Narcissists and instant gratification.


My MN ex always had to have what he wanted, right that second.   During those seven years he freeloaded off me and refused to work (AFTER the divorce), he’d interrupt me at the most incredibly inconvenient times to take care of some minor need, and he’d become very petulant or even angry when you refused to jump when he said jump.    He used to wake me up in the middle of the night, knowing I had work in a few hours, saying he needed a pack of cigarettes.   Or when I’d go shopping, if I didn’t get him exactly what HE wanted (remember, he didn’t work and I paid for all the groceries myself) he’d rage and hurl insults at me until I went back to the store to get him what he wanted.   He never even thanked me for going out of my way for him.   He assumed this was his due and that I existed to carry out his bidding.   Boundaries meant nothing to him–unless they were HIS boundaries (woe be to you for crossing over THOSE!).   He’d never return the favor if you wanted something from HIM.   He just kept taking and taking and taking, draining me of my sanity, my money, and even my looks and my health.  If I hadn’t kicked him to the curb in early 2014, it probably would have killed me.  He was like a giant baby living on my couch, only not at all cute or funny.   Maybe more like a giant cancerous tumor attached to my couch and wallet would be a better description.

My mother, also a narcissist, used to call me at any old time.  You were not allowed to refuse.  You were supposed to drop whatever you were doing.  When I’d tell her I was in the middle of work, or busy, or on another call and could I please call her back later, she’d pour on the guilt:  “I’m your MOTHER, you can certainly spare a few minutes to talk to me!” followed with an ultimatum: “Tell them you’ll call back later.”   How DARE I have priorities over taking a call from her?  How DARE I make her wait?    She wanted what she wanted when she wanted it, and did NOT want to wait.  No narcissist does, because waiting for something requires a degree of empathy–that the person you want something from may have needs at the moment that override your own.

Instant gratification isn’t something that’s usually associated with Narcissistic Personality Disorder; more often it’s associated with Antisocial Personality Disorder.  I think for a narcissist, the inability to wait for anything is part the entitlement problem they have.  To make a narcissist wait means you’re not putting them FIRST, which means they’re just not important enough to you otherwise you’d jump when they tell you to.  To make one wait is a narcissistic injury.   A baby can’t wait when it’s hungry; he cries and screams until Mom comes to feed him–that’s because he doesn’t realize yet that Mom is a separate person.  To the baby, they are one, and Mom exists only to serve him.

Right up there, that’s your narcissist.

A narcissist is an overgrown adult baby. They never learned to differentiate other people from themselves.  Due to something going terribly wrong during their early childhood when they were supposed to be learning that they existed separately from others, they are stuck at a pre-verbal level of emotional development, where other people exist only to serve their needs.   If their immediate needs aren’t gratified, and you don’t put yours on the back burner or sacrifice your needs completely, to the narcissist it’s tantamount to annihilation.  They feel as if they don’t exist.   Hence, they must punish you–their rages and abuse are the equivalent of a two year old’s temper tantrum when they can’t have their ice cream RIGHT NOW.

Don’t enable a narcissist by letting them invade your boundaries this way.   If you can’t go No Contact, stick to your guns and let them get mad–and get away as soon as you are able.


Thanks to My Child Within for the idea for this post, which arose from a conversation in the comments.

11 thoughts on “Narcissists and instant gratification.

  1. Some of your word images made me laugh out loud besides the recognition that I’ve know a few adult infants myself. The baby on the couch ha! All the narcissists I’ve known want what they want NOW and won’t stop the noise until they get it

    One of the things I didn’t recognize at the time was the habit of one of a narcs in my life accusing me after I served him all day long in various ways “you are so selfish”. In fact my entire life involved working in the service industry and coming home to serve until I dropped. He wouldn’t cross the street for me or do a dish or get out and pump the gas (much less pay for anything) and yet, if there was a 5 minute delay in getting what he wanted I was “selfish”. I now recognize it for the manipulation that it was. The non-stop games were so exhausting–its as if there is this constant game to see how much they can squeeze out of you without giving a drop of effort your direction

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    • Oh, yes. I know all about that “selfish” accusation. Mine did that ALL THE TIME–I’d be serving him all day and the minute I wanted to put my feet up and watch TV or read a book and not wait on HIM, I became a selfish b*tch. But think about it–they are just projecting their own selfishness onto us.

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      • I just read your blog about the shrinking world and wow, that is one of the posts that sounds so much like my life I could have written it. Its important to write and post these stories because sometimes when you are in the middle of the dog doo you’ve gotten accustomed to the smell until you don’t realize how horrible it stinks. Someone coming along and shouting “it stinks in here” that opens our eyes and we recognize what is happening is a miracle of grace. I’ve long though of how extremely damaging to the career I had that narcs were both coming home to one and experiencing them in a work place. They just hurt every area of your life

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  2. An old narcissist boyfriend of mine always wanted things that cost more money than we had. And if you wouldn’t get it for him, he would get mad, and then get even in some harmful way. He never saw that the problem was his. He pretty much lived in the day with no regard for long term things like insurances, he would want car insurance money spent on something for entertainment. I know what you mean by a cancer. He was dangerous to my health.

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    • I think they’re all that way. They have zero common sense when it comes to money. When I was married to my ex and we both worked (and he had a pretty decent income), we never had any money–I have no idea where it all went to, but you’d think we were paupers because we never had enough for gas, paying bills, things we needed. He was busy running up MY credit (because he ruined his–and eventually mine too) buying stupid things we didn’t need. And this isn’t about instant gratification, but it does address the money issue and problems with boundaries: one HUGE red flag was when he wanted to buy me a beautiful engagement ring and put it on MY credit card! Guess what–Stupid here said yes! I was that smitten, I guess. They blind you with love, and then they can do the most outrageous things right in your face without you even suspecting a thing!


  3. The money spending is eventually destructive. But I say it might be about instant grats because they see something and they want it and buy it even though they can’t afford it. I get how you were smitten, it was like something he wanted you to have.

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  4. My My..Sometimes what I feel is that intense hate towards myself to allow such people to barge in my life. Even if they are gone, the scars they have left are strong.

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  5. My dad used to do that phone thing to me, and when I look back on it now it really irritates me that I didn’t handle it better. Even when I was in my forties and fifties, as soon as I heard his voice, I’d revert to the scared little girl I had been in childhood — afraid to cross him up, too scared to just say something like “Dad, this really isn’t a good time, can I call you back later?” That’s what a healthy person would have done, but I never did.


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