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Coping With Narcissistic Abuse At Christmas & During the Holiday Season

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Narcissistic abuse is a year-round phenomenon but the holiday season can be especially bad. Holidays can trigger the worst from narcissists as well as create the circumstances where they have center stage to engage in narcissistic abuse tactics.

Because the holidays are ostensibly about values like love, tradition, caring for the less fortunate, and focusing on creating magical experiences for children, narcissists may find themselves sorely lacking the attention and narcissistic supply they crave.  Holiday gatherings and family plans can become the stage for a narcissist to engage in all sorts of power plays and shenanigans. Let’s talk about what to expect from a narcissist during the holidays, and how you can strategically respond to preserve your own holiday cheer.

  • Weaponizing gift-giving traditions: Gift-giving can be weaponized in countless ways by a narcissist. The mother or father who buys excessive presents as a parental alienation tactic to show up their coparent. The exercise equipment or overly large (or small) clothing given to trigger body image concerns and hurt feelings. Insensitive, thoughtless, or cruel gag gifts. And worst of all-the Christmas puppy carelessly purchased on a whim who ends up in a shelter weeks later- it’s downright evil how narcissists can take something that’s supposed to be wholesome and poison it. 
  • Ruining the most special days: It’s one thing to deal with a typical narcissistic abuse tactic on any given day of the year. But having your Christmas morning or other special day ruined by a narcissist acting out is especially terrible. The narcissist loves to play games like singling out a single person for cold, cruel treatment on the sly while turning up the charm with everyone else, isolating them and ensuring they aren’t likely to be supported if they try to call out the narcissist.
  • Selfish games to avoid doing their part: This one’s so easy for them to pull off. Think of someone who signs the card for a group gift but “forgets” to contribute to their share of the funds. They don’t mind letting others carry the workload for cleanup and prep for holiday celebrations, and you’ll find them relaxing while others toil.
  • Spreading their misery and ruining everyone’s holiday cheer: The most essential thing to know is this- narcissists are deeply unhappy people at their core.  To see other people merrymaking and connecting with each other during the holiday season chafes them at their very center. The only thing that soothes their misery is spreading it to others, any way that they can.

Now that you know what to expect- here’s some ways to preserve your own holiday cheer if you are forced to share space or interact with a narcissist during the season.

  • Make Plans without Them: Create your own holiday traditions and plans far away from the reach of the narcissist when possible.
  • Learn to detach and stay cool: Don’t give the narcissist the reaction they are looking for. If they start up with narcissistic abuse tactics, play it cool, calm, detached and collected.
  • Strategize for the children: Narcissists can’t be counted on to follow through on holiday obligations to their children. If you are the other parent, be prepared for the narcissist to leave them hanging (forgetting to call, show up, purchase gifts, etc) and have a backup plan ready to go so your children can still have a merry Christmas.

Our Firm Specializes in Southern California Divorces Complicated by Narcissism and other Mental Illnesses. Do you have a divorce or family law question?

Call our office today at (949) 363-5551. We specialize in helping clients who have divorce and family law matters complicated by gaslighting, narcissism, bipolar disorder, and other psychological challenges. John A. Bledsoe is Orange County’s premier divorce attorney and a certified family law specialist. Our firm offers a confidential initial case evaluation.

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