5 Signs You Are Having A Narcissistic Sibling

What Is It Like To Have A Narcissistic Sibling ?

I have written lots on what it is like to be a child, lover or work colleague of someone who has NPD, but what is it like being a brother or sister ? Every behaviour a narcissist commonly displays in the wider world: a need for attention, fragile ego, raging and manipulation, are all there but up close, loud and very personal. During childhood, it is very difficult to escape the effects of a narcissistic sibling but as an adult some distance may be achieved, but that comes at a price, a broken, disjointed family and difficult family gatherings.

Joe and Bob are now in their 70’s but Bob remembers with pain what it’s like to have an older brother who is a narcissist. At every family gathering, Joe likes to hold court and when everyone has a drink in their hands he dominates the conversation tells the same stories over again. How the young Robbie, as he was known in the family wet his trousers at school and the older Joe had to take him home; how he would have to communicate for Robbie who was a late talker and who had a speech impediment and how he and the rest of the family never thought he would ever marry, let alone have two lovely daughters one of whom became a doctor and the other a librarian. Jo would never let anyone change the subject when he was “on a roll” and would completely ignore any attempt to but in until he had completely embarrassed his younger brother who was taller, better looking and smarter.

This ritual had been enacted many times over and will probably continue until one of them dies. Quiet by nature, Bob would never challenge his brother in such gatherings nor let on how much it hurt. At home however he like to smile and tell the story of 7-year-old Joe, some two years older than, walking along the riverbank, boasting of how he could swim. After several days of this Bob had had enough and pushed Joe in saying “Let’s see how you do it then !”Joe, who could not swim, nearly drowned and a neighbour heard his cries and pulled him out. Bob said the good hiding he got was worth it…

The problem is for a sibling of a narcissist, there is no escape and the sibling may never realise that the problems they have experienced in their lives are not of their own making but that of their sibling and possibly their parents too. So what are the signs that your sibling is a narcissist ?

1. You must hide your successes

It is normal to want to share any success with your family. Passing an exam with a good grade, being picked for a team, orchestra or college production are all normal things to be proud of. But if you are the sibling of a narcissist, you dare not share. Your sibling will rage against you, belittling your achievement in comparison to something of his own. In some cases, the narcissistic sibling may even steal or damage any award but do it in such a sneaky way that their crime is undetectable to anyone but you.

2. They tell your parents (and anyone else) about every mistake you make

For example if you were at the same school and you sibling noticed that you were reprimanded for a bad behaviour not serious enough for home contact, the sibling would let parents know and even helpfully suggest an appropriate sanction. Similarly, if you went about with undesirable people, kissed a girl, did anything embarrassing, your parents would find out and you would never be allowed to forget it. In the same circumstances you probably said nothing, or if you did, you would be labelled as a tale tell or petty. There would be no way of winning this battle.

3. They steal your friends or your girl/boy friend

A narcissistic sibling would not be able to allow you to have independent friends or leave you alone when your friends called around. In fact, an older narcissist would design the pretend game, cast himself in the lead role and make up all the rules. In team sports, he or his team would have to win. If the narcissistic sibling was older one of two things might happen. Friends would either look up to him and perhaps swap allegiances or, more likely stop coming around because he cramped their style. Parents may be manipulated to order you to include your brother or sister with your friends

In later years, your narcissistic sibling might try to steal your love interest. This could be by playing a seemingly innocent gooseberry, just happening to be around and join in. Or more malevolently, undermine you in their eyes and then do something noble to try to gain favour. Once again, criticising a sibling for their seemingly innocent behaviour could seem churlish.

4. They are overly competitive

They will challenge you to feats to prove who is stronger, better or smarter, but only if they have a clear advantage. For example, challenging you to a feat of physical endurance whilst you are recovering from a bout of lurgy. At another occasion, they might train furiously behind the scenes to ensure victory.

In a test of intelligence or ability, they will frankly cheat!
In terms of family love, they will out manoeuvre you at every turn. Even if you are seriously ill, they will manage somehow to be needier than you, either via a competing illness or making your parent choose between you.

5. You have been their stooge or the but of their jokes

Like Joe and Bob, they will use every bit of knowledge they have, to make you look small. Nothing will be kept private if it can earn them attention and feed their narcissistic supply.

Indeed, we have already established that a narcissist needs their supply – adulation, attention, compliments, devotion or even the fear of what they may do. Siblings are a ke6y source of narcissistic supply, during childhood at least. This is especially so if they are older than you.

It is important that you recover as you grow. You may need some counselling to help you realise the degree of abuse you may have suffered. Put a distance between you, preferably physically, but if circumstances don’t allow it, cast yourself free emotionally. Practicing any mindfulness technique which works for you but seeking treatment, where necessary for the trauma of your childhood.

About Alexander Burgemeester

6 Responses to “5 Signs You Are Having A Narcissistic Sibling”

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  1. Elisa says:

    My sister fits the majority of the above categories.

    It is weired, in that my whole family is geared towards normalizing her behaviour. I am (one of) the scapegoats, and tend to be seen as “guilty until (through near-miracle proportion strength) proven innocent”.

    As I get older and have psychologically been able to get more free from them, I realize how unhealthy they are. And above all, how goddamned BITCHY.

    I am just sick of it.

    And I am sick of having such pressure from all of them for me to be upstanding, whilst they all band together and make excuses for their own AWFUL behaviours and attitutes.

    And it fucks with your head: because they are a GROUP and they are one’s FAMILY.

    I f*****g hate them.

    • Neb says:

      OMG it feels so good not being alone in this. My family are the same, and from an outside perspective they’re batshit crazy and enable one another. I also wondered why I was the only to develop anxieties about it, but it’s because they’re narcissists and sociopaths. My mother goes ape s**t and threatens to kill me over the little things, and my brother convinces cold callers to kill themselves, he also cuts the Wi-Fi when he doesn’t get his own way.

    • Cray Tubbe says:

      I understand i am going through the same thing. My sister has abused me so many times and the rest of my family is pretty much dedicated to drinking and gossip so having me as the scapegoat is perfect for them. I have made the difficult decision to move on. I hope that you can move on in peace as well.

    • R says:


      My brother used to ramp up the emotion in the room until my father got his belt. My brother is a monster and looking back on it, my father should have known better than to beat on his sons with a belt.

      I appreciate the part where we see Bob is taller, smarter, and better looking. The more I outpaced my brother, the crueler he became.

      Hang in there fellow survivors!

  2. mj grant says:

    hi everyone,I have to get this out because I had a run in with my ns last nite.I was surprised that my heart did flip-flops when I saw her after about 4 months.Three different times I had to say good-bye to her because she made life unbearable for me.I tried all my life to get along with her but just impossible.She has all the signs that I have read.she is sooo jealous of people who do well.She always tries to bring up painful memories of our parents-both decessed.Or laughing at me as I go by from her window.(we live in small town and she lives in same complex as I do)Now I know for sure that it wasn’t me.thanks for this website.It helps believe me.Have a great day everyone.

  3. Susan Jelleberg says:

    I have been looking for an article like this for awhile. My older sister has had to be in control of everything and everyone. She can’t be not on stage. When we were adults living in the same town I told her I wasn’t going to play the siblings game where the oldest is the one who makes all the decisions. She didn’t talk to me for thee years. I developed clinical depression and anxiety later in life. She ignores that but when I had 2 books published none of my three sibling congraduated me or bought the book. The oldest sister got mad at me because Mom was showing it to everyone even if she was around, taking the attention away from her. She tells have truths where it looks like I’m the bad one. She moved back to the hometown and now has my other siblings not speaking to me. This is going on the third year.Mom knows what is going on with them but refuses to intervene. I moved away. It is now 2. Years since this silent treatment has started. I can’t be around them without having an attack because none of them talk to me or even acknowledge that am there. Last week was a BD party for one. I was in my room working and was not invited to join them for cake. Today everything started to fall in place and I called Mom to tell her I probably will never come back because the house isn’t a safe place for me. She blamed it all on FB and said I was posting things. I have never posting anything on it in reference to the oldest unless she send something first. I told mom I wasn’t friends with them on there and had blocked them. Mom was still trying to find ways to blame all this on me and I said goodbye and hung up. I should mention that in our twenties the older sister did nasty putdowns at me whenthe whole family was there and no one intervened. Seven years later she told me she was jealous because I had nice things and was skinny, -all of which I worked for. So I am going to try to put my life together without all of them. This weekend those that can will be going to my ex-stepdaughter’s wedding. They all have said I was rude to her and our bad relationship was my fault even though the daughter has a felony (I’m to blame for that,) has been in trouble with the law, doing drugs and having a party at my house where the guys were lined up to her bedroom. again, I am in a bad place. I told mom I’m not coming back for a long time, probably never. When my folks pass, I won’t go to the funerals because I have no idea what they will do then. Thinking back, in grade school I had straight As on my report card and Dad gave me $5. She didn’t have the straight As so she was trying to make it sound like there was a mistake. Last year mom said she got mad at mom because mom wouldn’t say she was the most favorite child. I don’t know if that was true but I did she her stomping out of the house and all the way to her own house. I put the oldest as a narcissist towards me. And then there’s my brother who will inherit the family business worth millions with no plans to share any of it with us girls. But my sisters don’t see anything wrong with this. My brother will sell the farm or rent it out once my folks pass as none of his kids want to take over. I have said enough.

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