When we think of narcissists, we often think of individuals who are self-absorbed, entitled, and lacking in empathy. However, there is a lesser-known side to these individuals that often goes unnoticed: their ability to give. It’s not uncommon, but it’s not often done for the right reasons.
Narcissists are typically not considered as natural givers. Narcissistic individuals tend to prioritize their own needs and desires above others, seeking admiration and attention. They often lack empathy and display self-centered behavior. While there may be instances where a narcissist engages in giving behavior, it is usually driven by self-serving motives rather than genuine concern for others.
However, this behavior does not come from a place of genuine empathy or selflessness. Instead, it is rooted in a desire for narcissistic supply – the validation and attention that they receive from others as a result of their benevolent actions. Narcissists who give often do so with a hidden motive: to project a positive image of themselves and to fulfill their desire for admiration.
The Narcissistic Giver
A narcissist’s giving behavior can often be used as a means of control or manipulation, and they may use it as a way to maintain power over their partner or loved ones. As this video discusses, it can even be complicated to give a narcissist a gift.
The types of narcissism make a big difference with respect to how a narcissist uses the act of giving.
Different Types of Narcissism
Narcissism is a complex psychological disorder that manifests in a variety of ways. While narcissistic traits include the image of an egotistical, self-absorbed individual, there are actually several different types of narcissism that differ in their symptoms and presentations.
They all have similar narcissistic tendencies and needs, but they differ in how they get those needs met in their professional and personal relationships.
1. Grandiose Narcissism
The most common type of narcissism is grandiose narcissism, which is also known as overt narcissism. Individuals with this type of narcissism display an inflated sense of self-importance and often require excessive admiration from others to maintain their self-esteem. They are extroverted narcissists who are dependent on the praise of others.
They are often extremely manipulative and abusive in their romantic relationships, and they certainly can’t stand being outshined. These types of narcissists often give extravagant gifts so they can brag about how generous they are, but beware the person who gives them a better or more expensive gift. That often evokes narcissistic rage.
2. Vulnerable Narcissism
Vulnerable narcissism, also known as closet narcissism or covert narcissism, is a type of narcissism that is marked by feelings of insecurity and deep-rooted shame. Individuals with vulnerable narcissism appear shy or introverted, but they have the same narcissistic tendencies and needs as covert narcissists.
They may attempt to manipulate others to gain recognition. These are the narcissistic people who use gift-giving as a manipulative tool. They seem like a nice person but in reality, they are only giving to get the adoring recognition for having done so. For covert narcissists, it’s all about their public image.
3. Communal Narcissism
Communal narcissism is a type of narcissism that is marked by a focus on group identity and community involvement. Individuals with communal narcissism may appear selfless or altruistic on the surface but are often motivated by a desire for recognition and validation from their community.
They may engage in activism or philanthropic work, but they are really seeking the admiration of people in their community to boost their self-esteem. They aren’t really exhibiting authentic generosity in their good deeds.
What Are Common Narcissistic Traits and Behaviors?
Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a mental disorder characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance, a lack of empathy, and a compulsive need for admiration and attention. Another common trait of narcissists is their exaggerated sense of self. Here’s the breakdown.
Lack of Empathy, Sense of Entitlement, and Inflated Sense of Self-Importance
Narcissists are known for exhibiting a lack of empathy, an exaggerated sense of self-importance, and a strong sense of entitlement. These traits often go hand in hand and can have a significant impact on their relationships and overall quality of life.
Any empathic traits they may have are limited to cognitive empathy, which they use to manipulate other people. They believe they are more important than other people, and therefore, they have a strong sense of entitlement. They believe they have a right to whatever they want. That’s why narcissistic people feel little compunction to give unless it suits their own agenda.
Fragile Sense of Self-Esteem and Need for Validation
One of the defining traits of a narcissistic personality is a fragile sense of self-esteem. While on the surface, narcissists may seem self-assured and confident, beneath the surface lurks a deep insecurity that makes them crave constant external validation. Their actual sense of their true self is one of worthlessness.
Narcissism is one of those mental disorders that result in a need to be admired and adored to feel validated, and they will go to great lengths to ensure that they are the center of attention. They will seek out situations where they can bask in the admiration of others and will do whatever it takes to maintain their image of perfection.
Manipulation Tactics and Acts of Generosity as Narcissistic Supply
Manipulation tactics are a hallmark of narcissistic personality disorder, and they manifest in a variety of ways. One of the most insidious methods of manipulation is through acts of generosity and kindness. Narcissists are masters at using these acts as a way to extract what they call narcissistic supply, something narcissists can’t live without, as this video explains.
Narcissistic supply is the term used to describe the validation and admiration that narcissists crave. Acts of generosity and kindness become a means for narcissists to obtain this coveted supply, often at the expense of others.
For example, a narcissist might shower their partner with gifts and affection early in a relationship. This behavior is not motivated by genuine love or caring but rather by the desire to win the partner’s admiration and devotion.
Once the partner is hooked, however, the generous behavior may stop or become intermittent. The narcissist has already obtained what they wanted – the validation and admiration of their partner – and they have no further use for the act of generosity.
Another way in which narcissists use acts of generosity is to establish themselves as the hero or savior in a situation. They might offer to help a friend in need or donate to a charitable cause, all the while seeking recognition and admiration for their good deed. The narcissist’s true motives are not altruistic but rather to boost their own ego and obtain the validation they crave.
When a Gift is Given as a Manipulative Tool
While gift-giving is typically seen as a positive and thoughtful gesture, it can also be used as a tool of manipulation and ego-feeding by narcissistic individuals. For those with narcissistic personality disorder, it’s not about the genuine act of giving – it’s about what they can gain from it. By giving gifts, they expect something in return – whether it’s admiration, attention, or even control over the recipient.
An example of this kind of negative gift-giving may be seen in the case of a romantic partner who buys their significant other lavish gifts to make up for abusive or neglectful behaviors. The gift is given as a way to deflect attention from harmful actions and to reinforce the idea that the narcissistic partner is deserving of love and praise.
Narcissists may also use gift-giving as a way to feed their own egos. They may give expensive or extravagant gifts to receive praise and adoration from others rather than for the genuine pleasure of giving. This behavior is often seen in overt narcissists, who are openly grandiose and seek attention and admiration from those around them.
In contrast, covert narcissists may use gift-giving as a way to manipulate and control their relationships under the guise of showing love and appreciation. They may give gifts that are designed to make the recipient feel indebted or reliant on the narcissist. A covert narcissist may also be seeking praise from others for their so-called generous acts.
Surprisingly, narcissists can seem like genuine givers, but most of the time, they are only giving to others in order to manipulate and control them. Their actions are not altruistic; rather, they are only seeking the external validation they so desperately need.
Some covert narcissists may even exhibit codependent tendencies to appear generous with their time or money. It’s important to understand their motives to avoid narcissistic abuse.
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