Giving and receiving


Narcissists have three main currencies that they value and they are:

  • Control
  • Power
  • Money (and other resources)


Things like:

  • Empathy
  • Compassion
  • Loyalty
  • Kindness
  • Trustworthiness
  • Honesty
  • Honour
  • Integrity
  • Sincerity
  • Support
  • Conspicuousness
  • Friendship
  • Discretion
  • Unity

Are not traits that the narcissist values.  At least not with their dealings with other people, they will expect other people to exhibit these traits towards them.

Every act of generosity from a Narcissist is a purchase, either to bolster their public image, to buy credit in terms of favour from others or to buy access to someone (as in the love bombing stage in a potential new “relationship”) or to improve their public image, such as a charitable donation.

If you have grown up in a narcissistic family of origin, you can very often feel unworthy of receiving from others.  This is not just in a material but also in terms of accepting

  • Compliments
  • Help with things
  • Attention

The reason for this is that asking for things sends you into an emotional flash back of being refused things when you were a child, the flashback is not conscious but the feeling of fear resonates from when you asked and were refused by your cold and neglectful parents for the fundamental things in life such as a cuddle, to have friends over to play, bring you do the doctor when feeling sick, comfort you when you felt scared or pick you up when you fell over.   That is why so many children of narcissistic parents “know” that they need to over compensate to get a small amount of “love” or attention.  You feel like it is always up to you to do all the running in relationships and that if you don’t everyone will walk out of your life and you will be alone.

Narcissists are very attracted to people who have this programming and can select them in their usual predatory way.  A child of a narcissist will very often feel empty if they give to/take care of themselves because they will have been taught that if they are not constantly focused on their parents, siblings or the needs of others (to create a good impression for the parent(s), i.e. “such a good, kind generous child, so well brought up) that they are being selfish or “naughty” and will almost certainly be punished.

The narcissist parent(s) will also have programmed the child to know that since they have a roof over their head and food on the table that they child is indebted to the parent(s) in a way that they know they will never be able to repay, they are also taught that they are a guest in the house that they live in and they have no rights in that house (in short, they have no home).  This feels like entrapment, is very unhealthy and suffocating for the child because they have no escape, they are hostage to their parents/family.  It is made known that the parent(s) can call in their “credit” at any time, irrespective of the difficultly, fear or compromised position it puts the child in.

So if someone gives to someone who had been brought up in this way, that child will feel safer if they over compensate in their giving to avoid having their independence robbed and being put into a state of ownership by someone else.

The problem with this is that over giving makes it very easy for people to take advantage of the giver (not only narcissists).  Takers will never stop taking, that is what they do.  It is up to the giver to put down the boundaries on your time, attention and resources otherwise you will end up emotionally and financially impoverished.

At the beginning of a “romantic” liaison with a narcissist, they might tell you “you are too independent, it doesn’t feel like I can do anything for you”, what this really means is “I don’t feel like I can control you”.  It is a manipulation to get you to depend on them and once you do they will immediately reduce their abundance of giving and you will have to give much more as time goes on to get the same return.  This will leave you feeling completely deflated as you will never be able to do enough for the narcissist because they will keep pushing the bar up higher and higher until one day you will realise that you have nothing left to give.

The other thing about narcissists is that they are really bad at sharing things.  The do not get the concept of sharing or negotiation. This unfortunately can often include children and lead to the parental alienation of one parent.  A narcissist will give or not give, but compromise and negotiation do not sit well with the narcissist mantras of “Me, Myself, I”, “Mine, Mine, Mine” or “Win, Win, Win”.  If a narcissist gives they consider it a purchase, if they choose not to give it is because they cannot see that there is anything in it for them.  It doesn’t matter how desperate the other person could be, how closely related they are to the narcissist or how easily the narcissist could afford to give the other person what they want if they cannot see any personal gain in giving, then they simply will not do it.

If you meet a non-narcissist you may feel uncomfortable with a situation of equal give and take.  However, if you don’t let people give to us it feels to them that a barrier has been put up (and they are right) and so they will never really bond with you.  Giving and receiving makes most people feel connected and not purchased.  Giving for most people is not paying off a debt or buying credit to maintain independence and avoid “ownership” by the narcissist.

Common Cultural myths


“We are sitting on top of a vast cultural and historical pyramid of accumulated misconceptions, lies and myths.”  Bryant H McGill

  • Narcissists love themselves. They do not, they love the public persona/image that they project and will defend it very aggressively if it feels threatened or criticised in any way
  • They are very vain and always turned out really well. Not true, they are concerned about their appearance but that does not mean that they are good-looking or well dressed, they are projecting an image which could range from Bohemian artist, eco-friendly farmer to city dandy
  • Narcissists can love, not true they do not love anyone including themselves or their own children
  • All narcissists are charismatic and charming, not true some are moody, grumpy, withdrawn cantankerous
  • It is easy to tell a narcissist when you meet them (even as someone who has done their homework on the subject). Not true as it can sometimes take a long time before they let their mask slip and show up for who they really are
  • You can heal the childhood wounds of a narcissist by showering them with love and affection, not true because the narcissist doesn’t see that there is anything wrong with them or any room for improvement, so they will take your love and affection (as their right), but will make no effort to change, despite their promises
  • Most therapists understand narcissism. Even though narcissism is getting a lot of attention these days, most therapists do not understand the condition or the effect the abuse can have on a client, so it is very important to find one that does
  • When separating from a narcissist the courts will see through the lies and the charm of the narcissist. Not true they will very often believe the act of narcissist and will not offer the ex-spouse and children the support that they need
  • Once you have done your homework and explain narcissism to other people, they will understand your problem. Not so, narcissism is a very hard and complex condition to understand, so most people will regard you as the “crazy/neurotic one” if you try to explain it to them, wait for people to ask questions and try not to gush or open the flood gates if they show the slightest interest in the subject
  • Narcissists have a capacity for rational thought. This is not true, when in any sort of conflict with a narcissist their only consideration is “me”.  How does this make me look, what is in this for me and how can I turn everything around to my advantage
  • The true core of the narcissist is when they were trying to become your partner or friend. Not true that is merely an act nice to hook you and to try to draw you into a situation where you will serve their needs
  • When they are being abusive it is just that they are having a bad day. Not true, that is the biggest part of who they are they enjoy creating chaos as it makes them feel powerful
  • They see you as a human being who they want to relate to, it is just that they are not very good at communicating emotions and their love for you. Not true for them you are just an object to be used in any way and however they want.

One of the many big myths that exist is that ALL MOTHERS LOVE THEIR CHILDREN, this simply is not true, narcissistic mothers do not love their children, their children are merely props for their own stage act.  A narcissistic mother will force their child(ren) to putting the needs of the mother in front of their own needs at all times, no matter how distressed the child might become as a consequence of being forced to do something.  They will do this through punishment for non-compliance, threats of abandonment (a death threat to a child) and emotional/verbal/physical abuse.  They do NOT care about the well-being of their children.  Society will not let us entertain this concept, we are supposed to revere our mothers and be perpetually grateful for the sacrifices they made.  One size does not fit all and with narcissists it is absolutely the truth.  It is okay to face up to the fact that your mother did not love you, it is not your fault and you absolutely do not have to feel guilty for acknowledging it.

BEING POLITE AND WANTING TO HELP OTHERS IS ALWAYS A GOOD THING.  Narcissists depend heavily on the fact that the people who they select to be their victims will be bound by an inherent sense of politeness and wanting to do the “right” by others to manipulate them and to make them to bend to their demands.  However, if the person is too polite it will create porous boundaries and leave them open to abuse.

SHARING IS CARING.  Being generous with a narcissist can be dangerous as they know no limits when it comes to taking.  One of the things that a narcissist will do is to drop hints that they really want what you can give them, be it time, energy. money or favours.  If you refuse their request they will go into bargaining mode.  So they might say “If you are not going to help me paint my house all weekend, will you at least give me a hand on Sunday”.  Narcissists do not like to share, some can be quite generous (when they feel like it), but the give and take aspect of sharing does not appeal to them.  A narcissist when asking/demanding a favour will redress it or reframe it as though they were doing something generous for the other person.  So, they might say something like “I thought I would leave my dog with you this Christmas as I am going away and I know it is a horrible time for you to be alone”, if they are answered “No, no it is okay, I am going to be out a lot and won’t be around to take care of him or her”, “don’t worry, s/he will be fine, so long as you feed him etc.”  “no really, I don’t think that I will be around enough”  “No I insist, I wouldn’t dream of letting you be alone at this time of year”.

IF YOU THINK IT IS ALWAYS GOOD TO TAKE CARE OF OTHERS you are wide open to narcissistic abuse and they will sniff you out a mile away.  Narcissists are predators, they are on the search for “easy” prey all of the time, they will be testing your boundaries (if they are in predator mode) from the first minute that they have met you.

NARCISSISTS WORK REALLY HARD TO PROVIDE FOR THEIR CHILDREN a narcissists see business as they see all of life, as a game they are determined to win.  When they say they are working really hard to provide for their family, it is justify being out of the house and away from their family all of the time and trying to make it look like something virtuous.  They are working to “win” (at business) and if that means neglecting their family, that is fine with them.

TO HAVE ISSUES AROUND TRUST IS A “BAD” THING If you have been abused by a narcissist it is perfectly natural to have issues around trust.  This is a healthy response to a traumatic situation, in the sense the next time you encounter a new person, you will take your time and will let that person prove that they are worthy of your trust through their actions, not words and not by blindly believing how wonderful they tell you they are.

TO JUDGE OTHERS IS A “BAD” THING Of course judgement is not a bad thing, if you were going to jump across a river you would judge the width of the river, the intensity of the current if you did fall in, whether or not the river had crocodiles, the height of the drop from the river bank to the actual body of water and the depth and cleanliness of the river water itself.  Not forgetting your own fitness/capacity to jump.


So, it makes absolutely no sense not to judge the character of someone else, to judge if they are compatible or “right” for you.  Your judgement will not be one of right or wrong, good or bad, nice or not nice.  It is the use of our capacity to judge that has kept the human race alive for so long.  To judge is a very different from being judgemental.  When you judge you are judging “is this person a good fit for me”, “how do I feel around this person” (not how does s/he make me feel), “do we share the same values” “how well can we communicate”.

Some facts

  • Narcissism is on a spectrum, people who rate high in narcissistic behaviour have a pathological personality disorder and can be a danger to others
  • The narcissist is driven by shame and fear of abandonment (but it is exactly what they do to everyone around them, including their own children)
  • Narcissists have a very lively internal narrative that tells them that they are smarter, better and more entitled than everyone else
  • Being equal to others is not something that a narcissist can consider
  • A narcissist will elevate their own sense of importance by pushing other people down. This can be done by lies, attacking another’s reputation, taking credit for things that they did not do, being haughty and indifferent to the feelings and needs of others
  • Sadistic narcissists enjoy hurting people and have absolutely no sense of remorse afterwards
  • They enjoy seeing people hurt/upset/anxious or in financial difficulty
  • Upsetting, hurting or making people anxious or worried is exciting for them because it makes them feel powerful and manifests as an adrenalin rush
  • They will hurt people purely for their own amusement (just because they can) and the emotional reaction gives them a thrill
  • They will openly humiliate people as a mean of controlling them
  • Humiliating/embarrassing people is entertainment for them. It makes them feel good, not bad like it does most people
  • If they get angry or hurt, they want to make someone else suffer/pay for it
  • Some narcissists are better at acting “normal” than others and can be harder to recognise
  • It will be only a matter of time before the true nature of the narcissist emerges, they cannot hide it forever
  • If you are in any type of relationship with a narcissist, partner, friend, neighbour, work colleague or professional of some sort, it is only a matter of time before they will exploit you
  • Narcissists do not know when to stop taking, they are parasitical by nature.
  • If you recognise someone as being narcissistic do not get involved with them. They will not change and even if they tell you that they love you and want to change, what they mean is they love what you do for them, not who you are.
  • If you have to work with a narcissist do not let your guard down and never show vulnerability around them as they will just use it against you at every opportunity they get