.

    • Victim no more

      Amen ! Beautifully said … Thank you to all for sharing and pastor for trying to help us make some sense of these horrible encounters/experiences we have had. I know for me it has been a blessing to read and know I’m not alone… I wish none of us had to go through this but since we did unfortunately … It’s very comforting to me to know I’m not crazy and not alone and have your words to help me go through it and try to move on. Thank you!

  14. Joy

    My ex-husband has a huge reputation for being generous, and it’s a carefully crafted one. I believed it for a very long time, but eventually I couldn’t ignore that he gave when he had an audience. He had no concern about our house leaking, but would reroof someone else’s house and be a hero to that person and all their friends and family. He would treat me as if I don’t matter, but then give big gifts when we had an audience (Christmas, anniversary, etc.). If I was gone to help my mother for a while I’d come home to a house where the trash was overflowing and laying where it was dropped and not a single dish or piece of clothing had been washed over that week, but if my mother was coming home with me, I was shocked to walk into a spotless house. After we separated he kept asking if he could come over and help me on my new place…but he’d be too busy unless it was something outside where the neighbors and friends could see how generous he was. Indeed, I did hear about how wonderful he was being to me even though I’d left. It’s an eye opening experience once you see what he’s doing. Once during the separation, he gave me a compliment (rather unheard of thing for him to do) while I was on the phone with his sister-in-law…then he told me to tell her what he said! We’ve been divorced several years now. We don’t have much contact anymore and my life is so much more uncomplicated and peaceful (though I admit I was grief stricken for a long time). Contrast that with my boyfriend who spent his time off painting my cabinet doors in my basement while I was work, listening to tunes and not a sole to see him do it…and didn’t even want me to mention it on social media.

  15. Very much appreciated. ❤️ .. So like my mother. Can you please check out mine, when you get a moment?

    DearEmpathLoveAlwaysYourself – Letters To MOM, From A Daughter of A Narcissistic Mother

  16. UnForsaken

    Thank you, fateofthefuture. Great essays and I must get to read them all! I think my Ns favorite tool is Bating, which goes along with the tactics you mentioned.

    Joy, you are so right about the audience! I have to live on my Ns generosity, but refuse to let my heart live on it, because that’s just a drought!

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