Narcissists are notorious for completely ruining special occasions, point blank. I cannot tell you the number of birthdays and events my narcissist ex ruined, to the point where I actually used to dread the days.
He “forgot” my very first Mother’s Day, even though our baby was just eight weeks old – the wounds were literally still fresh! He would get road rage on my birthdays if we were going out, then spend the whole day complaining about how shitty the various locations were.
Despite knowing my food allergies, he’d buy cakes and foods that had those ingredients in them, then feign apologies, claiming again that he’d “forgotten” or “didn’t realise.” Then he and the kids would go on to enjoy the birthday foods and I’d be left without.
He stopped buying gifts after the first few years because I was “too hard to buy for.”
One year he flew into a rage the day before my birthday, which left me shaking and crying. He utterly despised my emotional reaction and had to punish me, so he sneered, “I was going to order you flowers for your birthday tomorrow, but not after that performance.” Then that night he kept me awake for hours playing the victim. He proceeded to blame the powers outside of himself for his cruel behaviour. It wasn’t his fault, “something just came over him…”
I was so utterly exhausted and broken the next day that my only focus was just to drag myself through the day and survive it. There were no gifts, no outings, nothing special. My only birthday wish was to be left the hell alone.
Back when I was still a spring chicken, I remember my narcissistic mother asking me how I wanted my 21st party to roll out. Then she ‘surprised’ me with the party that she wanted, going against all of my requests and wishes. If I was to have said anything, I would have been tarnished with the, “how dare you be so ungrateful!” brush, so I bottled it up and said nothing.
Honestly I could go on and list so many of the birthdays, Christmases and other events that have been ruined throughout my life from narcissists. I’m sure if you’re reading this post, you’ve probably got a library full of your own ruined events.
I actually didn’t even realise that narcissists ruining special events was a thing until after I’d extracted myself from my narc ex husband. As is so common after years of narcissistic abuse, I just thought there was something wrong with me.
“Why did I not get excited about birthdays and special occasions the way other people did?
Why did I so dread days that were supposed to be about me?
Why did I actively play down my own days and prefer to read a book by myself, rather than celebrate?”
I’d learnt from a very early age that a quiet and peaceful birthday or special occasion was the most relaxing way I knew how to spend the day. Without having the right vocabulary to express what was going on inside of me, I just knew that those days weren’t safe or special to me in any way.
I just wanted to survive them with as little tears and anxiety as possible and get those days over and done with.
Maybe you can relate to some or all of these feelings and scenarios.
So, why do narcissists ruin special occasions, birthdays and holidays?
Because having to go through an entire day with the focus on somebody else is utterly excruciating for them. They believe that you are there to serve them, not the other way around. Narcissists feel that having to selflessly give to someone else, without anything being in it for them, is a form of torture.
Not being able to be the most important person in the room causes a huge narcissistic injury for them. And the moment a narcissist is triggered, projecting their rubbish onto the outside world is like a knee-jerk reaction.
Let’s explore the specific reasons behind why narcissists ruin special occasions.
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Why Do Narcissists Ruin Special Occasions?
Takes the Attention Off Them
A major piece of narcissism is the fact that they believe themselves to be superior and more special than everyone else. Along with that comes a supreme entitlement, which makes them feel as though all things should always be about them.
In fact, the level of “me, me, me” in the world of a narcissist is off the charts!
Even when it’s someone else’s birthday, they do not feel that the day should be about the other person. They are the most important person in the room, so don’t you dare think you’ll have an entire day centred just around yourself. That’s not going to happen if you have a significant narcissist in your life.
They Have to do Things for Others
Narcissists are entirely selfish creatures. They cannot stand the idea of having to actively do things for others. In fact, it’s not just that they don’t like it – the very idea of being forced to do things for others because of a date on the calendar goes directly against what their ego dictates.
Due to cultural or religious expectations, they are basically being told that they must spend at least a part of the day putting somebody else first. The whole thing is utterly exhausting for them.
“What’s in it for me?” – said every narcissist ever!
For the narcissist to keep their public mask in place, they really have to work hard on those days to not lose control, otherwise their behaviour would become particularly obvious.
If you watch a narcissist closely on special occasions that aren’t about them, you’ll notice an undertone of anger, resentment and irritation about them. They typically spend the day with such a short fuse, you don’t know when they’re going to blow their top.
They Lack Empathy & Compassion
A normal, healthy person really struggles to understand how someone else could purposefully ruin another person’s special moment without actually feeling guilty, right?
The missing piece of the puzzle for a narcissist is having a connection with their True Self. Our True Self is the part of us that’s responsible for authenticity, empathy, compassion and kindness. It’s the essential piece which allows us to truly be human.
Without a connection to their True Self, they are run completely by their ego. The ego can only exist within a paradigm of competition, selfishness, greed and manipulation.
This explains why the narcissist can do the awful things they do without feeling a scrap of remorse or guilt. The ego does not feel guilty for winning and protecting itself at all costs – it simply feels superior because it won.
When dealing with a narcissist it’s helpful to remember that you’re not dealing with a whole person. They are incomplete and fractured. They do not have the capacity to be real, authentic human beings who take full responsibility for themselves and their existence.
Narcissists lack empathy and will seek to destroy anyone who tries to call them out, threatening the position of their ego.
Don’t expect any remorse of apologies from a narcissist. They don’t care and they’re not sorry.
Different Ways Narcissists Ruin Special Occasions
A narcissist may completely ignore you and your special day just to reiterate the fact that you’re not important and that they will not celebrate a day about you.
If you live with them, they might ‘forget’ that it’s your birthday or anniversary. Then when you bring it up, they’ll make you feel insignificant and needy for expecting anything from them. Or, they might shift the storyline and blame you for the fact that they ignored it or forgot about it.
They are choosing not to celebrate or show gratitude towards you because they do not genuinely feel those things.
A narcissist doesn’t actually appreciate you, they expect things of you in return for them being a special, superior and amazing person.
And while they’ll ruin your day, you had better make damn sure you idolise them on their day! My ex even made us redo his birthday one year because he didn’t feel ‘special’ enough. I wish I was kidding…
Control the Planning
Given that any special occasion must be centred around the narcissist or no one at all, some narcissists will totally monopolise the planning of such events. Grandiose and altruistic narcissists often fall into this category.
If it’s a group or family event, they will want to be in full control of all the plans (food, drinks, location, guest list etc.). You can bet that the plans are always to the benefit of the narcissist.
If they want to host the party at their house, good luck to anyone who tries to advocate for a different venue. If they decide on the type of food, they will manipulate the thoughts of anyone who might want to go with a different option. They will hound and convince that person that their own plan is the best plan and not stop until that person has submitted to them.
Won’t Put in Any Effort At All
On the flip-side of the over-involved narcissists are the the narcs who are lazy, contemptuous and quite frankly above all of this fuss.
These are often the covert narcissists who will not help with the food preparations and clean up. They will expect to be served up all of the goods at an event or party without having actually lifted a finger to help.
They probably didn’t make an effort to buy a gift or claim to have “forgotten” or “didn’t know what to get,” so they didn’t bother doing anything at all.
These narcissists are the ones who are often found sitting in a corner complaining the whole time, bringing the mood down for those around them.
Play the Victim
A narcissist can so easily play the victim on a day that’s not about them. Their aim is pure and simple – to play on people’s empathy and shift the focus off the other person’s special day and back onto them.
They may use an illness, the death of someone they know or even loss of a job to play the victim. Or, it could be something much more trivial than that. Blaming the weather or stubbing their toe can totally be used as a justification for their foul mood, just so that they can play, “poor me.”
They’ll pull out of all their victim sob stories of how their childhood Christmases were so hard because their father abandoned them. Or, they might tell you that they just can’t enjoy this date because it reminds them of their old friend that died.
Narcissists are pathological liars, meaning that they actively lie to manipulate for their own gain. You might be able to sprinkle some half truth over their stories… or maybe not.
Don’t let a narcissist’s sob stories ruin your holiday or special day!
Show Up Late or Not At All
Some narcissists will show up late to the birthday party or event and expect an entourage when they do finally walk through the door. I mean, you should be so lucky that they found time in their busy schedule to fit you in at all!
Another tactic is to be a no-show because they want people to grovel and reach out to them. Remember, for the narcissist, the birthday mustn’t be about the birthday person, it needs to be about them.
If someone does send a messaging asking after them, they may play the victim to gain sympathy. Or, if no one chases after them at all, they’ll be incredibly resentful towards everyone, especially the person who’s special day it was.
Either way, they’re behaving like an overgrown toddler throwing a big old tantrum because nobody was paying them any attention!
It’s all about extracting narcissistic supply (life force energy) from people.
During holiday season, there can be lots of parties and events happening. Narcissists will love this time of year if they have lots of social engagements because it makes them feel even more important and special.
They may just bounce from one party to the next, without coming home for days. They’ll expect you to continue keeping the house, raising the kids and making sure everything gets done while they’re off basking in their royal glory.
If you try to communicate that you’re feeling left out or that they’ve been neglecting their home life, they’ll just flip the script and project the blame onto you.
“You’re so selfish. I’ve been working hard all year for this!”
“Oh it’s all about you, isn’t it.”
“What, so I’m not even allowed to celebrate with my coworkers?”
“You can go out with your friends, I’m not stopping you,” (even though you’re stuck at home with all the kids and responsibilities).
Selfish Gift-giving & Receiving
Narcissists ruin special occasions well and truly with the gift-giving process.
They will either give gifts that they like, rather than what the recipient actually likes and if that person dares mention that it’s not really their style, they’ll be met with, “you’re so ungrateful!”
Or, they’ll give gifts that make them look good, so that they can gain narcissistic supply through the attention and admiration they receive in the process. With this type of gift-giving you can expect for the narc to tell you exactly how much the gift cost them. By them disclosing the value of the gift, they are quite often laying down the groundwork for you to owe them for their generosity. It’s definitely not a no-strings-attached deal!
When narcissists give ‘showy’ gifts, they actively place themselves in the spotlight due to their great “charity.” If they don’t get the expected praise from the gift, they will get incredibly grumpy and resentful. Because, what was the point of going to all that effort if no one put them on a pedestal for it, right?
Another way narcissists ruin special occasions and birthdays is by complaining about their gift. If they don’t love it, they’ll let you know in no uncertain terms that it’s the wrong size, shape, smell, colour etc. and won’t even pretend to appreciate the effort you went to.
How narcissists ruin special occasions through gifts:
- Complain about what they did/ didn’t get
- Give gifts they like, rather than what the recipient would like
- Give ‘showy’ gifts purely to gain admiration (plus, you now owe them)
- Give cheap, useless and unthoughtful gifts
- Compare their gifts to what others got
- Don’t bother buying gifts at all
Set You Up for Disappointment
Future faking is an iconic narcissist tactic and one that can be used brilliantly around holidays and special events.
The narc can use the occasion to promise you a great gift, a well-deserved holiday or a trip to see your family. Then at the eleventh hour, they’ll get sick, have to work or not have the money to go ahead with it.
As for the gift, they’ll come up with some excuse for not being able to afford it, end up getting you something really crappy or you’ll get nothing anything at all.
You will be left feeling so utterly disappointed and having to cancel plans and in turn disappoint others who you’ve made arrangements with.
Why do narcissists build you up, then disappoint you?
- To invalidate you and chip away at your self-worth
- To psychologically reiterate that they have the power to give and take away
- To get what they want in the moment (instant gratification of some sort), but they never intend on following through
- To keep you dangling on the hook, hanging out for more
- To give the illusion of them putting in effort without having to actually do anything
Act Over the Top
Narcissists can quite often use birthdays and special occasions to go completely over the top for their partner, child or someone else. The energy behind this is actually quite sinister and as the recipient you can often feel that ickiness, even if you can’t put your finger on it.
You see, when the narc makes a big show about your special occasion, it’s to artificially show that they care and that they’re attentive and generous.
The whole point is to paint the public facade that they are the best partner, parent, child etc. on Earth.
The thing is, the appearance of their kindness goes directly against how they treat that person behind closed doors when they’re gaslighting, manipulating and raging.
But by reinforcing their public persona of being, “such a great person,” it makes it harder for abuse victims to be believed if they ever try to talk about it.
Why narcissists use special occasions to manipulate:
- To strengthen the trauma bond with an intermittent ‘reward’ despite their abuse
- To love bomb or hoover someone into their abuse cycle with gifts and attention
- To paint a public image of being the perfect person
- It helps victims to nullify the narcissist’s negative behaviour by thinking, “oh they really do care about me after all.”
Another way narcissists ruin special occasions, birthdays and holidays is by being entirely jealous.
They can spend the whole day comparing their birthday to your birthday, accusing you of getting more and having more. They’ll make you feel guilty for the fact that others are showing you love and appreciation on your special day.
The narcissist feels like they are deserving of all the admiration and attention. How dare you take that spotlight away from them for one single day of the year!
They may even feel the need to punish you for your ‘selfishness.’ Maybe they “accidentally” order the wrong take-out for dinner or “forget” to pick up your cake.
All of these things serve to pull you down a few pegs and put you back in the place where they like you… well and truly below them. They want to chip away at your self esteem so that you’re looking up them and worshipping them, not the other way around. Not even for one single day of the year!
Narcissists are known for wanting to isolate their partner, because it eliminates any chance of them talking about the abuse or having a good support system to help them ditch the narcissist.
Although narcs are all about superiority, deep inside they actually need you, not the other way around. Without you being their constant scapegoat, they would lose their supply (energetic life force) that they’re continuously extracting from you.
One way narcissists can isolate their partner is to slander their partner’s family and friends. They’ll do this subtly over time and make their partner increasingly feel that their friends and/ or family are against them or not supportive of the relationship.
At the same time, that narcissist will condition you to feel as though they are the only person who truly loves and supports you. None of this is true and only serves for the narcissist to claim you completely so that they can suck the life force out of you like a leech!
When it comes to holidays, Christmas, birthdays and other special events, the narcissist will often work to isolate you from your friends and family. This drives a wedge further in between those relationships, making it harder for you to connect to those people.
They might complain about how uncomfortable your mother always makes them feel or that your brother purposely goads you into arguments.
Whatever the case may be, the intention is to mess with your perspective and have you start slowly shifting over to their warped reality.
Start an Argument
The narcissist despises the fact that you might have a moment, which makes you super happy. Therefore, they must attack that moment and prevent it from happening.
Deep inside they are very spiteful, callous creatures who cannot stand to see others happy.
“How dare someone else be centre of attention and be feeling joy! That should be me taking centre stage, not them!”
They hate the fact that someone or something else is able to bring you joy. That makes them feel out of control, because they aim to be your sole puppet master. The power to giveth and taketh away from you must remain in their hands alone.
If they start an argument leading up to or on a holiday or special event, then you are not emotionally free to go and enjoy that time. You will be energetically wrapped up in their deluded world, focussing on them and feeding them narcissistic supply.
Also, when they are monopolising your energy, you’re less likely to be having fun with others and inadvertently forgetting about them.
They need to remain your whole world… and not in a good way.
How to Deal with Narcissists Ruining Special Occasions
If you’ve got a narcissist in your life, you’re almost guaranteed to have you to deal with them ruining special occasions, birthdays, holidays and events.
The narcissist is ruled by their ego, which needs to be fed narcissistic supply (life force energy) on the regular in order for that ego self to survive.
Peace and tranquility do not generate supply for the narcissist, so creating drama and chaos is a sure fire way to be getting their favourite drug.
When better to stir up a production than around significant dates and events.
Since the narcissist’s ego is purely driven on greed and selfishness, these events are the perfect example of the narc manipulating the world around them to continue to revolve around them. Even when the day isn’t about them, if they can still manage to get it to be, the ego really gets a power kick out of that.
So, how can we best deal with things when narcissists ruin special occasions? Here are a few tips.
The whole ploy of the narc is to get people caught up in their storylines and enmeshed in their reality. If you can detach from whatever they are saying and doing, as much as humanly possible, then you will not be feeding them.
This tactic is sure to aggravate the narcissist to no end, so they will try even harder to suck you in.
Knowing your truth and holding onto that is the key. When you can see right through the narcissist and know what their game is, you win simply by not playing.
Don’t Rely On Them
The narcissist is just as likely to give your plans the flick if they find a better offer, which has more in it for them. Especially if they find a new supply.
Make your own holiday and birthday plans without the narcissist, that way you don’t have be disappointed or angered by their attempts at sabotage.
Set Your Boundaries
If you’re dealing with a narcissist who you just can’t avoid, particularly a narcissistic partner or parent, be sure to set your boundaries.
Figure out within yourself what your deal breakers are and be prepared to walk away or disengage with them if they continue to push through those boundaries.
If your narcissist partner tries to project blame or pick a fight with you on your birthday, tell them that you won’t spend your birthday with someone who’s being so disrespectful towards you. This might be also be a really good time to assess your relationship with someone who’s so self-centred.
If it’s your narc mother who’s trying to completely take over Christmas day with no regard for what anyone else wants to do, let her know that you need to be taken into account or you’ll opt out.
It can get super tricky with family, but you don’t need to put up with abuse or toxic behaviour, no matter who that person is.
Let them Wallow in their own Consequences
If a narcissist is intent on creating a pity party or would rather seethe in anger and resentment… let them.
Your special day is for you to enjoy however you please. If they cannot handle that, well that’s their deep trauma to deal with, not yours. And we well know that they won’t self-reflect, but so be it.
It’s not your job to placate or rescue the narcissist from their own pain, they’re a grown ass adult, so that’s on them.
If they try to project their rubbish onto you, stand firm in your own truth and do not enter their delusional matrix.
Kill ’em with a kind smile and keep walking!
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