Ava recalls how during her 10-year marriage, her husband would hide bills and receipts and would even lie about overtime and paychecks. “He would claim he was working extra shifts, but the paystubs never reflected that. He would then say the payroll department screwed up, but that would be the end of it.”
Izzie recalls when she was dating her former partner, she was forced to deposit her entire paycheck into a joint account, but then she was never able to make any withdrawals. “I couldn’t drive due to medical issues, so when I needed a lift, he would charge me.” Not only was Izzie dependent on her boyfriend for transportation, but her financial freedom was also his to control.
Narcissists also have no misgivings or regret over destroying another person’s property. In fact, ruining personal items makes the narcissist feel powerful. They have no qualms about throwing out someone’s childhood mementos, photos, and albums that are irreplaceable, or causing hundreds of dollars in repairs of a laptop smashed in a fit of jealousy. A narcissist will never offer to pay for or replace what they destroyed and instead attempt to shame you for forcing them to act as they did.
Another way of exercising financial abuse is refusing to contribute to shared expenses, repairs, or utilities. The burden of paying the mortgage or rent, coming up with the money to replace a hole in the kitchen floor, or even funding a family vacation will fall to just one partner in a relationship: the non-narcissist. This same narcissist will also most likely have a secret bank account and shame the other partner for their spending habits.
A more covert way of being financially abused is not being allowed to flourish professionally or academically. Talking a partner out of a promotion or a degree program is a selfish and controlling move and ensures that the narcissist stays in control.
Narcissists And Material Wealth
Narcissists are overly preoccupied with material possessions and wealth. It becomes about the show and not about the substance. Narcissists will feel the need to brag about their possessions and apparent wealth and use these things to win people over. They may brag about their paychecks and titles (“I am making $50 an hour and I am in charge, you aren’t as important as I am!”) cars or houses (“My house is bigger and my car is cleaner than yours!”) but then refuse to pay their half of a bill or expect financial compensation for a favor.
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.
Other people—even those they profess to love—may become simply dollar signs. Many narcissists are unable to have true relationships with other people. Friends, lovers, children, even parents are just a means to an end. What the narcissist can get from someone else is the paramount purpose of the relationship.
When money is involved, it creates another method of control and hierarchy. Hiding money, lying about paychecks, stealing from others, and refusing to help someone in financial distress make the narcissist powerful and in charge. All relationships are a game devoid of love and true meaning beyond fulfilling the narcissist.
Werner, K. M., Smyth, A., & Milyavaskaya, M. (2019). Do narcissists benefit from materialistic pursuits? Examining the relation between narcissistic tendencies, extrinsic goals, and well-being. Collabra: Psychology 5(1), 58. https://doi.org/10.1525/collabra.253
Written By Kristy Lee Hochenberger Originally Appeared In Psychology Today