It’s Narcissist Friday!
Why in the world would you choose a narcissist for a friend? Yet, most of us probably have one.
Because you didn’t know. Right? That friend didn’t seem like a user. She didn’t seem demanding and judgmental. He didn’t seem temperamental or cruel. The narcissist just seemed like an especially nice person.
Narcissists have a super-power. If you have been reading here, you know what it is. They have the ability to influence what people think of them. In other words, if the narcissist wants you to think he/she is a kind and attentive friend, you will. If she needs someone to pay attention to her, to take her ailments and difficult situations seriously, you will feel like you should do it. If he wants someone who will make him feel good about himself, someone he can put down and use, you will think it is the right thing to do. Until you realize that you are trapped.
It is not difficult to get into a relationship with a narcissist. In fact, it is surprisingly easy. They want to get you into a relationship. They want you to be honored to be their friend. You will feel good—at first. They will have lunch with you, ask your opinion on things, listen to your life story, and remember a surprising amount of information about you. You will find that you want to help them with their projects, give them money and things, and come to their defense when others criticize them.
It may take a long time for you to realize that the friend relationship is out of balance. You do your part and more, but your friend does little. You give and encourage and praise and serve, but your friend never quite reciprocates.
One of the things you will probably experience is an escalation of demands. That “caring friend” becomes judgmental and possessive. Your loyalty must be absolute and unwavering. Your time and energy must serve no one more than this narcissistic friend. Your family, your work, your personal needs, all must fall into place behind the narcissist.
Now, you may think that you would just drop that kind of friend. Any time a friend becomes an abuser, you should be free to back away from the relationship. But that’s easier said than done. Narcissistic friends have ways of keeping you connected.
I have written on this before. I suspect that narcissistic friendships involve more mind games than other narcissistic relationships simply because a friendship is easier to end. Narcissistic friends tend to play on your sympathy, your sense of loyalty, and your fear.
Many have told of how narcissistic friends used confidences to manipulate. If you leave the relationship, you may find that your secrets are spread around. Others will be told the things you share with your friend in confidence. And, if that isn’t enough, the friend will make up lies to spread.
Those who leave narcissistic friendships are painted as disloyal, ungrateful, and just plain mean. If the friend can’t have you, she will make sure no one else wants you. She will tell about your marriage problems, your past, your kids, and anything else that will dishonor you and your family.
And the places you found for refuge from the demands of the friend will become his/her new territory. She will start coming to your exercise class. He will cultivate relationships with your other friends. If it hasn’t been done earlier in the relationship, it will be done as you are trying to pull out. You might be surprised to learn that she has become a new best friend to your sister or mother. Some people have felt it necessary to change churches or find other service opportunities. Some have even felt pushed to move out of their community.
If I had to choose a word for the narcissistic friendship, I would choose “insidious.” Sneaky, treacherous, beguiling, deceptive. A narcissistic friendship can be almost overwhelming.
What do you do? You do what you must. Get out. If you decide to weather the storm and pay the price, just call it off. He/she will get angry and try to hurt you, but you can handle it.
There is another idea. If you can carefully become toxic to the narcissist, become needy or draining, the narcissist might drop you. And, believe me, you will be dropped the moment you are no longer an asset. If you get sick or have financial difficulties or emotional problems, the narcissist will want nothing to do with you. He is not in the relationship to give or to help. The moment you stop giving to him, he will be gone.
Narcissistic friendships are draining, confusing, and aggravating. Now that you know about narcissism, avoid stepping in it if at all possible.
Want to listen? Let me know if this doesn’t work. I am experimenting!