I had a friendship break up a little more than a year ago and it was an eye-opening experience for me. I think of myself as a pretty discerning person but I was amazed that under the spell of a narcissist even the most discerning person can be bamboozled.
When the friendship first dissolved I remember feeling rejected and that I had done something wrong. I tried to think back to the friendship and a place where I had messed up or offended the person. I should have known then that something had been off balance in our relationship for a long time, probably from the beginning gin reality, but I placed the blame on myself. Because that’s how narcissist work.
I think that my eye opening happened one day when I was thinking again about how I should call her and apologize, for what I didn’t even know. I finally had this ah-ha moment where I was like, you know there was this time and that time that she said things that hurt me and I blew them off because we were friends. I started to think back to how our relationship had changed over the years. In the beginning she was a person who I relied on for a lot of advice. About six months before the split happened I stopped relying on her as much. She seemed to be in a state of being very negative and I felt myself getting drug into her negativity. Rather than just letting her go on and on about things I started trying to be more positive. Rather than letting her convince me that something was wrong I started disagreeing with her. And that didn’t fly.
When I agreed with her and when she was in a since controlling me she had the power. When I stopped doing what she wanted and behaving how she wanted she couldn’t take it. Because a narcissist must be in control. They must be driving the show and you are along for the ride. The minute that you stand up to a narcissist they are going to leave you in the dust because they can’t and will not deal with what they think is dissension in the ranks.
You are there for one reason and one reason only. To feed the narcissist need for being needed and being in control.
Being away from the situation for so long I have been able to see somethings that I should have recognized sooner…
- They are likable. The craziest thing is that a narcissist is likable. Very likable. You will want to be friends with them and so do others which is what makes you think you are wrong when you start picking up on their character flaws.
- They are always the victim. They are never wrong. Never. Their advice is always right, they are right in every argument and in any altercation. It starts to feel like trouble finds them.
- Appearance is everything. Not just talking about looks here. It goes far beyond that. They have an incredible need to control how people see them. The narcissist is the most dangerous when they think that their real self will be exposed.
- They do not like criticism. This goes back to number two. They have an incredible need to always be right. If they state something as fact and they are indeed wrong, they will never admit it and if you point it out you will likely be cut off.
- They usually do not have a close friend group. Narcissist have friends but not usually close friends. Being too close means that someone could see the real person and expose them. They must control how much someone knows about them.
- There is usually baggage from the past. Typically, this baggage is going to be relationship baggage. Bad marriages or bad relationships with family. Friends who they have lost over the years. All of this will be explained to you in a way that again they are the victim and that these people wronged them. Never the other way around.
- Negativity. A narcissist has a tough time being positive or being with positive people. Everything is always done to them. They gain happiness from others misfortune. It’s a lifeline for them to swim in negativity.
- They are not happy for your accomplishments and will not encourage your ideas. The Narcissist needs you to need them which means they don’t want you to accomplish anything outside of our relationship with them. They don’t want you to succeed so they will discourage ideas you have. This will come across as thinly veiled concern for you. “That’s a great idea but I think you are too sensitive of a person to take the negativity that will come from exposing yourself like that”
- They put you down. This is a hard one to identify because it will not be an overt put down. Narcissist are professional liars and “spinners” as I like to say. They know how to word what they say. They know the exact thing to say that will get in your head and stay with you for weeks having you reassess what you talked about repeatedly.
- Emotionally exhausting. The last point perfectly leads into this one. Their relationship will leave you feeling exhausted. They are times that you will finish a conversation and feel like you need a nap. They inundate you with words. This is partially to keep you guessing so you can’t focus on what the significant issues are.
- Will not validate your feelings. If you ever argue with a Narcissist they will never validate you feelings. They use this as an opportunity to again control you and the narrative. Even if you apologize they will turn the story around to make you feel like you have blown the whole thing out of proportion and that you are solely wrong.
- Authoritative statements. They must be the expert. The Narcissist must be seen as the person who has all the answers. This plays into the need to be needed by you. They will speak with the air that they are an expert on the subject even when they don’t know the answer.
- Lack of empathy. The old saying is put yourself in someone else’s shoes. The narcissist has no comprehension of this. They don’t know how to feel for another person–likely because they can’t feel for themselves. They will never give anyone the benefit of the doubt and can be very hard on people who are in bad positions in their lives.
- Lashes out when challenged. If you challenge the narcissist you never know what you will get. They will lash out although it may not be in your face. If can be as simple as divulging a secret to another person or starting a rumor. They will get revenge. They always do.
- They want to control how others see you. This is the most important and scariest thing about a narcissist and why it’s better to just move on and leave them alone rather than challenging them. They will control how others see you. Remember back to the charismatic and authoritative gregarious person you met. Chances are that’s how others see them too. Why would a person like they just make up a lie about you? They will tell what ever story they need to tell that paints you a the and them as the victim.
Looking back, I feel stupid that I didn’t see who this person was sooner. In a way though I am happy that it happened when it did. It definitely made me reevaluate how I look at potential friends, gave me triggers to identify in people and made me appreciate the real friends that I have.