One of the key traits of a narcissist that I think many people overlook is that they are terrible gift givers. Their gifts will be either inappropriate, of little value (i.e found at Goodwill in the closeout bin) or better suited to the narcissist than to the person receiving the gift.
Here are a few reasons that narcissists are bad gift givers:
– Giving a great gift to someone requires empathy, and the narcissist has none. In order to give a great gift to someone, I need to get to know them; learn their needs, wishes and desires; then go out and try to find a gift that matches with what the person receiving the gift might really want based on my knowledge of that person. The narcissist is not capable of understanding what someone else might want, so the person receiving the gift just gets what the narcissist thinks they need.
– A narcissist thinks everyone thinks the same way they do. This trait is again tied to lack of empathy. The narcissist thinks that everyone has the same wants, needs and desires as the narcissist. This is where the terribly inappropriate gifts are hatched; the narcissist husband that buys his wife a chainsaw for a gift, or the narcissist wife that buys her husband a spa day for a gift. The wife didn’t want the chainsaw, but her narcissist husband did. The husband didn’t want the spa day, but his narcissist wife did.
My narcissistic mother (NM) was a terrible gift giver.
Here’s her typical gift:
She shows up beaming with a shiny gold gift bag the size of a grocery bag, complete with ribbons and multicolored tissue paper poking out of the top. (i. e. Look at this great gift I’m giving you!)
What’s in the bag, you ask?
If you happen to be a daughter in law of NM, the bag will contain a Jenny Craig cookbook sourced at Goodwill and a fitness video that she found at a rummage sale. Just her not so subtle way of telling her daughters in law that they need to lose weight.
If you happen to be a son of NM, the bag will contain a sweater that she doesn’t want to see her husband wearing any more that is two sizes too big for you, and a sports video that she received after getting 8 fill ups at the gas station.
If you happen to be a grandchild, the bag will contain at least 4 big bags of candy. Ironic how the daughter in law gets a Jenny Craig cookbook and the grand kids get candy, isn’t it? Once the bottom of the bag is found after digging past the 4 bags of candy, the young grandchild is likely to find several toys that NM bought at the dollar store, most of which are broken before you can even get them out of the package.
About the only way a narcissist can give a good gift is if they ask someone else what they should buy for the person that will be receiving the gift. That way the narcissist is using someone else’s ability to empathize in order to obtain an appropriate gift.
Everyone sometimes gives a clunker gift, but almost every gift a narcissist gives will be a clunker. But hey, at least I’ll have gifts for that next white elephant gift party!