Friendships can majorly impact your health and well-being, but it’s not always easy to develop or maintain friendships, especially when you have a narcissistic personality disorder.
Human connection and social bonds form our emotional well-being, providing us with support, understanding, and a sense of belonging. Even when we lived in caves, we had friends; they helped us survive and become what we are today.
However, cultivating and maintaining genuine friendships can be difficult for individuals with narcissistic traits. You may be considering friendship with a person with NPD and wondering if you should run for the hills.
This article will explore the complex relationship between narcissism and friendship.
Why Can’t Narcissists Maintain Friendships?
Narcissists do not possess the necessary qualities to acquire and maintain real friendships. Friendship is self-serving to narcissists; they cannot consider the other person’s feelings or desires. Friendships are just another way for the narcissist to get supply.
True friendship consists of empathy, trust, selflessness, teamwork, humor, shared interests and different perspectives. These qualities are not in the wheelhouse of the narcissist, making it difficult for them to maintain meaningful connections.
Let’s explore the seven pillars of friendship as they relate to narcissistic personality disorder:
One of the defining characteristics of narcissism is the inability to empathize with others. Narcissists cannot understand and share the feelings of others. They are very self-centred, only focusing on their own needs. This makes it difficult for them to connect with friends and support them.
Narcissists have a deep-seated insecurity and fear of being exposed or rejected, making it hard for them to trust. Trust takes a degree of vulnerability, and narcissists hate being vulnerable. Narcissists only trust themselves.
Individuals with NPD are inherently selfish. Everything they do revolves around themselves. They do what they want, when they want, with little regard for its effect on others. They are very unreliable when it comes to friendships.
Narcissists cannot put the team’s good above the individual’s. Their self-centred nature makes them prioritize their own goals and needs. They cannot collaborate effectively, making teamwork challenging.
Narcissists possess a sense of humor, but it varies from what we expect. They may use humor to gain admiration or manipulate others. Their humor revolves around building themselves up, putting others down, or seeking attention.
Narcissists lack genuine curiosity and show limited interest in anything that doesn’t serve their self-centred needs. They take more than they give in conversations, offering little intellectual or emotional stimulation. This hinders their ability to have shared interests.
We all need friends with different perspectives; this is how we grow. However, the narcissist is only interested in themselves instead of being a well-rounded human being. They see everything through the lens of how it can benefit them.
Individuals with narcissistic traits lack the essential qualities to foster genuine and meaningful friendships. Friendship thrives on mutual trust, loyalty, and empathy, notably absent in narcissistic individuals. Their inherent lack of empathy and tendency towards untrustworthiness and disloyalty make them incapable of being true friends.
Do Narcissists Value Friendship?
No, they see friendship as a source of narcissistic supply. For individuals with a narcissistic personality disorder, every relationship is transactional. It’s all about the narcissist and what they can get from this friendship; there is usually a lack of mutual respect and consideration.
Narcissists do have friends, but it is defined differently than normal friendships. Non-narcissists pick friends based on shared interests, a desire to learn more about the other person, and to form a meaningful connection.
Narcissists choose friends based on what they can provide to the narcissist. They may select friends in positions of power to boost their image or befriend those they perceive as weaker to feel superior. These relationships are transactional, where each party’s actions serve the narcissist’s self-interest.
Friendships with a narcissist tend to be superficial and unstable. They can end abruptly based on the narcissist’s needs and interests. These unstable friendships often leave the other person confused about what went wrong. Due to a lack of empathy, narcissists rarely form true friendships; the non-narcissist will usually walk away seeking friendship with somebody capable of genuine, meaningful connections.
How Does A Narcissist Make Friends?
A narcissist uses their charisma and social skills to attract new friends. Narcissists are impressive at first impressions; they use their manipulative skills to make the prospective friend think they are the most fantastic person in the world. However, this is just a facade, hiding their insecurities.
People with narcissistic personality disorder find it easy to meet people; they seem very personable and friendly, like the perfect friendship candidate. This allows them to pick and choose their victims, finding the perfect target.
Here are a few ways narcissists will make friends:
- Charm and charisma
Narcissists are very skilled at presenting themselves as charming and engaging individuals. They possess charisma, confidence, and the ability to draw others in initially. They are excellent at making new people like them.
- Selective Targeting
Narcissists strategically choose friends who can fulfill their narcissistic needs and boost their self-image. They may seek out individuals who hold positions of power or influence, as associating with them can help bolster their status.
- Flattery and Admiration
Narcissists will often use flattery to manipulate people into liking them. They may shower somebody with compliments and gifts in the initial stages of friendship. However, this will change as the friendship progresses.
- Manipulation and Exploitation
Narcissists may exploit the vulnerabilities or weaknesses of others to their advantage. They may use manipulation tactics, such as playing mind games or creating dependency, to gain control and maintain their position of power within the friendship.
- Projection of Confidence
Narcissists are outwardly confident, which can appeal to some individuals when looking for friendship. They may attract others initially drawn to their seemingly strong and charismatic personality. Their false confidence makes it seem like they have something to offer to a friendship.
If you suspect that a new friend you made at yoga class may be a bit of a narcissist, keep an eye out for these signs. By recognizing these signs, you can determine if you’re dealing with a narcissist and whether or not you should proceed.
How Does Narcissism Affect Friendships?
Narcissism affects the quality of friendships. They tend to be shallow and superficial, lacking any meaningful connection. The narcissist will always prioritize their own needs over the needs of others, making friendships very one-sided. There is also a lot of manipulation involved.
When considering a relationship with a narcissist, you need to know exactly what to expect. It comes with a lot of undesired consequences that can seriously impact your life. They are unlikely to change unless they put in serious effort.
Let’s explore ways that narcissism affects friendships:
- It pushes friends away
Individuals with a narcissistic personality disorder don’t like letting themselves be vulnerable, always keeping their guard up. This stops people from forming solid friendships with them; nobody can get behind the mask.
- Boundaries will become non-existent
Narcissists are notoriously bad at respecting the boundaries of other people. They won’t apologize for crossing a boundary or reflect on what they have done to change. If you show signs you’re upset because your boundaries have been crossed, they will find some way to play the victim.
- Patience will wear thin
It can be tiresome to deal with all the constant lies a narcissist tells. They lie about everything, making it impossible to tell if they have ever told the truth. For some people, it can just be too much. Lies and manipulation will exhaust people, increasing their likelihood of walking away.
- Feelings will be ignored
As mentioned earlier, narcissists are unempathetic. They do not care if you feel sad or uncomfortable because of their actions. All relationships revolve around the feelings of the narcissist. They have no problem throwing a friend under the bus to protect themselves.
Narcissists must be the center of attention, constantly competing with you to be in the spotlight. They will often put their friends down to make themselves look better. If you receive positive attention for something, they will try to steal it.
Narcissists love to guilt-trip. Whenever people don’t act as they prefer, they blame you for upsetting them and try to frame themselves as the victim while you are the villain. They love to make people feel sorry for them.
If you are in a friendship negatively affected by narcissism, please consult a mental health professional to figure out what is best for you. If the narcissistic qualities of your friend are taking a toll on your mental health, it may be time to walk away.
Do Narcissists Want To Remain Friends With Each Other?
Yes, narcissists tend to befriend others with the same dark personality traits. They are initially attracted to people with similar characteristics because they can relate to and have similar motivations behind their behaviors. The narcissistic traits tend to complement each other well.
Narcissists often find satisfaction in friendships with people who understand their narcissistic traits such as grandiosity, need for attention, and need to control. They may consistently seek validation from each other. Narcissists can help strengthen each other’s egos. The self-centredness of narcissists can create difficulties in maintaining friendships with each other. Conflict is common due to egos clashing and constant power struggles.
Additionally, narcissists struggle to tolerate the traits they perceive as weak in their friends. They may be quick to discard or devalue friendships if the person fails to meet their expectations.
While narcissists may initially be drawn to each other, maintaining friendships between narcissistic individuals can be challenging due to their self-centeredness, competitive dynamics, and difficulty with empathy and vulnerability. The sustainability of these friendships often depends on the specific personalities, goals, and dynamics at play within the narcissistic individuals involved.
Maintaining friendships for individuals with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) poses significant challenges due to their inherent traits and behaviors. The seven pillars of friendship – empathy, trust, selflessness, being team players, humor, shared interests, and different perspectives – are not qualities typically found in narcissists, making it difficult for them to establish and sustain meaningful connections.
Narcissists view friendships as a source of narcissistic supply, using them to fulfill their needs and bolster their self-image. Their friendships tend to be superficial and transactional, lacking mutual respect and consideration. The narcissist may selectively target individuals who can enhance their status or exploit the vulnerabilities of others for their benefit.
Narcissism affects the quality of friendships, resulting in shallow and one-sided relationships where the narcissist prioritizes their own needs above others. Conflicts may arise due to the narcissist’s disregard for boundaries and lack of empathy, leaving the non-narcissistic friend resentful or hurt. Establishing and communicating personal boundaries is crucial while being prepared to distance oneself from toxic friendships.
Narcissists may form friendships with others who share similar dark personality traits. However, maintaining friendships between narcissistic individuals can be challenging due to their competitive dynamics, clashes of egos, and difficulty with vulnerability and empathy.
While friendships with narcissists can have negative consequences, it is essential to have realistic expectations and assess whether the positive aspects of the relationship outweigh the negatives. Ultimately, the sustainability of friendships with narcissists depends on the specific personalities and dynamics within the individuals involved.
A resilient writer who has emerged from addiction, depression, and anxiety with a renewed sense of purpose and a powerful voice. His journey has shaped his writing, allowing him to explore the complexities of the human condition intimately. Also blogging about mental health at www.medium.com/@Patrickmeowler