Spending Christmas around a narcissist is like pulling a chance card in Monopoly. Will you get something enjoyable or are you on the brink of pure punishment? It really could go either way and you won’t know what you get until the second it drops!
If the narcissist is able to use the holiday season to have access to a whole lot of narcissistic supply, then they can be high, happy and charming.
However, what’s more likely is the narcissist totally destroying Christmas for everyone else due to one main fact – they cannot stand an entire day that’s not all about them.
Let’s look into what’s behind narcissistic behaviour at Christmas time and what kind of tactics you can expect throughout the holiday season.
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What’s Behind the Narcissist and Christmas Behaviours?
For a narcissist, Christmas can be one of their most despised times of the year. Right at the root of narcissism is the need to feel important, special and above all others, in order to feed their False Self.
Somewhere in the narcissist’s childhood, a traumatic set of circumstances caused the narcissist to subconsciously discard their True Self.
To them, the True Self was a show of weakness and vulnerability. It was the cause of them having to feel such deep shame, unworthiness and rejection, which they absolutely could not stand to feel.
Without having that access to their True Self anymore, their ego was the only thing left to take over the show. It’s the ego, which has created a completely false reality for the narcissist, with their False Self being the front for it all.
This is what the narcissist’s False Self now sees as a reality:
- “I am the centre of the universe.”
- “There is no person, thing or entity that is higher than me.”
- “I am perfect.”
- “I am never wrong.”
- “I don’t make mistakes.”
- “Everyone envies me and wishes they could be me.”
- “I answer to no one as I am the one to be idolised.”
- “Everyone around me must sustain me with their life force energy.”
- “Everyone around me must bow down to me and revere me like a God.”
- “Everyone around me must solve my problems and bear the weight of my wrath.”
As Christmas day rolls around, it comes as a stark reminder to the narcissist that they are in fact not the centre of the universe, however, they absolutely reject that notion.
So, to avoid having to play along with this day where other people are going to need to be taken into account, the narcissist will have the knee-jerk reaction of sabotaging the whole thing.
They have no desire to witness other people feeling authentic joy and happiness because somewhere deep inside, they know that they’re not capable of experiencing those same feelings.
Such a joyful day serves as an unwanted reminder to the narcissist of just how little they truly fit in and how different they are from all of the other humans. It’s a reminder of their defectiveness, which they rejected from themselves long ago. So, to counter that defect, they invert their reality to create an illusion of the exact opposite.
What this means for those around the narcissist at Christmas time is that the narc is likely to be sullen, avoidant, rude, rageful, punishing or do whatever it takes to steal the entire limelight for themselves.
They will do whatever is necessary to have as much attention (good or bad) as possible going towards them. They cannot stand the thought of others getting any attention as that means less supply for them.
At the end of the day, that’s what it all comes down to. The narcissist needs a constant stream of life force energy being fed to them from others so that they actually feel alive, significant and worthy.
|READ: What is Narcissistic Supply? →
What to Expect From a Narcissist at Christmas
Be Completely Extravagant
Some narcissists gain a significant amount of attention at Christmas time by throwing the ‘best’ Christmas event! Being the highly competitive creatures that they are, they aim to put on the biggest, fanciest, most happening party going on that year.
But it can’t just be an amazing party, it needs to be seen as being the best party. Remember, appearances are everything in the world of a narcissist. After all, what’s the point in putting in all that effort if no one congratulates them and admires them for all of their efforts?
That’s where the narcissistic supply is at my friend – it’s all about the energy that gets funnelled towards them via the attention. That’s what makes them feel extremely significant, important and above all others.
Grandiose narcissists are known for splashing their resources (cash, home, car, boat, contacts etc.) at Christmas time, just to make sure that the focus stays 100% fixed on them. It’s not that they want to share their stuff, but rather that their stuff becomes a useful tool in ‘buying’ people’s energy.
Boycott the Planning
On a smaller scale, you may be dealing with a narcissistic family member who actively overtakes all of the planning for the family Christmas day. They won’t compromise towards what the other family members want and will completely control everything, right from the food and location, to the start time.
Rather than asking what is going to work for others, they’ll demand who goes where and how the day plays out.
This is particularly the case for an altruistic narcissist who needs to be seen to be doing all of the things. They need everyone’s validation for all of their effort, which is what grants them supply.
“Oh my goodness [insert name], you are so amazing! I don’t know how you managed to put all of this together, as well as working full-time, plus raising the kids and volunteering in the community. You really are a superwoman!”
Altruistic narcissists get their supply (interestingly) from doing things for others, but with the full expectation that they receive glowing accolades in return.
Everything they do is for the trophy and public recognition. It’s never out of the kindness of their heart or for the other people involved. If you want to see true narcissistic vengeance, allow an altruistic narcissist to do something for you and make sure to not put them on a pedestal for it!
Monopolise Your Time
Narcissists don’t care that most people have multiple families to fit in on one single day at Christmas. In their world, they are the most important one, therefore you should be prioritising them on that day.
“I am your mother/ father. Children must come to their parents on Christmas day!”
This can especially be the case with a narcissistic parent. They’ll often guilt trip their kids with their matriarch/ patriarch role, so that the children feel obliged to meet their parent’s needs (regardless of what their own needs are).
Since narcissists don’t have a conscience, they really could not care less about how their selfishness affects you and all of your other relationships. They want what they want, so don’t you dare withhold that from them!
Spend the Day Bragging
If there’s one past time a narcissist loves, it’s talking about themselves… for hours on end, without taking a breath.
Some narcissists at Christmas will use the day as an annual mark of self-promotion. This is where they get to brag to all of their family about what a fantastic year they’ve had. They’ll embellish (or completely fabricate) a storybook full of successes and achievements. You know… just to reiterate that they are the most special and prosperous member of the entire family line.
They’ll tell you about the cruise they took through the tropics, the advancements they made at work and how they’re now sitting on an impressive six figure income. If they’ve rubbed shoulders (whether real or fictional) with anyone influential, you’ll be sure to hear about it.
Oh, but it doesn’t stop there. Just wait until they bring out the photos! Whether it’s photos of the grandkids, their uber successful Instagram account or pics of their fancy holidays, you can bet that their experiences always trump everyone else’s.
And when your eyes begin to glaze over through sheer boredom, don’t worry, that won’t deter the narcissist… they’ll power on through. They might as well be talking to a cardboard cut-out for all they care.
As long as they get to spend Christmas day feeling admired, they’ll have the benefit of getting high on their favourite drug – narcissistic supply. Even if no one at the Christmas party is actually admiring them, as long as they think that people are envious of them, that’s all that matters when it comes to feeding the ego.
Do Absolutely Nothing
Narcissists never do anything unless there’s something in it for them – not even for their kids, parents or partner.
You can bet your bottom dollar that unless the narcissist is going to gain applause for preparing a beautiful meal, personally gift-wrapping the presents or being an excellent host, you might as well expect nothing from them.
Don’t be surprised to find them spending the day kicking back, ordering others around (to make sure everything rolls out the way they want it to), but not actually putting in any effort themselves.
“Don’t expect me to put in effort to make someone else’s day special. I am the most important one here. The focus should be on me, not them.”
The extremely selfish behaviour, which oozes out of a narcissist on Christmas day is particularly typical of the covert variety. They are so completely entitled and lazy that why should they have to prepare the food or wash the dishes? Those jobs are for the mere minions (in their opinion).
If you’re parenting alongside a narcissist, I’m sure you’re well adapted to organising all of the gifts, food, decorations and other particulars for the festivities. Yet the narcissist will be more than happy to slap a ‘we’ tag onto the whole thing and claim the credit for all of your hard work.
Be a Late-show or a No-show
Narcissists love making a grand entrance and being the centre of attention as they blast through the door.
You can fully anticipate the narc to show up late to the Christmas party, then expect everyone to fawn over them. They aim to reinforce the grand illusion that they’re a busy and highly sought-after individual, who was gracious enough to grant you with a slice of their time.
On the contrary, the narcissist may decide to not show up to the Christmas party at all, even if they did say they’d be there.
They will entirely expect people to chase after them with calls and messages, even though they’ll probably be rude and fob them off. Being chased makes them feel extremely important, validated and significant.
While a normal person would think, “Oh, that was nice that people checked in on me,” a narcissist will think, “It’s the least they could do after everything I’ve done for them.”
The only reason a narcissist is going to get excited about buying gifts for others is if they can somehow extract supply from the whole situation.
They don’t want to spend money on others and they certainly don’t want to waste their time looking for meaningful presents that will bring joy to others.
If a narcissist does put some effort into buying gifts, it’s because they expect something in return.
A narcissist gives nothing for free.
What a narcissist seeks to gain from gift-giving:
- Adoration – “Oh my goodness, I love the gift you gave me. You are so awesome!”
- Envy – “Wow, this must have cost a fortune.”
- Collateral – So they can use it against you if you ever hold them to account for selfish behaviour
- Indebtedness – You will forever owe them for their one act of generosity
- Appearances – To keep up the appearance of being the ‘great’ partner/ person that they want the rest of the world to view them as
- Manipulation – To butter you up and keep you trauma bonded to them, “Oh see, they really do care about me after all.”
On the flip-side, narcissists are just as likely to not give any gifts at all or give completely thoughtless items, which may as well go straight to the trash or charity bin.
More Narcissist Gift-giving behaviours:
- Whinge about what they did or didn’t get
- Compare their gifts to what others got
- Give things that they like, rather than what the receiver would like
- Give cheap and crappy gifts, with zero meaning
- Choose to not buy gifts at all with no compassion towards how others may feel
|READ: Why Are Narcs So Stingy? →
Refuse to Participate
Sometimes a narcissist will straight up refuse to participate in Christmas altogether.
If you bring up the topic of gifts, they’ll say, “I’m not wasting my money on that crap. Don’t expect anything from me.”
If they’re fully aware that Christmas and gift-giving is something you love to participate in, this statement serves to invalidate you, your traditions and your happiness.
The idea of having a happy celebration where the focus won’t be on the narcissist for an entire day is utter torment to them, so they’ll just say, “Nope, I’m not doing it.”
Maybe Christmas is all set to be at your family’s house this year. If they don’t like your family or they know that your family don’t particularly like them, they’ll flat out refuse to go. They don’t care how much pain this inflicts upon you and how torn you are between seeing your family and trying to keep them happy.
In fact, all of the inner turmoil they create by putting a wedge between you and your family makes them feel all the more powerful and significant. In addition to that, it serves to further isolate you from your loved ones. This works to deepen their place in your world as being the most important person.
When narcissists want to isolate you, they’ll use Christmas to create dramas and obstacles that never existed before.
- “Your Mum makes me feel so uncomfortable.”
- “Your brother always picks an argument with me for no reason.”
- “I feel so left out by your family.”
- “Your Dad is so difficult.”
What they aim to do here is to make you feel like you need to side with the narcissist as they start to implant negative thoughts and beliefs around your family.
Over time, as the psychological manipulation continues, you’ll start to really believe their false perspectives about your family and slowly distance yourself from them. Little do you know that the narcissist is getting you to cut out your own support crew.
|READ: Narcissist Trauma Bonding →
Get Blind Rotten Drunk
What better way to tap out of having to show up for anyone besides themselves than by getting rolling drunk.
This keeps them firmly in the spotlight by making damn sure that no one can forget their presence in the room. To a narcissist, any attention is good attention – positive or negative, they care not.
Narcissists can be obnoxious when they’re drinking as it tends to over-inflate their false sense of confidence, while reducing their inhibitions. In other words, they’ll feel even more entitled to say and do whatever they feel like, with zero regard to how that may affect those around them.
If anyone tries to pull them up on their behaviour (whether it be on the day or afterwards), they’ll claim, “Oh, that was just the booze, don’t take it personally.”
As per usual, they will avoid all accountability for their actions and if anyone takes offence to that, it’s everyone else’s fault, not theirs.
Abandon or Discard
There are so many ways a narcissist can abandon or completely discard the people in their life at Christmas.
They may take off for days (sometimes even weeks!) on end, so that they can bounce from one festive party to the next. They’ll feel so important at having such a full calendar of events to attend, that you become even more irrelevant to them than you were throughout the year.
The narcissist will have no qualms about you staying at home by yourself, holding the fort and tending to the kids/ pets/ household tasks while they’re off living the high life.
If you dare to bring up their selfish behaviour, get ready for…
- “I’ve worked my ass off all year for this!”
- “What, am I not even allowed to enjoy my own work Christmas party?”
- “You get to stay at home, doing whatever you want and I can’t even catch up with my mates on the holidays.”
- “If you don’t like it, you can leave.”
- “You’re not my mother, quit telling me what to do.”
Another way that narcissists like to free themselves up for the holiday season and not have to be accountable for their behaviour is to break up with their partner at the eleventh hour.
Yep, they will literally discard their partner right before Christmas day so that they don’t have to buy gifts, do the family thing or partake in a day that is not all about them.
They may have another easy supply on the side, ready to go. Or, they may go off and be a free entity during the holidays then come back around to hook the ex back in right afterwards. They will offer false apologies, fake future plans and restart the love bombing process to get them back into their cycle of abuse.
|READ: The Narc Abuse Cycle →
Create an Argument
As another excuse to completely get out of Christmas, narcissists will often create an argument out of thin air either leading up to the day or on the day itself.
One tactic here is to use the argument as a way of not having to give you anything. Whether it be time, attention, affection, gifts, help with the food and preparations and so on.
Instead, they’ll use the argument as just cause for dishing out the silent treatment to punish you. Because in the narcissist’s warped reality, it’s all your fault that they’re feeling so shitty about not having the ability to genuinely feel joy.
|READ: 9 Blame-shifting Tactics →
Another tactic is to use the argument as a way of riling you up, so that you’re extremely emotionally charged, which hands them a significant amount of narcissistic supply.
Plus, as you head on out into Christmas day, you will be so focussed on the injustice, anger and sadness of the argument with the narcissist, that they effectively get to monopolise your headspace for the entire day. In other words, they get to remain the centre of your attention, which is exactly what they need and want in order to receive supply.
Don’t be surprised to see a narcissist start a fight with someone else during the Christmas celebrations. Whether someone says something that triggers a narcissistic injury in them or them just fly into a rage because they cannot handle the lack of attention and supply they’re getting.
In that moment, they feel out of control and may be slipping inwards to that deep dark place of self-loathing and hatred. To counter that unacceptable feeling, they’ll project the energy outwards like an explosion, which will give them an immediate hit of narcissistic supply. The drug they so desperately need in order to feel relief from themselves.
It’s not uncommon for narcissists to make promises for the Christmas holiday period, yet not actually have any intention of holding true to their word. This is called ‘future faking.’
They may promise to go with you to visit your family, only to have to work at the last minute or ‘fall ill.’
Maybe they build you up with some amazing holiday plans or promise that they’ll get you a particular item you’ve been wanting so much.
But when the time comes, they’ll either ‘forget’ that they promised you or gaslight you with a denial that the conversation ever happened. Or, something will conveniently pop up, rendering them broke and unable to follow through with their plans.
Here’s why narcissists intentionally disappoint:
- To remain in a position of power whereby they control your life and your happiness
- To erode your self-worth, identity and independence
- To get what they want by making the promise, without having to actually give anything in return
- To hold you in a place of hopefulness
- To create the illusion of being a ‘loving’ or ‘considerate’ person
Be a Victim
If the narcissist does show up on Christmas day, they may spend the whole time playing a victim role, purely so they can garner sympathy and remain a central focus.
They may feign or play up an illness or injury, making them unable to help and putting the obligation on others to wait on them hand and foot.
Or, they may spend the day wallowing in ‘sadness’ using the death of someone in their world or the memory of “that year my Mum walked out when I was a kid.” Anything they can embellish or concoct to play on other people’s empathy and compassion will do the job just fine.
|READ: Truth Behind the Narc’s Tears →
Be Moody and Contemptuous
We’ve all known that person, somewhere along the line, who spends every party sitting in the corner with a scowl on their face. They’ll spend the entire time complaining about the weather, the food, the location, the other guests, the dog… anything and everything.
You wonder why they even bother going at all!
Well, this behaviour is very typical of some narcissists who do attend the Christmas gathering, but resent everyone around them for the very fact that they’re even there.
You can put many of the covert narcissists into this category. While they don’t have the extroverted, charming nature of the grandiose narcissists, they still have the same inner belief of being entitled and superior to those around them.
Being in the presence of a moody and contemptuous narcissist can really bring the vibe of the whole party ten notches down. They wish nothing more than to bring everyone down to their miserable frequency because they lack the empathy required to allow others to feel joy when they cannot.
The trick is to leave them to their sullenness and go and enjoy yourself in spite of their dark energy. It’s their burden to carry and should not be the responsibility of anyone else.
Use Christmas to Hoover You
If you’ve extracted yourself from the narcissist and have limited or cut contact with them, they are extremely likely to use Christmas as an excuse to hoover you back into their abuse cycle.
Beware, it’s not because they love you or miss you. It’s purely because they want more access to your life force energy and nothing more.
Holidays and events are the perfect time for them to send a seemingly innocent message, whereby they will tap into your kindness and empathy.
|READ: Can a Narcissist Miss You? →
Some narcissist Christmas message examples:
- “Hey, just wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas.”
- “Been thinking of you. This time of year always reminds me of the good times we had together.”
- “I’m sorry about how things went down, but you really did bring it on yourself.”
- “Wanna catch up for a holiday drink?”
- “I wish things were different. Would you consider giving us another shot? I’m a changed person now.”
The whole idea is that they want you to break no contact and engage in conversation with them again.
Once they’ve got you talking, they can weasel back into your life and manipulate you into handing over more supply. They may even be aiming to get you caught up in confusing word salads, where you feel the need to defend yourself against their outrageous accusations.
Either way, when you’re hooked into conversation with them, they’ll be using you to extract life force energy.
|READ: Responding to a Narc’s Text →
How to Deal with a Narcissist Christmas Grinch
Once you’re aware that the difficult person you’re dealing with is a narcissist, you can begin to move forward with some strategy.
The narcissist Christmas grinch is likely to pull all sorts of self-serving tricks out of the bag around the holiday season. They need to flip the script back onto themselves during that one time of the year that is unequivocally not all about them.
Here are some ways to deal with a narcissist at Christmas time, so that they don’t ruin your holidays.
Don’t Expect Anything
The first rule of having a narcissist around at Christmas is to not actually expect anything from them. Don’t rely on them for anything important, because they’ll just as likely ‘forget,’ change their mind, ignore you or ditch you for something ‘better.’
If they show up, great. If not, even better.
When it comes to planning the day, organising food and gifts, preparing the house for guests and so on, it’s all down to you. So, put on a Christmas movie or Christmas carols and get into the holiday cheer without their selfishness bringing you down!
Detach and Ignore
The narcissist’s whole game is to get you and others swept up in their world whereby they are the central point.
Whether their attention seeking behaviour is of a positive or negative nature, the outcome is always the same. They need to be the most significant person in the room so that they can siphon everyones energy from them.
Being able to see through the narcissist’s mask grants you the opportunity to detach from them and ignore their childish antics.
Your obligation is to yourself at Christmas. It’s 100% your choice to focus on making your own day joyful and sharing it with those who are authentically loving and supportive. If the narcissist chooses to wallow in self-pity or act like an overgrown toddler, that’s on them.
Go ‘No Contact’
Just remember that you are well within your rights to cut all contact with the narcissist if you so choose. However, I understand that there are some toxic people who are harder to walk away from than others, especially when it comes to family members.
But first and foremost, your personal responsibility is to your own mental and spiritual well-being. And more often than not, that means eliminating toxic people from your life, which is your absolute soul birthright.
Choose your own adventure!
If the narcissist decides to contact you over Christmas, you are not obliged to respond. If you do not want to see the narcissist during the holidays, you are well within your power to not do so.
You get to choose the boundaries that you’re comfortable with so that you’re not over-giving to anyone, let alone someone who’s in the business of taking.
|READ: Going No Contact →
Prioritise Your Healing
If you are fearful of the narcissist’s wrath for not complying with their false storyline, I completely understand, having been there myself.
The presence of fear around what the narcissist might do to ‘punish’ you for being non-compliant is real! It’s also your greatest teacher in what deep inner wounds within yourself still need to healed.
If there are no triggers for the narcissist to set off, then they have nothing to work with and therefore have zero power over you.
Healing your wounds really is the only answer.
For me personally, I found working with Selena Hill (spiritual coach – see below) to be the only modality to truly get in deep and remove the trauma out of my subconsciousness forever.
The best advice is always to choose yourself!
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