Narcissists and Valentine’s Day can be a recipe for something bad to happen.
Valentine’s Day is often a sensitive and dreaded day for many people, regardless of relationship status. Yet narcissists are notorious for ruining big days such as birthdays, anniversaries, and other holidays. [Read How Narcissists Ruin Holidays]
Valentine’s Day, however, is “extra-special.” Everything about Valentine’s Day is tailor-made for them to wield it as a weapon to inflict maximum pain.
Valentine’s Day can be triggering for those coming out of abusive relationships with narcissists. It’s a day specifically dedicated to the very emotions the narcissist distorted to gain our trust and then used to violate us. [Read Can a Narcissists Love? It’s Complicated]
Because the day is dedicated to love and relationships, everything about it can be used fraudulently in their illusion with little effort.
In each stage of the narcissistic cycle of abuse of idealize-devaluation-discard-and hoover, there’s always something cooking up on Valentine’s Day. [Read The 12 Stages of the Narcissistic Abuse Cycle]
Narcissists and Valentine’s Day: The Tactics
1. Exploding or Disappearing On or Just Before Valentines Day
Starting huge arguments just before or on Valentine’s Day is not uncommon. They may do this to avoid focusing on us or because they enjoy seeing us in pain.
Narcissists may also start an argument because there is someone else with whom they want to spend the day. An argument is an excuse for them to give you a silent treatment so they can spend Valentine’s Day with someone else.
They may use their anger and disappearances to avoid planning or gift-giving or any acknowledgment of the day at all.
In my relationship with my ex-boyfriend, the night before our first Valentine’s Day together, he started an incident at a bar when another man spoke to me. He later told me he threw gifts he had bought me, including an “expensive bracelet,” out of the car window in anger while driving home.
I will never know whether the gifts ever existed or whether he wanted me to feel that I would have gotten the spoils of his love if I had only done something differently.
2. Holding Valentine’s Day Over Your Head
Narcissists often say that we don’t appreciate anything they do for us–as if the good things they do buys them the right to silence us as equal partners in the relationship and cancels out their abuse.
If Valentine’s Day hasn’t happened yet, they may make threats to leave, cancel plans, take your gifts back because you’re not “appreciating” them if you dare to speak up about anything.
It’s not that you care about Valentine’s Day itself, but what it represents–peace and acknowledgment. They’re conditioning us to walk on eggshells and jump over their bars with their rewards and punishments.
Valentine’s Day gives them a specific day to point to as a supposed testament of their love. Then, once it’s over, if they love bomb you in at all, it’s later used as ammunition.
They may mention it as proof that they love you, and you’re selfish and never happy if you, for example, bring up another lie or tell them you want them to treat you with dignity.
3. Triangulating You with Others
Narcissists have no shortage of past relationship partners to compare you to when it suits them.
They may talk about all the wonderful Valentine’s Days they have had in the past, or they may tell you how horrible past partners were to them on Valentine’s Day.
In both cases, they want to condition you to react a certain way. You will jump through hoops to make sure they feel special and that your Valentine’s Day with them is exceptional!
4. Hoovering And Future-Faking
The hoover game is strong around Valentine’s Day, so prepare yourself.
“I was thinking about last Valentine’s Day when we…”
“Are you free on Valentine’s Day? I want to take you to brunch and see you one last time.”
“Your favorite author has a new book out, and it made me think of you when I saw it. I picked it up for you, and I’d like to give it to you on Valentine’s Day.”
Once they get their foot in the door, then come the lavish promises about the future. More trips they’d “have liked” to take you on or things they wanted to do with you . . . if the two of you were still together.
They still love you so much, they say. Won’t you see them one last time?
It’s not a sure thing that they will reach out. However, narcissists use the same hoovering tactics repeatedly because they work. Valentine’s Day is the one day you can predict potential contact. [Read 23 Narcissist Hoovering Tactics to Watch Out For]
5. Control and Harassment
The traditional designation of Valentine’s Day as a day when people go on dates and express love for one another can work in reverse in a relationship with a narcissist.
They can punish you with the threat to leave you on Valentine’s Day and reward you with the promise of a fantastical dream date.
In addition, if Valentine’s Day passes during a silent treatment when the two of you aren’t in contact, their jealousy could become their excuse to harass you.
For example, they may use the holiday as an excuse to subject you to endless questions and accusations about what you were doing with other men or women. They may try to get you to confess to something that didn’t happen because they won’t believe they didn’t.
Valentine’s Day with a Narcissist Can Be a Nightmare
Many people perceive Valentine’s Day as a light-hearted holiday, even frivolous. It’s common knowledge that people sometimes suffer depression during the Christmas holidays, but Valentine’s Day?
You aren’t alone in experiencing trauma because of how a narcissist has used Valentine’s Day to magnify their emotional abuse.
Survivors of narcissistic abuse may experience emotional turmoil on or around Valentine’s Day. The day may stir up old questions about the narcissist and love. It may increase confusion over whether the narcissist ever loved us or not. [Read Can a Narcissist Love? It’s Complicated]
The ultimate transcendence of the narcissist’s control is to reflect on love beyond what we experienced in the relationship as part of our path to recovery.
Don’t forget to check out these resources:
- Why Can’t I Just Leave?
- Comprehensive Narcissistic Abuse Dictionary
- The Best Resources for Narcissistic Abuse Recovery
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Wow, this is so true and now makes perfect sense. I ran from my ex-narc and went zero contact. He had been trying over and over again to get me to communicate with me. Last Valentine’s Day, he stopped by the house with flowers and candy, but saw a car he didn’t recognize in the driveway (my son had gotten a new car). Instead of coming to my house, he went to the neighbors and left the gifts with them and then called and left a message that he had stopped by with gifts and would I please call him. It didn’t work. Still have not talked to him and it has been over a year!
Yep. The relationship began its serious decline right around Valentine’s Day last year. He had his kids on the actual day of, and there was a couple hours’ distance between us, so we celebrated the following week. I did everything wrong. I “waited until the last minute” with the gifts I gave him (even though it was already after Valentine’s Day anyway). He scowled at the card I gave him; I never knew what that was about. Maybe because it didn’t say, “I worship you.” He claimed to be going away for a weekend with his guy friends on Feb. 21 and was only able to visit me briefly. He then texted me a couple times about how he was having such a wonderful time hiking with them (even though he’d been sullen with me and told me he hated going outdoors in the cold). I now wonder if he was with another woman. Probably. That’s OK because they’ve already broken up.