Do you suspect that one of your friends is taking advantage of you? Are you frustrated by their self-centered behavior and lack of consideration for your time and space? Do you find yourself giving in to their whims or becoming frustrated by their coldness?
If your answers to any of these is “yes,” then you are probably dealing with a narcissistic friend.
Narcissists often follow a typical pattern of behaviors in any of their relationships–be they a romantic interest or just a friend–and these are the tell-tale signs.
Trying to maintain a friendship with a narcissist is a difficult and delicate endeavor. While it can be done, if you’re willing to accept some boundary-breaking and ego-driven behavior, it’s often the case that your best bet is to extricate yourself from the relationship.
Read on for some sage advice on how to identify–and protect yourself from–a narcissistic friend.
Identifying the Friendly Narcissist
If you recognize more than three of any of the following behaviors in your friend, you’re likely dealing with someone who has narcissistic tendencies, if not full-blown narcissistic personality disorder.
Should your suspicions be confirmed, you will have to decide if it is worth your frustration and disappointment to continue the relationship.
1. I Say Jump, You Say How High?
All narcissists harbor unreasonable expectations, and the narcissistic friend is no exception. They expect you to meet all of their demands, both physically (you go where they want you to, and you show up on time) and emotionally (you soothe them, and you stroke their ego). They do not forgive much deviation from their plans.
While you are expected to show them unwavering support, you are not likely to receive that in return. In fact, you are often expected to anticipate their requests and respond accordingly. The narcissist values your friendship only insofar as you can fulfill their needs and desires.
2. Jealousy, Oh Jealousy
The narcissistic friend will express envy about your appearance, your material wealth, and your success. Basically, the narcissist is jealous of anything they might desire for themselves. Because they believe themselves to be more deserving, they grow frustrated when good things happen to others.
They will often act out their envy, by demanding your attention when you are otherwise engaged with other activities or people. If you have a partner or spouse, the narcissistic friend will often badmouth them in order to secure a higher role in the pecking order.
3. Playing the Blame Game
Not only will the narcissistic friend blame you for anything that goes wrong in the friendship (or even just during a get-together), but they will guilt you into ultimately conceding that all is your fault.
Their ego simply won’t accept that they play a part in the dissension. This is due in large part to the complex suite of negative emotions they experience internally.
They will also tend to project their own bad behaviors onto you, claiming that you are the one who is needy or selfish or ungrateful. Since they cannot accept that anything about them is untoward, they will instead accuse of acting in all the ways they’re familiar with.
4. Justifiable Provocation
The narcissistic friend also participates in a cycle of behavior that will ultimately let them off the hook for anything that might go wrong. They will say cruel things during an argument or humiliate you in front of others, provoking you into walking away. Later, when you end the friendship, the narcissist can claim they were the victim of your neglect.
Even if you don’t walk away from the friendship entirely, this cycle gives the narcissist more ammunition to use against you. They will start to figure out which buttons to push, leaving you more defeated and frustrated than ever.
5. Whine and Punishment
If the narcissistic friend believes you have slighted them in any way, they will dole out punishment as they see fit. On the one hand, they may just decide to neglect you, ignoring your attempts to reach out and leaving you in the cold until they need something from you again. This is the adult version of pouting.
On the other hand, they may punish you with abuse of various kinds. They may verbally abuse you with guilt trips or shaming you about your preferences and activities. They may financially abuse you by expecting you to foot the bill after an altercation. They may even physically abuse you by destroying property.
6. Adult-sized Temper Tantrum
The narcissistic friend employs threatening behavior when their demands are not met or when you question their point of view. This may include withholding friendship until they get their way, or rejecting your needs until their desires are fulfilled to their liking. Essentially, they will abandon you if you don’t cater to their whims.
They will sometimes threaten to reveal things that you’ve told them in confidence, exposing your secrets to the world. They may even threaten to spread lies about you in order to get what they want. This is a clear form of emotional blackmail.
7. Simulated Apologies
Most narcissists are terrible at apologies, and many won’t even go to the trouble of providing you with a fake one. But some narcissistic friends will express a kind of loaded remorse, wherein what they are really saying is that they are sorry that you reacted that way. They are not apologizing for their behavior.
It takes time and effort to express genuine regret at hurting or provoking someone else. The narcissistic friend isn’t typically capable of the kind of self-reflection needed to give a sincere apology.
Instead, they go through the motions and expect you to accept their words and move on as if nothing happened.
If you can identify some of these behaviors in a friend, then you are likely on the losing end of the relationship. This post can give you some additional insight. The narcissistic friend is self-centered and lacks the capacity to extend a mutually supportive friendship.
You are a practical way in which they fulfill their own needs and desires, and if you resist that dynamic, you will usually be ghosted.
While maintaining a friendship with a narcissist is technically possible, it can be very difficult and emotionally exhausting for you. Take it from me that it’s sometimes better to sever ties to a narcissistic friend than it is to suffer through the constant abuse.
Make an inventory of your friendship and decide if you get as much out of the friendship as you give.
Now that you know more about how to spot a narcissistic friend, you might also be interested in a free copy of my “Narcissistic Rejection Guide.” You will learn how to say no and push back against their narcissistic manipulation, even from someone you consider a friend. Just click on this link and I’ll send it directly to your inbox for free!
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