Like everything in the life of a narcissist, the gifts they give are all about them. They give what will benefit them in some way or what they think will make you change according to what they think you should be. This is why so often, people dread receiving gifts from narcissists.
If they’re trying to win you over somehow such as in the early stages of dating or after an argument, narcissists may give a good gift. That gift is supposed to help buy your love or forgiveness. That gift may be extravagant or something you mentioned wanting. My ex husband gave me only 2 nice gifts in our entire relationship. The first one was about 2 months after we met, for my birthday.
Narcissists also may give a gift to make you indebted to them. Maybe you are supposed to give them a gift in return. Maybe the gift they gave you is very expensive so you feel obligated to tolerate their abuse because they spent so much on that gift. Maybe you showed signs of wanting to end the relationship & this gift was supposed to make you want to rethink that move.
Often, narcissists give terrible gifts. They lack the desire to be a blessing, & that shows in the gifts they give in particular on days like birthdays or Christmas. They’re only giving gifts on these days because they have to in order to look good, not because they want to. As a result, no thought or consideration goes into the gift.
Other times narcissists give awful gifts is when they try to change their victim. For example, my mother gave me clothes for my birthday or Christmas for years. While clothes in general aren’t a bad gift, they are when the clothes aren’t in the receiver’s taste, but are the giver’s. Our tastes are extremely different & that was a problem for her. My mother wanted me to like what she likes, & this was one way to try to force me to dress like she thought I should dress. My late mother in-law did the same. A few months before Christmas one year, I mentioned in passing that I hate to cook. Yes, I do it because I don’t want us to starve, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy it. For Christmas that year, she & her daughters all gave me a LOT of cooking paraphernalia. Cook books, utensils, food, & a big ugly pasta dish I later used in the attic when the roof was leaking.. lol
Sometimes bad gifts are also a way for a narcissist to let you know they hate you without saying the words. A narcissistic mother in-law who dislikes her daughter in-law will give her terrible gifts, as one example. My late mother in-law gave me a Christmas sweater (I’m NOT into Christmas or Christmas sweaters), polyester slacks (not a fan) & other gifts that were clearly NOT my taste.
Sometimes they may “forget” to give you a gift at all. This is just one way to let you know you aren’t important to them or the gift giving day (your anniversary, Valentine’s day, your birthday, etc) isn’t important to them.
Or, narcissists may give away a gift you gave to them either to hurt you or out of thoughtlessness. My sister in-law gave me this cute little knick knack many years ago. I thanked her & said it was cute. She said she thought so, & was sure her mom would like it. She gave it to her. A few months later, her mother gave it to her & said something like, “I don’t know where this ugly thing came from. You can have it.” She said seeing it hurt her badly so she wanted rid of it. Since I thought it was cute, I could have it. My heart broke for her when she told me that story.
When you get an awful gift, it’s best not to let the narcissist know how awful you think it is. If you do, the narcissist can play the victim & tell other people how ungrateful you are, making you look like a jerk. Rather than ask for the receipt so you can return or exchange the gift, simply thank her for the gift, then when you can, quietly give it to someone who you know would like it or give it to a charity.
Likewise when you get a great gift, it’s best not to let the narcissist know you really like it. If you do, the narcissist is going to get a ton of narcissistic supply from that, & feel that you owe her for giving you this awesome gift. Simply thank her for the gift.
It’s always best to implement the Gray Rock method as much as possible when dealing with narcissists, including when they give gifts.