Last Updated on April 13, 2021 by Alexander Burgemeester
Do narcissists love money? Of course! They love any resource that gives them control and power, and money can undoubtedly provide those benefits.
And while we all need money to survive, it can also be a dangerous weapon that can hurt other people. Subsequently, when it comes to their strange relationship with money, most narcissists make their own rules and play their own games.
Some narcissists are objectively wealthy. But many of them are struggling, and understanding the narcissist and money problems can be paramount for your well-being. Let’s get into what you should know.
Narcissists and Money: Why Is Money Important to Them?
Most people covet money. It offers an undeniable sense of security and freedom. Likewise, it can help us achieve status, control, and power. These are relatively normal human desires. We all want to feel like we can provide for ourselves and our loved ones.
But narcissists use their money to augment how others perceive them. Money becomes a tool, a way to build what they want out of thin air.
For instance, if they want to maintain the image of a “perfect life,” they just need to swipe their credit card. Even if they’re on the brink of bankruptcy, nobody needs to know.
Additionally, most narcissists will never feel like they have enough money. Because narcissists do not experience the intangible benefits of human connection, they often use cash as a substitute for love. Therefore, the void feels bottomless. The more they desire wealth, the more they become addicted to the game of acquiring and spending it.
Why Do Narcissists Like Money?
Make no mistake- they don’t necessarily like money for the sake of liking money. That claim is far too simplistic.
Instead, narcissists like what money provides: security, power, self-esteem, freedom, and admiration from others. Money simply represents the vehicle driving them to their intended destination.
Often, narcissists assume that money can help them buy love, happiness, and friendship. Even if they don’t necessarily value those benefits, they do value feeling appreciated and adored, and only other humans can fulfill those needs.
Are Narcissists Greedy?
Yes, most narcissists are relatively stingy and protective over their money. They don’t willingly hand over what they have. However, this greed extends beyond self-preservation.
Because narcissists lack empathy for others, they don’t necessarily understand the benefits of sharing their resources. To them, the world may already feel like a cruel and unfair place, but it’s not their job to help anyone else.
Likewise, they feel highly driven by competition. The narcissist constantly compares themselves to others, even if it seems like they only focus on their accomplishments. As a result, the notion of “giving something away” may feel threatening. They don’t want to face any possible chance that someone else could take advantage of them.
Understanding Narcissists and Their Money Habits
The narcissist’s spending habits can feel confusing from an outside perspective. At times, your complicated relationship with the narcissist and money issues will often feel unfair and cruel.
First, their decisions may feel completely erratic. For example, they might buy a brand new boat when they live nowhere close to a lake. Or, they will spontaneously start a business despite no knowledge about the industry.
Furthermore, some choices seem dangerous, concerning, and even abusive. They may control what you spend. They might steal or take from others without regard to how it could affect someone else. And they frequently break the law while completely justifying their choices.
Why Is the Narcissist Obsessed With Money?
The dynamic between the narcissist and money obsession isn’t always straightforward. Usually, they’re obsessed with their image and reputation. Money gives the narcissist the ability to be whoever they want to be.
Additionally, many narcissists enjoy proving themselves to other people. If their family struggled with money, they might feel an intense need to flaunt their ability to change those circumstances.
If a colleague suddenly receives an impressive promotion, the narcissist might try to double-down their work efforts to earn even more. They may even quit their current position impulsively to pursue a higher-paying job.
Why Are Narcissists Bad With Money?
What happens when the narcissist is financially irresponsible? Does that mean they don’t care about money? Does it mean they’re reckless?
The answer is complicated. Some narcissists are notorious for their financial distress. These problems can happen for several reasons. First, narcissists often believe they are above the rules. In some cases, they may lie, steal, or embezzle money while fully justifying their unethical decisions.
Moreover, many narcissists struggle with impulse control or delayed gratification. For example, instead of saving their money to buy something they really want, they may just open up several credit cards or lines of debt.
Additionally, it can be challenging for narcissists to understand long-term consequences. They’re often reactive to their current emotions. If they want something, they want it now, regardless of what could happen later.
That’s why they often find it easy to make large purchases or even file for bankruptcy. After all, if they don’t feel the need to play by society’s rules, why should they care about society’s consequences?
Are Narcissists Generous With Money?
Not usually. Most narcissists want to hoard their resources because their “stuff” gives them a sense of purpose and meaning.
Some narcissists come across as incredibly cheap. They regift items. They always forget their wallet when it’s time to pay. They eat everyone else’s food without sharing their own. Because they don’t comply with social norms, they don’t care if their cheapness affects other people. This disregard is just one of the reasons why most narcissists lack close friendships.
However, some narcissists may flaunt their money to show off to others. They may throw lavish charity events, donate huge sums of money, or give their loved ones amazing gifts during the holidays. Keep in mind that generosity isn’t the motive- instead, their primary goal is to impress others.
Is There a Difference Between Types of Narcissists?
Each narcissist spends, saves, and uses money differently. Their patterns fluctuate depending on their personality and motives. Here are some of the main takeaways.
The Covert Narcissist and Money
If you feel confused about the covert narcissist and spending money, you’re not alone.
Covert narcissists (also known as vulnerable narcissists) often fly under the radar. Compared to their grandiose counterparts, these individuals usually come across as somewhat quiet, guarded, and even shy.
But the covert narcissist desperately craves admiration. But instead of using outward measures, they may devote hours cultivating a perfect online presence. Or, they might try to manipulate getting what they want using passive-aggression or silent treatment rather than blatant hostility.
The covert narcissist tends to be calculated with money. For example, they may not tip a server when they dine alone. But if they go out to eat with a group of people, they may give a massive tip to create a sense of generosity. Or, they may leave price tags on items and then pretend it was a mistake if someone notices.
Covert narcissists may also gaslight their partners or loved ones about money. For instance, they might insist everyone needs to follow a budget. But if someone confronts them on a recent purchase, they may deny ever talking about this budget. Or, they will defend why they needed that item and how it perfectly aligns with their financial goals.
The Cerebral Narcissist and Money
Cerebral narcissists value coming across as wise and intellectually superior over everyone else. They like being in the center of attention, but they tend to be pretentious about their skills and preferences.
Cerebral narcissists may pretend that money doesn’t matter to them. They might even seem to detest wealthy people or high-earning professions. Often, this is due to their own jealousy. But instead of recognizing this feeling, they just tend to put other people down.
Cerebral narcissists can also be highly critical about how other people spend their money. For instance, they may criticize someone for buying a nice home or fancy car. That’s because they might perceive these purchases as vain or silly.
Therefore, many cerebral narcissists are naturally frugal. But they aren’t just frugal because they want to save money. They’re frugal because they think certain expenses are beneath them- as a result, they think these purchases should also be beneath you as well!
The Female Narcissist and Money
Female narcissists often value wealth and financial power just as much as their male counterparts. That said, money is often a way to fulfill their fantasies for love, adoration, and sexual power.
The female narcissist might be overly materialistic, obsessed with their appearance, and compelled to maintain their youth. As a result, they may undergo multiple plastic surgeries and spend excess time shopping, primping, and grooming. This woman might own thousands of clothes- many of which still have the original tags.
Where narcissistic males tend to hoard money, females are more likely to spend it. They want the perfect body, house, and family life. To achieve this perfection, they often spend without regard for the consequences. For instance, they might use money allocated for their child’s college fund. Or, they may max out credit cards behind their spouse’s back.
Unlike someone who lacks financial education, these choices aren’t out of ignorance. They usually know exactly what they’re doing, but they have already rationalized that this is what they “need to do.”
How to Protect Yourself Against the Narcissist Financially
The dynamic between the narcissist and borrowing money becomes quickly complicated for loved ones. On the one hand, you probably want to give them the benefit of the doubt. On the other hand, it’s frustrating to feel manipulated or exploited.
Financial abuse can be obvious, but it can also be subtle and difficult to understand. The offenses usually progress over time. The narcissist may start by making offhanded comments about your purchases. They might “give you an allowance” or put you on a budget.
As the relationship evolves, the financial abuse may worsen. Eventually, the narcissist starts controlling all the money. They may spend it mercilessly, but they get upset if you want to buy something. They might also restrict access to specific accounts, use funds without your consent, or limit your ability to earn income.
What if a Narcissist Owes You Money?
Unfortunately, most narcissists won’t pay you back on their own accord. They usually believe they are perfectly entitled to other people’s resources, especially when they’re in a relationship with someone.
Before pursuing your owed money, it’s a good idea to:
- Record all instances of money loaned to the narcissist in a password-protected document.
- Change all passwords to your personal financial accounts.
- Separate your financial accounts as quickly as possible.
- Contact any creditors about suspicious accounts made in your name.
- Reach out to friends and family for financial assistance if needed.
How to Get Money Back From the Narcissist?
Depending on how much the narcissist owes you, you will probably need to consult with a lawyer. As mentioned, narcissists won’t readily give up what they think is theirs.
As a result, it’s vital to protect your safety. If confronted, the narcissist may react dangerously to your accusations. They will probably try to deny or downplay what they owe you. Some may threaten to pursue legal action on their own.
That’s why you should consider speaking with a professional. They can take steps to ensure your safety and well-being during this vulnerable time.
Healing From Narcissistic Financial Abuse
The effects of narcissistic financial abuse can be devastating. Unfortunately, many people don’t recognize such consequences until they leave the relationship. At that point, they may find themselves in a complicated mess of debt, bankruptcy, stolen money, or fraud.
Remember that boundaries are essential. You are not obligated to give the narcissist any of your money. You are also not obligated to enable or even tolerate their abuse.
In many cases, the no-contact approach tends to be the most effective way for sustainable healing. If you no longer want to play their games, you have to end the game- once and for all.
- Hoertel, N., Peyre, H., Lavaud, P., Blanco, C., Guerin-Langlois, C., René, M., Schuster, J.-P., Lemogne, C., Delorme, R., & Limosin, F. (2018). Examining sex differences in DSM-IV-TR narcissistic personality disorder symptom expression using Item Response Theory (IRT). Psychiatry Research, 260, 500–507. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2017.12.031
- NNEDV. (2014). NNEDV. https://nnedv.org/content/about-financial-abuse/
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