Giving Gifts to Narcissists

Gift giving is something that is very nice.  Giving and receiving should always give you a good feeling but that doesn’t exist for a narcissist or even for a frenemy.  Narcs are not capable of enjoying or sincerely being grateful for what they have received.  And because of this they attack/insult us when they receive a gift.

I do not know why that is exactly?  It seems at the moments you are the kindest to a frenemy or narc their response is the meanest.  My only guess into their messed up psyche is that the adoration goes to you as the gift giver.  You as the gift giver get the ‘Thank You’ and believe me they do not want to share the limelight with anyone.  If someone were to notice the gift you got them and they got a complement on it, they would be upset that it was about you and not them.  And if you combine this with their negative outlook on everything in life (that isn’t to do with them) then you get the mean, unusual, awful, hurtful comments back.

With both Marian and Lydia I found myself feeling so badly when I gave them a gift.  I can still remember how they reacted to them.  When I gave Marian 2 gifts…one was a scarf from a trip and the other was a bracelet from the jewerly store she likes for her birthday.  Upon receiving it she did the normal ‘Thanks’.  Narcissists can say ‘Thank you’ in situations when they know they are supposed to.  But the next day when we were alone she said…

‘oh I don’t really use scarves and the color doesn’t go with anything I have’

She lied…she wore scarves all the time and the color of the scarf was beige.  I blamed myself for not getting the right gift.  Her birthday gift was the same…she told me after a few weeks…

‘I never wear that bracelet you gave me…it doesn’t go with my outfits.’

The one time she wore it…she said ‘see, I’m wearing it.’ Ugh…no good feelings after that.  She no longer received gifts from me.

With Lydia it went the same way.  Because they (Don & Lydia) had dropped off and picked us up from the airport we got them something when we went on vacation.  We got them a scarf (it is a scarf from a special region and you can’t get it in any store).  Lydia didn’t even muster the word ‘Thank you’ and did not even take the scarf out of its packaging.  Don at least had done that and said Thank you.  A few weeks later Lydia says to me:

‘Oh, I got the usual scarf again from my sister in law.  I just seem to get scarves and I never wear them.’

I felt so bad.  I felt utterly terrible after she told me that.  I recently stopped the gift giving for their birthdays and holidays.  It is not worth the grief or the time and money I spent searching for a gift.

Any thoughts or other stories are welcome.

xx TR

Related posts:

@IBC: Gift Giving by Narcissists – Myth 5: A horse is a horse, of course

The Narcissistic Continuum: Super Santa


33 thoughts on “Giving Gifts to Narcissists

  1. It is always the thought that counts when it comes to giving gifts but when it comes to giving presents to narcissists, they don’t appreciate your sincerity and they give out this impression that they are so hard to please.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. my x gave himself a present the first year we were together! he had it wrapped and under the tree; he said he wanted to be sure he got something he really wanted! can you believe? after 27 years of trying to get him bday, christmas and father’s day gifts, not from just me but all the kids too, it’s heavenly now that we are no longer together. the quests for the non existent perfect gift are over!


    • this sounds so familiar. it’s shocking. I had this from my mother, she would throw away my gifts, angrily shouting that I never thought about what I was getting (she would get them out of the bin later if they were expensive). She would buy me what she wanted (sometimes clothes for someone twice my age) and leave the price on, saying I should know how much she had spent. It was hard when she died but I get a guilty feeling of relief every year at birthdays and Christmas knowing this will never happen again


  3. forgot to mention… he has significant NPD traits and over the top borderline personality disorder. i’ve only recently learned about either of those, when a guy i was dating up and disappeared in the strangest way. i googled the symptoms of the breakup and learned his behavior is consistent with a hard core narc. i then realized that is what i had been living with for 30 years w my X but didn’t know it was anything more than he just being his jerky self. it was very freeing to know the foundational crack was within his make-up; nothing i could have done would have changed that.


  4. My ex narcissist only bought me a couple of gifts (other than the ones that I paid for and let him tell people that he had bought them for me) and both times they were actually gifts that he bought for himself and said that they were for me. Soon he claimed that I didn’t appreciate it and that he was “just going to use it himself” and the other he stole out of my vehicle as he left the last time. As for the gifts I gave him, he would tell me exactly what to get and he would sell it soon after.


    • Hi Sparrow,
      It is so frustrating to exchange gifts with Ns. There is always a catch to it? Your story with your ex reminds that even when gift giving is about someone else Ns can still manage to make it about themselves.

      Thank you for sharing your story and reading.

      xxT Reddy


  5. What a terrific insight of ” My only guess into their messed up psyche is that the adoration goes to you as the gift giver. You as the gift giver get the ‘Thank You’ and believe me they do not want to share the limelight with anyone.” Thank you!


    • Hi ADoTNs,

      Thank you for reading and your comment! There were a lot of gift exchanges with my friends that didn’t feel right. When I found I out about N I started to pay attention to the feeling I got on the back of my neck. It sounds like you can unfortunately relate to this experience.

      xxoo T Reddy


  6. Thanks for shedding some light on what was a perplexing observation for me, gift giving to my ex-fiance who has, I am discovering, a narcissistic personality. She bailed on the relationship a little over a year ago, but I am still finding things out about the underlying dynamics involved. Whenever I gave her a well thought out gift, perfect in it’s selection, she would never use it, or take any joy in receiving it. Usually, I never saw or heard of it again, after the initial presentation. Now I can understand, at least a little bit, why that was so. Thanks for your efforts here, to share what you’ve learned. It certainly helped me out.

    Best regards,



    • Hi KJC,
      I apologize for my late reply; I missed this in the comment cue. I’m glad the post helped sort gift giving behaviours. xxTR


  7. Pingback: Myth 5: A horse is a horse, of course. | In Bad Company

  8. Pingback: Gift giving by Narcissists | In Bad Company

  9. When I treated my narc friend to a Christmas luncheon (it was her Christmas gift), she asked to see the menu after the lucheon was over. The selection of food was standard and pre-paid. She looked at the menu and ducked behind the menu and said to me, “Lunches are $22.” Haha……..goodbye!


  10. My ex didn’t have time to open his anniversary gift. I asked him for 5 days straight to do so, cause it was a book of us that I made (looked like a card with book binding). “Too busy at work” or no answer at all. He then got mad at me saying that he never said he was too busy at work. He was glad he never opened it, cause I made too much of a fuss about it. He broke up by text 2 weeks later. We had been together for 3 years. Just realizing now he was a narcissist.


    • Hi K,
      That is awful, I know how that feels. It is a type of withholding, manipulation. My mother did this with gifts I gave her. It hurt badly and it is such a cruel way to go about it. The realisation that someone was unhealthy in our lives is filling in a big mystery. I hope it helps to have an ‘answer’ in his behaviours. xxTR


  11. My mother was hideous with gift giving and receiving. I was the kind of kid who felt guilty spending any money I had on myself, so if I bought myself a chocolate bar, I’d buy one for my mother and father as well. Bounty was her favourite. I bought her a bar, and she said not one word, just pointed to put it on the mantel, with that little martyr-ish tight smile on her face.

    My younger cousin came over about a week later, and we were in the sitting room with my mother, the chocolate still on the mantel. She said to my cousin “Claire, do you like bounty bars?”

    My cousin, who had no idea she was being used as a nasty weapon against me said “Yeah, auntie Gladys.”

    My mother looked me right in the eye as she said “Well…you can have THAT one; I don’t want it.”

    It’s a tiny little thing, I know, and nowhere near the most horrible thing she did, but its the little things that you look back on to provide solid evidence that they were definitely narcissists.

    Thanks for the article, it’s good to read about other people’s experiences and helps to know you’re not alone.

    Hugs to you all. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Louc74,
      You’re welcome!
      I can relate to how you were as a kid. I tried to spend my money from baby-sitting on my parents. What you say about it being tiny little things is so true. There is cruelty in the littlest of gestures, looks, etc. Like giving your gift to someone else. I remember such gestures too and it helps me see the full range of their behaviors. That their narcissism was consistent throughout most of their behaviors.

      Indeed, we are not alone! Hugs, TR


  12. Here is a scenerio….what if your friend throws a bridal shower for you, and you are so grateful for how much effort she put in. (I found out later that she didn’t really let anyone else do anything.) She then posts all of the decorations on Facebook. Literally the first 13 pics were of the decorations and cake. The other half was of the party. About 6 years ago, when I threw her shower for her, i didn’t care who saw the decorations on social media. I didn’t even think about it. I was so grateful that she did all of that for me, but those feelings disappeared when she posted those pics. She also posted pics where i was sitting and my underwear was showing that she said she would edit but didn’t. She was the matron of honor, and was the only one out of 6 bridesmaids to choose a gown with a train on it, and even got it bustled. Am I looking too much into it, or was all of this partly for a chance to show herself off on social media?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Let It Shine,
      I apologise for my delay, I am not actively writing posts, although I approve comments and links. I was reading through the last batch and this is awful. What do you think and feel about it? I am guessing it didn’t feel appropriate?

      No one has a right to post a picture of you showing your underwear, she should have left that photo out if she couldn’t edit it. People who are emotionally unhealthy can give and do nice things. A gift from an emotionally healthy person doesn’t feel like you ‘owe’ them or obligation to do something to follow up. If it was truly a gift, they leave it. That’s it. If she wanted to do all that then great BUT she got something out of it, attention and there was something in it for her. So it doesn’t make it a true gift.

      I hope that this delayed message finds you well.



      • Hello, thank you for responding. I felt like she posted just to show off her “party planning skills” to the world. All of the work she put into it just didn’t seem genuine. I actually told her how I felt about the whole thing, underwear included, and she responded with, “Who cares if your underwear is showing? Oooh you’re wearing white underwear!! No one cares.” Well SHE didn’t care bc it wasn’t her underwear showing.

        I also previously forgot to mention that she lost my baby pics that she borrowed from my mother for the shower. Pics from the 80’s….meaning there is no way to replace them. She apologized to me, but didn’t say a word to my mother. I told her I would go to her house to help her look for them in her basement. She ended up spending the whole time upstairs while I was looking through all of her stuff. They were no where to be found. She later said, “They must have accidentally been thrown out.”
        Needless to say, I’m so glad she is not in my life anymore.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Thank you! I gave my Narc Brother his bday gift yesterday. He did not even say thank you. Instead left in back in my office with a note, need this size and this style. Our mother is a Narc and I sent her a gift from myd daughter with a thank you note. She called my daughter ignored me. Which is fine, they are both so exhausting since my sweet father passed away. I truly dread the holidays. They are the worst gift givers and they both think they do a great job! good to know I am not alone in this world of ungrateful Narcs.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. When my narc friend heard I was making homemade oatmeal raisin nut cookies, he said, “Oh, that sounds so good.” And believe me, I am an excellent baker, and everyone raves about my cookies, cakes and desserts. So I shipped some in a tin to the other side of the country to him, and they arrived to him last Friday. I emailed him when I received confirmation from USPS that the package delivered, and he confirmed that he received them, and that he’d let me know when he opens them. It’s now Monday and I haven’t heard from him. I already know what he’s going to do: He’s going to wait days and days before he says another word about it, and if I’m lucky, the most he’ll say is, “Oh I forgot to tell you that I ate the cookies. They were good.” The first time I shipped him cookies, I got upset with him that he never said anything, and I emailed him and called him arrogant. Of course he became enraged at the time and didn’t speak to me for months. Narcissists have a true dark talent for ruining just about anything; even well-meant and kind gift-giving.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I think I totally realize the level of Narc I am dealing with on occassions such as Christmas or my Birthday. They will ruin each moment….My Narc mother controls each mnoment when giving a gift. My brother and son are the Golden Children, me and my daughter are the scape goats and she will ruin each holiday. I have learned to accept it. One Christmas everyone was opening gifts nothing for me. My mom said where are your presents? I said none under the tree! She laughed and said Oops! Amazing……I now expect her to do something so evil and it allows me to enjoy those who really care for my well being and not play emotional head games…..Live and Learn, took me 50 years! Thrive on and know it is not us!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Yes, it’s been my experience that a narcissist will never use any gift I have given them. I’ll get the obligatory, meaningless “Thanks!” and then the gift will go in a drawer or on a shelf untouched. After remarking that they were hard to buy for, as they never utilised any gift I’d given, they seed surprised and denied it was so. The next time I gave a gift, it was used a couple of times and that was it. Almost like like they were trying to show me that it was something they enjoyed, like they were trying but unable, ultimately, to like anything I gave them. They simply can’t bring themselves to risk giving you any of the common satisfaction of seeing another enjoy something you’ve given them. Either that, or I am singularly bad at gift-giving! 🙂


  17. Hi! This is an old post, (2011), but I’m just coming upon it now (it’s Oct 2018). Anyhoo, just wanted to add my comment/ covert narcissist experience to validate what the blogger wrote in this post. In my case, it’s my sister-in-law who is the narcissist, and I’ve had the exact same astoundingly unbelievably rude experience of getting ZERO on the spot reaction upon me giving her a gift when coming to visit her and my brother in their home (they live on the west coast, I live on the east coast) but visit them at their home once a year at Thanksgiving time. Exactly as the blog poster here recounted with “Lydia”, upon presenting the gift to my sister-in-law, she looked at the box with disdain on her face, and took it, and said absolutely NOTHING. And never mentioned anything about it ever. I wonder to myself if she ever even opened it, or if she ended up just throwing the box straight into the trash without even knowing what it was. This is behavior that I could never in my wildest imaginations carry out. How can you not at least utter a sour thank you under your breath and then throw it in the trash or whatever was done with it. She’s a covert narcissist, and we were not in any kind of outward feud or bad blood. So that calculated reaction on her part was just pure narcissist evil. I truly loathe these individuals. (I shouldn’t use the word individuals, since they are sooo not individual. Since they all run on the exact same playbook and script to the degree of eerie and creepy. Anyway, just wanted to backup the fact that what the blog poster here wrote about, truly does happen, and truly is one of the narcissist plays in their playbook. Welcome to their evil wretched world!

    Liked by 1 person


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