Dawn ran into the grocery store to grab a few things after a long day of work when she bumped into a friend. “Where have you been? It’s so good to see you?” her friend inquired.
“You know … work, family, kids. We’ve been so busy lately,” Dawn quickly replied while knowing that what she said was wrong. Unable to examine it at that moment she put the thought out of her head until she was alone in her car.
Why hadn’t she seen her friend? How long had it been? Just then her friend Barb came to mind. Barb had dominated so much of her time lately with large amounts of drama in her life. There were dozens of text messages daily, phone conversations on the way to and from work, late-night drinks, and random drop overs. Dawn was so consumed by Barb’s life that she had no time for other friends and less time for her family. So, she decided to confront Barb to set a more realistic boundary.
Barb immediately blamed Dawn’s husband for the confrontation saying that he didn’t understand their close bond. When Dawn said no, that it came from a passing commend of another friend, Barb insisted on knowing the details and then slammed the friend for being jealous. Then, Dawn tried to express that this was her decision. Barb replied, “Fine, abandon me, just like everyone else, I always knew you would.”
Confused by the interaction, Dawn shutdown trying to pacify Barb. Within minutes, Dawn gave up on her boundaries and gave into Barb’s demands substituting her need for space with Barb’s need for attention. Barb changed direction again, now becoming charming, talking about how important Dawn was to her and that she is the closest friend she ever had.
If this sounds familiar, you might have a narcissistic friend. Here are seven indicators:
- Has unreasonable expectations. The narcissist expects their friend to meet all of their emotional needs. A friend is required to anticipate what, how, and when the narcissist needs admiration and adoration. This is a one-way street where the friend gives support, the narcissist takes, and there is no return. In addition, the narcissist’s appetite is not satisfied, the more the friend gives, the more that is expected.
- Blames, projects, and guilt-trips. The narcissist projects their negative characteristics onto their friend. The narcissist says the friend is needy, never satisfied, ungrateful, doesn’t apologize, selfish, and has unreasonable expectations. They might also belittle their friend by pointing out their flaws in front of others, taking a minor infraction and turning it into a major event, and highlighting intelligence gaps so the narcissist looks superior. Yet others have not verbalized any such complaints about the friend.
- Is very jealous. The narcissist is jealous of anyone or thing that has the friend’s attention over them. This includes spouses, children, pets, friends, family, and occupation. They will frequently demand attention at the same time the friend is engaged with someone else, talking on the phone, working on a project, or doing an activity with others. Their jealousy triggers intense rage for which the friend is subsequently blamed.
- Does an abusive cycle. The narcissist will provoke the friend to leave by being cruel and/or abusive during an argument. This accomplishes two things: it verifies that the friend will, in fact, one day abandon the narcissist and it sets the narcissist up to be the victim. Either way, the narcissist has gained more ammunition to use against their friend. The narcissist will not take any responsibility for the aggravation.
- Does abusive behavior. The narcissist punishes the friend with abuse or neglect. The abuse can be physical (breaking valuables), emotional (guilt-tripping), financial (expecting the friend to pay), sexual (shaming), spiritual (used God to justify), verbal (name-calling), or mental (twisting the truth). Or they will withhold love, attention, support, and communication. There is nothing unconditional about their love, it is very performance-driven. Trying to address the abuse is like pouring gasoline onto a fire.
- Uses threatening behavior. The narcissist threatens abandonment, exposure, or rejection if the friend won’t comply with their wishes. Most likely, the friend has one or more of these insecurities, which is why the narcissist targeted them for friendship in the first place. These fears tend to keep a person in the relationship longer. Most of this type of behavior is triggered when the narcissist believes that they are entitled to something that they don’t have. It’s a form of an adult temper tantrum.
- Faked remorse. The narcissist uses remorse as a manipulation tool. Real remorse takes time to implement in order for trust to be regained. The narcissist will expect an immediate return to the same level of trust as before. Any mention of the past behavior will incite the narcissist and they will claim the friend is being unforgiving. This, of course, justifies them doing the action again.
Once Dawn identified her friend Barb as a narcissist, she was able to be firmer on her boundaries. Since Barb was unwilling to admit to any wrongdoing and averse to changing her behavior, Dawn made the decision to end the friendship. This brought its own challenges, but in the end, she was able to move forward in a healthy manner.