the narcissist and holidays

5 Ways to Crush It if the Narcissist Pulls Their Holiday Disappearing Act

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It’s that time of year again.  While the rest of the world is excitedly preparing for the holiday season, you may be on pins and needles, wondering what kind of games and tricks the narcissist has up their sleeve.  The narcissist and holidays haven’t really worked out well before.

Will they disappear, as they always do, two days before Christmas? Will they get you that engagement ring you’ve been fantasizing about or give it to someone else whom they’ve been grooming behind your back?

Or worse, will they move out just as you and the kids are opening presents on Christmas Day?

As a narcissistic abuse recovery coach, I have been privy to all sorts of horrible, life-shattering catastrophes because of narcissists, many of which occur during the holidays. Why does this happen?  Because narcissists love to discard people at the worst possible times and they think nothing of using your tender feelings of holiday nostalgia against you to their maximum advantage.

In fact, I had many dreadful holiday experiences myself, back when I was married to a narcissist, so I can definitely write from a place of understanding and sympathy.  Therefore, to help you stay in a place of empowerment, I’ve put together a list of best practices and mindsets to follow in case the narcissist ghosts you during the holidays. 

Here’s what to do to maintain your dignity and avoid self-loathing in the wake of holiday ghosting:


1 – Always have a Plan B in place 

If you have a tradition of seeing the Nutcracker ballet, going on a holiday ski trip, or simply visiting friends and family on particular days, a best practice is to always have a backup plan in case the narcissist bails out or implements the Silent Treatment.  Invite a friend, family member or co-worker with you to take the narcissist’s place.

Perhaps you don’t have an annual holiday tradition, but the narcissist has been laying it on thick during a recent hoovering attempt and has gotten you all hyped up about the cozy holiday season the two of you will share this year.

Either way, don’t put all of your emotional eggs in one basket.  It almost never fails that the narcissist will pull the rug out from under you, destroying the plans you’ve made (thereby destroying your holiday spirit) and leaving you in the fetal position on your living room floor. 

Although you might still experience abandonment triggers due to the narcissist’s disappearing act, having a backup plan will help you feel independent and empowered.  However, under no circumstances should you share with the narcissist that you have made plans should they decide to bail on you.  This only gives them the information they need to wreck your plan B, as well. 

2 – Return any gifts you may have gotten them

…and get your money back.  Alternately, if the gifts would be useful for you, keep them for yourself.  Don’t reward the narcissist for their unacceptable behavior by presenting them with Christmas presents when they finally decide to show up after having whooped it up with their new supply. 

Not only would it enhance their sense of entitlement, but it would also relay the message that it’s okay for them to ghost you during the holidays going forward.

3 – Make sure they can’t reach you by phone or social media

Although you may feel an overpowering urge to leave the lines of communication open for them despite their ghosting you, it’s best to ensure they can’t have their cake and eat it, too.

Narcissists often can’t contain themselves during holiday ghosting bouts and may check-in to see if they’ve successfully ruined your holiday.  If they’re able to get through to you, they can be very convincing by pretending to care about your well-being.  However, once you’ve told them how you’re having a hard time and can’t get motivated to decorate the tree or finish your Christmas shopping, they’ll hang up with a smirk on their face because 1) they obliterated your Christmas festivities and, 2) they know they’ll have an easy in once they decide the new supply needs a good ghosting of their own. 

Remember, when the narcissist comes back, it’s not because they miss you or feel remorse for how they’ve treated you.  When they return, it’s often due to an initial Silent Treatment they’re giving the new supply. 

To the narcissist, it’s never too early to plant the seeds of rejection and abandonment.

Block their number and remove them from your social media accounts.  In fact, don’t post anything on your social media about their being gone.  Post festive holiday recipes and funny memes.  This way, if they open a fake account to spy on your mental state, it will appear that you couldn’t care less that they ghosted you, which would be wonderful redress.

4 – Don’t fall for their ‘horrible childhood’ or ‘family of origin wounding’ tales

The narcissist is keenly aware that you have a caring, compassionate heart.  They know you like to help people overcome their pain, striving to make life easier for them.

This is precisely why, when they come back after a round of ghosting, they will often tell the woeful tale of how they are so scarred from childhood, they get a little wonky around the holidays.  They can’t help it.  It’s some deep, unconscious drive to bounce when the holiday season rolls around.

You’re not going to leave them alone and vulnerable, are you? *cue the furrowed brow and single tear*

Don’t be deceived.  If the narcissist pulls the same disappearing act every single year, it’s not due to wounding, it’s due to their being a manipulative jackass. 

5 – Remember that the narcissist’s ghosting act has nothing to do with you as a person

It’s easy to imagine that there’s something about you that triggers the narcissist to pull their disappearing acts.  This is precisely what the narcissist wants you to think.  Because, if you believe it’s all about you, they can avoid taking responsibility for their abusive behaviors. 

In fact, the narcissist’s entire pathological agenda is geared towards making you feel responsible for everything they’re doing wrong in the relationship, which almost always involves various stages of relationships with other people. 

This reason alone is why they must disappear for days or weeks.  The added bonus for them is that this also succeeds in strengthening any abandonment vulnerabilities you have. 

You may believe your love can change them, but it simply won’t.  The only way to win is not to play. 

Be the better person, retain your dignity, and eventually, let him or her go peacefully.

I truly hope this article helps you prepare beforehand so you can enjoy the holiday season this year despite any shenanigans the narcissist might be up to.  You deserve to experience the spirit of the holiday season.  


There are so many people just like you who have taken a stand against their abusers.  They’ve gotten a taste of the good life–and that taste of freedom is too sweet to turn back to the lives they had before.

Recovering from narcissistic abuse is hard. If you’re ready to go deeper now, check out the #1 therapist-approved online program for narcissistic abuse recovery. This program is so effective, counselors and therapists refer their clients to it and it’s also shared in shelters across the U.S.  You can see for yourself here.

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liz says November 28, 2022

thanks so much, Kim.

Thanksgiving was a nightmare bc of the wretch…he tried to sabotage the turkey in the oven ! can you believe that ?? miraculously, I managed to save it and it turned out perfect altho took an extra hour to roast…he TURNED OFF THE OVEN behind my back….I didn’t realize it until I opened the oven to check the temp of the turkey…the oven was cold ! the oven was off ! then he cranked it up to 450 degrees so it would burn ! I managed to save it, and it turned out just fine….I cooked all day, and made advance prep all week….in the kitchen the entire day cooking…the food was very good, everyone (his entire family) enjoyed it…except his adult Golden Child daughter (42 yrs old) who kept getting in my way in the kitchen…trying to provoke…he did not set a place for me at the table ! his dysfunctional family said nothing…I ignored it, just so relieved the turkey & everything else turned out so well…after the meal, the awful daughter started to glutton her way thru all the leftovers, getting as much as possible to take back to her house….I never got a chance to have any of it….he & the awful spoiled brat daughter lit into me, yelling at me in the kitchen, in the worst way, whole family could hear it…I went outside, tired and shaken…and hungry….he and her brutish husband followed me outside and proceeded to yell at me, degrade me, and insult me at the top of their lungs…I was so shocked, I just stood there, in the cold, smoking a cigarette, staring at the sky…not one word of Thanks, after they stuffed their greedy faces for 2 hours on the food I cooked….and no apology whatsoever…from any of them….they act as if nothing happened….the atrocious SMEAR CAMPAIGN is underway ….he & darling daughter are at the root of it….I am about ready to call the Domestic Violence Hotline just for support for all the emotional abuse…I have never in my life witnessed such blatant, unconscionable rudeness.

Betty says December 14, 2021

Thank you, I know I’m going to need this. I’ve only been seeing mine since July and he already fought with me and left me alone on my birthday, and disappeared on Thanksgiving! Of course his own birthday was a drama-fest where I had to fall all over myself to keep him happy on HIS birthday….once he showed up, at 4am.

Jj says November 30, 2020

I can relate to every single article I read from you so it’s a relief to know I am not the crazy one and my ex is 100% fucked ! He ruined my son’s first Easter, showed up after midnight to give me my birthday gift, hit me on xmas the list goes on I try not think about it tho although prison isn’t forever… He will be out 1 day

Magdalene says November 30, 2020

I am happy to get the list of 5 things to do during this Christmas holidays as narc abuse survivor.
I am grateful. Thanks to Madam Kim Saeed and the Team for the good work you are doing for us.
Be blessed always.

Tabitha says November 29, 2020

Kim thank you so much! Your articles and emails have been so helpful in setting and keeps my boundaries. It’s made keep the Narcissistic family member @ a distance. Since she is my mom it has been harder to keep her out of you’re completely….but you encouragement and advice has been a saving grace and from falling into the same old self-degrading patterns.

Marilyn says December 11, 2019

Thank You ! I was losing my mind dealing with the NARC in my life until I found your website! I can’t thank you enough for all the support you give. I’m getting stronger and more confident. Kim, you’ve been a “godsend”… Thank You!Thank you Thank You!

Hafsa says December 11, 2019

What would you advice for people of other religions than christianity for winter vacations? As we dont have chrismas plans and in my case no annual or holiday plans.. so how could we make our holidays peaceful, enjoyable, productive and refreshing?

A says December 11, 2019

INCREDIBLE article. My MIL to the letter. For 17+ years of marriage every holiday has been a lonely hell. Things like having to “guess” where Christmas will be held–and never really being invited. Inviting her to our Christmas only to have every single element of our meals criticized–and using these criticisms as an excuse not to have Christmas with us. Incredible, this is a “THING” for the narcissist. I really thought it was just me. Thank you for the article.

Darla Bayless says December 10, 2019

Kim, this will be my first Christmastime divorced from my narcissist husband who I was married to 33 years. This take is exactly what I experienced versions of so many times. Especially the part about him and his family and their presents. The one time I got to have Christmas dinner at my house he got up in a mood, then said he had to work and left me with it all to prepare. He finally showed back up just when we started to eat, but went to bed while they were still there. Then later he told me he felt guilty and came back but had intended to move out that Christmas morning. My Mom and Dad always had a big breakfast and presents on Christmas morning. But his Mom would put the heat on us to be at her house Christmas Eve night, Christmas supper, then again the next night. It was exhausting. I would take food to her house but sometimes she would not set it out. One time I made my family recipe Christmas cookies that you roll out and cut in shapes. They were not out but showed up at the family business that next March for the employees to eat like she had made them. She had frozen them that Christmas before. I am concerned about a hoover this Christmas and have been trying to stategize.

Jeannie says December 10, 2019

Spot on! Such helpful advice. Thank you so much. Your articles have been a huge help in dealing with the narcs in my life!

Easter – The Narcissist’s Spring Wrecking Ball - Kim Saeed: Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Program says April 18, 2019

[…] If you are to feel any type of happiness, it will have to be at their hand, so they will often bring you to a low point on a holiday, then attempt to bring you back up (i.e., a discard and subsequent […]

Kelley says December 17, 2018

After a ten year off and on relationship I was strong enough to break off our dysfunctional relationship. Three months later he came back to me telling me he knew I was the one and asked me to marry him. Words I always wanted to hear I got swept up in his lies again. We quickly married and have now been married for 1 year and 4 months. We still don’t live together as he has every excuse in the book of why. Generally telling me its my fault. He comes and goes as he pleases and generally is not present at all. Before we married we traveled often but since we have not traveled at all except our late honeymoon a year ago which he ruined. Our anniversary he did not even acknowledge explaining later that its been a sh** show of a year so why bother. He has managed to ghost me for every holiday or important event since we married, including the birth of my first grandson. A Couple of days ago he decided we would go away for the new year, only to cancel after we got our tickets. I am guessing he decided he would rather take someone else. Now with christmas only a week away he leaves me in another position of loneliness and questioning. Last new years eve after he ignored my calls all day he ditched me. I sat home alone with no energy only hoping he would show up. This article is spot on in every aspect of my life with my so called husband.

    Kim Saeed says December 18, 2018

    Sweetheart, you need to give yourself the best Christmas present EVER and file divorce papers. The fact that you two aren’t even living together should make things very simple. Hoping you will take your power and your life back.

    Kim XoXo

    Kristen says December 2, 2019

    I have yet to connect with someone who understands what I have been through, being married to a narcissist. My friends/family assume I am the issue. He has never ever shown up for a holiday. Since we married. He always makes some fight up and leaves to go be with his mom and dad with his son. And they have betrayed him and ostracized me since we married. It’s deplorable. I am married to a ghost and blamed and scapegoated by the entire family. Whom I’ve never ever really even met or spoken to. These people are INSANE and it makes life so chaotic. I was a widow w two small boys. They are teens now. And this jerk has never ever been there for us. I would truly love to connect w someone who understands.

Angie Sarver says April 4, 2018

I’m completely lost on how to handle my situation, the hovering never stops. He has 3 felony charges pending now an it hasn’t slowed him down. One day he is perfect, being the perfect man always going out of his way to make me happy, the next he becomes a monster with no concious. Trying no contact an it is making him 10 times worse. He shows up at work, at home, friend an family’s homes. He goes crazy an then pretends as if nothing ever happened. I’m scared an can’t seek help because everyone who comes around me gets hurt to. I pacifi him all the time it’s the only way to make it stop. But now that isn’t helping I feel trapped. And yes that’s the narcissistic plan from day one. Its all about control he gets off on knowing he can make you submissive without touching you.

    Kim Saeed says April 16, 2018

    Hi Angie, it sounds like you need to get a restraining order. That’s what I had to do.


Easter – The Narcissist’s Spring Wrecking Ball - Let Me Reach with Kim Saeed says March 31, 2018

[…] If you are to feel any type of happiness, it will have to be at their hand, so they will often bring you to a low point on a holiday, then attempt to bring you back up (i.e., a discard and subsequent […]

Dan says December 25, 2017

I find this quite helpful, especially on this Christmas. My “narcissistic discard” took place about a year ago. My ex-boyfriend, (as to make the point that this doesn’t just happen to straight people,) had a complete change of attitude and personality and ended up completely abandoning me. We had plans, had started learning a few new games, had started watching a couple of new series, and had plans as to what we wanted to do later than week and throughout the next few months. Then, he was gone from my life in any sort of romantic way. (We still had to work together.) This occurred without warning or explanation, six days after New Years, after we had spent what I thought was a wonderful Christmas and New Years together. If that wasn’t bad enough, he spent the next four months, until his family moved, antagonizing me: walking past me as if we were never even friends, not seeming to care about anything we had shared or anything that he had said and/or promised, not answering texts, calls, messages, or whatnot, telling people awful things about me behind my back, (when only a week before he had been praising me and us,) avoiding having to talk to me about anything that wasn’t work related, and not giving me even five minutes of his time to provide me with any sort of apology, regret, explanation, or closure of any kind. To this day, I have no idea what happened. I can say, however, that no experience has ever hurt me so much, for so long, or has left me with as many self doubts and abandonment issues.

Selina Lothrop says December 9, 2017

I truly enjoy everything u is so spot on..ur helping me recover day by day

Linda says December 7, 2017

I truly enjoy your insight, Kim. I certainly needed this, and although I struggle with so much hurt and confusion right now, it does indeed help in trying to piece things together for me. Thank you!

    Kim Saeed says December 8, 2017

    I’m so happy to know my video helped you with clarity and also validation that you made the right decision for yourself, Linda! Wishing you all the best on your healing journey!

    Kim XoXo

      Linda says December 8, 2017

      I still struggle so much with the detachment, the feeling of needing to hear from this narcissist, Kim. After a five year relationship, it has been 4 months now of no contact. No children involved, thankfully, but I truly feel broken. Is there a certain program/book, etc., that you would suggest to get this healing process to speed up? I physically, and mentally hurt!

Prisca says December 5, 2017

So wonderful to be able to understand this. I wish I would have known this when I allowed the narcissistic to destroy and ruin all my holidays. This is so empowering and enlightening. I can stand up tall this Christmas and be so thankful for my family without the narcissist

    Kim Saeed says December 6, 2017

    Wow, Prisca, thank you for your kind words. I hope you have a lovely Christmas this year with your family!

    Kim XoXo

Jenny H says December 5, 2017

Hi Kim, Thank you for all your great videos and articles. My ex-narc husband never ghosted during the holidays. He did always control things with his job. When just about everyone took Christmas Eve off work — he always worked that day unless we went out-of-town. And he was the CFO of the company he worked at and most of the people in his office took the day off, so it wasn’t like her worked retail. I never understood it. He even did this after our kids were born and he could have spent time with us or he could have been around to help with holiday preparations or help take care of the kids when I was doing everything. He ghosted this way for most holidays. He never ever could take the day off at Christmas unless we went out-of-town. He never could take any the holidays the kids were off unless the company was shut down (Memorial Day for example). But guess what? Now he can, because he has to look like Dad of the Year to the new supply and to everyone else who is watching. Funny how the narcs are always doing impression management!

And before our kids were born, my ex always seemed to get “sick” around Christmas. He’d ghost on the couch by sleeping or looked for attention for his “sickness” even at family get-togethers (my family). He didn’t do this around his family. Just my family. It’s like he didn’t like me getting attention or maybe he didn’t like me giving attention to my family? I don’t know! Even after both our kids were born and my family came to visit, his allergies acted up of course and he had to go sleep on the couch in front of everyone. I now look back on all this and wonder what was real and what was fake.

It’s like with not being around at home during the holidays, he was controlling things as he knew I wanted him home to be with us, his family! I just wanted us all to be together to do stuff or whatever.

And I know my birthday or Mother’s Day is not a holiday, but he’d purposely not celebrate my birthday (he’d just leave a card laying around for me to find) and never wished me happy Mother’s Day, got me flowers, gift or took me out for dinner. After over ten years of that treatment and I finally said something and he said, “You are not my mother.” And with regards to my birthday he said, “I didn’t know.” But he did know to email former female co-workers Happy Birthday messages and go out for lunch with them. You’d think I was a horrible wife and mom to be treated that way, but I was just the opposite. I now see it all about devaluing me so I’d try harder and harder to be a better wife in order to get a little bit scraps of attention and love. It’s sad we don’t see the abuse for what it was until we are out of it.

    Kim Saeed says December 6, 2017

    Hi Jenny,

    I’m sorry for what you went through and I can relate to how difficult it must have been. I truly hope you are doing things to reclaim your happiness for life and that you enjoy the holidays this year.

    Hugs, Kim

    Michelle Haney says December 6, 2017

    Wow!exact same thing happened to me!!!

    Christa says December 11, 2019

    WOW Same story here, but thank God I manage to step out after a marriage of 43 years, left me in thousand pieces and almost lost my mind completely. I’m divorced for one year now and never been happier in my entire live, but still struggle a lot to get over the “narc” abuse. Every time I melt down, and get anxiety attacks I do the breathing exercise and PRAY PRAY PRAY All my thanks to God and your empowering program.

Anonymous says December 5, 2017

My narcissist discarded me a few months back. He did the whole ” in a relationship”, with his perfect woman, pictures splashed all over Facebook, when he’d never for six years, ever “claimed” me to his friends, family. Kept me a secret. I didn’t fit the image he wants to project. I’m 67, in therapy, and still falling apart. I’m afraid I’ll never get “me” back. Never feel good enough again. And if I do, it’ll be too late to maybe find someone who could appreciate and care for me and spend time with. I don’t think we ever ‘age out’ of being lonely or wanting companionship. He took that from me.

    Kim Saeed says December 6, 2017

    Hi Anon,

    Sounds like you need to reclaim your spark! Age is nothing but a number…I see people your age starting fresh and finding healthy love all the time. If you’re not in any healing programs, you might want to check mine out. There’s one module on detaching, but the rest is about healing and rebuilding. Right now the program is discounted for the holidays. You can check it out here:

    Either way, wishing you all the best!

    Kim XoXo

Kim says December 5, 2017

I was doing so well and I went back and of course he made up some reason and said I was no good and he constantly says I don’t love him. (While he still has several women and of course they were just friends). It’s now Christmas time and of course he won’t do anything special for me because in his words I’m not deserving and I don’t love him. I started again not talking to him it has been for 12 days but I have hidden my calls but I’ve called. I’m trying so hard but I miss him but I am determined this time. Other guys want to go out I go but I miss him. I just want to really get over him and the mental abuse that has control over me.

Johnny says December 5, 2016

My nark actually brought a new guy to my company xmas party. Thank you for your support

    Robert says January 24, 2017

    My narc left and I found out went on holiday with a man she had groomed for several months when she got a free ride the man was tossed aside and she came knocking again back at my door saying it would never happen again and I fell for it only to be deceived again several weeks later…again all my fault and I find myself time and time again going through the same cycle all in the name of love…!!!

      Kim says December 5, 2017

      Yes that is my problem I keep going back over and over again I feel so stupid and think do I have that low of self esteem that I keep going back to a man I know has other women and is just using me as a pawn in his game.
      I pray that we both learn and get over our narc
      I know we can do it.

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