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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  • Ariela

    December 18, 2015 at 10:49 am Reply

    My Narc (my mother), does exactly the same thing, but with my children’s and husband’s birthdays. My children all grown now and really couldn’t care less, but every year, around May timeframe, we would lose contact with her from May – early August. My youngest son’s birthday is in June and my middle son’s is in July. She never wanted to wish them Happy Birthday or God forbid, actually attend a birthday party, so she would just not call for at least three months. Then around early August she would reappear because her birthday is that month, and of course we’re expected to call her regardless. It was really comical to watch and so predictable. I’m currently no contact with her, so this is the first year I have ever not called her or sent a card on her birthday. I hope that was hard for her. LOL!

    • Zari Ballard

      December 25, 2015 at 10:32 pm Reply

      Hi Ariela,

      I hope to hell it was hard for her too! Good for you for sticking to NC. She deserves to have her birthday pass by in complete silence. I hope you had a lovely holiday…my best to you and your family:)

      Zari xo

  • Emily

    December 17, 2015 at 1:55 pm Reply

    Brilliant, I feel so much better reading this. A man who I left my 25 year marriage to and 14 year old daughter to turned around today and said Goodbye. Reading and reading what I need to. Thankyou so so much xx

    • Zari Ballard

      December 18, 2015 at 2:59 am Reply

      Hi Emily,

      I’m sorry for what has happened and, yes, narcissists are famous for doing this. Please try to stay strong and realize that this will happen every year. If they do it once, you can bet money it will happen year after year. There is NOTHING normal about this behavior and no excuse for having done it is ever acceptable. There’s a new year around the corner and we get a clean slate. Think about what you really want in your life and enjoy the silence while you have it.

      Stay strong!

      Zari xo

  • Mitzi

    December 10, 2015 at 12:24 am Reply

    Hi Zari, just discovered your site when googling “Christmas with narcissist”, as I now found myself after nearly 6 years finally alone and completely discarded at Christmas and New Year, having been ignored during most birthdays…mine and his and avoided for months before and after. The hoovering was still going on to date, it is exhausting and although I realised that I was dealing with a malignant narcissist in 2013, I was secretly hoping I was wrong…and then I found your site with the articles about special occasions, birthdays, gifts etc…..; it could have been written by me, even all the comments, so similar it’s saddening. I will keep on reading every day as this Christmas, he finally managed to remove me from all special days in a year, the last standing were those, the only one he has to discard is the holiday, but it would be silly to think I’d have one with him in the future. All else on your site sounds extremely similar…bottom line, I loved, even if he is not capable. bottom line; as unique they think they are and special, reading the stories confirms NPDs all follow a similar pattern, in word, treatment, behavior, application, how sad to note they lack any uniqueness! I cannot state how far the abuse went, broken legs, nose, fingers, teeth etc, verbal to the point of suffering severe PTSD in 2013, would like to extend the experience and maybe will one day, in the meantime, all that is published here has been part of the last 6 years. The main pain is to have lost what I loved and the defamation I suffer now, no cost is spared to make me look nuts, crazy and stupid amongst the people I consider friends and are slowly removing themselves from me believing his words, that is so painful, especially around this time of the year. what can I do….

  • m

    November 15, 2015 at 1:44 pm Reply

    Any articles books sites posts use them an yes you will be astonished of the red flags cheating lying crappy treatment oh holidays? fRom October too Nw Years Day Thyre in full swing, then the die down an gearing up for Summer mode, repeat.
    Bottom line wre baffled why? Yes thy move on without the blink of an eye.
    thyll kp the girl contacts on ph&Fakebook
    its an illusion, game till the earth blows up
    attn seeking from anybody, social media, bars, exes, strangers that’s always an option.
    thy nd supply all the time car pmt roof over their heads most use others but claim thy did things on their own. rhyre not players, just users.
    no Thyre not in love with new “gf” just a need for a timeit has nothing to do with age looks education etc… thy run the gambit on who thy pick!
    no we Dont mean anything to them thy kp moving moving regardless.
    no you’re narc isn’. different sorry :/
    lear n cry get angry go no contact!
    if thy wanted to be with us thy would.
    I’m dng dbt therapy spiritual cutting of cords
    no doubt I’ve felt evrythng yall go thru
    even to this day… we wre together 7yrs
    an he tried 8x to get bk together up until
    5mos ago yep you guessed it I’m hre he’s thre new supply of course.
    for the first time I was like f*** you in my mind….. no contact give THEM what they want!!!!!
    it wl all come bk around believe me
    be open to love
    ill never let my guard down like that again
    only us being with a narc can understand
    the depth of life changung experience
    blessings strength to evryone!

  • George

    August 24, 2015 at 9:05 am Reply

    my ex N always discarded me at or around Christmas, his birthday, his ex-wife’s birthday.
    He would quickly get a new woman from some online dating site and appear suoer duper happy whilst I was in pieces.
    Then the predictable hoovering would begin. He never gave me enough time to recover.
    I cut him off from all connections which allowed me to rebound and reflect.
    I’m cured now and back on my feet. I still get some hoovering but have found the grey Rick technique fantastic. I tell him nothing, just give short polite responses not enough to anger him or encourage him.
    He has his new girlfriend, he isn’t sure whether I know or not so it’s more him fishing around.
    It’s kind of impossible for him to ask to see me or give me a reason why I should.
    Also I never respond immediately to avoid it growing into a conversation.
    The no contact rule is key to recovery, previously he hurt me trashed my identity then loomed up as the knight in armour ti rescue me. Crazy

    • Zari Ballard

      September 4, 2015 at 8:50 pm Reply

      Hi George,

      Yes, No Contact is the ONLY way. In normal relationships and under normal circumstances, our options are different…but as we know, there is nothing normal when our insignificant other is a narcissist.

      Stay strong and write anytime. I am here to support you!

      Zari xo

  • Knope2015

    May 3, 2015 at 7:01 am Reply

    My N was born and raised a Jehovah’s Witness. He left the church as a teenager/young adult. He’s no longer in contact w/ his family since they are all still in the religion. Anyway, JW’s don’t celebrate birthdays/holidays, and from what I’ve seen, they see it as a sin for doing so.

    My ex always used this as the reason he ruined every birthday/holiday, and for years I believed him. His therapist (who was MY therapist btw until he started seeing her!) told me I should feel sorry for him etc. (I did!).

    Holidays were bad but birthdays were worse. He intentionally would wish me happy birthday on a day he knew wasn’t my birthday just so I would think he didn’t remember when it was. One Christmas he gave me a bottle of soap (like, from the grocery store). Another year he said he’d go with me to Disneyland (I’d pay for myself and everything, just wanted him to go with me). So we went, and had a decent time. He even acted like he was having fun. The next therapy session he broke down “crying” that I had abused him by allowing him to take me to Disneyland on my birthday. What? Said it was all an act and he was just pretending to have fun for my sake and because he did that it must have been abuse. I think he really DID have fun, he just couldn’t bare to let a birthday slip by without him ruining it, so he had “taken back” anything positive he may have put out there.

    Another year, he left me in a strip mall on my birthday.

    Sorry, just never vented like this before.

    Now I see his birthday/holiday problems were not because he had religious trauma, but because he is an N. I always gave him a free pass for this and therapists encouraged it. I can’t believe this is just another N thing! It all makes sense now. Thank you.

  • Tasha

    February 24, 2015 at 7:40 am Reply

    I just stumbled across this site being heartbroken over a guy that just disappeared after two years. I never thought him to be a N but reading these articles describe his actions to a T!!! He tells me he loves me that we are the closest of friends I have been there for him through a lot of hard times, but during my bday or the holidays there is always some drama why he can’t show up. He’s stayed around for over a year and a half and now all of the sudden he’s doing the disappearing for a week then coming back. Then a little longer and coming back claiming he’s our grinding working hard. No other explanation. I have been crying my eyes out for the past week feeling like my heart has been ripped out of my chest. There has been no contact, he has a bag here but he has been staying else where. When I look up N behavior on its own I don’t know if he quite fits but reading these articles it sounds like you are talking about him. He’s been going back and forth between two houses. We were best friends or so I thought but he’d call me his wife. I was foolish to allow him to be that close to me and now I’m hurt. I wanted to call or text to tell him to come get his things but my friends just say to continue with no contact. This is rough!!!!

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