Friendship is supposed to be all about give and take. When one of the friends is a narcissist, it’s more about take, take, take. They want you to help them, but they don’t want to have to give back to you.
Narcissists are really only interested in themselves, and as a result, they tend to focus only on those things that affect their lives. They need external validation, and so, they want friends, but they also want those friends to direct all of their attention to them.
Of course, narcissism exists on a spectrum; you won’t necessarily see all of the traits that indicate narcissism in one person. It’s also true that narcissists can be helped, but the first thing to do for that is to be able to recognize the problem.
How to Identify a Narcissistic Friend
When your friend’s narcissism really begins to negatively affect you and your life, that’s when it may be time to evaluate your friendship. You might decide to cut them out of your life altogether or just cut back on the time you spend with them. You might want to help them, but first you have to know what you’re dealing with. If your friend is a narcissist, you’ll see these red flags.
It Used to Be Fun, Now It’s Just Exhausting
Narcissists can be really charming at first. That’s true whether you’re just friends or romantic partners. They’re great at making a first impression, but once they’ve got you on the hook, things change.
Narcissists love entertaining, but they want to be the life of the party. Toward that end, they’ll tell colorful stories, and they might even treat you to some lavish gifts as part of their inner circle. Once you’ve given them what they need — attention and validation — they can suddenly become very cool toward you.
They’ll put your friendship on the back burner, and you’ll feel like you’ve been left out in the cold. This can happen very suddenly, too. If you stop giving them the adoration they need from their external sources, you will begin to feel the effects of their manipulation and control. That’s when your friendship becomes an exhausting drag.
My Way or the Highway
Narcissists think that they have all the answers, that their way of seeing things is the only way to see them. They’ll be happy to give you unsolicited advice, but if you don’t take it, get ready to feel an icy blast of disdain the next time you see them.
Your narcissistic friend thinks they know better than anyone else. Since they see friends and family as mere extensions of themselves, you don’t have a relevant opinion to offer. It might seem like they’re genuinely trying to help, but should you go another way, they’ll begin to manipulate your decisions and try to convince you that you’re wrong.
According to Them, They’re Really Generous
If your narcissistic friend does anything charitable, you’ll definitely hear about if for the foreseeable future. They already believe themselves to be superior, and if they do something nice for another person, well now they’re practically a saint.
Communal narcissism is a type of narcissism where an individual will seek to promote themselves by serving others. They believe themselves to be superhuman with their generosity and empathy, but they’re really doing good works for all the wrong reasons.
They’re actually seeking to bolster their self-image rather than acting out of genuine concern for others. That’s why you’ll hear them bragging about their kindness ad nauseum. They’re also not above accusing you of being ungrateful and stingy if you don’t praise them again and again for what they’ve done.
A narcissist doesn’t want to compete with any other friends for the loyalty they demand from you. That’s why they will constantly trash-talk any mutual friends you have. They simply don’t want you giving your attention and adoration to anyone other than them.
You’ll also see them positively enjoying the mistakes and failures of other people while downplaying any good fortune those same people might have had. They have no loyalty, they see failure as evidence of inferiority, and they want you to see them as superior (and let them know you see them that way).
If your friend gossips all the time, you should realize that they are probably doing the same thing to you behind your back. It also indicates they might be a narcissist.
They Can’t Take Advice
This is a case of they can dish it out, but they can’t take it. They want to be seen by their friends as perfect, as someone who is perfect doesn’t need your advice. If you try to offer it, they will see it as criticism or that you’re pointing out their flaws. That will not go well for you.
Friends are supposed to help each other. If you give advice to a narcissistic friend, you can bet that will come back to bite you in the behind. You might hear something like, “Everyone else thinks it’s a good idea,” or, “You’re just jealous of me.”
They Used to Build You Up, Now They Tear You Down
As mentioned previously, narcissists are real charmers in the beginning. That doesn’t last for long. They will build you up when you’re first becoming friends so that they can show you how great and kind and wonderful they are, and once you’re on the hook, they’ll turn on you.
It will seem like they take pleasure in pointing out your flaws, and that’s because they do. If you try to defend yourself, they’ll claim you’re being too sensitive. If their bad treatment of you causes you to avoid them, they’ll throw you a bone so that you’ll stay in the friendship.
If you do stay, however, nothing will change. The narcissist will go right back to criticizing you once they feel like you’re on the hook again. Part of their need to demonstrate superiority means they must tear other people down, and unfortunately no one is exempt.
If you recognize many of these signs in your friend, that’s an indicator they’re a narcissist. It doesn’t mean that your friendship is lost; you have to recognize it for what it is, and they have to understand that a friendship means give and take, not just take.
To make them see that, you’ll likely have to confront them with your feelings, and that won’t be easy. It’s imperative, however, because you deserve to have a friend who really values you and shows you that kindness regularly. If you can’t get that from your narcissistic friend, it might be time to go your separate ways.
Once you know more about how a narcissistic friend treats you, you might also want to learn about how to deal with narcissistic coworkers. Check out the blog post, “6 Strategies To Deal With A Narcissist Coworker.”
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