Seven Ways Narcissists Ruin Holidays

Narcissists ruin holidays in more ways than one. It isn’t just that they ruin the holidays though.

The holidays can be a painful time of year for people who are in relationships with narcissists because it feels like no matter what situation you’re in with them or how you feel about the holidays, narcissists can find a way to use this time of year to cause additional pain.

By taking advantage of the cultural norms and expectations surrounding holidays or the disruption to normal routines, they can find creative ways to hurt and control you regardless of what holiday or holidays you’re celebrating or even if you’re celebrating at all. 

It’s not just the holiday season–they also have a tendency to ruin other special days, such as anniversaries, birthdays, and Valentine’s Day, as well as vacations.

This time of year, however, provides an especially prolonged period of time and many different opportunities for narcissists to hurt others.

Below are seven ways that narcissists can either interfere with holiday conventions or use the holidays to cause chaos. Each one has its own motivations and outcomes for the narcissist.

How Narcissists Ruin Holidays

Although the holiday season tends to be stressful, most of us can probably agree that holidays should be a time when appreciation for those you love is elevated and prioritized. 

Narcissists, however, have no interest in true harmony. Depending on the type of narcissist, they thrive in chaos for many reasons.

Even when there is no chaos to engineer, they can still use the holidays to manufacture emotions. This can happen in several ways.

1. Using the holiday season to gain sympathy.  

Some narcissists use every opportunity to get others to feel sorry for them. They told us their sob stories when we first met them about how their past partners mistreated them or about how down on their luck they were.

Holidays with narcissists, however, can take on a whole new significance. They spin tales about how they never got any presents when they were children, or about how their ex always ruined the holidays for them.

Keep in mind that sympathy is a weapon that narcissists use to get away with the things they do. If they’re mistreating you in other ways around the holidays, they can blame it on the fact that they have bad holiday memories.

It’s a good idea to keep in mind that what they tell you about the holiday mistreatment they have endured, at least as an adult, is most likely projection. Don’t buy it, because it’s more likely they caused the chaos. 

2. Starting arguments or breaking up with you on or just before a big event or big day.  

Narcissists don’t like it when your attention is on anything else other than them. They also get jealous when anything but them has the power to bring you joy.

When they see you happy, they may start an argument. To them, this guarantees a spot in your brain space that is at least equally as important as your anticipation of that holiday event.

If what they do to you is bad enough, they can also attach themselves traumatically to your holiday memories. They would rather be the cause of your unhappiness and misery than not be the center of your attention at all. 

If they try to cause an argument during the holiday season, don’t take the bait. Understand what their goal is and that you can’t change the outcome, and go to the event without them.

3. Using the sentimental value of the holiday season to hoover. 

You may have gone no-contact with the narcissist in your life. Now you’re trying to heal from the relationship.

Holidays, however, provide the perfect cover to get a surprise hoover. The narcissist may reach out with a call, email or text to wish you happy holidays.

They are trying to use the harmonious spirit to their advantage, hoping you’ll think it’s rude not to respond.

They may also try to evoke happy memories in you that overcome your instincts not to interact with them.

Be prepared for random messages and be aware of what those messages are designed to do. Imagine yourself getting one and how you will react.

This may take some of the emotional power out of it. Have a plan so you aren’t tempted to break no contact and respond.   

4. Setting up your expectations and then disappointing you.  

Narcissists may make plans with you to go to to your parents’ home for a family celebration but cancel last-minute. This leaves you to make all of the explanations to everyone.

They may also ask you what gift you would like, making elaborate promises. Then, they will give you something totally different, something very impersonal and cheap. Or they may give you nothing at all.

In the end, it’s not about the gift.

As with canceling plans, it’s about the lack of care they seem to show for both your feelings and about what they told you they would do.

If you ask them about any of these things, they turn it around on you to make you seem petty or argumentative.

Take everything they say with a grain of salt. If they don’t follow through, don’t give them the satisfaction of having a negative reaction in front of them.  

5. Giving elaborate gifts to hold against you later.  

Sometimes the opposite of #4 will happen when it comes to gifts.

If you are being love-bombed, they may load you up with elaborate presents, but be warned that they are keeping track. You will hear about those gifts for the rest of the relationship.

During arguments, you will hear about how much they cost. In the devaluation stage, they will act as if they were not gifts at all. They may treat them as favors to avoid paying for things for which they are responsible.

Just be aware of narcissists gift-giving strategy as a way to get something in return. Even if they seem heart-felt in the moment, you are likely to pay in some way for those gifts later.

Don’t get too attached to them or put much stock in what it means for your future.

6. Excluding you from holiday events. 

Narcissists are good at playing innocent when they want to. Holiday events give narcissists excuses to stay late at work for holiday parties or spend time with friends outside of regular routines.

Even if they’re don’t celebrate or you don’t, both of you may get many invitations, and attending may be social.

If they are in the middle of juggling several people at once, they may attend a holiday event and “conveniently” forget to invite you or they may use an invitation as an excuse to be somewhere else.

They may also use holiday routine disruptions as an excuse to triangulate you with others or give you a silent treatment. 

Be ready for narcissists to have an irregular calendar routine and thin justifications for it.  If you try to ask them about it, get ready for #2. It’s better to just ignore it. 

7. Using threats and promises about how smoothly the holidays will go.  

Narcissists may know certain events are important to you because they hold tremendous sentimental value.  They may combine all or more of the items on this list to hold this over your head.

This can give them a lot of power over us because we just want to keep the peace, especially if we have children with them.

We feel like we have to walk on eggshells and we can’t speak up or be ourselves just to have a somewhat normal holiday season. 

This is the ultimate goal of why narcissists ruin holidays. They want to hold the holiday season over our heads so that they can get their way.

Narcissists try to ruin the holiday season by holding our desire for joy and harmony over our heads so that they can get their way.

Knowing narcissists try to ruin holidays and you can’t control it can help you detach from how they behave.

This can help you have peace in your life this holiday season.

If you enjoyed the holiday season before you knew the narcissist, by arming yourself with the knowledge about what to expect, you can continue to enjoy them now. 

Full Article:

Author: thelastchardonnay Counseling individuals, families, and couples, EFT relationship specialist, clinical researcher, Supreme Court certified family mediator, qualified parenting coordinator, adjunct professor, and medical/healthcare marketer. Join me as I blog through compilations of key descriptions, components, professional and personal accounts, articles, shared experiences, clinical criteria, victimizations, and behavior patterns in persons with high-functioning alcoholism, substance addictions, complex and covert Cluster B personality disorders, and the subsequent emotional abuse of those close to them. My goal and purpose is to create awareness, share knowledge, information, and education. I hope to provide clarity to anyone who may be feeling baffled and confused, or who may not understand what it is they’re seeing or experiencing in their life, or in the lives of someone close to them. Most importantly as a counselor, therapist and abuse survivor, my hope is for those readers to know they are not alone in their journey of discovery and the process of learning, identifying, and healing from the trauma of emotional and psychological abuse. Instagram: @galvindebbie Facebook: Deborah Galvin, MSW @deborahgalvincounseling Twitter: @galvindebbie LinkedIn: Deborah Galvin, MSW

14 thoughts on “Seven Ways Narcissists Ruin Holidays”

  1. My sister is a narcissist – she ruined countless holidays – Christmas in particular. There have been so many ways she has hurt my family, but it was the ruining of the holidays that I resent the most – that led me to severe ties with her 5 years ago.


    1. Narcissists are notorious for ruining birthdays, holidays or anything that focuses attention away from them and onto another. They have to have their narcissistic supply in constant flow. The moment attention isn’t directed solely at them they will lash out.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It doesn’t help that my sister is nearly a genius – she always orchestrated things to set up the rest of us siblings, and ALWAYS to get her way. It took my parents 30+ years to realize/admit she had a problem. Took me as long to realize I could never win, or come out even.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Most Narcissists are VERY smart. It’s how they’re able to manipulate, lie and fool normal people for decades without their knowledge or awareness. They appear to be honest, genuine and authentic. If you don’t know what to look for, the pathological patterns of behavior, it will go on for years, for decades. Sadly there is no cure or treatment for them. Over time, they will continue on the downward spiral into the abyss. Many narcissists are also alcoholics and addicts. This only further contributes to their downward spiraling.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yes, unfortunately I found much of this out too late – years after I fell in love with someone who was (i know now) also a narc and an alcoholic. She nearly destroyed me – which led me to discover what narcissism even was – researching to find out what the hell was going on with our relationship. Anyway, once I discovered Narcissism – I knew immediately that it explained my sister’s behavior too.


      4. Bless your heart. I had a feeling you might have experienced that romantically as well. ☹️
        Our childhood experiences with someone with NPD can cause us to unconsciously gravitate toward other narcissists. It’s early conditioning to be the problem solver, the peacemaker, the one with the olive branch wanting everyone to get along and be happy. That kind of codependency attracts narcissists as they are extremely dependent as well. They cannot be alone, ever. Once you’ve been the victim of narcissistic abuse, one tends to be attracted to narcissists and the target of new, cunning and savvy narcissists without even realizing it. Unless you study NPD thoroughly, you’ll never know until it’s too late.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Yes. I hope I know better now. I was my sister’s biggest target growing up – I still don’t understand completely why I am a target for this type of personality. It is sad regarding my sister – husband left her, and she doesn’t have the trust and closeness as the rest of us in family. With my ex, I don’t think she even cares. When she gets crossed, she just writes people off, and she is so outgoing and charming, she easily finds new friends. She wrote her parents off – hasn’t talked to them in over five years. She has written of at least three good girlfriends that I know of. But, nothing seems to bother her, or phase her. She always wins because she doesn’t care I guess. Anyway, I left – ran out of ideas how to change her behavior.


      6. Yes. Once a narcissist has been outed and exposed they quickly move and find a new circle of unknowing friends. Often their former standards will lower out of need and desperation. They have no bonds or attachments to anyone including their own flesh and blood, but they can fake it well for years. They are able to drop people very easily without loss or regret. That’s a common trait of narcissists. When something or someone no longer serves their purposes of getting that narcissistic supply, they find another romantic interest quickly, then abandon relationships, friendships and will rapidly change zip codes if they’re outed. It takes them becoming a pariah in their current circle for them to pack up and leave to often reinvent themselves. Once they realize they are now persona non-grata and they see the whole of their rejection, it doesn’t take long for them to begin again. And the cycle will repeat itself in the new circle for a while until they’re discovered again.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Such a predictable pattern I guess, sounds like you know my ex. This is so disturbing and heartbreaking. I grew up with it and didn’t know it. It took being romantically involved, and being nearly destroyed, to figure it out. If I told you some of the things they have done, especially my ex, you would literally not believe me.


      8. I think narcs know how to use sex, or they find people, like me, who respond to sexual persuasion. Obviously, not all narcs are attractive or hyper-sexual, but at least with my ex, it is a powerful way she manipulates.


      9. I don’t really understand borderline BPD and how it differs from Narcissism. Both are a mind-fuck to try to understand. And, when I was going through it all and learning, I would think, “is it me?” partly because my sister and my ex, constantly reversed it on me, and tried to convince me I was crazy.


      10. Yes they are. One of my graduate professors said to me if you ever are in session with someone you can’t quite identify, and after the session you feel exhausted and confused- nine times out of 10 you can look up borderline personality and they will fit the criteria for diagnosis.


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