With the holiday season upon us, those in relationships with narcissistic partners will be doing some extra special suffering. Narcissists are legendary holiday buzz killers and, if the narcissist is your partner, you could end up in any one of a number of situations depending upon your place in the narcissistic queue. Yes, as the holidays roll around, it’s time for the narcissist’s seasonal Devalue & Discard (D & D) and those who are the most convenient in the narcissist’s life will likely take the hit. Sound familiar?
Although it’s likely that you already know exactly what I’m talking about, allow me to share a story or two about my own holiday experiences with a narcissistic partner and let’s see how close I get to hitting the nail on the head about your relationship:
Almost every year for thirteen years, my ex, the Narcissist, would steadily ramp up the narcissistic chaos and turmoil until around mid-October and then, after creating some ridiculous blow-out, he’d vanish until somewhere in January or February. Every year without fail for thirteen years. It was the most blatant narcissistic behavior ever – the D & D before the holidays – and truly the most painful. I can vividly remember spending many of those Christmases cowered under the blankets in my dark bedroom, unable to get out of bed, while my son played with his new toys alone in the living room. He would leave every October for no reason at all, shutting off his phone and vanishing from whatever apartment he was living in, never to return to me until well after the first of the next year….long after the holidays were over. The pain of being abandoned at this time of year, every year, rendered me inconsolable. I never got used to it.
In December 23rd of 2009, after my N had been gone two months and I hadn’t a clue where he was living, I became determined to smoke him out. During “normal”, much shorter silences, I could usually do this with minimal effort but this time time I was stumped. I knew it called for drastic measures. On a hunch, I used Facebook to send a quasi-anonymous message to the girl that he had cheated on me with the year before. If he was with her this year, the least I could do was make his holiday as miserable as he was making mine. As it turned out, my hunch was spot-on but the result was over-the-top. Within two days, the N, determined to keep me at bay, had me served with a Temporary Restraining Order on Christmas Eve at 8:00pm (an TRO, by the way, that he would break just a few weeks later when he suddenly returned). When I heard the knock, I actually felt a wave of relief thinking it was him. I remember taking the paper from the Sheriff’s hands, shutting the door, and crumbling to the floor in my hallway, sobbing uncontrollably. No matter how hard I tried, I just could not get this guy to have a heart even though we – my son and I (his “family”, as he would say) – had been by his side for well over a decade.
Now that I think about it, I’m fairly certain that the 2009 Order of Protection was the only Christmas present the N ever gave me!
You see, narcissists are incapable of handling any time of year or any event (birthdays anyone?) where they might be expected to show responsibility and loyalty to the people that care about them. This is not to say that he doesn’t spend the holidays with someone somewhere -because he does. It’s just that he chooses the environment and/or relationship situation that is most self-serving to his seasonal narcissistic needs – whatever those may be – and that is where he’ll spend his time during that part of the year. A narcissist is seasonal. Without fail.
To make it work, the N will likely have at least two households where he is able to set up shop during the year – one being for the spring/summer season and the other being for the fall/winter season. Depending on which season he’s in, much of his time will be spent trying to thwart the current girl from finding out about the off-season girl. To eliminate unnecessary hassle, my ex would prepare for his post-holiday discard (from her) and eventual comeback (to me) in advance by getting a new cell number, a new apartment (or no apartment), and a new job (or no job). He would either connect or disconnect various aspects of his life in various combinations to make it happen. He’d make sure he had everything in order long before he even thought about hoovering.
The bottom line is this: when a narcissist comes back to you, he is vanishing from someone else. Of that, you can be sure. Then, when it’s comes time to dump you again, he has to do everything in reverse. The vanishing acts, of course, are also called silent treatments and we’re all familiar with that narcissistic tactic. At some point, it has to stop. At some point, we have to decide how we really want to spend the upcoming new year. Normal people do not act that way – even in the most dysfunctional of relationships. We become so accustomed to the neglect and abuse that we completely forget what “normal” even means.
Yes, the narcissist will ruin every holiday without fail for as long as you allow it. He has no intention of ever doing it differently no matter how he professes that “this Christmas will be different” during your on-season together. A narcissist simply can not keep himself from upping the chaos and turmoil during the events of the year where you or others would most like – or expect – to have his company. This would include birthdays, anniversaries, births, deaths, and, of course, the festive holiday season. The narcissist’s seasonal D & D is one of his/her most prized strategies for breaking your heart because it never fails to do so. Even if every other narcissistic weapon in his arsenal were to back fire, the narcissist knows there will always be a holiday just around the corner where a disappearance or silent treatment would deliver a foolproof knock-out blow.
Here’s the deal…our suffering changes nothing. You must remember this!
Don’t let it happen this holiday season. If you’re still in the relationship, the chances are that he will leave. While you can’t control his behavior, you can certainly control your reaction. Let him go and enjoy your holidays. If you’re out of the relationship and having a bit of relationship amnesia about his holiday behavior, let this article be a reminder of what you’re missing and be grateful for every moment that you’re missing it!
Updated from original post of 10/2014.