Tis the season of lights, mugs of hot chocolate, and giving gifts to the ones you love...unless you are a narcissist.
Here's the thing: Narcissists hate the holidays. Anything that takes attention away from them is enemy number one, so that goes for birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries, and any other gift-giving occasion. It took me about a year and a half to realize that my ex-husband had never given me a gift for any occasion, despite the fact that I was giving him things for special occasions. I'm not even a "gift person"...if we're talking in terms of "love languages," mine are words of affirmation and quality time. I never thought I cared about gifts at all, until I realized that I didn't get anything from him, ever.
I was giftless in our marriage from 2012 until 2014 when I was doing his greencard application for him. I gave him handmade cufflinks for our wedding. He hadn't even gotten me an engagement ring until the day before our wedding, and only then, because he had to. It was nothing I'd asked for and nothing like the pictures of things I liked that I sent him. I told him I didn't even need a diamond...just something unique and affordable. He came back the day before our wedding with a band half-lined with tiny diamonds, and complained how much he had to spend on it. I apologized, and told him that he didn't need to have done that. Our wedding was three days after Christmas. I gave him a small gift of a tshirt he liked and a full-series set of dvds of his favorite show. He gave me nothing, but I understood, because he had just spent "so much" on my ring. Since we were long distance, I'd find little things here and there that reminded me of him or of us and send them to him...he never did that. Valentine's day came and went. I sent him a card filled with sentiments about how much I loved and missed him. Nothing from him. Then came my birthday. Nothing. Not even a card in our first year together. For his birthday a month later, I bought him concert tickets to one of his favorite bands who was playing in town. Then came Christmas again. We got into a huge fight on Christmas eve, and he still hadn't bought me anything. He stormed out saying "Now I have to go buy you a f&#*ing gift! This should be great!" He came back with eyeshadow that my mom had already bought me for Christmas, and he knew it, forcing my mom to return hers.
I never brought it up until March 2014 when we were preparing for our greencard interview. I said "They want to see receipts from gifts we've exchanged and cards we've given each other...I have copies of all of the cards and receipts from gifts I've given you, but you've never given me anything..." He panicked. "We have to get our story straight!" he exclaimed. "
"Story? What story? I love you. There's no story here on my part."
"Oh, you're going to be like this again? If you doubt me I'LL LEAVE RIGHT NOW!" he screamed.
I apologized for "doubting him."
He once told me that the only gifts he gave anyone were things that he liked and could use himself. I thought he was kidding...up until he bought me a smart watch for my birthday that year. I never wore watches...he loved watches and had a watch collection. Of course, we were long distance at the time, and the "gift" arrived two weeks after my birthday. And when he came home months later, he took it with him back to his country. I never saw that watch again.
"You didn't like it anyway," was his justification for taking the "gift" he bought me.
From that point until we broke up the final time the following year, I got a few gifts from him, but all things he liked that weren't my style at all--two pairs of Swarovski crystal earrings. They looked like diamonds, but weren't REAL diamonds. I didn't like diamonds at all, and he was very into fake things that looked expensive. A glass rose for Valentine's Day with a cheesy, pre-written poem about love...he sent that while he was cheating on me with the other woman. Same with the fake diamonds, actually. And that year for my birthday, I got a pink (I hate pink) purse that he'd gotten for free from one of his celebrity appearances. He made sure to let me know that he'd spent MORE THAN HALF of his free gift certificate on me.
It wasn't until I ended my marriage and started researching narcissism that I realized this was a common theme amongst narcissists...they don't give gifts, and if they do, it's only things that they'll use/take themselves. Overarchingly, it's also NOT NORMAL in a relationship to NEVER get any gifts. I made every excuse for him, but when it came down to it, it was very hurtful and very much not ok with me to always be giving and never receiving...again, a very common theme with narcs.
So this holiday season, take note...if you give an never receive, it may be time to re-evaluate your relationship...and your partner may be a narc if he's consistently a Scrooge or makes a big deal about how much he "hates Christmas" or makes you feel guilty about spending any amount of money on a gift for you.
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