At one time or another, in our lives, we have all had that one friend. You know: that friend who takes up all of the oxygen in the room, who has to be the center of attention, and who seems to take pleasure in your misadventures, instead of your successes.
But, has it ever occurred to you that your difficult friend may have a personality disorder called Narcissism?
When you gravitate to a friend like this, it is often because you have had a parent like this. After all, as adults we are always trying to get right the problems of our childhood. And the most significant people in our lives, from birth to death, are your parents.
It is those two people that teach us the patterns of how to interact with the others. This then becomes the standard for our behavior, both in general and in relationship.
As a result, you often draw into your social sphere people who allow you to do what you know how to do…what you have learned within your family of origin. You could say, that your comfort zone are those people who reflect the familiar patterns of your childhood.
Common characteristics of a narcissistic friend
With a narcissistic friend, you are required to suppress your own wants and needs to accommodate the wants and needs of another. A narcissistic friend will show little compassion for you and disregard that you have any purpose on earth, other than functioning as an accompaniment for her.
Your narcissistic friend all too often, displays a sense of entitlement, and you may find ultimately that your narcissistic friend has encroached, upon your life and your identity. In fact, befriending a narcissist, may cause you to lose your sense of self, your confidence, and your self-esteem.
If you look at your relationship with a critical eye, you will find that it is similar, to that all-too-familiar critical parent. And, if you misstep, or let her down, or fail to admire her, she will recite a laundry list of your offenses. While saving that list, to be used again and again to, keep you in line.
On the other hand, a narcissist, though needing your praise constantly, will rarely site your achievements, for to do so, diminishes hers. As a result, you can never really get satisfaction or get your wants or needs met, in friendship with a narcissist. Although, she wants your performance to be perfect, she is far from it.
Further, a narcissist carefully chooses those with whom she surrounds herself. Her inner circle must reflect her sense of self and thus, perfection.
Narcissistic parents, for example, cannot see their children as separate from themselves, but rather as reflections of themselves. Moreover, when a narcissist’s child is less than successful, she feels embarrassed, shamed, and diminished as a parent.
Her way, or the highway
As a close friend of a narcissist, you will find that you are always on high alert, putting out fires while defusing stress and anxiety. The narcissist, by its very definition, is a natural-born bully. She wants her way in everything that she does and if she can’t get it, she will pick up her marbles and go home. She wants to win, she wants to be the best, and she wants you and the others in her social circle to see her, in a special light.
This places you, as her friend, in the role of hand-maiden or parent, someone who always goes along, to get along. You may find yourself giving up your life, and your interests, for that of your demanding, narcissistic friend. You might even find yourself dressing according to her style, purchasing a house in a location close to hers, or buying a car that gains her approval. On the other hand, it is more than likely, that a narcissist will completely copy your lifestyle, in an effort, to merge with you. This is the most dangerous situation to find yourself in. As you may wake up one day, realizing that not only has your identity been stolen, but also, that you no longer know how to reclaim it.
Ultimately, you spend so much time erasing your feelings, you no longer know, or feel entitled to them. In a sense, if you are looking after her, who is looking after you? If you are giving out, all of the honey from your honey pot, who is replenishing your honey?
In my next blog post, we’ll continue to explore what it means to be in a friendship with a narcissist, and what you can do about it.