Giving gifts can be a wonderful thing. It makes the receiver feel loved because someone would listen closely enough to know what gift would make the receiver happy, then spend the time to pick out this gift, spend the time to wrap it up pretty & all this shows that they cared enough to want to do these things. The giver is also blessed because there is a great joy in seeing someone’s face light up when they get a special gift that you are responsible for picking out.
Unfortunately with narcissists, this isn’t the case.
For one thing, narcissists are notoriously terrible at giving gifts. To give a good gift, you have to look beyond yourself. You have to listen to what the receiver says about their needs & wants. You have to know things about them, such as their favorite color, the size clothing they wear, styles they like, their favorite author or singer. Narcissists can’t be bothered with such “trivial” matters, so they will choose what they like or what they think you need instead.
Narcissists also give you gifts in order to try to make you more like what they think you should be. Clothing in a color or style that they think you should wear instead of clothing you like, or a CD from a band they like instead of from a band you like. Probably fifteen years ago or so, during a conversation with my mother in-law that took place not long before Christmas, I mentioned the fact I don’t like to cook. I do it of course, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy it. For Christmas that year, she & both of my sisters in-law gave me a lot of cooking paraphernalia. I got spoons, spatulas, cook books, food & the largest, ugliest pasta dish I have ever seen in my life (I did find a good use for it eventually. When the roof leaked, in the short time before it was fixed, I used that ugly dish to catch the rain water that leaked into the attic ..lol)
And of course, in true narcissistic fashion, when they give gifts, the purpose is self-serving. Giving makes them feel like they are good people. See how caring they are? They gave someone a gift! Yay for the narcissist!! My mother gives me things constantly, often things she has gotten as gifts but didn’t like, clothes she wants rid of, clothes she will buy for me because she likes the color/style (not that I like them), or things she has received in return for donating to a charity. For the longest time, I felt like I should hold onto these things, I think because on some level, I thought these gifts meant she actually cared for me. Once I realized that she was giving me things not to bless me, but to serve her own agenda or clean out her own junk, I didn’t feel that need any longer to hold onto her gifts. Some, yes, but not many.
There also may be another motive when receiving gifts from a narcissist. They may want something from you. They may want you to do something for them, so when they ask for you to do that favor, they can say, “How can you say no after I gave you that great gift?” My in-laws are like that. Gifts come with strings attached. They give my husband birthday & Christmas cards with money, & in return, he is to help them with whatever needs they have, no matter how ridiculous. (Not that he shouldn’t help out his aging parents of course, but when they call him to take one of them to the emergency room rather than 911 in an emergency, something is very wrong!) Have they ever spelled this out? No. It is an unspoken rule, as many narcissistic families have.
Some narcissists also give to others in the hopes of making themselves appear to be the martyr, taken advantage of by ungrateful people. This often makes the recipient of the gifts feel as if they are taking advantage of the giver, & they offer to repay the “generous” narcissist somehow.
If you receive a gift from a narcissist, just be forewarned- the gift probably has some pretty hefty strings attached to it!