Why Do Narcissists Give Gifts?

When a narcissist offers a gift, it’s rarely a gesture of simple generosity. 

Their gifts often come with an unspoken expectation or a hidden cost. 

Recognizing the tactics behind the Narcissist’s selfless acts can illuminate the complex, sometimes manipulative, nature of their generosity. 

This article dives into why, when a narcissist hands you a gift, it might not be the kind gesture it seems but a calculated move in their broader strategy. 

Understand the real reasons behind their gift-giving, and you’ll begin to see the less-than-generous intentions wrapped up in pretty packaging.

#1 Control and Leverage

For a narcissist, giving a gift often comes with strings attached. These presents are less about kindness and more about keeping you close.

The Narcissist knows if you get something nice, you might feel like you owe them. This way, they can ask for things later, and you might find it harder to say no.

Early on, when you first meet a narcissist, they might shower you with gifts. It feels like they’re really into you. But watch out, they’re setting a trap. Once you’re used to their kindness, they pull you in.

If they get you a car, they’ll remind you it was from them every time you argue. If they buy you clothes, they expect to see you in them. It’s like marking their territory, saying, “I own this.”

This way of giving gifts might come off as being generous or romantic. But dive a bit deeper, and you see it’s about control.

What looks like a gift is a tool for them to lead the relationship. They’re not just trying to make you happy. They want to decide what you do and when you do it.

When a narcissist gives gifts, remember to look past the price tag. The real cost of accepting them could be your freedom to make your own choices.

They don’t just want to give you something nice. They want to buy your time, choices, and sometimes even thoughts.

So when a gift comes your way from a narcissist, it’s good to ask: “What do they want from me?” Because chances are, it’s not about the gift at all. It’s about keeping you where they want you, under their thumb.

#2 Image and Perception

Why Do Narcissists Give Gifts?

Narcissists love looking good. When they give gifts, it’s often a show for everyone else. They pick things that make a big splash, so people talk about their greatness.

The goal? To look like the hero. The best partner ever. It’s all about how people see them, not about making you happy.

Take, for example, a book on a fancy topic. They don’t just give it because you might like it. They’re setting up a stage to talk about how much they know, to show off their smarts.

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Or if they’re all about money, they might spend a lot on a shiny gift. This isn’t just to give you something nice. It’s also a way to send a message: “Look at me, I have cash, I can buy anything.” It tells everyone they’re a success.

When it’s time to pick a gift, a narcissist thinks of themselves first. They might get you something they want or get something they feel makes them look good.

They don’t stop thinking about what you want or like. It’s like they’re buying a gift for themselves and just giving it to you.

So when a narcissist gives a gift, it’s worth asking what the real reason is. Is it to make you happy, or is it to polish their image? Most of the time, it’s the second one.

They care more about their own picture than your feelings. They plan their next step as they give, ensuring they stay in the spotlight and you’re just a part of their act.

#3 Manipulation Tactics

Narcissists have clever ways of twisting things like gift-giving into a game where they’re always in charge. Sure, They give you something, but there’s a twist: the gift is really about them or comes with rules for how to react.

Like, they might give you a fancy gadget. Sounds great, right? But it’s not just a gift. It’s a bait.

They’re waiting to see if you thank them enough or make a big fuss about it. If you don’t, they get upset.

And if anyone else noticed the gift-giving? Even better. They get to play the one who’s hurt because they showed their “generosity,” and you didn’t play along.

Sometimes, the gifts are a way for them to keep you hooked. They choose things they like to see if they can make you use them.

If they succeed, they score points in their own game. They trick you into doing things their way. Your opinion doesn’t matter in this game; it’s about them and their control.

And then, there are the gifts that you give them. They might act like it’s all wrong if you get them something.

Why? This lets them flip the script. Suddenly, it’s not about the lousy gift they gave you last time. Now it’s about how you can’t give a good gift or know them at all. It’s sneaky; they make you look better by making you look bad.

When gifts come from a narcissist, they’re often not about joy or kindness. They’re about pushing buttons and pulling strings.

They make sure that even something that should be fun becomes just another move in a manipulative dance.

So next time a gift comes your way from a narcissist, be careful. It might be more about getting their way than smiling at you.

#4 Emotional Power Plays

Gifts from a narcissist can be part of a bigger plan to make you feel certain things.

They might start with amazing surprises, part of “love bombing.” You get swept up in all the attention and treats.

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But watch closely because it’s not just about making you happy. These gifts are part of their strategy to lock you in and ensure you’re all theirs.

Take the silent treatment, for example. It pops up when they don’t need you to feel good anymore. If you’re not acting how they want, they pull back, go quiet, and give you the cold shoulder.

They’re punishing you with silence. It gets you wondering what you did wrong, and just like that, you’re back in their game, trying to make things right.

Narcissists can flip from sweet to sour fast, and so do their gifts.

Say they give you something way off, like a size nine shoe when you’re a seven or a baseball hat when you never watch the game.

If you’re not thrilled, they play the victim, or worse, they make you out to be the bad guy for not being grateful. They set a trap with these gifts, waiting for you to slip up so they can switch roles and make you look bad.

Dealing with a narcissist means figuring out that these gifts aren’t truly gifts. They’re like a tug-of-war rope, yanking you into a mess of feelings to keep you locked in place.

They’re never just about making you feel loved; they’re about making sure you stay right where the Narcissist wants you. So, while it might look like they’re giving a lot, they’re just setting up their next move in the battle for control.

#5 Competition and One-upmanship

For a narcissist, everything is a contest, even giving gifts. They use presents as a way to win, to show they’re better than anyone else. It’s not about what you or anyone else wants. It’s about them being the best and getting the spotlight.

Imagine a party where gifts are opened. Everyone else brings modest, thoughtful items. Not the Narcissist.

They need to stand out. They bring something big, flashy, and expensive. It’s not about what the person might need or like.

No, they go for the top-shelf, showy stuff with bells and whistles that nobody else would think to get. It’s all for the show, to make sure everyone sees them as the person who won the gifting game.

This kind of gift-giving is also about making sure you know your place. They say, “You’re lucky to be with someone as generous as me.” And if you ever think of leaving or standing up to them, remember these gifts.

Then there’s the flip side. If you get them something they don’t like (or pretend not to like), they’ll use it against you. “Look how well I know you and how little you know me,” they say.

It’s a way to keep you down, to make sure you’re always trying harder to please them, always feeling like you’re not quite good enough.

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So, when a narcissist hands you a gift, it’s packed with hidden messages. It’s not just a present; it’s a tool they use to keep control, feed their ego, and stay on top, no matter what. 

It’s a subtle reminder that they’re playing a game you didn’t even know you were part of.

#6 Toxic Generosity

At the core of narcissistic gift-giving is what can be called toxic generosity. It’s generosity laced with agenda and self-interest.

Narcissists may give you something grand, but it’s never about your joy. There’s always a deeper motive.

They might want to lock you into a cycle of dependence, assert their dominance, or boast about their wealth and good taste. The Narcissist’s gifts are rarely about altruism; they are carefully chosen for the benefits they will reap in return.

Narcissists have a knack for undermining the typical joy of receiving. They might hand you a lavish gift and watch for your reaction.

If it’s anything less than overwhelming gratitude, they take it as an insult, as if you’ve just scorned their generosity.

This allows them to turn the tables now they’re the hurt party, and you owe them. Their “kindness” becomes a debt you never asked for.

They also use gifts to upstage others. If a co-worker got promoted, a narcissist might give them a congratulatory gift that’s more about flaunting their success than celebrating the colleague’s achievement.

It’s a theatrical display, a power move disguised as generosity, designed to keep the Narcissist at the center of everyone’s attention.

Even when the relationship with the Narcissist seems to cool, the gifts don’t stop. They change form.

The gifts become less about reward and more about keeping you in line, a tangible manifestation of their disapproval or disappointment.

Missed birthdays or anniversaries or sudden switches to practical, impersonal gifts can signal a shift in the Narcissist’s attitude towards you. It’s no longer about wooing you; it’s about maintaining a hold, a reminder that they can give and take away.

In essence, the Narcissist’s brand of generosity comes with heavy strings attached.

It reveals their deep-seated need to manipulate and control, often leaving the recipient feeling confused, coerced, or complicit in the Narcissist’s grand self-image.


In the realm of a narcissist, gift-giving transforms into a subtle, strategic play where the giver’s needs overshadow the recipient’s joy. 

Often wrapped in grandeur, these tokens are not mere presents but investments in the Narcissist’s emotional economy, serving their desire for control, admiration, and power. 

It’s vital to recognize the true intentions behind such gifts, as they can become the chains that bind you tighter to a narcissist’s will. 

Awareness is your safeguard, how you can accept or refuse these gifts without entangling yourself further in an endless cycle of indebtedness and manipulation. 

By seeing through the facade of the Narcissist’s generosity, you defend not just your autonomy but also your right to genuine, unconditional giving, free from the strings of a puppeteer’s control.

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