Why Narcissists Ruin the Holidays

Kitanya Harrison
2 min readNov 19, 2022
Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

We’re getting into holiday season. This is the danger zone if there is or was a narcissist in your life. They go off the rails at this time of year. I think there are a few reasons. Narcissists guard access to their targets jealously and try to prevent them from having contact with people the narcissist can’t influence or control. That control erodes over the holidays. Other people the target cares about cycle back into their life. This puts the narcissist at risk, because the target is reminded that not everyone is a selfish, demanding manipulator. Seeing other people — especially their targets — being loved sends narcissists into a spiral of envy and self-hatred, because covetousness is the core of their identity. Their targets shopping for gifts for other people is a big trigger. Narcissists often try to take over these duties. Their targets receiving gifts pushes the button even harder. Giving is about manipulation for narcissists. Where we see loved ones exchanging gifts, they see plotters and schemers and people to outdo or undermine.

Narcissists also want to be the center of attention. The holidays create intense competition on that front, and the looming end of the year reminds them of all their failed grandiose plans. They become bitter and go into punishment mode. The ones who are obsessed with social media may become crazed about it or go dark. They nearly always find some way to spoil family gatherings. I think a major factor is that the norms governing holiday traditions are so powerfully opposed to narcissists’ way of thinking. It’s harder for them to normalize their warped behavior, and they escalate to compensate. To feel in control, they often reach out to old targets. DO NOT ACKNOWLEDGE THEM! Narcissists lack self-awareness, but they know that the holiday season exposes their falsity. They hate seeing people being happy and loving each other, because they can’t experience it. Like toddlers, they try to smash the toy they can’t play with.

This all also applies to birthdays, anniversaries, etc. If one of these important milestones for you falls during this time of year, and there is a narcissist in your life, gird your loins.

Kitanya Harrison

*squinting in Nanny of the Maroons* | Read my essay collection, DISPOSABLE PEOPLE, DISPOSABLE PLANET: books2read.com/u/mBOYNv | Rep: Deirdre Mullane