Friends are the family you choose, and they are the first ones to pick you up when you fall. However, having a narcissist friend can drain your energy and take you on an emotional roller coaster ride.
Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) makes people selfish, conceited, self-centered, and demanding (1). A narcissist person has a pathological attachmentiXA form of attachment characterized by compulsive care giving and care seeking to an idealistic self-image they have created. A narcissistic friend is egotistical, belittles you in front of others, bullies you, and makes fun of you to garner people’s attention. They always demand more, use you for their benefit, and never miss a chance to manipulate you. Recognizing and understanding these traits can prove to be a helpful tool for having more wholesome relationships. It can also help you evaluate whether they fit into your life.
In this post, we list out several telltale signs of a narcissistic friend and give you a few tips on how to deal with them.
12 Signs Of A Narcissistic Friend
How do narcissists treat their friends? Narcissists are insecure people who thrive on others’ insecurities. Look out for the signs of a narcissistic friend.
1. They backbite
Gossip is one thing, while passing mean comments on every person in their absence is another. A narcissist suffers from a superiority complex and is arrogant. They do not have anything nice to say about anyone, not even their own friends. If they speak ill of people who are nice to them, be rest assured that they must be speaking badly about you too. A narcissist demands your loyalty but thinks nothing of betraying your trust.
2. They exhibit entitled behavior
For a narcissist, the entire world revolves around them. They are vain and boastful. So, if they do something for you, they expect you to show gratitude by doing something in return, and if you don’t, they get angry about it. For instance, if they accompany you to someplace, they will expect you to be at their beck and call because they took the effort to be there for you. They are self-aggrandizing and want to be the sole object of attention and admiration.
3. They blame you for their faults
Anything that goes wrong with them is blamed on you because they think they can never go wrong. They have grandioseiXAn exaggerated sense of one’s abilities and strengths ideas of being perfect and deflect blame to maintain their facade of perfection. They also need a scapegoatiXA person who is falsely blamed for someone else’s mistakes to push the blame on and usually choose the one who is the most emotionally attached and loyal to them. For instance, at a movie theater, they might blame you for not picking better seats but will not mention that their late arrival was the reason why you could not get to the theater sooner.
4. They cannot digest criticism
Narcissists are highly attuned to perceived criticismsiXThe level of criticism in a person's most intimate and meaningful relationships and threats. As a friend, if you try to correct a narcissist, they might get angry and even accuse you of trying to put them down. For instance, if you tell them you didn’t like something about their outfit, they will shut you down either by saying that you have no dress sense or that you are jealous. They feel they cannot be wrong; hence your suggestions do not matter. Their self-loving and self-admiring nature makes it difficult to accept criticism positively.
5. They see your flaws with a magnifier
When you became friends, they must have said great things about you. But now, all they do is criticize every single thing you do. Initially, they behaved nicely because they wanted to get in your good books. They will go to great lengths to get your approval and adoration, but once they have made a place for themselves in your life, they start controlling you by manipulating and domineering you. They might even criticize you for stealing your confidence.
6. They expect you to see things from their perspective
A self-promoting narcissist has only one perspective, and that is their own. No matter how much you try to make them understand your side of the story, they will only be convinced of what they believe and expect you to follow the same. They want everything to be according to their wishes, and when you do not give in, they get angry with you. They are shocked and insulted when they realize that you may not want the same things as them.
7. They drain off your energy
Initially, spending time with your narcissist friend could have been exciting because they were on their best behavior with you. But now, keeping them company drains you of your energy. They are often self-obsessed and pompous. Their constant complaints, overbearing attitude, and lack of interest in your life make conversations one-sided. They talk to you only about themselves and cut you off each time you try to speak. A good friendship involves giving and taking ideas, thoughts, and feelings, but hanging out with a narcissist leaves you exhausted instead of exhilarated. You end up with a nagging sense of disappointment because your needs go completely unmet.
8. They create problems between friends
Narcissists want to be the center of everyone’s attention and demand everyone’s loyalty. For this, they might be pretentious and create misunderstandings between friends so that everyone remains loyal only to them. Narcissists are pathological liarsiXA chronic behavior where an individual has a compulsive urge to lie and could spread rumors and lie to get what they want as they feel they deserve admiration and hence will do anything to get what they want.
9. They hamper your self-esteem
A narcissist wants to control every relationship. Since they suffer from low self-esteem, the only way to lift themselves is by crumpling your self-esteem. They take great pleasure in pointing out your shortcomings in a haughty and supercilious manner. They start with criticism and then slowly move on to slights and insults. You won’t even realize how they have convinced you to believe that you are no good as a person and that you are lucky to have them in your life.
10. They consider themselves victim
They may make snideiXSarcastic criticism remarks about you all the time but when you get back at them, they will accuse you harming them. For self-important narcissists, they are the victim even in scenarios that they created. They have a strong urge to keep people within their control and if guilt makes others dance to their tune, then they use it to their advantage.
11. They get angry if you do not do what they want
Compromise makes no sense to a narcissist because they are self-absorbed and want everything their way. So, when you have differences, they want you to either do what they suggest or face their fury. They believe they are always right and hence insist on doing what they suggest and reject your opinion right away.
12. They have unrealistic expectations
Narcissist friends have unrealistic expectations from people. They want others to act the way they want and expect special treatment. They want their friends to speak highly of them and always entertain them. If a friend doesn’t treat them however they want, they resort to manipulation and ignore you. They may even take extreme measures if you don’t go their way. Dealing with a narcissistic friend is like walking on a tightrope because it’s not easy to meet their expectations. The friendship may sometimes be one-sided, and they may ignore your needs. Friendships with narcissists require high maintenance, and satisfying them can be a real challenge.
How To Deal With A Narcissistic Friend?
If your friend shows most of the signs mentioned above, it indicates their narcissistic tendencies. Below are some ways in which you can deal with such a friend.
1. Establish boundaries
Narcissists cannot handle boundaries. They feel they are privileged enough to be above everything else. But to safeguard your self-esteem, create clear boundaries that they cannot cross. Be specific and consistent about what kind of behavior is acceptable to you and what is not. So, it is okay not to seek their opinion about something you know they might criticize. Avoid their company when you know they are going to whine about something.
2. Don’t let them guilt-trip you
Narcissists enjoy making people squirm. In the past, they may have reminded you of your mistake and made you do something for them as a way to repent. If they do it frequently, then it’s time to bring it to a halt. Tell them they can’t hold you responsible for something that happened unintentionally. They may get angry, but it is important to know that they cannot control you. Stand your ground and don’t allow yourself to be manipulated.
3. Don’t try to outdo them
A friend with narcissistic tendencies could get mean to you now and then. However, you do not have to give it back to them because they will sooner or later. So, try to be nice to them despite their bitter words. And, when it gets too much to handle, walk away from them instead of saying something you might regret later.
4. Massage their ego when needed
Narcissists can be unreasonable and difficult when they know you need them to behave in a particular manner in a particular situation. In such a situation, it is okay to praise them falsely to boost their inflated ego, so they cooperate with you. They feel the need to be admired, so they use flattery to calm them down when they are displeased about something. But remember to use this tactic sparingly. It’s a stop-gap arrangement and not a long-term solution.
5. Suggest seeking professional help
Narcissists suffer from psychological issues that even they may not be aware of. They need to seek help from a qualified professional to control their self-centered behavior. But do not be blunt and advise them to seek help. Instead, be subtle and suggest that they go to a counselor to work upon their negative traits.
How To End A Friendship With A Narcissist?
Narcissists, too, are people with feelings and emotions just like any of us. Their psychological condition should not be a reason to cut ties and isolate them.
In her blog, Mischa Harcourt, a Texan, talks about her experience with a narcissistic friend. She says that she first encountered one when she was nine years old in the form of Sadie, who, according to her, had the ability to lift you up and then rip it all off. The author and Sadie remained friends until sixth grade, following which the friendship was too damaged for it to continue.
On the effects of the friendship with Sadie, she says, “For the rest of my school years, and even into adulthood, I found I had put up a wall between myself and others. By high school, I had such crippling social anxiety that I was mostly a loner, even within my tight-knit electives like varsity choir. I envied people with large circles of friends. What they had seemed unattainable to me (i).”
Therefore, despite trying everything, if their inconsiderate behavior towards you does not change, put some distance to preserve your sanity and mental well-being.
Here are some ways to stay away from a toxic friendship with a narcissist.
- Instead of cutting all ties with your narcissistic friend, limit your interaction with them. Meet them only occasionally so that their negative energy does not overwhelm you.
- Focus your energy on your ambitions and goals. Do not let them control you.
- Don’t let them exploit you. Put in only as much effort and energy into your friendship as much as you get out of it. Maintain a healthy balance.
- A narcissist will maintain a friendship with you for only as long as they get to manipulate you. When you don’t do as per their will, they will cut you off from their lives.
- If their toxic behavior overwhelms you, do not hesitate to block them from your life. They are too egoistic to chase you and will find your replacement in no time.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can a narcissist be a good friend?
A narcissist can be a good friend if they acknowledge their behavioral pattern and try to work on them. Friendship with a narcissist might also work if you set clear boundaries and abide by them strictly.
2. What happens when you ignore a narcissist friend?
When ignored, a narcissistic friend might become enraged. They may attempt to grab your attention by being their unusual self. This behavior might include being vulnerable, toxic, or ignorant.
3. What are some common manipulation tactics used by narcissistic friends?
Narcissistic friends gaslight and distort the truth to make you feel confused and insecure. They may often put you on a guilt trip to create a situation of self-doubt. Love-bombing and devaluation, withholding affection or attention, and manipulative lying to suit their needs and purposes are a few manipulation tactics narcissistic friends may use to influence you.
4. How do narcissistic friends typically behave in group settings?
Narcissistic individuals tend to crave attention, so they might talk loudly or dominate the conversation in a group setting. They often have an air of grandiosity and struggle to show empathy for others. So, they may make condescending remarks or use sarcasm and mockery to reinforce their sense of superiority. They may also indulge in gossip and rumors to maintain control and ensure that attention is focused on them.
Maintaining a long-lasting relationship with a narcissist friend can be vexing. They may hamper your self-esteem and self-confidence. You can check out the signs mentioned above to identify a narcissistic person. If you notice these signs in your friend, try the tips mentioned above to help you deal with them. However, if the situation does not improve after all the efforts you make, step back from the friendship. Ensure you choose your mental health over a friendship with someone who does not deserve you.
Infographic: How To Stay Friends With A Narcissist?
Being friends with a narcissist can be an emotional roller coaster. At times you may feel like giving up, but then you hold back because they are your childhood buddy or their positive attributes outweigh the negativity of narcissism. Whatever the reason, you should do so with dignity when you want to stay friends. Our infographic shares practical tips to stay friends with a narcissist without compromising your self-respect.
- A selfish friend can bully or show less importance to you in front of others to gain attention.
- Demarcating clear boundaries and suggesting professional psychological help are some of the effective ways to handle a narcissistic friend.
- Despite trying everything, if you don’t see any change in their tendencies, limit your correspondence with them and don’t allow them to take advantage of you.
Do you have a friend who’s always talking about themselves? Check out this video to learn the 7 signs you have a narcissistic friend!
Personal Experience: Source
- Narcissistic Personality Disorder; Help Guide;