You’ve likely noticed that most narcissists have a veritable entourage of friends they hang around. They often have an extended network of friends and acquaintances that they are almost always in contact with, and though they might not call them friends, they seem to be on very friendly terms with them. After you encounter the dark side of the narcissist, it’s reasonable to wonder just how they manage to have so many friends.
Friendship with a narcissist is complicated, to say the least, but there are reasons why they seem to have so many friends. Here are 9 reasons why narcissists are able to maintain friendships:
- Friends Help Keep the Attention on the Narcissist;
- Friends are Ready Sources of Narcissistic Supply;
- Narcissists are Excellent Hoovers;
- Friends Who Were Abused in Their Past Find the Narcissistic Relationship Comfortable;
- It’s Complicated Breaking Away from a Narcissistic Friendship;
- Narcissists are Fun…At First;
- Friends Often Don’t See the Truly Dark Side of the Narcissist;
- Narcissistic Friendships Ebb and Flow Which Keeps People Engaged;
- Some of Their Friends are Narcissists Too!
Whenever you’re interacting with a narcissist, it’s vital to understand what is truly motivating them. If you don’t know how they manipulate people, you can easily become just another victim. Let’s explore what motivates them and why they seem capable of making friends so easily.
What Motivates the Narcissist?
When the narcissist was a child, they had experiences that caused them to be ashamed of their developing ego, their true self. As such, they buried that true self and it never fully developed. But the narcissist needed something to do the work of the true self. They needed something that would allow them to interact with the outside world.
That’s why they constructed the false self. It’s an identity structure that’s kind of like a house of cards – all image and no substance. The image the child narcissist infuses into the false self is one of omnipotence and omniscience. They want to feel good about themselves and they imagine they are far superior beings to everyone else.
The problem the narcissist has, though, is that the false self isn’t capable of sustaining those grandiose ideas. Unlike a true ego, the false self can’t prop up the young narcissist’s self-esteem. It can’t soothe them and sustain an internal sense of self-worth.
That’s why the narcissist needs other people. They need them to prop up their self-esteem, to make them feel good about themselves. They need those people to admire them, to adore them, and to make them feel worthwhile.
9 Reasons Why Narcissists Do Have So Many Friends
The narcissist’s need for other people is almost constant. This need is what motivates the narcissist in everything they do. It’s why they accumulate as many friends as possible. They need to feel secure in that narcissistic supply. All of the following reasons narcissists have so many friends are directly related to this need.
1. Friends Help Keep the Attention on the Narcissist
This is probably the number one reason a narcissist likes to cultivate a large friend group. They want all of the attention that being the common factor in a friend group brings. They want those friends to be focused exclusively on them. As licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Ramani points out, “As a rule, grandiose narcissists are extroverted by nature. So, they surround themselves with people.”
They will often engage in grandiose behavior to keep the attention focused on them, too. They will tell stories and make comparisons and go to any extreme to keep everyone focused on them and what they’re doing. They effectively work to charm the group.
In return, they gain the admiration of their friends who find them engaging and charming. They tell the narcissist they’re great and make them feel as though they’re cool. That’s exactly what the narcissist is looking for.
2. Friends are Ready Sources of Narcissistic Supply
Sources of narcissistic supply are exactly what the narcissist is looking for in their friends. They need lots of them because they need an almost constant flow of that supply. With a large network of friends, the narcissist can go from one to the next to keep the flow going all day long.
Having a large number of friends means the narcissist always has someone waiting in the wings, as it were, for times when one friend tires of their manipulation. They can simply move on to another friend.
Since narcissists are also experts at sensing that time is coming, they will often also move on to one of their other friends if they sense someone is getting wise to their manipulation.
3. Narcissists are Excellent Hoovers
When friends do get wise to the narcissist’s manipulation and controlling nature, the narcissist is excellent at turning their charm back on and hoovering their friends back into their web of drama. They will employ the same kinds of hoovering techniques to pull friends back in that they use on romantic partners.
Narcissists learn early on how to turn on the charm and appear supportive and loving. They can’t maintain the charade forever, but they can do it long enough to draw wayward friends and lovers back into their chaotic life.
That’s one reason why it’s so difficult to break away from a narcissist, even as a friend. The narcissist also considers it a challenge to pull their friends back in. It gives them a sense of power and control, and it makes them feel superior to those around them.
4. Friends Who Were Abused in Their Past Find the Narcissistic Relationship Comfortable
Many people who are drawn to narcissists, whether as friends or lovers, are people who suffered abuse in their own childhood. They may even have had narcissistic parents, and as in other cases of abuse, they seek out relationships that feel comfortable to them as adults.
This happens to other abuse victims such as children of alcoholics, and it’s a well-known phenomenon. As a child, you learn what love looks like. To those children whose parents were abusive, that’s what love looks like, and that’s what you look for in your adult relationships.
Of course, people aren’t conscious of how the abuse in their childhood affects their choices later in life. They are just attracted to certain types of people for friendships and romantic relationships. The narcissist can be a very attractive individual.
They can be charming and seem loving, and when the abuse begins, well, that just feels like love to someone who was abused in a similar way as a child. That’s how their parents treated them or that’s how their parents treated each other, so that’s what they learned was love.
5. It’s Complicated Breaking Away from a Narcissistic Friendship
Narcissists are very effective manipulators, and aside from the hoovering they will employ to draw people back in, they will also use other techniques. They have no problem using guilt to make friends feel as though it was them who did something wrong.
They will also blame their friends and start a smear campaign against them with other friends. Any one of these techniques may be effective at drawing them back into the drama.
It’s important to remember that if the narcissist can’t get positive attention from their friend, they will take negative attention. It still keeps the focus on them, and so, if a former friend becomes a nemesis for the narcissist, they will also use that to draw comparisons between themselves and their former friend.
They will demand loyalty from their remaining friends, and they will do everything in their power to keep the feud going. They will feed off the sense of power and control they get from being engaged in the drama. That’s why freeing yourself from a narcissist is, well, complicated.
6. Narcissists are Fun…At First
It’s also important to note that narcissists are fun in the beginning of a relationship. They are interested and interesting, they are charming, they seem supportive, and they can shower the objects of their attention with praise and adoration.
Moreover, narcissists — particularly grandiose narcissists — are the life of the party. They’re the ones that are telling everyone funny and engaging stories. They are the ones suggesting fun things to do, and they never seem to want the party to end.
They are funny and charming, but the problem is that the party eventually ends. The narcissist can’t sustain the charade that they care about other people forever. They eventually start to make increasing demands on their friends and family.
By the time their friends finally tire of the narcissist, they have usually gone on to make new friends to take their place. It’s easy for them because of their charming nature.
7. Friends Often Don’t See the Truly Dark Side of the Narcissist
Another reason narcissists seem to have so many friends is that their friends are not necessarily exposed to the dark side of the narcissist. Narcissists are very adept at keeping up their image as charming, intelligent, and engaging friends.
They can manage that for short periods of time; they just can’t keep it up for the long term. That’s why their close family members will see their dark side, but their friends think of them as great people.
Many times, the narcissist’s friends see only the great side of the narcissist. They seem so interesting, fun, and friendly, but that’s all the friends see. It’s when the narcissist goes home that they drop the facade.
8. Narcissistic Friendships Ebb and Flow Which Keeps People Engaged
Another reason that friends don’t always see the dark side of the narcissist is that friendships ebb and flow. You see a friend a lot for a while, but then, your life gets busy and you don’t see them as much.
It’s also true that if the narcissist shows a particular friend some of their dark side, they may stop getting together with them for a while. When they get in touch again, the charming narcissist is back, and the friend chalks the negative experience up to the idea that the narcissist was ‘just having a bad day.’
They don’t realize that’s how the narcissist really is, and so, the friendship lives on. Narcissists will often cycle through seeing their friends at different times so that they can avoid losing a friend forever as their dark side becomes more obvious.
9. Some of Their Friends are Narcissists Too!
Narcissists, particularly grandiose narcissists, are often attracted to other narcissists for friendships and romantic relationships. It can often work out for them too. They like the same things, and they understand each other.
In fact, two narcissists can form long-lasting relationships because they both love the limelight, and they both understand the need for that all-important narcissistic supply. This is another reason why narcissists might seem to have so many friends.
Narcissists often have a large circle of friends. They can be very charming and attract many people into their circle of drama. They work hard to maintain these relationships because they are vital sources of narcissistic supply.
Part of the reason they like to have so many friends is so that they have lots of backups in the event they lose a friend or romantic partner. They will still have someone to turn to for the external validation they require.
If you have a friend or lover you suspect is a narcissist, you’ll need to understand more about how they think and the emotions they feel. You’ll want to read this article about whether or not narcissists really care about their friends and family members. It will give you more valuable insights into just what motivates their behavior.
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