Almost all of us know how annoying it can be to have a friend that always finds a way to make it about themselves. But is your friend a narcissist? The answer is complex, but there are some pretty clear signs and you may want to find out sooner rather than later. Narcissistic friendship abuse is a very real thing that affects a lot of people, often without them even knowing about it. Narcissists use social constructs to push you around, insult you, and even manipulate you into making certain choices. Luckily for you, if your friend is a narcissist, there are several ways to deal with the situation. If you really want to push that person out of your life, make sure to stick around to number 1!
Number 7: Open your eyes to how they’re treating you.
Often the most effective way to get a narcissist out of your life is to see them for who they really are. You are going to benefit greatly from clearing the fog around the situation and clearly grasping how toxic this friendship may be. This step is hard and may make you realize that you have been getting abused for longer than you even realized, but once that pain and hurt are gone, you are going to be able to see this person in a way that you were never able to before. Once their games no longer work on you, their power is gone. At this point, they may try to start picking fights or just abandon the friendship altogether. Regardless, each of the following steps on this list ultimately jumps off of this point.
You’re never going to be able to face your bully until you accurately grasp what was going on beneath the surface. The people most susceptible to a narcissist’s tricks are people that really want a friendship badly and also people who typically have lower self-esteem. Until you accept that you were being manipulated it will be too easy for the narcissist to simply play off of your own insecurities in an attempt to get you back under their control.
Number 6: Set boundaries.
It’s also important to note that not everyone with narcissistic tendencies is necessarily an abusive person, and some people may not even know that what they’re doing could be hurtful. If you find this is the case, then it’s time to set obvious boundaries that you bring up whenever they are crossed. To get how important this is, it’s important to know something about narcissists.
They are habitual line-crossers and don’t do well with personal space or rules. This can be incredibly tiring in a friendship, as they won’t get hints, will ask you for very personal information, and may invite themselves to things without consulting you first. If you are going to maintain a friendship like this, it’s going to be key that you let them know what you are and aren’t comfortable with, as well as how it makes you feel when they don’t listen to your rules. By doing this, you are putting the responsibility on them to respect your wishes, and if they happen to overstep, then that is an active act of disobedience and disrespect.
Number 5: Find other friends to help support you.
Narcissists often use a tactic called gaslighting, where they will try and manipulate you into believing something that benefits them. This can often give victims a feeling that they aren’t making sense when they speak, and can even cause them to question the validity of their feelings in general. Obviously, this is not a good thing and something that you want to avoid, and the best way to do this is to find a group of friends that can act as a sort of safety net for you.
It’s going to be really important that you can talk freely and honestly with this support system, as they are going to be your barometer for if you are right or wrong. Whenever you feel like your narcissistic friend is gaslighting you, or making you feel like they aren’t being a good friend, try asking your safety net what they think, and if what you’re feeling is valid. This will help you get your confidence back, and it will probably feel really refreshing to be told that your opinion matters. Narcissists have a habit of smothering their friends, and in the case of a toxic friendship, they can often attach themselves fully to you, pushing away other people and making sure that you are all theirs.
In the event that you try to establish a safety net and receive pushback from your narcissistic friend, that is a sign of a toxic friendship and shouldn’t be a reason to stop your search for a bigger friend group..
Number 4: Don’t settle for a big talk or future solutions.
In the event of a confrontation, you may find that the dreaded confrontation went a lot better than you anticipated. Don’t be fooled by this, as narcissists hate fighting and if they feel like they are being attacked will often agree to leave the awkward situation. Unfortunately, just because they agree does not necessarily mean that they are willing to change, and they may even be agreeing just to get you to lower your defenses again. Rather than accepting a promise, demand immediate changes in your dynamic. Don’t accept excuses and if necessary threaten to distance yourself from the relationship if your suggested changes aren’t met.
This will force them to either change or accept the clearly laid-out consequences, and you can feel good knowing that you did everything you could to try to salvage a toxic friendship. There are no guarantees that you can save a relationship with a narcissistic friend, but by following this step you can rest easy knowing that either way there will be a resolution to the drama soon.
Number 3: Don’t let them idolize you.
This is not just a good lesson for your friendship, but also a good way to avoid becoming friends with more narcissists in the future. At the beginning of a friendship, narcissists will idolize you, since they see their own best qualities within you. This leads to problems, of course, when you can’t live up to their impossibly high expectations, in which case they may even feel betrayed by their own discovery. At no point will a narcissist tell you that they are in awe of you, but there are some clear and easy signs.
Whenever you run across these signs, you are going to want to cut them out as they occur, in order to prevent them from idolizing you in the first place. Some of these signs include constant compliments, particularly on your looks and other superficial things. They may also talk about how they wish they were more like you, or ask you to compliment them in a pretty surface-level way. If they do either of these things, or you just generally feel like they don’t see you as a person, then you need to force them to see that you are not some sort of god for them to worship. If they still are your friend afterwards, then you at least have broken that toxic part of your friendship and can hopefully begin forming a more genuine bond. If they flee, then you saved yourself the headache of tearing yourself away in a messier way further down the road.
Friendships need to be on equal ground, and that is very difficult to accomplish if one person acts like a sort of fan or cheerleader instead of a genuine companion. While it may feel good when a near stranger hypes you up and compliments you, remember that this does not necessarily mean that they mean those words, and remember to remain centered and not get swayed by a person’s kind words towards you.
Number 2: Make the hard choice if they need professional help.
You can’t be your friend’s therapist, even if sometimes you really would like to help. A narcissistic friend isn’t going to respect your boundaries, and may have a hard time stopping themselves even if you ask them nicely and they agree to accept your boundaries. Sometimes what people are going through is more than being less emphatic or a little self-centered, and there are times when you can’t do it all on your own.
It can’t be your responsibility to help these people with their mental health to the degree that you are constantly solving their issues for them or teaching them tactics. That not only is not fair to you but also isn’t fair to them. If you aren’t a licensed therapist, then you are in no place to guide these people to greener pastures, and it may be time to suggest a professional’s support.
Number 1: Expect them to respond harshly and maybe leave after you give them the hard truth.
This is probably the hardest option on our list, but it’s important to know exactly how this sort of thing usually goes. If you tell a narcissist that they need to improve, they are going to take it much harder than the average human being. Narcissists present a strong social presence because they are incredibly vulnerable, which is oftentimes why they struggle so much with being genuine.
You should anticipate them pushing back on your suggestions and be ready for some hurtful suggestions in return. Even after all that, there’s no guarantee that a narcissist is going to be able to take your criticism and use it constructively. Most likely, they are going to try to protect themselves by convincing themselves that you are being unreasonable or that you are actually wrong. In the event that this happens, however, you can hold your head up high knowing that you did everything in your power to salvage the relationship.
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