When we think of a Narcissist, we typically don’t use the word “generous” to describe them. In fact, the Narcissist is not a generous person, at heart. Not at all. But some of them can put on a good show, which makes them much more difficult to spot. The Generous Narcissist has realized the value and POWER in purchasing people’s affections.
In public, the Generous Narcissist can take on many forms. They could be the home room Mom who always brings cupcakes, or the person who volunteers at the homeless shelter, or the person who rescues packs of animals from the pound. The Generous Narcissist likely appears to the public as a pillar in the community.
But the focus of this article will be on the Narcissist who uses financial “generosity” as a weapon to control, malign and blackmail those people who are the recipients of his gifts. The financially Generous Narcissist is a person who has managed to amass some measure of financial success for her/himself, and uses his means to financially abuse people.
The Generous Narcissist is more cunning than his/her stingy contemporaries. The ability to come across as generous provides a much better mask. But like any mask the Narcissist chooses to wear, the Generous Narcissist lets his mask slip around the people closest to him.
Not all generous people are Narcissists, though. So how do you distinguish between a genuinely generous person and a Generous Narcissist? Below are a few red flags:
The Generous Narcissist will insist on paying the entire tab. This will typically occur AFTER the Narcissist orders the most expensive alcohol or food items on the menu and then insists that everyone have some. So that once everyone else at the table is sweating how to pay for this hefty tab, the Narcissist swoops in and grabs the bill and tells everyone, “My treat!”
Later, out of earshot of his recipients, the Generous Narcissist will bemoan the fact that he always picks up the tab; that no one else ever does; and that everyone always expects him to. He is a victim and everyone else around him are mooches and losers. It is equally important to the Generous Narcissist that he or she is seen as the generous benefactor to those people with whom s/he has a superficial relationship, as it is that s/he is seen as the beleaguered martyr to those people on an intimate level (those who have seen behind the mask).
The Generous Narcissist is a big tipper. But make no mistake, his over-the-top tipping has nothing to do with the service of the wait staff. Giving big tips ensures that when the narcissist returns to the restaurant, the wait staff will be squabbling over who gets to wait on him. He will get preferential treatment. The people he is dining with will believe he is a humanitarian.
The Generous Narcissist encourages and often demands those closest to him to take a back seat to his or her career endeavors. He will even sabotage family members, because he realizes that money equals control. And then once the Narcissist has his family members diminished to a role of begging for money, he will mock, ridicule and shame them for abusing him financially. Nevermind that the Narcissist is compulsively buying Rolexes for himself. He expects his dependents to clip coupons.
The Generous Narcissist will adorn his family members with nice clothing, jewelry and cars. But these things are not for their enjoyment, but rather a display of the Narcissist’s wealth.
Bottom line, the Narcissist is never really generous. He or she uses money to manipulate, blackmail and control other people, and to display his success and his superiority. Just as the Narcissist’s “love” is conditional, so is his generosity.
Pam McCoy is a writer, author and co-host of Crazybusters.