Narcissistic friends spend hours and hours telling us about their problems and experiences without asking us how our day went. They are always late, the most unlikely things always happen to them when we need them … In short, they are figures that sooner or later make us ask ourselves if it is really worth having them next to us.
Why did we build a friendship with these profiles? Perhaps this is the first question that comes to mind. Many may think that it is enough to get rid of it. However, things aren’t always that simple when it comes to human relationships.
First, the emotional bond must be considered. Sometimes we keep a bond for decades just out of habit; because so many years have passed and we have shared so many experiences together. Other times, we find that a person responds to a narcissistic profile only when delusions build up and the bond is ruined due to his constant lack of it.
There is also another aspect to consider. As psychologists Dufner, M., Rauthmann, JF, Czarna, AZ and Denissen, J (2013) explain to us in a very interesting study, narcissists are initially attractive to our eyes. They know how to establish a bond with others, they are enthusiastic and during the early stages of the relationship they transmit positive energies, because they try at all costs to connect.
It is therefore easy to “fall” into the network of these people who first attract, then trap. Finally, when we are fully aware of the effects and collateral damage, we don’t really know how to act.
Narcissistic friends, what are they like and why do they behave this way?
We will not define friendship with a narcissistic person as a “toxic relationship”. This commonly used expression with a metaphorical meaning lacks clinical specificity, and in the case of the narcissistic personality we enter a much more complex, profound and unique field.
For starters, narcissism falls on a spectrum. There are people with mild narcissistic traits and profiles who present with a narcissistic personality disorder. The study conducted by Dr. Elizabeth L. Kacel, of the University of Florida (United States), shows us that this behavior depends on three dimensions: genetics, neurobiology and environmental factors.
We can infer that an unfavorable family environment often accounts for a large part of the narcissistic behavior. Narcissistic friends, in fact, seek the approval they did not receive in childhood, desire the recognition they lacked in the past, and tend to repeat the abusive behaviors their parents likely exercised on them.
Understanding this aspect can clarify many points. Nonetheless, it is equally essential to recognize the patterns and behaviors typical of narcissistic friends.
Conversations focused only on them
The focus on which the whole conversation revolves are themselves. It does not matter that the dialogue starts from a random topic, something that has happened to us or from current news. The narcissistic friend will always end up talking about himself.
Continued unforeseen events
If I’m late, it’s because they’ve had an accident. If they weren’t there when you needed them, something unexpected and almost always serious happened, something that far exceeds what happened to you.
These are people who are difficult to trust because we know that often they will not be there, because their life is nothing but a whirlwind of unexpected events, the most unusual we can imagine. This way they get what they want most: to be the center of attention.
They underestimate our problems and amplify theirs
It doesn’t matter what happened to you at work, with your partner, in the family. What worries you will be insignificant in the eyes of the narcissistic friend. Not only will it minimize what happened, but it will underestimate it. Whatever you tell him, he or she will have already experienced it more intensely than you, or will make it up if he hasn’t.
With this technique, he will shift the attention from your person to his to focus always and only on himself. He will only boycott you, managing to be once again the protagonist of the scene.
Narcissistic friends do not rejoice in the successes of others, they do not share the happiness of others
Contrary to what it may seem, narcissistic friends generally have low self-esteem and a negative self-concept. In the long run, such an attitude can be very deleterious: we will never be at their level, if anything below. They will become more in tune with us only if we are unhappy, if our ability to achieve goals is minimal, if we are insecure.
When we are successful, when we reach our goals and feel happy, they will downplay every achievement once again. And they will do it for a very simple reason: Narcissistic friends are envious. They are unable to control this feeling, this harmful and dangerous emotion, with which they can hurt us if we do not prevent them.
How to deal with narcissistic friends?
Narcissistic friends are not good travel companions in the adventure of life. They hold us back, they obscure the landscape, they do not let us see and they lead us on the wrong roads. We could therefore say that the best thing to do is to leave them at the nearest station and travel lighter, freer and healthier.
However, as anticipated, narcissism falls on a spectrum. There will always be people and friends who deserve a second chance. To do this, it is essential that they understand the effects (and consequences) of their actions and conduct. On the other hand, there will also be profiles that do not listen to suggestions and warnings.
In cases where there is no willingness to change and where there is a clear refusal to acknowledge the problem and seek expert help, the most reasonable thing to do is to take more drastic measures to maintain one’s health and own well-being.