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.

22 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.

      • Claire says:

        I wish you all the best in life.I too have had to finally walk away from a narcassistic sister and aunty …..the last of my family as I’ve lost my parents ….that means I’ve lost uncle cousins and brother in law too……as they are all totally manipulated by the two toxic relatives I had left.It is hard sometimes , I feel very alone , but then I have to remember I felt exactly the same …and continuously let down when they were in my life. take care

    • R says:

      WE ARE NOT ALONE.

      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!

      • Angela Elizabeth says:

        You hit the nail on the head. The more success you have the worse they get. It’s so sad but you have to diminish your value and voice if you ever want to be accepted or treated with a smidgen of kindness by them.

    • Mandy Jane says:

      I know all too well what you’re talking about. I’m that scapegoat and damn it, it’s a double edged sword. I’m always in the wrong, “unreasonable”, the punch line to most jokes”, the one who’s called “sensitive” when they’ve exploded over less than what I’m expected to just “get over it”, etc. I’m just miserable around them because I always strived to be the one they can trust and count on, but I’m the most disposable. Their time is filled with tearing eachother down behind one another’s backs and constant drama, but I’m the problem because I back off when I don’t want any part of it or when I don’t want to put up with it being done to me over and over. I can’t trust them and all I ever hear is “but they were just mad” when I’m upset at the things that have been said and done to me, like the constant belittling and backstabbing is no big deal. You’re right, it’s family but family shouldn’t do that to each other. I know I’m better off left to heal by cutting ties, but it hurts so much either way.

    • Steve says:

      I hear you. I’m a 38 year old guy and experience the exact same thing. My family put up a united front against me and rationalise each other’s terrible behaviour. It is tough it really is. Any opportunity to sabotage my life or happiness is pounced upon. Eventually you have to sever all ties and remove them completely and remind yourself daily that they are the crazy ones not you. It is damn painful but it’s the only way to survive. The alternative is to keep tolerating the abuse and go crazy. After my brother died I was the last rational person in my family. They moved away when I was a teenager as part of their ostracism towards me and now I am doing ok they are looking for a way back to me to continue their abuse. I don’t give them one. They did such a good job of cutting me out of their circle it gave me a new perspective seeing it from the outside. They are so toxic their lives are truly pathetic. My advice is leave them, run and never look back

    • Linda says:

      Such a relief to find this website. I am 58 and my sister is 6 years’ older. Always the golden child – me the scapegoat. I was even berated for having pushed my buggy into a relatives garden pond at the age of 3 and a half. No mention of what I was doing there on my own at such a young age.

      My sister is 65 and after a stressful, horrible 5 days’ visit with her and her mockery, foul temper and histrionics I have finally had enough. I realise I need to emotionally protect myself and break off the relationship much like leaving an abusive lover.

  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.

    • Nancy says:

      What is so awful about this, and I share this with you, is that the entire family is under the spell of the narcissistic one and has no idea they are so deceived. I am the second of seven and we are now in our 60’s and 50’s and the narcissistic abuse has not been cranked up so high because I am not staying silent when someone insults me or I find they are gossiping about me behind my back.
      Just to share a story or two…years ago my sister did not invite me to her daughter’s confirmation or the party/dinner afterwards although she lives a mile from me and my mother and my one sister were invited. I stopped by the house because my mother had a table for me to borrow in the trunk of her car and I was setting up for my own daughter’s first communion the next day. I didn’t realize the confirmation was at noon, thought it was later in the day and was unloading the table from my mom’s trunk when the sister came up to me all dressed up and asked me if I wanted to stop by later as their was food and the party was larger than she expected. I was in sweat pants and working hard for the next day so had no time and did not want to accept a late last minute guilt driven invitation and politely said no thank you. I told her I was busy setting up and I’d see her tomorrow at my party. She persisted on trying to encourage me to come back later and I continued to say thanks but no. Really, had I been invited with everyone else I would have arranged my day to attend. After repeated begging me to come, motivated only by the imagined questions she thought would be raised by her inlaws or others about why I was not there, I sighed, tried to escape and just go home. I was mortified at having arrived at her house as they were leaving for the church. I realized I shouldn’t be there and was just trying to get the heck out of there when she started her ‘kind’ invitation. I finally was annoyed and said, “You really should have invited me three months ago if you really wanted me here.” So, she burst into tears and ran into the house and told this story to other family members as though I had come over just to ruin my niece’s day and hers. Years later, my mother brought this up to me and said, “well you came to Katie’s confirmation just to ruin it for Carol.” This is classic gas lighting and triangulation. Creating a problem and projecting it onto me. This is just an example of the continuation of the narcissistic abuse I suffered as a teen and 20 something. She had constantly called me names, ridiculed me, refused to acknowledge me at our high school, walked past me in the halls like I was a stranger, all the while forming a best friend relationship with the younger sister I had been so close to in childhood and leaving me out of everything to the point where I wasn’t allowed to walk to school with them (and my mother allowed it, saying, ‘you’re different from them, go make friends of your own.’ So, the younger siblings also followed suit with the insults and social ostracizing of me and it continues to this day. I have the deepest sympathy for you in your family situation. Take comfort from the knowledge you have that by accident of birth you ended up in such a family and look to your friends who value you and love you for the connection and love your family is too broken to share with you. Also be glad you are sensitive enough now to others to never repeat this sort of abuse to another.

    • DreamyJ says:

      Really glad I found this article. The sad truth is my older, only sister is my worst enemy. She’s a nutjob who’s lost in her own little world. She treats me like garbage and only plays nice when she needs something. I’ve often been portrayed as the prettier, nicer “fair child”. Her jealousy issues are horrendous and she’ll stop at nothing to tarnish my reputation. I’ve been struggling for almost 30 years now…I was only 13 when she left me and my mother, who was ill at the time. She ran off to have a love child with her baby daddy even though I was still a child myself! When our mom got really ill, I spent 5 years of hell in “foster care” with this sister, thanks to Child Protective Services. The abuse drove me to suicide, I was uncomfortable in my own skin, and my nerves were fried. When our mom finally recovered, she continued being competitive, walking in my shadow as I got older and regained my self-worth. When I had my first child, she manipulated my mom into babysitting her children instead of assist me after my Maternity Leave. She caused a major fallout between me and our extended family by spreading lies and gossip about me. After a 2-year hiatus, she turned on the crocodile tears in order to “make amends” when I had my second child. Not long after that, she went back to her old ways again. Due to my own hardships, I’ve been walking in her shadow for the past 15 years. Now we’re at odds again after discovering, to my chagrin, that she’s stolen tens of thousands of dollars from me and my mom for the past 6 years! To add insult to the injury, I was subject to mockery and insults, to “justify” these ugly truths.

  4. lisaM says:

    My older brother fits this to a T. All my life he has never been the protective older brother I could confide in or go to advice for, or even just be a friend too. He’s always been very competitive with me ever since I could remember and would tattle tale on me to our mother for minor trivial things when we were kids. I blame my mother for not only the way he has turned out, but for the way he has always been, even since childhood. My mom is very narcissistic herself and I would guess she is either a borderline or has full blown narcissistic personality disorder. He has alway sheen her golden child. Now as an adult my brother has two young children that I am an aunt too. Unfortunately having a relationship with my niece and nephew has been next to impossible unless I put in all of the effort and then some. It is only met with criticism by my brother whom doesn’t get the fact that I put effort into seeing my niece and nephew because of them, not because of him. Even then it has become very hard and I have to be nice and ignore my brothers criticizing comments, trouble making, back stabbing and drama just in order to be their aunt. Weekly I have driven over an hour and a half each way to see my niece and nephew in order to spend time with them. My brother has never once been to my house my entire adult life. If I am 5 minutes late he will whine. If I am 5 minutes early he will make me wait to see my niece and nephew and say they are upstairs playing and cant come down until the correct time scheduled. He has never once called me to chat on the phone unless he needs something concerning our mother. Our family holidays have become a dreaded exhibit that seem to be a pathetic display of whom spends the most money and a competition of whom has the best job, the most money, nicest house, etc. There is a lot of backstabbing and bad talk that goes on afterward that I do not care to partake in. Sadly my brother is someone who is very hard to connect with. It is almost like there is something missing when you talk to him. He is married and him and his wife have a rocky relationship and a lot of debt which is no surprise. He has no real friends. Also its almost as if anything you say to him will be held against you in the court of law. You can say “The sky is blue” or “The weather is nice today” and he will laugh at you and mock you behind your back and lie and say you said “The sky is dreary” or “The weather sucks”. He is one odd dude and I am sad for him and his wife and kids as I could only imagine what being around that dysfunction is like 24/7 as I’ve lived it and thankfully I am not around it anymore other than once weekly in order to see my niece and nephew. His wife who suffered form shyness and social anxiety confided in my a couple of times how my brother has mocked her weight and looks and how unhappy she is. I try not to get involved as I dont want to be the bad guy. Its just a sad situation all around and I blame my mother for creating it.

  5. Maryb says:

    MaryB

    Two sisters who are both narcissistic. They learned this well from both parents. “Golden child” sister is hysterically funny, as she believes herself to be “shy”. She’s one of the most aggressive people I’ve every known. When I wanted to share that I was getting upper mouth implants after having good but crooked teeth, her reply was “Are they all decayed?” She knew they weren’t. She then proceeded to tell me I’d have to be hospitalized for this procedure (like she ever worked in the medical industry). When I told her the procedure is done in a sterile clinic in one day, she, God’s truth, proceeded to tell me I should be hospitalized “As least overnight.” Same sister told me only “two cents on the dollar” goes to the animals when I give my donation every month. Really? How much of her holier than thou money goes to the defense of pedophile priests in the Catholic Church? Haven’t talked to her in six months, won’t answer the calls, done.

    The other sister, who also despises the above sister, probably because they’re so much alike, is 80 years old and in dementia (at least memory wise). I was trying to thank her for taking me to a movie when I was a teenager and she denied this was ever done. Denial, lying, know-it-alls, ew, they both make me sick. Unfortunately, or fortunately sometimes, they’re the only close relatives I have left. Thanks for the opportunity to vent.

  6. Mary J. says:

    I come from a completely narcissistic family–two sisters (who are still alive), a brother, and parents. As the youngest of four siblings, it took me decades to realize these people had no regard for me. The last straw was my sister, who is six years older, asking me if my teeth were decayed because I stupidly tried to share that I was finally having implants. That was it! I ran the other way and have not spoken to her in over six months. Won’t even get started on the other sister, who suffers from dementia, borderline personality (I believe), and narcissism. What a treat she is! Even her own children ran for their lives when they turned 18. As the previous comment says, these two are the only close relatives I have left; however, I’ll just turn away and be much happier without having insults, non-supportive behaviors, and condescension leveled at me. Must be nice to think you’re so much better than others. Believe it or not, they call themselves Christians.

  7. Kathy Burns says:

    My brother never forgave my father for coming home from WWII and took it out on me all the time. I was a girl, and he could be charming, especially when others were looking. He banged my head against the wall and made it bleed several times. When my parents announced the upcoming birth of another baby, he started sodomizing whenever my parents when out and put me in his care.
    I never told – at least not for years because I did not want to break my parents’ hearts. Even after we grew up, he would charm me and use me. I forgave too many times. When he became unable to work, he called me and said he was going to die if he didn’t get disability. Guess who told him to come to me and then supported him until he got his disability and then even gave him the money to go and see his son graduate from College. I never got a thank you. The last time I saw him, he said goodbye to my sister (another narcissist) and a friend of mine and never even looked at me as he got into his car and drove away.
    It took me years to say anything about what he had done to me and of course, no one believed me for a long time. Some thought less of me for speaking out. They just refused to see me. Right before he died, he called me and said he wished we could have been closer, like it was my fault. I vomited out what I thought about that, saying that he was a cretin and if I was not close to him it was because i considered him a vampire and a monster. Poor poor martyr he was! Hah!
    After all that happened, gee, I collapsed and became disabled. I have fought back and am growing healthier and happier. It has been a journey and has taken courage and honestly. I still forgive too easily, but I am learning. It is a difficult thing to be generous-hearted, for too many people will eat you alive.
    I have just FINALLY FIGURED OUT that my sister is also a narcissist, that sabotaged my relationship with the man I loved and thought that my role in life was to listen to the suffering she has had by people that she did not seem to think had any rights. No one has any rights but her. Boy, is she wrong! I have “divorced” her from my life.
    I am 70 but invincible. I have survived and learned not to give myself away and to love myself as I deserve to be loved. The only problems I have had with confidence only showed through when I was effected by THEM. I am free and fearless. I was always a fearless woman, but now I am just so damn proud of myself for how healthy I am in body and soul. It has been a battle, but I am a warrior, not a worrier! Don’t let those bad, sick vampires win!

  8. Lisa Marie says:

    My brother whom I just met plus a father . I met them 3 months ago my brother encouraged me to meet my dad. Everything went well now all of a sudden my brother has stopped talking to me. And I don’t even know why and it really hurts. Here’s the kicker he has some influence over my dad. During the first stages of brother ignoring me my dad talked to me on the phone.
    Now my dad won’t talk to me I tried a few times no answer. Makes me feel like my dad’s heart wasn’t even in it for me. So I’m being excluded from them and don’t know why.

  9. Lisa Marie says:

    Let me add that this has happened during the holidays..I called my dad on Christmas and no answer. Nothing to do now but just I have to stop reaching out to them. I’m not getting a response back and don’t know why. Even if my brother did one day reach out I don’t think I could forget what he done. It’s hurtful cause one day he said he was happy to call me his sister to not talking to me.

  10. Crstal says:

    I thought i was reading my own story when i read yours. 100%

  11. Alan says:

    Now 60, I recently experienced an epiphany regarding my 58 yr old brother. For decades all the signs were there, I just never made the connection- thinking this is just who he is and I have to tolerate it because he’s my brother and I love him. The grandiosity, the insufferable self referencing, the verbal jabs, the patronizing, the utter lack of genuine interest in my life (except to get any dirt so as to further demean me, my wife, and children), etc. etc. For some reason, one day it dawned on me. After every interaction with the guy, I come away feeling like s**t! So I did a little more research. And it hit me: my “devoted church goer” college educated Social Worker brother is a full NPD narcissist…and I am his supplier!! Suddenly I had clarity. I made a decision to end this for my own health. I went no contact about 5 weeks ago. Blocked his number, etc. Result thus far: I’m actually shocked at how much better I feel (about EVERYTHING) consistently on a day to day basis. Is he flummoxed on his end? Oh Probably. But let him figure it out. Or find a new supplier. I can no longer provide what he needs. Nor will I. And I just feel BETTER!!!

  12. Caroline Eliott says:

    My sister is 9 years old than me she’s narcistic she’s always one better have to hear about her latest triumphs no matter what subject. She said she was suffering from stress etc felt sorry for her invited her to my daughter’s . She’s now taken my daughter from me she tried to take my son who had mental health probs. He committed suicide I suffered severe PTSD all she kept on about was her supposed breakdown. She even took my dead sons duvet cover for the dog. It was her birthday my daughter asked her to dinner told me there wasn’t enough room in the car for me. My daughter think she’s wonderful .infact my sister’s nasty talks about our other sister and anyone else behind their back nice to their face. Until my daughter sees the real her I have lost her . I am distancing myself from both. I have to go in hospital I don’t want either of them helping me as the price is too high I would never hear the last of it.

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