Opinion: Narcissists Use Gift-Giving To Fulfill Own Selfish Desires

Stacy Ann


My friend confessed that she was nervous because her new boyfriend wanted to take her on a shopping spree for her upcoming birthday. They had been dating for six months, and although things were great, the idea of going shopping and letting him dote on her had thrown her for a loop.

When I dug a little deeper, my friend revealed the real reason she was nervous. Her ex-husband, who was extremely abusive and narcissistic, had used gifts as a weapon.

Several memories surfaced after hearing my friend's words, primarily around how gifts were leveraged in my relationship with a narcissistic ex. The gifts he bestowed upon me were never to make me feel special or loved. They were simply another means of manipulation.

Many narcissists will use gifts as leverage in their relationships instead of as a way to show affection and that they care… here are three reasons why it serves their selfish desires.

#1. They will give gifts as a means to gain control

In the early days of dating, when the love-bombing was still in full swing and my ex was on his best behavior, we went into a music store. While growing up, I played several instruments and mentioned in passing that I had always wanted a ukulele.

Christmas Day arrived a little over a month later, and I found myself opening a huge wrapped package from my ex that revealed the ukelele I had pointed out in the store. I was incredibly touched he had remembered and gotten me such a thoughtful gift.

That was the only “thoughtful” gift that I ever received, and it was constantly held over my head. When we would argue, the narcissist would say that I didn’t deserve the nice gift he had gotten me, which is a common tactic used when gift-giving with a narcissist.

The gesture I thought was so kind and sweet was simply another way to gain power over me.

They will give gifts that are primarily for their use.

It was our first and only valentine’s day together. Although I said we didn’t need to exchange gifts, my ex insisted. When I opened his gift, it revealed a baseball hat with the name of a sports team from a random state. The confusion must have shown on my face because I don’t wear hats, nor do I enjoy watching baseball, but he immediately smirked and commented, ‘If you don’t want to wear it, I’ll just wear it myself.”

It wasn’t until reflecting on our relationship that I clearly saw that any gift from my ex was always things that he either liked or could use himself.

According to a study done in Psychology Today, there have been several findings that narcissists give “gifts” that are really an investment in their own desires, not because they want to provide happiness to the people in their lives.

They will use your “bad” gifts to explain why they are the “better” ones in the relationship.

Partly in a last-ditch attempt to try to salvage our relationship, and partly because I was so upset about the baseball hat, I decided to get the narcissist a very nice gift for his birthday.

For months he had hinted at wanting an artistic custom-made ring that was by a local jeweler. I spent hundreds of dollars on a ring that had a special messaged engraved in it. When I gave it to him, he opened it, stared at it blankly, and said, “why did you ever think I would want this.” Not only was his remark completely devoid of gratitude, but he had also gaslighted me after he had specially said he wanted that ring.

After that, he constantly said how great he treated me and how I didn’t pull my weight in our relationship. He claimed that he knew me inside out and that his gifts reflected that, whereas the ones I gave were a constant disappointment.

Although this may seem strange, the idea that gifts can be used as leverage makes it important to remember the most important desires to a narcissist.

They want control, they want power, and they see themselves as better and more superior than you. You are dealing with someone who truly sees you as a lesser being, and no gift has the ability to change that dynamic.




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