The Narcissist and Money Control (2023)

Last Updated on July 4, 2022 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.

Table of Contents:

  • Why Money is Important
  • Understanding their Money Habits
  • Types of Narcissists and their Money Habits
  • How to protect yourself?
  • Healing from Financial Abuse

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.

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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.

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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.

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  1. 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.
  2. NNEDV. (2014). NNEDV.

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Are narcissists controlling with money? ›

They are punitive with money. Narcissists often use money as a tool for punishment. They may reward you financially when you do what they want, and then withhold money when they feel vindictive.

Do narcissists have problems with money? ›

Financial distress is a common occurrence among some narcissists. Numerous factors can contribute to these problems. In the first place, narcissists believe that they are above the law. As a result, their unethical behavior may sometimes include lying, stealing, or embezzling money while justifying it fully.

What are the 5 main habits of a narcissist? ›

Let's take a look at five of the most common characteristics of a narcissist in order to create awareness.
  • Inflated Ego. Those who suffer from narcissism usually seem themselves as superior to others. ...
  • Lack of Empathy. ...
  • Need for Attention. ...
  • Repressed Insecurities. ...
  • Few Boundaries.

Where do narcissists hide money? ›

Hiding assets.

Narcissists don't care what's fair. They go to great pains to hide marital assets, sometimes setting up secret accounts, “lending” money to friends, or stashing cash in safe-deposit boxes. Because they're so grandiose, they don't believe they'll ever get caught.

Are narcissists selfish with money? ›

Narcissists tend to focus on extrinsic motivators, like money and rewards, rather than personal growth and fulfillment. Because money and material wealth are highly important to narcissists, they often become a focal point of their relationships—sometimes resulting in financial abuse.

Does a narcissist lie about money? ›

Narcissists are also known to lie or cover up their bank statements in legal situations to get more money in alimony or child support. People become pawns—even the lawyers and judges—and child support becomes more about financially ruining the ex-partner than caring for the children of the relationship.

Are narcissists ever generous? ›

Narcissists are some of the most generous people you will ever meet. In many ways, they define themselves by how well they are able to please others, since it reflects back on being able to please themselves. Narcissists require a lot of gratitude and positive feedback.

How narcissists ruin their own lives? ›

Overly critical remarks about our appearance, our talents, our achievements, our lifestyles, our choices are all fair game in a narcissist's mind. Shaming us for existing as an independent human being with our own lives, preferences, opinions, and worldviews is the way narcissists program us to self-destruct.

Why are narcissists so materialistic? ›

The Narcissist also feeds on power and control, as these fuel their grandiosity and sense of omnipotence in order to mask their fundamental core experience of being bad or defective. They take material riches as a sign of their value and worth. Narcissism takes many forms.

What is the number 1 narcissist trait? ›

Grandiose sense of self-importance

Grandiosity is the defining characteristic of narcissism. More than just arrogance or vanity, grandiosity is an unrealistic sense of superiority. Narcissists believe they are unique or “special” and can only be understood by other special people.

What are red flags of a narcissist? ›

Prioritizes their own needs over others. High expectations of their friends. Ends friendships when they no longer benefit them. Obsessed with social status.

What happens when a narcissist runs out of money? ›

When deprived of Narcissistic Supply - both primary AND secondary - the narcissist feels annulled, hollowed out, or mentally disembowelled. This is an overpowering sense of evaporation, disintegration into molecules of terrified anguish, helplessly and inexorably.

Are narcissists greedy with money? ›

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.

Does narcissist get karma? ›

Narcissists look confident, brutal, strong, and lucky. The image they project is of someone who enjoys abusing others. They seem to be nowhere close to facing Karma. But, the truth is that they have been facing some utter bad luck since their childhood.

Do narcissists go in debt? ›

Some narcissists go into insane debt to keep up appearances and please themselves; other narcissists cause other people insane debt to keep them happy. A narcissist will also convince a partner to go in on a loan or financing contract with them so they can afford something they previously couldn't.

How are narcissists in bed? ›

Narcissists' sexual preferences are often very specific. In bed, the narcissist may have very explicit ideas about what their partner should do or even say. They want the narrative to play out in a certain way, and they don't have patience for changes to the script. This has to do with their lack of empathy.

What it's like arguing with a narcissist? ›

Arguing with a narcissist can be extremely difficult — people with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) feel very little empathy for others and are often manipulative. They may use tactics like turning the blame on you, gaslighting you, and resorting to disrespectful behavor.

What eventually happens to narcissists? ›

According to Julie L. Hall, author of “The Narcissist in Your Life: Recognizing the Patterns and Learning to Break Free,” narcissists become more extreme versions of their worst selves as they age, which includes becoming more desperate, deluded, paranoid, angry, abusive, and isolated.

What do narcissists do when they are caught lying? ›

In addition to deflecting blame, they will devalue you and make you wish you had never confronted them. Devaluing is a huge part of the narcissistic relationship. When it comes to devaluing you, catching them in a lie will be no different than dealing with any other conflict.

What turns on a narcissist? ›

"Narcissists are drawn to those who can boost their own self-esteem and validate their sense of importance," Wasser told Insider. "Being associated with someone who is successful or admired can make the narcissist feel more important by proxy."

Is there anything nice about a narcissist? ›

Bottom Line. Narcissists can sometimes be helpful and caring. However, more often than not, they only pretend to have these qualities. Moreover, even when they act giving and helping, they are not motivated by empathy because they severely lack it, and as a result, their help is often not very productive.

What words not to say to a narcissist? ›

8 Things You Should Never Say to a Narcissist
  • Don't say, "It's not about you." ...
  • Don't say, "You're not listening." ...
  • Don't say, "Ina Garten did not get her lasagna recipe from you." ...
  • Don't say, "Do you think it might be your fault?" ...
  • Don't say, "You're being a bully." ...
  • Don't say, "Stop playing the victim."
Dec 15, 2017

Do narcissists give expensive gifts? ›

Specifically, narcissists give gifts with an eye to maintaining a relationship with the giver and to maintaining control in that relationship. You don't get expensive gifts from a narcissist because they think you are awesome; you get valuable gifts because they want you to continue to think that they are awesome.

What happens to the soul of a narcissist? ›

He is the person most insensitive to his true needs. The narcissist drains himself of mental energy in this process. This is why he has none left to dedicate to others. This fact, as well as his inability to love human beings in their many dimensions and facets, ultimately transform him into a recluse.

How do narcissists punish their victims? ›

Silent Treatment Narcissists punish by ignoring. Then they let their victim off the hook by demanding an apology even though she isnt to blame. This is to modify her behavior. They also have a history of cutting others out of their life permanently over small things.

Do narcissists eventually self destruct? ›

The narcissist often engages in self-defeating and self-destructive behaviours.

Do narcissists care about anybody? ›

“As narcissists do not have empathy, they are not able to genuinely care or love you,” explains Davey. Instead, narcissists will only have people in their lives that benefit them; they are very selfish people. “They are number one in their lives.

Why do narcissists act so childish? ›

Though narcissists can behave like adults much of the time, when they feel embarrassed, ignored or inferior they may revert to a childlike state, acting like children during the terrible twos. In a way, this regression makes sense.

Why are narcissists so mean? ›

"Narcissists are primed to be abusive because they're so hypersensitive, and they don't have empathy, and they don't have object constancy," Greenberg said. "So they are primed to take offence and be abusive and not really understand... It's a lot of work for the non-narcissistic mate."

What is the #1 word a narcissist Cannot stand? ›

There are many words people high in narcissism don't want to hear, but perhaps the worst involve a “no,” as in “No, you can't," "No, you're wrong," or — even worse — “No, I won't.” This makes it difficult to go about your ordinary business with the people in your life who don't understand the give-and-take of normal ...

What type of narcissist is the scariest? ›

Malignant narcissists are often regarded as having the most extreme form of NPD, and while they will have the regular qualities of someone with narcissistic personality disorder, their self-absorption and self-obsession is accompanied by some darker behaviors as well.

What type of narcissist is the smartest? ›

Cerebral narcissists, also known as intellectual narcissists, are individuals who try to fulfill their narcissistic supply through their perceived intelligence. While intellectual narcissists are generally smart, they may present as if they are more educated than they really are.

What is the weak spot of a narcissist? ›

A monumental weakness in the narcissist is the failure to look internally and flesh out what needs to be worked on. Then, of course, the next step is to spend time improving. The narcissist sabotages any possibility of looking deep within.

What is the most overlooked symptom of narcissism? ›

Habitual Non-Listening

Ever spoken with someone who responded dismissively to everything you said? Narcissists brush aside or deprecate what others say instead of truly listening.

What is the most toxic narcissist? ›

Malignant narcissism is considered by many to be the most severe type. 2 That's why it helps to recognize when you have someone with this condition in your life and what to expect from interactions with them. This knowledge can also provide insight into how to deal with them in the healthiest way possible.

Does anything scare a narcissist? ›

Rejection, humiliation, and even the tiniest of defeats can shake them to their core. This leaves narcissists wholly focused on their image.

How do you outwit a narcissist? ›

Eight Ways to Outsmart a Narcissist
  1. Recognize you're dealing with a narcissist.
  2. Understand the behaviors they use to manipulate or control you.
  3. Create boundaries for yourself.
  4. Express those boundaries in advance.
  5. Share when your boundaries have been crossed.
  6. Don't be afraid to have open conversations in front of others.
Oct 18, 2022

What does a narcissistic collapse look like? ›

For the person on the receiving end, someone experiencing a narcissistic collapse may look out of control, extremely angry, and vindictive. In some cases, it may look like someone withdrawing altogether and giving them the silent treatment.

How do narcissists treat their children? ›

Narcissistic parents are often emotionally abusive to their children, holding them to impossible and constantly changing expectations. Those with narcissistic personality disorder are highly sensitive and defensive. They tend to lack self-awareness and empathy for other people, including their own children.

What does narcissistic rage look like? ›

Examples of narcissistic rage range from intense outbursts and sudden fits of anger, to passive-aggressive acts such as simmering resentment, icy silence, deliberate neglect, or cutting sarcasm.

Are narcissists very needy? ›

Narcissists also deny emotional needs. They won't admit that they're being demanding and needy, because having needs makes them feel dependent and weak. They judge it as needy. Although narcissists don't usually put the needs of others first, some narcissists are actually people-pleasers and can be very generous.

Do narcissists have friends? ›

Narcissists value fame, beauty, and success more than relationships. Sure, they date and have friends and often these relationships start out exciting — but fizzle quickly. “People who are narcissistic should have a trail of bad relationships behind them,” Campbell said.

Do narcissists marry for money? ›

Narcissists get married because they want someone to inflate their ego and be a permanent source of narcissistic supply. A narcissist getting married is likely only if it serves their purpose, like image boosting, a readily available audience, or money.

Will a narcissist sacrifice for you? ›

If you're in a relationship with a narcissist, you may find that you're sacrificing things for the sake of their needs on a regular basis, but they refuse to do the same for you. It also means they'll do almost anything to others in order to meet their own needs.

Do narcissist live with any regrets? ›

It is common for people with a narcissistic personality disorder to regret discarding or losing someone, but it does not mean what you might think. If they feel regret, it is not because they hurt you. It is for losing something that they value. You are a possession, not a real person.

Will a narcissist ever get what they deserve? ›

If you're stuck working with a narcissist, there might not be much you can do in the short term except keep your composure and sense of humor. But science has some comfort to offer those stuck putting up with grandiose showboats and self-obsessed charmers. In the end, it appears they get exactly what they deserve.

Are narcissists over generous? ›

Narcissists are some of the most generous people you will ever meet. In many ways, they define themselves by how well they are able to please others, since it reflects back on being able to please themselves. Narcissists require a lot of gratitude and positive feedback.

Why is everything an argument to a narcissist? ›

Narcissists are often ill-equipped to have mature discussions or resolve conflicts yet in their mind they are experts at it. As a result, they often use some terms, arguments, or techniques that theyve heard about yet dont really understand, all while thinking that they are being rational, reasonable, or correct.

What hurts a narcissist more? ›

The most effective weapon to fend off narcissists is self-love. When you love yourself, it is more difficult for the narcissist to manipulate you and get under your skin. It will hurt them to know that you do not need them, that you are better off without them, and that you love yourself exactly as you are.

Are narcissists ever humble? ›

Humble narcissists bring the best of both worlds: they have bold visions, but they're also willing to acknowledge their weaknesses and learn from their mistakes. Humble narcissists have grand ambitions, but they don't feel entitled to them. They don't deny their weaknesses; they work to overcome them.

Why are narcissists so stingy with 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.

What to say to a narcissist to shut them down permanently? ›

The following are 16 key phrases to disarm a narcissist:
  • 1. “ ...
  • “I Can't Control How You Feel About Me” ...
  • “I Hear What You're Saying” ...
  • “I'm Sorry You Feel That Way” ...
  • “Everything Is Okay” ...
  • “We Both Have a Right to Our Own Opinions” ...
  • “I Can Accept How You Feel” ...
  • “I Don't Like How You're Speaking to Me so I Will not Engage”
Dec 28, 2021

How do you outsmart a narcissistic control? ›

How to Outsmart a Narcissist
  1. Separate yourself to cut off their narcissistic supply.
  2. Take time to heal.
  3. Take responsibility for your part in a conflict.
  4. React with empathy and respect.
  5. Act unresponsive around them.
  6. Disengage from their conversations.
  7. Set and enforce clear boundaries.


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