How Do Narcissists Treat Their Friends? Spoiler, Not Good!

How do Narcissists treat their friends? The same way they treat everyone else – not great. Narcissists are not conscious of their character traits. What you will find is that the relationship is very one-sided, as in it’s all about them.

As much as the narcissist tries to act as if they care about their friends, their actions make it clear that their wants and needs are all they are concerned about.

If you are reading this, you’ve probably seen some red flags and you have started asking yourself questions like, can narcissists have friends? Or, do narcissists have true friends? The answer is found in the way they treat the people in their inner circle.

Narcissists and Friendship

What is a True Friendship?

Let’s start by defining true friendship; according to experts, a true friendship consists of seven pillars: Empathy, trust, selflessness, team players, humor, shared interests, and different perspectives. However, for the purpose of this article, I will focus on empathy, trust, and selflessness.  

Reading Suggestions:

Empathy: Empathy in a friendship means that when one person is discussing an issue, the other person listens, accepts what they are saying and tries to see things from their perspective. 

Trust: In order to build trust in a relationship, their must be a level of openness and vulnerability. Friends should trust that they can tell each other anything without being afraid that their business will end up all over social media. 

Selflessness: True friends will do anything for each other, they will cancel plans, take a flight, give the shirt off their back to ensure that they are giving their friend the support that they need. 

how do narcissists treat their friends?

Do Narcissists Have Friends?

Yes, but as you have read from the definition of friendship, the nature of their condition does not allow narcissists to have true friends. Narcissists have a lack of empathy, they may sit and listen to a friend’s problems, but they will quickly make that conversation about themselves.

Even if it means lying, the narcissist will start talking about how they had a similar problem but that it was much worse. The other person soon becomes irrelevant as the narcissist shamelessly dominates the discussion with tales of their adventurous life. 

Narcissists hate the idea of vulnerability, they will never open up to a friend because for one, they don’t understand themselves enough to do so. And two, narcissism is all about keeping up a facade, in the narcissists world, they don’t have problems. 

There is no such thing as selflessness to a narcissist, it’s all about them. Even if a friend were to call and ask for a favor and they were more than capable of doing it, the response would be a swift, “No” followed by an elaborate excuse as to why. 

Can Narcissists be Good Friends?

Friendship is a two-way street of give-and-take; it is built on mutual trust, loyalty, and empathy. By definition, narcissists have a lack of empathy and seldom are trustworthy or loyal, and therefore, incapable of being a genuine friend.

Like an addict, the narcissist has only one goal in mind- to secure sources of Narcissistic Supply. He or she does not need friendship with others for friendship’s sake.  To the narcissist, people are simply instruments to be manipulated for the sole purpose of producing Narcissistic Supply.

Typically, the narcissistic cycle involves over-valuing people whom they refer to as friends (as they are considered potential sources of Supply), using them, devaluing them (when the friends no longer are a good source of Supply), and then inexplicably discarding them.

Can Narcissists Have Long Term Friendships?

Narcissists don’t have actual friends. They surround themselves with acquaintances (or a posse) that they refer to as “friends”. Their friends enter and exit frequently in their life, throughout their lifetime, often very rapidly.

People may initially think that they are in a friendship, but soon learn they are instead in a one-way relationship whose only purpose is to gratify the narcissist’s need for a “fix” of Supply. If and when the “friend” looks for a reciprocal relationship, the narcissist becomes distant and nonchalantly ends the relationship.

Needless to say, this results in confusion for those unfortunate enough to have been lured into feigned friendship by a narcissist. As soon as the narcissist deems the friendship is coming to an end (if not sooner), he or she then begins to seek out other “friends” to become sources of Supply and the cycle continues.

How Do Narcissists Treat Their Friends?

A narcissistic friend sees himself or herself as superior, “special” compared to others. In order to maintain that superior position, he or she frequently devalues other people and actively tries to make them feel inferior.

The narcissist usually demands to be the center of attention and feels betrayed if their friends don’t follow his or her lead or plans. A narcissistic friend will expect you to hold the same opinions as them and not disagree.

Interestingly, a narcissist usually has low self-esteem which he or she tries to keep hidden from the world. This is manifested in difficulty accepting criticism, feeling embarrassed or ashamed of some aspect of himself, is easily hurt and feels rejection strongly. A narcissistic friend who doesn’t exhibit those symptoms externally might instead appear to be unemotional or detached.

Everyone who has ever had a friend as a narcissist will be able to sit down over coffee and discuss the dynamics of the relationship because their experiences will be the same.

9 Signs Your Friends is a Narcissist

Here are 9 signs that your friend is a narcissist to help you recognize them.

1. They Don’t Like Advice

When you offer a narcissist advice, they get defensive. As far as they are concerned, they know everything and they don’t need people telling them what to do. Another reason why narcissists get offended when you give them advice is that they interpret it as criticism. In the narcissist’s world, they are perfect, they don’t have any flaws and anyone who challenges this perceived image is seen as an enemy. 

2. Their Behaviour is Extreme

In the same way a narcissist will love bomb a romantic partner, they will do the same to their friends. When you first became friends, all you heard was how amazing you were, all your ideas were brilliant and you felt on top of the world when you were with them.

Slowly, the indirect insults started, your ideas were more likely to become a disaster than a success. Your clothes don’t look as good anymore and your skin is terrible. However, all the insults are thrown out with a hint of sarcasm so you are not sure whether they are serious or not. Every so often, your narcissistic friend will give you a compliment and you will feel that boost again. 

3. They Will Remind You of What They’ve Done For You

If a narcissist ever does you a favour, you will hear about it for the rest of the year. They will announce it whenever they get the opportunity, and if you ever dare and say “no” to one of their ridiculous requests, they will remind you of that one favour they did for you.

This is one of the character traits of a communal narcissist; it is a type of narcissism where the person feels they have a superior ability to connect with others because of the things they do for them. 

4. Their Way or the High Way

Narcissists don’t know how to compromise, which means that you can’t have your own opinion when you are around them. Narcissists think they know everything, so if they give you advice and you don’t take it, hell hath no fury like a narcissist scored!

5. You Feel Drained When You Are With Them

As cruel as narcissists can be, they know how to have a good time. They buy their friends lavish gifts, they tell exciting and jaw-dropping stories and they are always the life and soul of every party. However, this doesn’t last, as soon as they’ve got what they want from the friendship, they will switch on you.

Once they feel they’ve given you some of their energy by being the great entertainer, they want a return on their investment, and if they don’t get it, you’ll get it!. To get their supply, they become very demanding, and being around them is no longer exciting; in fact, it’s draining. When you leave their presence, you feel exhausted and undermined. 

6. They Talk About People Behind Their Backs

Narcissists don’t know the meaning of the word ‘loyalty.’ If you’ve got mutual friends, as soon as they have some juicy gossip, they will tell you all about it. Additionally, they are never happy for anyone when they have good news. They will find something to poke at. On the other hand, when something bad happens, they are ecstatic about it.

7. The Narcissist is Self Adsorbed

The narcissistic friend is completely self-absorbed. Everything in his or her environment- absolutely everything- is about him/her.

He or she will talk endlessly about and re-direct conversations back to, his or her own personal experiences, accomplishments, achievements, (successful) investments, (perfect) family and so on. Narcissists boast, flaunt, and even parade on their imaginary stage to catch the spotlight. You will always remain in his or her shadow.

8. They Have a Lack of Empathy

A narcissistic friend will demonstrate a significant lack of empathy. A lack of empathy is one of the most defining characteristics of a narcissist. He cannot put himself (or herself) in another person’s shoes or understand the other person’s feelings. The narcissist did not develop this ability as they were growing up. Do not expect that he or she will develop empathy as an adult.

9. They are Manipulative

Narcissists are cold and manipulative underneath their outward mask of warmth. They appear warm and charismatic in the beginning and in public.

But once they feel secure in their ability to get Supply from you, they start “forgetting” to call you, not showing up when they said they would, nonchalantly opting at the last minute to do something else with another person-sometimes not even bothering to cancel their plans with you. They are incapable of genuine warmth or putting your needs first

Do Some People Attract Narcissistic Friends?

Yes! According to psychologist Dr. Dana Dorfman, there are several groups of people who attract narcissists, here are some of them:

People Who Were Raised by Narcissists

The individual raised by a narcissistic parent will subconsciously seek out similar relationships whether platonic or romantic. Our emotional minds are drawn to familiarity, and this causes us to repeat behavioral patterns. 

Empathetic People

Narcissists and empaths are drawn to each other because they have the ability to feel on a level that they don’t, and they are an easy source of supply.

Empaths are naturally inclined to want to heal people, as a result, they will subject themselves to abusive relationships in the hopes that one day, their kindness will pay off, and the narcissist will become the loving and caring person they were destined to be. 

People With Low Self-Esteem

On some level, the majority of people suffer from low self-esteem. No matter how well-accomplished or attractive you are, we live in a society that promotes eternal dissatisfaction, and many people fall victim to this.

However, there are some men and women are more susceptible to it than others, and live in a perpetual state of feeling down about themselves.

They settle for relationships that don’t serve them because deep down, they don’t feel they deserve any better. Narcissists love people with low-self esteem because they are more likely to yield to their demands. 

People Pleasers

People-pleasing stems from a combination of low self-esteem and a fear of rejection. People who don’t value themselves are going to look for validation from others and will do anything to make people happy to get it.

Additionally, they are so afraid of being rejected, that they will agree to the person’s every demand in fear of losing them. 

How to Deal With a Narcissistic Friend?

Narcissists are notoriously difficult to deal with, and I am in no way suggesting that you end the narcissistic friendship, especially if you feel it is worth keeping. After all, narcissists are people too, and even if they don’t act like it, they do have feelings.

To start, how you handle the situation will depend on the extent of your friends narcissism. You see, narcissism is a spectrum disorder which means there are levels to it.

At the extreme end, you might want to cut your losses and leave, but if your friend is a low to medium spectrum narcissist, there are strategies you can implement to ensure your friendship remains relatively healthy:

1. Don’t Stoop to Their Level

Narcissists can be pretty mean at times, whether its through direct insults, sly comments or the way they treat other people, you might find yourself getting frustrated with your narcissist friend.

Instead of fighting fire with fire, treat them with kindness at all times. You can gently let your friend know that you are not impressed with their behaviour, but leave it at that. 

2. Create Boundaries

Narcissists don’t like boundaries, they think they have a special privilege to everyone’s time and space. If you are going to keep your sanity, you will need to put boundaries in place.

You can do this discreetly by keeping your phone on ‘do not disturb’ so they can’t reach you any time they feel like it. 

3. Suggest Counselling

Narcissists are wounded people and their behavior is the result of deep-rooted psychological issues. Despite their confident outer appearance, they suffer from very low esteem.

You can’t just come out and tell your narcissist friend that they need counseling, but you can suggest that you are thinking about seeing a therapist and you need moral support. In this way, you’ve planted a seed and given them something to think about. At a later date, they may seek professional help with or without letting you know. 

Final Thoughts About Narcissistic Friendships

Ending a Friendship With a Narcissist

If you are tired of the way your narcissistic friend is treating you, it might be time to cancel the friendship. Unfortunately, it is not the norm for narcissists to change; in most cases, they remain that way for the rest of their lives. It is important to remember that true friendships are built on mutual connections of trust, empathy, and selflessness. Narcissists don’t possess these character traits which makes it very difficult for them to maintain a friendship that isn’t all about them. 

Confronting The Narcissist

One of the worst things you can do is tell a narcissist you know they are a narcissist. They will literally go flip mode on you, and you will experience narcissistic rage at its finest. Narcissists can’t bear the thought of being exposed, and they will do everything in their power to maintain the false character they have worked so hard to develop.

You might think it’s a good idea to approach your friend, that by having a heart to heart with them, you can salvage the friendship – bad idea! Narcissists don’t think or behave like normal people, and what you meant as a good intention will backfire. 

How To Deal with a Narcissistic Friend?

The best advice I can give you when it comes to dealing with a narcissistic friend is to keep them at arm’s length. Create boundaries and stick to them; eventually, the narcissist will abandon the friendship because you are no longer of any benefit to them.

Once you are free, pay close attention to the character traits of the next person you are thinking about adding to your inner circle. If there are any signs of narcissistic traits, run in the opposite direction.

Do you have a friend who is a Narcissist? Please share your stories with me in the comments below.

being friends with a narcissist

Written by Alexander Burgemeester on

Alexander Burgemeester has a Master in Neuropsychology. He studied at the University of Amsterdam and has a bachelor's in Clinical Psychology. He devotes himself to writing important information about certain mental health topics like Narcissism and Relationship problems. He is the main author of all content on Thenarcissisticlife.com Want to know more? Read by author bio page.