A narcissist receiving a gift

When all you want is to have a normal healthy relationship and not have your self esteem eroded, trying to understand a narcissist can become a full time obsession. It seems everything a person with NPD (Narcissistic personality disorder) does is backward. This includes their reaction to receiving gifts. My father is a narcissist, I will share with you how narcissists see you and the gifts you give them, how they will react and how best to deal with it. You will also understand why the narcissist gives you something. if you’ve ever wondered do narcissists like receiving gifts?, read on.

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How the Narcissist See’s Your Gift Giving

A narcissist can react in many ways when you give them a gift. The gift maybe for a special occasion, a spontaneous gesture or a an act of kindness. It does not make a difference, they do not see gift giving in a healthy way like most people. Although a narcissist can sometimes show a brief moment of joy from receiving a gift, because of their grandiose self image anything you buy them will not be good enough. They will make sure you know it.

11 Ways Narcissists React When They Receive Gifts

Do Narcissists Like Receiving gifts?

1. Grandiose Entitlement

Grandiosity is a key element of narcissists.  No gift will even be good enough for them. Don’t be fooled into thinking “I will get it right next time”. You won’t. Not because you will choose a bad gift, but any gift you will be a bad gift to the narcissist. Their grandiose idea of themselves (which is a response to a feeling of deep unworthiness they have, it’s a mistake to think a narcissist has high self esteem) won’t allow it.

2. What do you want from me?

They often get suspicious when you give them a gift because they project their own ideals onto you. They think you are trying to manipulate them .

3. They ask for something Then Criticise You for Getting it

Even if they asked for the gift they will throw it back on you when they inevitably let you know that it was a bad gift. They may also deny they asked for it.  They will use subtle language.

My father for example will talk about the gift he asked for and say “the x thing YOU got me”, not “the one I asked for”. There is no sense of appreciation in his tone, it is contemptuous.

If you tell them they asked for it, the narcissist will say “I did not help me did it?.” They will take the advantage of it, eg financial help, but never appreciate it and will even turn it around to make it seem like they did you a favour.

4. When a Narcissists Receives a Gift They Make a Point of Leaving it Lying Around.

A narcissist will leave the gift lying around in such a manner that make’s it clear the gift does not have meaning for him and you should not be satisfied with what you got him.

Off course implied in that action is to let you know that you must keep trying. Eventually you realise he will never be satisfied and you will be on an eternal loop trying to get appreciation and not getting it.

5. Make Passive Aggressive Comments How the Gift Made their Life Worse

Passive aggressive comments after a narcissist receives gifts.

My father does this often. He drops a physical ailment he has into the conversation and if the next time I bring something that may help, he will use it once and then make a point to say that not only did it not work but that it made him worse. Narcissists are good at reading someones state, scary good, so sometimes he will say “I know you wanted to help”.  He only says this to manipulate and control me, usually when he needs someone to listen to him and also to offer me some encouragement, so I fruitlessly try again

6. They Will Act as if They are Talking to Themselves But Really it is For you to Hear.

A narcissist will often pretend to talk to themselves about the gift, but while someone else is in earshot because it is for the others benefit.

7. They Will Even React on the Behalf of Someone Else.

My in laws bought my nephew and niece gifts. My father became annoyed, he told them the gifts were not good enough for his grand kids. He said this even though he never bought nice gifts for them. In his mind his grand kids were extension of himself. He did not care if they liked the gifts from my in laws or not, what mattered to him was they were an extension of himself (at that point, they were very young) so no present was good enough.

8. Point Blank Refuse It.

Narcissists like to say no to receiving gifts

Sometimes a narcissist will point blank refuse a gift. I saw my dad put his hands up as a refusal to accept a very simple gift someone was trying to hand him.

9. Do Narcissists Like receiving Gifts: A Narcissists Behavior Changes As He Ages

The way a narcissist reacts to receiving a gift will change depending on what stage of life he is in.

When my dad was younger he would either refuse or get angry when we got him something. He was confident in his value and was grandiose. As he got older and more vulnerable he became less overtly grandiose and more covert. Rather than anger he would feign appreciation (initially) then make a passive aggressive comments. This why why people come to ask “Do narcissists like receiving gifts” because they can receive mixed messages depending on the narcissists life situation.

10. Anger and Narcissists Receiving Gifts

When I was in my early twenties I bought the whole family Christmas gifts. It was my first holiday where I had a good paying job after university. My dad got angry and asked why I had spent so much money.

I was taken a back. A narcissist wants to control you. When I turned up with presents, it was a sign of independence that a normal parent would be proud of, all it did to him was give rise to the fear of losing a potential source of supply. Off course, the gift was not good enough either. Over the years I got good at reading him without him saying a word. If you want to understand a narcissists body language go here .

11. Do Narcissists Like Receiving Gifts: Stonewalling

Stonewalling can make you wonder "Do narcissists like receiving gifts"?

Another catalyst that can get you to ask “Do narcissists like receiving gifts” is stonewalling. Stonewalling is a term used to describe when someone gives you the silent treatment. This is another tool the narcissist uses to let you know he is not happy, but it leaves you thinking they actually like gifts, it’s just you got them the wrong one.

Should You Buy the Narcissist a Gift or Not?

Do narcissists like receiving gifts and should you buy them a gift or not, are two questions that go hand in hand.

This is a personal decision. Keep in mind that there is not a gift that will be good enough and you will feel disappointed in their reaction.

Also, if you do not buy them a gift but get other people one you will feel guilty.

This is how the narcissist wants and needs you to feel. It is why he will never tell you not to get him a gift. He leaves everything unresolved and open ended. My sister still can’t help getting my dad stuff.

In the end if you must, choose something that you think he will like and don’t have an expectation of  a normal healthy reaction.

How to Deal With the Narcissists Reaction

It’s easy to say develop a thick skin or ask why are you near a narcissist in the first place?

Life is never that simple.

The narcissistic person maybe a family member, you may have children together or the emotions you are feeling are complicated and you are not ready to cut ties. Then there is also financial ties you may have.

Let Go of Expectations

As mentioned earlier the best way to deal with his reaction is to let go of expectations that the narcissist will ever appreciate the gifts or the kindness you show.

Be realistic when buying gifts for a narcissist. They will most likely say they do not like it.

One way to achieve this is to mentally re-frame why you are buying him gifts. Remember we are not just talking about presents for special occasions, it can be an action you do for them, or buying them something you know will help them, for example their health.

You can re frame in your mind in several ways, here are four:

  1. “I am doing my duty as a descent person”. Be careful this does not turn you into a codependent or a martyr.

  2. “I am doing it as a persuasion tool”, eg you are giving her something that she will use and in the process give you an easier life.

  3. “I am doing it because it will make someones else’s life easier.” Eg the other parent.

  4. “I know it will shut them up for a bit.”

Another way and a very affective way to deal with their negative attitude is to say very little. Just give a simple response. The response must be unemotional and matter of fact.


Narc: “ This is no good to me”

You: “Oh,Ok”

Then walk away or talk to someone else, or just go silent. The tone is important, not aggressive or disappointed . More like you are responding to someone giving you a non emotional bit of practical information, like “toilet is on the left.”

Reasons Why Narcissists Give Gifts

A Narcissists Giving Comes With Strings Attached.

You might ask “Do narcissists like receiving gifts” a narcissist does not have such questions about you. It’s Simple for him, a narcissist gives you something to control you, manipulate you and feed his grandiosity.

Some of reasons he does this are:

  • Obligation of reciprocity: Now you are obliged to do something for him.

  • To keep you helpless. Eg a parent giving their child money rather than teaching them about earning and handling money.

  • Trying influence how you see yourself. A gift tells us what people think of us. A narcissist want you to be what she wants you to be. So the gift is saying “this is who you are and how you must see yourself”. They can do this to instill a negative self image (giving you bad gifts) or a positive one of their choice (as with the golden child in the family).

  • A gift can be used as bate. A narcissist will give you an ostentatious gift so other people will notice and be drawn too his generous presence. In the process they become another supply source for the narcissist.  I knew a divorced father who would make a point of buying his children expensive gifts when he was trying to impress his new lady. In order to hook her further he would buy her lots of gifts (known as the love bombing stage). “Give a little, get a lot” is the narcissists goal.

  • Show his superiority. A narcissist will give gifts to show he is better than you.

Summary: Do Narcissists Like Receiving Gifts

Whatever you buy the narcissist, it will not be good enough. The person with narcissism will give you hope, he will make you think if you find the perfect gift or do a particular act then he will be pleased. If only!

Because narcissists tend to give gifts as a way to control, manipulate and feed their grandiosity they cannot trust your motives when they receive gifts from you. They will react negatively. So when you wonder do narcissists like receiving gifts, you have to be an amateur psychologist to understand how they see giving gifts.

As leaving the narcissist is not always possible you must look at your giving in way that benefits you. You do not have to become an expert and understand narcissism in it’s many forms, simply let go of the expectation that you will ever get a positive healthy reaction from giving gifts to them.

See also What Happens When a Narcissist Loses Control and 12 Traits of a Narcissist