Friendships are meant to be a source of support, understanding, and compassion.
However, it is not uncommon to realize there are certain people in our lives who don’t fit the bill. They may be selfish, rude, liars, or worse, all of the above.
It’s one thing to have a good friend with bad habits. This might be someone who is always running late or a person who is easily forgetful.
Yet, it is a completely different thing to be stuck in a narcissistic friendship. If you are close with a narcissist, you probably feel attacked or unappreciated. You may also feel used or less confident.
Thankfully, there are things you can do to improve your situation. Here are the telling signs for spotting the narcissist in your life and how to deal with your friendship with them.
Identifying a Narcissist
A narcissist is one who only thinks of themselves.
He or she thinks they are the most attractive, most powerful, and most intelligent person they know. They don’t just walk around on their high horse, they live up there.
Americans are viewed as highly narcissist by other countries and even fellow Americans. Thankfully, this could mean you aren’t alone in dealing with a narcissistic friendship. But, not every bad person is a narcissist.
Think of the qualities the toxic person in your life portrays.
If they really are a narcissist, they look at their reflection every chance they get and have an overdose of confidence. He or she has a very low understanding of empathy, and is constantly turning the conversation back to themselves. They may also overreact or take things too personally, if they even care enough to do so.
Even the legend of the word narcissism is toxic.
According to Greek mythology, there once was a God named Narcissus who was known for his good looks. After breaking a nymph’s heart, the God of Revenge cursed him to fall in love with his reflection in the water. No other beauty was able to satisfy Narcissus from that point, and he soon committed suicide.
In this day and age, the insatiable traits of narcissism are easy to spot.
A narcissist only keeps others around as long as they have something to offer. Still, they tend to talk down to you and cannot be trusted.
A narcissistic friendship is barely even friendships at all, but there are some things you can do to improve your situation.
1. Tell Them How You Feel
One of the best first steps to take in resolving any friendship issue is to have a serious conversation.
Sit down the other person and let them know how their words and actions make you feel. Express your disappointment and pain. Provide clear, recent examples, and let them know if this is something that has been building up.
Don’t sugarcoat anything or leave out relevant details.
Remember, a narcissist doesn’t abide by regular social standards. To really get through to this person, you have to play a bit of hardball.
This does not mean you have to mimic their actions and be rude or conceited. Rather, it means laying out the whole truth. Provide as many examples as possible for the issue at hand.
Let them know how their actions affect other parts of your life. Are you lacking confidence at work over something your narcissist friend said? Have you given up on a goal they judged you for?
Pull out all the stops, then give them a chance to talk.
Be careful of falling for a lie, or letting the other person off with an insensitive response.
2. Set Boundaries
If your conversation is going nowhere, or if you see no signs of change after, it’s time to set boundaries.
Your boundaries will depend on the context of your narcissistic friendship.
For example, if the person is a coworker, you still have to be professional. This is not someone you can just cut out of your life.
It is a person who you have to learn to deal with, and who has to learn to respect you. Some boundaries to consider are changing your communication to email only or creating times you are unavailable. Also, consider reaching out to a manager or human resources.
Another case might be a narcissistic friendship you can’t seem to let go of. Maybe this person and you have a long history, or maybe you know they don’t have anyone else.
A good boundary can be limiting the amount of time you spend with them. If you have been feeling used, stop giving the person what they have been seeking from you and see what happens.
3. Create Distance
The ultimate boundary to set is creating distance between the two of you.
This goes beyond not talking as often or not giving them what they want. It is a choice you have to make to actively take a step back.
The less you do, the more the other person will get the message. Remember, a narcissist only thinks of themselves, so don’t expect them to get the hint easily.
Creating distance means fewer interactions across the board. Tell the other person you are busy when they want to see you. Limit the amount of time together if for whatever reason you do end up making plans.
However, keep in mind the best way to make your point is to not talk for a while. This means no texting, calling, or emails. It means no social media interactions, too.
Such actions might seem harsh or difficult at first, but they will get better with time. Creating distance in your narcissistic friendship is not just about improving how they treat you, it is about doing something for yourself.
You may even find a burst of confidence or other increases in good energy without the other person’s influence around as much.
Stand Your Ground in Your Narcissistic Friendship
Dealing with a narcissist is never easy, but there are things you can do to improve your situation.
If you have found yourself caught up in a narcissistic friendship, try the tips mentioned above. You owe it to yourself to be your own friend first.