Narcissists, Holidays, & the Seasonal Discard

narcissist-holidaysWith 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:

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Updated from original post of 10/2014.










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  • Jayne

    April 12, 2017 at 5:01 pm Reply

    Hi, thank you for your article. The Narc is 40 tomorrow and earlier today I was discarded and now getting the silent treatment. He’s been giving hints for months how he expects me to make his day ‘special’ yet he’s now spoilt it as the last text I got said he wasn’t seeing any of us, his son included (he doesn’t live with us), How can he make such a fuss over his birthday to then blatantly spoil it? I know from previous family occasions, that I will be to blame for this and how I ruined his birthday to make me feel like the guilty one, yet I’ve tried to reach out to him but I’m just being ignored. I’ve now wasted time and money on activities /bookings that is just going to waste now. No doubt he will be playing the victim on social media and possibly a new supply (which is where I suspect he is), but fair enough discard me but say he’s not even going to see his son is just plain cruel. He has no Regards for how he makes any of us feel when he does this as it’s not the first time but as it was his 40th I thought it would be different – how wrong was I ?!

    • Jayne

      April 12, 2017 at 5:04 pm Reply

      Sorry didnt make it clear, the Narc doesn’t live with us, our son lives with me.

    • Zari Ballard

      April 25, 2017 at 2:59 pm Reply

      Hi Jayne,

      I apologize for the delay in responding. Narcissists don’t really care WHEN they act like jerks. He probably acted like a jerk right before his birthday so that 1) he could go out and celebrate without you, or 2) he could blame you for having a rotten one. That’s really all it is. Now, having said that, he’s a grown man who shouldn’t DEMAND anything for his birthday. I hope you were able to get your money back. He’s not worth a penny, that’s for sure.


  • Ann

    January 1, 2017 at 6:00 am Reply

    It’s New Year’s Day and I’m being bombarded with my narcissistic husband’s passive aggressive text messages every twenty minutes or so that say “yeah. Sure, enjoy.” You see, my four children (ages 16-22) wanted to play a family game without their father last night. We stayed up laughing while he sat in his cave getting drunk. He heard us laughing and got angry he wasn’t invited. He ruins everything so wasn’t invited on purpose, but now I’m getting the brunt of his anger, threats, and put downs. I can’t ever “win” against his constant barrage of nasty messages. After twenty years of this I can no longer deal. I’m working on getting out. The kids don’t think I’ll do it, but I’m determined this time. My question is: what was I supposed to do last night? I couldn’t invite him because he’d nastily ruin the game (making nasty jokes, underhanded comments and put downs, and criticizing us all), and he was already partially drunk, which means he’d be even more inappropriate. If we hadn’t played, he’d win (because he’s happiest when we’re all miserable), and if we had invited him the kids and I would have been human targets all night (and the kids would be angry at me for inviting him). The game was played on the floor in my room and my husband hasn’t set foot in my room in two years. Why does he suddenly care about being invited? What should I have done?!

    • Zari Ballard

      January 10, 2017 at 4:48 pm Reply

      Hi Ann,

      Well, I’m late getting back to you so I assume the crisis of the family game has likely been replaced by another one, right? LOL The truth is that it just doesn’t matter whether you include him or not in anything because he will always treat everyone the same…so you must do what is best for you and the family. Your children are certainly old enough to handle their own things so I believe it is time for you to call it quits with this guy. After 20 years, the kids are grown…what is left? Save the remainder of your life and go for it. Let me know what you decide and how it is going.

      Stay strong!

      Zari xo

  • foolednomore

    December 10, 2016 at 2:20 pm Reply

    Your articles are so enlightening. I’ve spent over 5 years in a ‘relationship’ with a narcissist but didn’t realize it until I started researching online – Imagine my shock when article after article I found seemed to be written about my very own life with this man! It was as if the authors knew me and new my life, down to tiny details. This happened just a month or so ago now and I’ve been feverishly reading and learning since.

    Your articles on holidays are valuable. Holidays and special occasions had always been very special to me – a time to spend with family and those you love, a time to give and enjoy each other. This jerk has ruined almost every single holiday and special event for the last 5 years.

    That first Thanksgiving; I made an entirely homemade meal with all the trimmings, my grown kids were there waiting to meet my new wonderful friend. He never showed up. Called the next day and just whitewashed over it all despite me being in tears. That Christmas, pretty much the same thing, and later his excuses and ‘geez its not a big deal’.

    I wonder why I went on with this relationship after that first year, but everything I read so far points to all the tactics they use to hook you, to minimize your expectations, and to triangulate to keep you trying so hard to improve and keep him. Make me sick now that I realize all this – I’ve wasted 5 good years of my life.

    In later years, he’s be there for holidays but made them just as miserable – he learned how to keep me from my family as much as possible, tried to pit up against each other, etc. That worked initially, but my deep love for my family burst through eventually and now I’m at the point where I will go enjoy my holiday with my family and he is NO LONGER welcome to come.

    In between holidays and special events – he’s proven to be a prolific cheater, a prolific flirt who hits on even his own clients non-stop. I’ve finally realized that he will never change once I read through so many articles about narcissism. Recently, when I called him out for hitting on a client (who called me to tell me this) he had the gall to say “that isn’t cheating, what is wrong with you? If you think that’s cheating, you are nuts” Classic. No arguing this time, I just told him I didn’t give a shit, do what you want. Threw him for a loop – – – and I quietly started my planning……

    I am planning my ‘escape’ and intend to do this very soon – it takes a lot of planning. Everything I’ve read about how the narc fights dirty, wants his stuff AND your stuff, etc, is all so true and I see it in him. I’ve been working diligently for this past month and I’m almost to the point where I can walk, or shall I say – run.

    I am very excited by the prospect of getting my old life back, my old happy self (after all, he’s turned me into a shell of the person I used to be) back. I can almost taste it. I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I may lose out some on the house we own together – but in my mind, I’m ready to walk away even if it means things will not be left fairly between us – I just want ME back, I want to be done with him and the false life I’ve had for this past 5 years. Possessions are just possessions and can be replaced.

    Keep up the good work with your articles and info – it is greatly appreciated by those of us who didn’t know……..

    • Zari Ballard

      December 13, 2016 at 4:46 pm Reply

      Hi foolednomore,

      Thank you so much for sharing, sister! I pray that you will see your plan of escape through to the end. Be careful to think it too much. The point of escaping is to ESCAPE. Take what is yours and just go. And you don’t have to lose out on the house. He should buy out your half or agree to sell. You seem to have a clear understanding of what he is and that he will always be this way. Better to cut your losses now and run for it. Do not fall for his ruse – you can already predict it! You have a wonderful family that is very important to you. Do NOT allow him to throw any type of monkey wrench into this holiday season. NONE!

      The new year is coming…time to start a new life and the faster you get out of that house, the better. For him, this game will never get old and he will waste your life until the end of time if you allow it. May peace and happiness be with you this holiday season…

      Stay strong and write anytime. We are all here to support you no matter what!

      Zari xo

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