It’s the happiest time of the year unless you’re with a narcissist.
Narcissists are nightmares most of the time, and the holidays are no exception. According to experts, spending Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s, birthdays and other special occasions with them can be especially difficult.
This is because narcissists are never satisfied unless they are the center of attention. When they feel like they aren’t, they let all hell loose and ruin even the most special of holidays for almost everyone around them.
“Holidays can be really hard with a narcissistic person because the expectations make the holidays so difficult,” says Ramani Durvasula, psychologist and author of “It’s Not You: Identifying and Healing from Narcissistic People,” forthcoming in February. . 20. “We have childhood visions of it. We have visions that are sold to us. There are things that we wish for. And invariably a narcissistic person, just like they control everything else, they want to take over and dominate this and make it their way.”
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Chelsey Cole, Psychotherapist and author of “If I Only Knew: How to Outsmart Narcissists, Set Guilt-Free Boundaries, and Create Unshakable Self-Esteem,” narcissists constantly ruin the holidays, as they do any event that isn’t just about them.
They do this in a variety of ways, he says, including causing unnecessary drama or acting darkly.
Durvasula says that dealing with a narcissist during the holidays is made especially difficult by the break in routine typical of the season. With time off from work and school, many people don’t have regular touchstones during the holidays to go to for help from a narcissistic relative.
“When you throw bitter expectations in there, it can feel really sad,” adds Durvasula. “It can also feel disappointing when you feel like you’ve tried to do something really special and then the narcissistic person minimizes it or downplays it or doesn’t notice it.”
A narcissist’s lack of empathy can also feel especially hurtful during the holiday season, which can be a difficult time for many people, including grieving loved ones.
This is often lost on narcissists who only care about themselves.
“They don’t think about how you might experience the holidays,” says Cole. “They just see it as an opportunity to get a supply by getting people’s attention, sympathy, help, or just generally getting things going.”
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What are narcissists like on their birthdays?
Narcissists aren’t much better at birthdays, even if it’s their own celebration.
This is because narcissists crave attention and validation but never feel like it is enough. As a result, you really can’t win a narcissist’s birthday because no gift or party will ever leave him satisfied.
“Narcissistic people are often very disappointed in their birthday,” says Durvasula. “I don’t know what they’re waiting for, maybe a parade down Fifth Avenue, I have no idea. But whatever is done for them never seems to be enough.”
Their constant dissatisfaction often causes narcissists to lash out in cruel ways on their birthdays, says Stephanie Sarkis, a psychotherapist and author of “Healing from Toxic Relationships: 10 Essential Steps to Recover from Gaslighting, Narcissis and Emotional Abuse.”
“They feel like people don’t pay enough attention to them,” he says. “They might feel like other people don’t respect their birthday. They might get upset that they didn’t get the gifts they wanted, so it can be pretty chaotic.”
Narcissists also hijack other people’s birthdays to make it their own. For example, a narcissist may throw a lavish party for their child’s birthday, but only because it can attract attention and validation to themselves.
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How to deal with a narcissist during the holidays
If you have to spend a holiday or birthday with a narcissist, experts offer the following tips:
Accept that they will probably hate your gift: “Narcissistic people really live in the fantasy that people can read their minds,” says Durvasula. “It’s a ruckus, but it’s really a spoiled child inside that can never be appeased.”
Limit the time you spend with them: “All you have to do is just say, ‘Hey, I can only stay for this amount of time,'” Sarkis says. “If they get upset about it, that’s OK because that’s your limit that you set.”
Find people you enjoy being around: “Maybe you have a narcissistic father, but you really love being with your sisters or nephews,” says Cole. “Try to find time with the specific people or loved ones that are most important to you.”
Set realistic expectations: “We have this idea in our minds of what we think the holidays should look like,” says Cole. “You have to have a lot of realistic expectations and a radical acceptance that if you have a narcissistic family member, the holidays aren’t going to be perfect.”
Make time for you: “Plan something for you today,” says Cole. “Quietly plan lunch with a friend or get a massage. Go for a walk in the park, go to your favorite store, or do something that makes you happy and gets you out of the narcissist’s orbit.”
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