If you love a narcissist, you might be familiar with a form of manipulation I like to call the “Robin Hood” technique.
Except with a narcissist, the giving looks more like material generosity – at least to people from the outside.
Toxic, Misanthropic Generosity: With Strings Attached
Sharon Soani, PhD, says that not all giving is created equal.
“Regardless of their financial status, the narcissist gives whether they have money or not,” Spano says. “However, they give from a depraved sense of self.”
She adds that in extreme cases, “this type of individual may be addicted to giving, even willing to go into debt. The giving, you see, is more about looking good than it is generosity.”
In my experience, everything that a narcissist gives you comes with strings attached. I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard a narcissist say something like, “I can’t believe you won’t (do whatever I want). I mean, I gave you (whatever the gift/bait is)!”
Narcissistic Injury and the ‘Poor Me’ Shit
It’s exhaustive, to say the very least – and when they don’t get what they want, narcs will go immediately into a standard victim/martyr mode: “poor me, nobody cares about me, I give and I give and nobody appreciates all that I do, blah blah blah.”
Around here, we call that narcissistic injury.
And speaking of the side-effects that come along with this kind of misanthropic generosity, there’s one in particular that can make life even harder for the ones who live with or love the narc.
It’s All About Control: The Tradeoffs for a Narcissist’s Kindness
Yep, this grandiose form of generosity often has an even uglier side-effect for them.
Like I said, narcissists will often use their ability to give “stuff” to people as a way to exert some level of control over their lives.
“The narcissist knows the most dependable source of supply is to make another person dependent on them, so they encourage dependence,” says blogger Anna Valerious. “They know that being dependent is habit-forming so they are anxious to encourage you to this end. It makes for a steady source of narcissistic supply for them.”
And of course, it’s all calculated – a narcissist doesn’t do anything without considering what they’ll get out of the deal.
That’s not altruism, people. Don’t let the narc fool you! All they’re doing is making sure you feel good and indebted to them so you’ll stick around and be their narcissistic supply.
But those who aren’t inside the narcissist’s quietly controlling bubble can’t be as easily controlled; and the narcissist needs those people to be impressed and in some ways, dependent on him.
NFWB: How a Narc Gets a Smart Person Under Their Control
Anyone they live with and in any way support will often be reminded of where they might otherwise be – but outsiders need a little more coaxing before they’ll start to submit to the narc.
Ever have am NFWB (Narcissist Friend with Benefits)?
By providing benefits to outside friends, he cements their loyalty to him. In his twisted mind, he creates a sense of obligation for his friends by being a misanthropic altruist.
That’s precisely why he must continue to do whatever is necessary to get the attention he so clearly desires.
But what happens if he isn’t rich? What if he uses up all of your family’s resources trying to impress people who don’t matter?
What if he gives away your things, your food, your kids’ toys?
And if he does, what if you complain? He will likely make a point of belittling you for not being “better” in some way.
Do you find that your mind wanders and you realize that this is all part of a grand cycle, one that could continue forever?
What do you do next?
In many ways, it’s all up to you. In fact, according to listened professional counselor Marci B. Stiles, it all starts with a simple ability to understand the situation on a logical level.
“Understanding is often the first step towards fixing or modifying the problem,” Stiles says. “Narcissists can cause a lot of pain and it is important for people to know the attributes of a narcissist so they can protect themselves and develop coping strategies.”
Need help developing coping strategies, or have ideas to share with the QB community? Share your thoughts in the comments section, below.
Angela Atkinson is a Certified Life Coach and the author of more than 20 books on narcissism, narcissistic abuse recovery and related topics. A recognized expert on narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder who has studied and written extensively on narcissistic relationships since 2006, Atkinson was inspired to begin her work as a result of having survived toxic relationships of her own.
Atkinson offers trauma-informed coaching and has certifications in life coaching, level 2 therapeutic model, CBT coaching, integrative wellness coaching, and NLP. She is a certified trauma support coach and certified family trauma professional. She also has a professional PTSD counseling certification. Her mission is to help those who have experienced the emotional and mental devastation that comes with narcissistic abuse in these incredibly toxic relationships to (re)discover their true selves, stop the gaslighting and manipulation and move forward into their genuine desires – into a life that is exactly what they choose for themselves.
Along with her solution-focused life coaching experience, Atkinson’s previous career in journalism and research helps her to offer both accurate and understandable information for survivors of abuse in a simple-to-understand way that helps to increase awareness in the narcissistic abuse recovery community. Atkinson founded QueenBeeing.com Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support, the SPANily Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups and the Life Makeover Academy. In her life coaching practice, Atkinson’s clients enjoy her personalized approach that allows and encourages them to become the best possible versions of themselves and to succeed in doing what they love most. She offers individual and group coaching for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse at NarcissisticAbuseRecovery.Online and NarcissismSupportCoach.com.