Narcissists have three main currencies that they value and they are:
- Money (and other resources)
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
- Help with things
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.