Narcissists and the Amazing Holiday Houdini Act
Gabriella had planned it all so perfectly. She had decorated her new condo beautifully for the holidays. All her presents were bought, wrapped and under the tree and she was looking forward to hosting her family for Christmas dinner.
She had been dating Tony on and off for about 2 years and he had assured her that everything would go smoothly this year. She described him as irresponsible and selfish, but she looked past his bad behavior, because she was in love with him, and felt unable to walk away. She described the relationship as tumultuous and said that it always had her soaring and crashing.
Tony always seemed to pick fights with her over the most senseless and ridiculous things and at the most inopportune time. Once, he didn’t speak to her for two weeks, because she didn’t answer his text message fast enough. Another time, she picked him up and slightly scolded him for picking mud off of his shoes and letting it get all over her car. He stormed out of the vehicle without thanking her for the ride and didn’t speak to her for another 2 weeks. Another silly fight was when she was over at his place and after washing her hands in the restroom, some water droplets dripped onto the countertop, as she reached to turn off the water tap. Upon seeing it, he flipped out and told her to leave.
She noticed that there always seemed to be a fight right before a special event, or a holiday that she was looking forward to, and she wondered about the significance.
Last week, we spoke about how a Narcissist ex will try to weasel their way back into our lives over the holidays, hoping to find us at a weak moment. The opposite also happens when we’re involved with a particular type of Narcissist. Many will do their damnedest to get away from you, when a holiday or a special event draws near, going as far as to pick fights out of thin air.
Right on queue Tony picked a fight with Gabriella two days before Christmas and just like that he was gone, leaving her to put on a good face and explain his absence to her family yet again. She was crushed, but not entirely surprised and she struggled to understand how he could be so cruel on such a special day.
In normal, healthy relationships, being together during the special moments builds intimacy and trust. It’s how relationships grow and evolve. Most of us get that life is made up of these special moments. They are what make life worth living. But when you’re a self-centered ego maniac, you fear these moments. You don’t really want to do something that acknowledges someone else’s uniqueness, nor do you want to celebrate a day that isn’t all about you.
Buying your partner a Birthday present, Christmas present or a Valentine’s Day gift is an acknowledgement that there is an actual relationship, this is something the boomerang Narcissist tends to avoid. They are intimacy dodgers. Their preference is always relationship ambiguity, so you never know where you stand with them.
Boomerang Narcissists do a number of things to keep the relationship at a level where they feel comfortable. If you’re involved with a Boomerang Narcissist you can expect that they will:
- Do everything in their power to avoid intimacy. This means picking fights when things seem to be getting too close for them, blow hot and cold, disappear for stretches of time, blame you for everything to avoid having the finger pointed at them.
- They keep the relationship ambiguous, so you never know where you stand with them. Being in a relationship means acknowledging the relationship, being respectful, and being committed. A Boomerang Narcissist does none of these things – or they do them sporadically, so you’re getting nothing but mixed signals. These mixed signals allow them to get what they want, but also dodge responsibility for their behavior. You might be left crying asking, ‘how could you do this to me on my birthday?’ This ambiguity allows them to say without guilt, ‘we’re not a couple.’
- Boomerang Narcissists don’t like it when you have great expectations of them. Lowering your expectations is a by-product of them avoiding intimacy and keeping the relationship ambiguous. When they disappear at the drop of a hat, they are teaching you that you can never trust them, or depend on them – so you learn that you can’t and you adjust your thinking and your behavior to suit them. When they take responsibility for nothing, they are teaching you that they can’t be shamed, or made to feel bad for their behavior and that if you don’t like the way things are – you can leave.
- They are lazy for the most part. They want as much as they can get for the least amount of effort. Thinking about you and what you might want and then going to get it and pay for it, is way too much effort, for someone that likes to get something for nothing. Holidays mean thinking of others and giving. This is a very difficult thing for a Narcissist to do, considering they really only like to think about themselves.
We all have a breaking point when it comes to our Narcissists. Ditching her and disappearing before Christmas, for the second time, was Gabriella’s. She recognized the pattern and realized that if she stayed with him, all she could expect was more of the same in the future . Her Narcissist had taught her, that he couldn’t be trusted, or depended on for anything. Even when she stressed just how much she was looking forward to it, he would still disappoint her every time.
Once she understood that she was not responsible for his outbursts and his disappearing, she was able to see that this was a problem unique to him and it had nothing to do with her.
“If I would have stayed I would have started breaking up with him before a holiday, just because I knew it was coming and then I could beat him to the punch line and not be left standing there disappointed as usual.” —Gabriella
Being with someone that doesn’t understand the importance of special moments, who refuses to share them with you and who is seemingly allergic to reciprocity, is not a good emotional investment. Many long-term Narcissists are completely content and even prefer staying home alone over Christmas, rather than spending time with you, or getting together with their family or yours.
The key is spotting the flags and the patterns of behavior. When a Narcissist picks a fight and disappears before a special event, what they are communicating is:
I don’t do kindness, I don’t do intimacy. I don’t do reciprocity. I don’t care what it means to you, or how much you’ve done for me. I’m afraid of relationships I’m afraid of getting close. I won’t make this a real relationship by acknowledging it. I won’t take any responsibility for anything and I will always think of myself first. Take it or leave it.
If you’ve spent this Christmas without your partner again, you’ve just witnessed the Narcissist’s Amazing Holiday Houdini Act, recognize it for what it is and make sure that by the time the next holiday rolls around that you’re the one with the new trick up your sleeve and do your own disappearing act.
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