10 Warning Signs Your Friend Might Be A Narcissist

by Shellie Renee'

A narcissist, in the simplest terms, is someone who has a huge ego. Narcissists’ inflated sense of self manifests in such a way that they simply don’t care how their words or actions affect other people.

That said, no one wants to admit — to themselves or to others — that they are a narcissist. While many of us have at least one narcissistic trait, there’s a difference between occasional self-involvement and clinical narcissism. But many people do have someone in their lives who is a true narcissist (perhaps even a family member or a friend).

The good news is that once you know the signs that are associated with narcissism and are able to recognize them, you can start setting healthy boundaries.

By setting these boundaries, you can help ensure that your relationship with a narcissist doesn’t drain your time, effort, and energy.

To learn about the warning signs that your friend or family member might be a narcissist — and to find out what you can do to protect yourself — read on.

What Is a Narcissist?

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As we’ve already touched on, many people have at least one or two narcissistic tendencies. We’re human, after all! But when someone is a bona fide narcissist, that is considered a diagnosed personality disorder.

For people to know if they have this disorder, they need to see a licensed therapist and be professionally diagnosed. An official diagnosis means a person identifies with five or more of the symptoms associated with narcissism.

Why a Narcissist Is (Emotionally) Dangerous

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Once you are clear on what a narcissist is, you can better understand why such people are considered emotionally dangerous individuals.

People with this condition can actually be so destructive to others that many experts on narcissism say that “friend” isn’t the appropriate word to use to describe narcissists’ relationships with other people in their lives. According to Psychology Today, a more appropriate term is “supply,” with narcissists acting as emotional leeches who emotionally drain other individuals for their personal gain.

Now that you know a bit about how a typical narcissist relates to others, here are some of the signs that one (or more) of your friends just might be one.

Signs to Look Out For

1. They Have a Sense of Entitlement

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Normal relationships should be about give and take. But when you are in a relationship with a narcissistic individual, rarely is the narcissist on the giving end. Usually, all a narcissist does is take.

What makes matters even worse is that narcissists don’t tend to show a lot of gratitude for what you do for them. Instead, they act as if they are entitled to whatever it is you have that they want: money, clothes, or even your feelings and time. If they have a need and you can meet it, they expect you to do it. Period.

2. They Have a “Split Personality”

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Because narcissists can at first come across as particularly nice and charming (something experts call the “love bombing” stage) and then cold and disconnected, some therapists say that those with a narcissistic disorder basically live like they have a split personality — that they are unstable, at best.

If you always find yourself walking on eggshells around one of your friends because you don’t know which “version” of that person you’re dealing with at any given time, that’s not only unhealthy but another indication that you could be in the presence of a narcissistic individual.

3. They Lack Empathy or Compassion for Others

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A signature trait of narcissists is their ability to cut out people who are no longer “of use” to them without any kind of regret or remorse. Therapists call this the “idealize, discard, and devalue” process.

According to this theory, narcissists first build you up so you will let your guard down. Then they eventually begin to say and do things that make you question your value as a human being. Once they know you’re both attached to them and at a low point personally, they’ll discard (i.e., abandon) you.

Why do they do this? Believe it or not, their ego is so big that they find a twisted pleasure in hurting you. They like knowing that they matter so much to you that they are able to cause you pain. (Sick, right?)

4. They Have an Excess of Pride

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Although it’s good to have a healthy sense of self-confidence, a narcissist’s need for pride is on an entirely different level. They’re always talking about themselves, name-dropping, taking selfies, and building themselves up — even if that means tearing you (or others) down in the process.

5. They Don’t Accept Responsibility for Their Actions

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Narcissists are master deflectors.

Consider this situation: Your friend says something to you that offends you, and you call your friend out on it. Rather than hearing you out and looking for a way to make amends or apologize, narcissists find a way to make their mistake be your fault. After all, it takes humility for people to be willing to see the areas where they can change and grow.

Narcissists are too arrogant to do this and refuse to take direct responsibility for their actions. They’ll deflect blame at all costs.

6. They Don’t Admit They’re Wrong or Apologize

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Speaking of humility…

If you’re reading this and wondering whether a particular person in your life is a narcissist, think about this: When is the last time that person admitted that she was wrong or apologized to you for something she did? If your answer is “never,” that’s another red flag.

According to Psychology Today, apologies from narcissists are “rarely verbal and never admissions of guilt or an invitation [to] talk things over.” Instead, narcissists will make “reparative gestures” to indirectly make amends, without admitting they did something wrong in the first place.

In other words, if you’re waiting for a narcissist to explicitly cop to personal errors, you’ll probably be waiting a really long time. Why? Because narcissists don’t really think that they have any faults. Not a single one.

7. They Are Perfectionists

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If you think that you’re the best thing in the world, then you probably also assume that means you can do no wrong. That’s another classic sign of narcissists — they are the ultimate perfectionists.

While it’s always smart to want to do your best, you won’t live your best life if you think that you shouldn’t ever be allowed to make a mistake. Narcissists don’t get this. As a result, they hold themselves to an unrealistic standard, and they usually do the same thing to those around them.

That tends to lead to the next glaring red flag.

8. They Are Anxious — A Lot

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How can anyone be a perfectionist and not feel stressed and anxious much of the time? According to experts, the superiority complex of narcissists can lead to anxiety when they struggle to uphold the high expectations they’ve placed on themselves. This even has physical repercussions. Chronic anxiety disorders can lead to heart disease, thyroid problems, and even substance abuse.

Perhaps you’ve happened to notice that some of your friends can never relax, or that they make it really difficult for you to do so when you’re with them. While that doesn’t automatically make them narcissists, it’s not something that should be ignored either — especially if you’ve noticed any of the other red flags we’ve mentioned.

9. They Don’t Respect Boundaries

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Boundaries? What are those? That’s what narcissists think in all of their relationships. They don’t respect the word “no.” They blame others for things that they do. They belittle the opinions — and decisions — of others. In short, they have no respect for others.

If you have a relationship with a narcissist — whether platonic, familial, or romantic — it’s key to set up solid boundaries with that person, since narcissists are incapable of doing so themselves.

10. They Carry Shame

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When you stop and think of all of the havoc that narcissists wreak in the lives of others, it probably comes as no surprise that they secretly carry a lot of shame. In fact, psychotherapist and author Joseph Burgo told Business Insider that intense feelings of shame in their early lives can actually be the reason why some people become narcissists.

“Someone who becomes a narcissist decides ‘I’m not going to be this shame-ridden damaged person, I’m going to be this winner,'” Joseph explained. “These defenses take hold, and the more shame they feel, the more they defend against it, and it’s like a shell walling the person off from that central feeling of defect or damage.”

Is There a Cure for Narcissism?

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What if someone is a narcissist and wants to change? The first thing for a potential narcissist to do is figure out if he simply has a lot of narcissistic tendencies or if he has a legitimate narcissistic personality disorder.

In both cases, therapy is usually required. Additionally, those who are diagnosed with the disorder might also need medication to deal with symptoms of anxiety or depression that could be directly associated with the narcissistic behavior.

How to Handle a Narcissist

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And what should you, the victim of a narcissist, do to heal from the narcissist’s mental and emotional abuse?

First, set some boundaries. If that means ending your relationship with the person (at least for a season), so be it.

Second, don’t allow the narcissist to manipulate you into not doing what’s best for you. Remember, since narcissists are more interested in their needs being met — even if it’s at your expense — they will be willing to play a role to get you to do what they want you to do.

Finally, consider seeing a therapist/counselor yourself. These experts are well-versed in what narcissists do to the people in their lives, and they are professionally trained to provide you with the tips and perspectives you need to distance yourself from narcissists. That way, you can have healthier relationships with kinder, more generous, supportive, caring, and loving people — the kind of individuals that you truly deserve.