Narcissists are one of the most challenging personalities to be around. Unfortunately, some of the most common narcissistic traits — grandiosity, superiority, entitlement and a lack of empathy — have been on the rise in recent years.
Even worse, these traits often go unnoticed or are ignored, particularly from people who don’t know about narcissism or have other vulnerabilities such as low self-esteem.
As a psychologist who studies extreme self-involvement, I’ve found that narcissism is a maladaptive personality type that can impact the mental health and functioning of those who come into contact with it — especially when money is involved.
Narcissists seek power over others to feel better about themselves, and money is a tool they use to manipulate and control.
Here are the most toxic money habits that narcissists share, and how to deal with them:
1. They are secretive about their finances.
In intimate relationships, this can include being vague about their money situation, like how much they make or have saved.
By keeping you in the dark, they’re able to make one-sided money decisions and control your perception of what you can afford as a couple or a family. They might say, “Let me be in charge of our finances so you don’t have stress out over it.”
This dynamic can happen in business, too. A narcissistic co-founder might casually tell you: “Since you’re the creative genius, I’ll manage the boring money stuff.”
What to do: If you don’t feel confident about money matters, letting a partner handle it can be an appealing offer. But it can lead to serious repercussions. Your credit score, for example, can lapse if the bills aren’t being paid on time.
Always be involved and informed in any financial decision that affects you.
2. They are only generous with money in public.
To narcissists, spending large amounts of money on others can be a way to get people to like them. They may be stingy in private, for example, but cover dinner for colleagues or give gifts just for show.
This experience can be both isolating and frustrating for the person closest to the narcissist because the outside world’s perception isn’t the reality.
Imagine a husband driving home after an expensive dinner with friends that he insisted on paying for, and then listening to him angrily talk about the “freeloading guests.”
What to do: Having a self-serving narcissist in your life can be mentally exhausting. To stay sane in this relationship, get comfortable working through your feelings in a journal or with therapist.