By Isabel Davidson
Over the summer, I was unknowingly close friends with a Narcissist. If I had read an article like this before I figured out who they truly are, it would have saved me eight months of my life. Although some of you reading could be friends with such a person, you could read this article and never even think twice about their character, depending on how well they cover themselves up. I have spent what seems like a million hours researching Cluster B Personality Disorders, and I noticed this friend had traits of all of them, although the most from Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
I encourage you to read this with an open mind. You will see text messages sent from the friend over the summer underneath the descriptions. I have blocked the name for privacy purposes, and I feel as though they will help you see how manipulative they are. I was fooled for too long, and I hope that this article will help others.
1.They will build up their life story to you – a lot. They act as if they’ve gone through major obstacles in their life, for example poverty and abuse. This gets them sympathy, and adds to their own “grandiosity.” It makes them look good to others, maybe even to themselves. It’s a form of pathological lying, and the stories may even seem believable at first. But the more you get to know them, and the more they talk about their life, you’ll be able to find some cracks in the stories. The stories will get bigger and bigger, and over time barely even plausible. Below are text messages from the first few weeks of our friendship, when he was letting tiny little stories of his life into our conversations. He actually pushed his life details in when it wasn’t really appropriate. Within the next few months, the stories jumped to things like he “once went to a party and Leelah Alcorn was there, and he talked to her.” Many times he told me stories of how he was abused by members of family and extended family, but the stories were odd and without detail. The most recent lie was “a friend died,” and when I asked the name of the friend, I had to pry it out, him even accusing me of “not believing him.” I looked up the obituary and found nothing, and when I confronted him about it, he said, “well, she didn’t really die, just attempted suicide.” When I went further and called him on it, he admitted the friend never really existed.
2. Relating back to number 1: when you ask them questions about their hardships, they’ll barely go into details. Or sometimes, not even at all. A lot of the time, they will quickly change the subject onto something else. Although they are highly intelligent and usually do a good job of keeping up with their lies, they will distract you with something else so they don’t run the risk of messing up a lie.
3. They are overly confident in themselves. Those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder are mentally unable to realize if they’re being cocky or if they’re wrong. The Narcissist will constantly say things like “I’m cute,” or “I’m attractive,” sometimes to fish for compliments. When it comes to life advice, they’re extremely quick to dole it out, usually stating, “I’m rarely wrong” or a phrase of the sort. They will believe they’re better than you in a variety of ways, and they’re confident that they know what’s best (even though they don’t).
4. They will insult people, and then when they’re called on it, they’ll act like they weren’t even insulting the person at all. They’ll make an excuse, and most of the time they’ll convince you that you misunderstood them. But when they hear someone else hurling insults, they’ll be the first to mention that they never insult people, or something else that gives the illusion they have the higher moral ground. They are hypercritical of others, and don’t ever realize that they’ve hurt someone else’s feelings. Below is a message where he put down my friend’s hairstyle then denied he meant it in a bad way, and the other where he put down my family when I invited him to see my friend’s band play in a restaurant, even though we constantly bought him things.
5. This way is especially terrifying, because it deals with the kind of manipulation that makes you feel bad about yourself. Also known as “gaslighting,” they will try to make you question your own sanity. Whether it be over time or when you call them on some unacceptable thing that they did, they will mess with your mind. Why this can be so scary is that usually you will end up questioning your sanity. After you’ve talked to them and they’ve gaslighted you, you will view them as something close to a God, and you will feel guilty that you ever complained to them and feel terrible about yourself. And for awhile, it will never occur to you that you’re being gaslighted. The first message is from early in our friendship, even though I had never revealed any members of my family having mental illness, and the last few are from our last conversation, after I confronted him about a few of his lies. See how when I confronted him, he immediately tried to turn it around on me.
6. Narcissists believe they are better than everyone else, and that other people are barely worth their time. They will illustrate this trait by speaking to you in a condescending manner. They will often use words like “childish” or “naive” to describe you, which simultaneously makes you feel bad about yourself and makes you look at them as the smartest person you know.
7. They will freak out when you don’t text them back immediately. This is a trait of Histrionic Personality Disorder: they have to constantly be your center of attention. They will boast to you about how many friends they have, but when you show interest to other people, they will become jealous and desperate. Although they will pass it off as though they were teasing you if you call them on it, they will make you feel terrible about not replying. I have about sixteen messages of him asking, “are you mad at me?” when I haven’t texted for awhile. By acting like a victim, the Narcissist manipulates you into working harder to pay them more attention.
8. Another way they’re manipulative is they view people as pawns. Humans to them are barely human beings at all, they’re merely things the Narcissist can use to get what they want.
9. They lack empathy. Although this particular person talked about saving the planet and helping others, deep down they only say it to make themselves look thoughtful. But really, they aren’t thoughtful, they’re extremely egocentric. They are mentally unable to understand how people grieve, for example. Below is a conversation where I was talking about the death of a very close friend of mine, and going to a birthday party for her that her parents put on, and also a fundraising event for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society, something her parents, my friends, and myself helped raise money for. He seemed to not understand why her family and I was so upset over her death. They will never understand how deep feelings work, and if they’re not as meticulous as they usually are, they can accidentally let loose that they don’t care.
10. They have very little sense of humor, usually only finding mild puns and sarcastic cracks funny. This is because they lack empathy, so they are unable to pick up and understand the context of other people’s jokes. While they are able to make others laugh, this is not the same as a sense of humor. The first text is from when I had food poisoning, and the second is when I recommended the TV show “New Girl.”
In conclusion, I encourage you to never confront someone who you may perceive as a Narcissist. There are many other traits I have not added, and a lot of the times the Narcissist could be very dangerous. Just because someone might have these traits, doesn’t mean they could have Narcissistic Personality Disorder. If talking to a friend like this or even just being around them makes you feel bad about yourself, it’s definitely time to ditch and find a new friend.