Can’t Buy Me Love: Narcissists and Financial Abuse: Narcissistic control extends to finances and creates a monetary hierarchy.
Financial abuse is yet another way for narcissists to torment their victims more, and control them. Most of the time, their victims don’t even realize that they are being financially abused until it’s too late.
- 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.
- Some forms of financial abuse, like lying about pay or hours worked, can be covert or hard to detect; others (like controlling a partner’s spending) are more obvious.
- Anyone who is a victim of financial abuse should seek help immediately.
It could be said that money—not love—is what makes the world go round. Money is what keeps us clothed and fed and ensures a roof over our heads and gas in our vehicles. It allows us to go on vacations and sip coffee while shopping for both necessities and frivolities. Money can also be a major source of stress when bills are due, the furnace breaks, or we lose a steady paycheck.
Modern capitalist culture enforces the power of the almighty dollar by equating good with rich and prosperous (Werner, Smyth, & Milyavskaya, 2019). For narcissists, not only is this prosperity a non-negotiable, but it is another method of control and superiority in a relationship.
Money As Motivation
Money is an example of an extrinsic, or external, goal and motivator. Whereas non-narcissistic people aim to find meaning and personal fulfillment in a job as well as a good wage, narcissists are lacking that inner drive. Keep in mind that with a narcissist, wealth and prosperity are often inflated—much like their ego.
Obsession with money or other external goals—such as a higher job title at work or a better car or a bigger house—is not always a good thing. Studies have shown that preoccupation with external goals can be detrimental to physical and mental health (Werner et al, 2019). It is perfectly normal to want to upgrade your phone or work towards a promotion, but there must also be an inner desire for personal growth and improvement.
For example, a nontoxic, non-narcissistic individual may seek out additional opportunities to improve their chances at promotion and increase their knowledge. They have intrinsic motivators driving them toward their goals—perhaps a natural curiosity, enjoyment of a sport or a topic of study, or spending time with someone for their friendship. A narcissist, however, will enroll in a program to impress other people, join a team strictly to win a prize, or befriend someone to increase their chances of gaining popularity or favor.
The more a person invests in internal goals and motivators, their penchant for negative and destructive behaviors decreases (Werner et al, 2019). The focus becomes one of growth, expansion, and positivity. Heavier focus on external motivators and goals will increase a person’s bad behavior: cheating on company records or licensing exams, dabbling in drug and alcohol use, or engaging in affairs and neglecting one’s family.
A narcissist’s inflated and undeserved ego leads them to believe they are worth more than they are and that they deserve the affair, the higher pay, the better exam score. There is a positive correlation between narcissists and their reliance on external goals and motivations (Werner et al, 2019).
Narcissists and those with the same toxic traits are naturally attracted to empathetic people with low or no boundaries. These nontoxic individuals are the same ones that rely on internal motivators to reach their goals. Money may be important to them, but it is not the end-all. These people place emphasis on personal fulfillment, family, honesty, and fairness… and unfortunately find themselves in relationships with narcissists.
Forms of Financial Abuse
Financial abuse can take many forms. It can affect a property, assets, personal belongings, bank accounts, investments, job sites, and even schooling and housing needs. The most basic form of financial abuse is that of controlling paychecks or the amount shown.