August 16, 2010

Her Royal Highness is not your Best Friend

Cleopatra by J.W. Waterhouse

A reader recently commented on this blog post: Gossip, Rumors and Smear Campaigns

She wrote: "Thank you for writing this post…I have been the victim of online gossip started about me behind my back by none other than my best friend of many years!! I was so shocked, but to be honest…It's like I was fighting a losing battle trying to get her to see sense. In the end after confronting her I got an apology which turned out to be false… making me out to be the bad guy as usual… 
She often puts me down albeit in a sort of jokey way to make it look better than it is, she does this to all friends including her husband on a daily basis and nothing her husband does is ever right she is always moaning about how he does something it has to be her way or she has to be the one who knows better so you have to do what she says.
We've been friends so long, she stuck around when I lost my family to cancer, others didn't stand by and I was on my own a lot of the time, I felt isolated and very vulnerable, but she was there to talk to...Now though, I know for my health that we should probably not speak, she is a toxic friend to have around, in fact---what friend is she to do that to someone? Not a friend obviously, yet I can't seem to just walk away.
It was 5 weeks today since I spoke, and I went and sent her a's not like I won't make other friends I know my trust will start to grow as I grow in confidence again. I think my family's passing has impacted upon my confidence in such a way as for me to think there's still something worth holding onto in an old relationship because it's an old relationship, despite how hurt I end up, sometimes I have actually felt I don't deserve a good friend, or I am so incompetent...etc. My self esteem is pretty low at the moment.
As i said in previous post self esteem is low, thank you for this article and this website as a whole I am starting to feel that I am not alone in this, and that I can loose these toxic friendships and go forward into better ones as I grow in strength. I also feel that I am now awake to these issues and can fully see the true colours of my friends. Now my rose tinted glasses are off!!!" ~Anonymous

To all my friends sporting rose-colored glasses, this post might explain why a friend cuts you down in front of others, talks behind your back, insults, diminishes your light, throws a bucket of water on your fire, sticks a knife in your back, slams home an insult, undermines your confidence, picks on you, jokes about things that aren’t funny, slights your character, and insists you’re best friends while treating you like an enemy!

Well, we may have rose-colored glasses on but we aren’t completely deluded. We’re just confused. We have a difficult time making sense of evidence contradicting our beliefs. In the case of someone we consider to be a best friend (or a lover, as the case may be), it doesn’t make sense to be insulted. Instead of putting all the pieces together and concluding this person is not our best friend, we question our perceptions and this, my friends, is how we stay entangled with a confusing, un-amusing, somewhere-on-the-continuum abusing narcissist.

I felt there might be something useful in my reply that would help other people recognize when a "best friend" is pizzing on your boots and telling you it’s raining. You can put the pieces together IF you understand the narcissist’s mentality. How he or she operates. How they use people’s most precious feelings against them.

I hope you are comfortable with me replying on a separate message, anonymous. Your situation is common and yes, I’ve been there too. Thank you for reading my blog and for writing to me. I appreciate each person who wades through my writings and finds something that’s useful!

Dear Anon,

It sounds like you feel obligated to remain friends with her because she was there to support you in a time of grief and loss. As callous as my comment may sound, narcissists feel superior to us when we are ‘low’. As long as they remain the strong one, the one we rely on when we’re suffering, they are feeding their sense of superiority.

We assume they are empathetic to our pain and for that we are grateful. However, when the tables turn and we are back on our feet, the narcissist will attempt to keep us in an inferior position---even if that means gossiping about us. Revealing our intimate secrets. Criticizing us. In a ridiculous way, asserting their superiority over a friend they need to be weaker than themselves.

You pulled yourself up by the bootstraps even if the narcissist was there to witness your recovery.

Remember this: The narcissist operates on a consistent drive to see themselves as superior to others. This includes being the person other people rely on for strength.

When a narcissistic friend listens to our troubles and supports us, we feel grateful---they feel grandiose. Then, when we are back on our feet, the narcissistic friend is ‘threatened’. Now he or she will react to our resiliency as if it were a threat to their superiority. We don’t need them the way we did. We can support ourselves and this threatens their grandiosity. Make sense? 

If your so-called friend has shown you, through her actions, that she is willing to destroy you to serve her 'image', then take a hard look at your tender gratitude and question whether or not you are being haunted by obligation

Narcissists ‘hook us’ into remaining humble and oh-so-grateful for their friendship. You can keep your appreciation to yourself. You don’t have to become her indentured servant simply because she was there when other people couldn't be.

Narcissists frequently come to the rescue because they are not overwhelmed by their emotions and empathy. Sometimes our really good friends are so impacted by our suffering that they withdraw--not because they do not care. But because they do. You hurt. They hurt. They feel helpless to alleviate your pain.

When our friends continue to suffer with us (because they have deep feelings and empathize with us), they may step back for awhile though they may regret not being able to support us the way we need them to. Their withdrawal opens a vacancy creating space for the non-empathic narcissist to step in like a hero and listen to us intently—not because they are suffering with us, of course; but because they are not impacted the way normal people are.

She helped you. That’s great. Narcissists aren’t complete assholes. What you have to pay attention to is how she treats you once you are back on your feet and don’t need her constant support. Her reaction to your resiliency tells the tale of the narcissistic do-gooder. Her royal highness. Get my metaphor here: HIGHness.

You might text her now and then because you appreciate what she did for you when you needed someone to listen. But please, have no illusions that her support was based on empathy and equality. And be careful with whatever you might say to her. Sounds to me like there is nothing she won't do to prove her superiority. Such as accusing you of using her; accusing you of being ungrateful; accusing you of being self-centered. As you know, this is how narcissists perceive other people because this is how they are themselves.

You will also find that by setting limits on your relationship, your self-esteem will increase. Maybe even dramatically. When we feel powerless to help ourselves or prevent being hurt by someone, our self-esteem lowers.

Setting healthy boundaries between yourself and someone who has proven she is not your friend, is Taking Exquisite Care of Your Self. Because YOU are worth it. Your feelings of incompetence will decrease when you trust your perceptions, your feelings, and your experiences and take appropriate action to protect yourself.



  1. Hi CZ,

    What a great reply! It was just what I needed to read today.
    I recently formed a friendship with a person who I believed to be a narcissist but then, I doubted myself and went back for more. It took me a few times to get it.
    The reason I couldn't believe it is because it's been little over one year ago that I ended a rel. with a narcissist and couldn't accept I'd met another one.
    At least I can say I met this person because we are neighbors. Somehow that makes me feel better than feeling like I went out and met him -- but not much.
    I felt obligated to keep the relationship going because of the neighborly thing. I've always wanted to have friendly relations with neighbors and have managed to do that. This guy said he wanted to be my friend and we talked about doing things together, like gathering wood for fires in the winter.
    I got my boots pizzed on several times.
    I just couldn't accept this person's narcissistic behavior. I thought why would he be so rude to me? A nice person? Someone who could be his friend? And blah blah blah.
    None of that matters to a narcissist. The person put me down every single time I saw him and then once he met my son and put him down. Well, that was that. I thought. But then like you say --
    "we question our perceptions and this, my friends, is how we stay entangled with a confusing, un-amusing, somewhere-on-the-continuum abusing narcissist."
    It seems to be my personal lesson in life to stop questioning my perceptions and it seems to be quite the challenge.
    My son only met him once and said he thought the guy was a bully.
    I sure need to work on setting healthy boundaries. In the case of being neighbors, this means (I think) not going around this person at all. In fact, if I go past hello with him he has proven that is enough space to put me down. If he asks me how I am, dare I answer anything other than lovely, for I will meet a condescending remark, which turns my sensitive insides, well, inside out.
    Thank you once again for your vast knowledge on this subject CZ. Thank you for writing it in a way that is easily understood.

  2. There's a fine line between 'insulting' and 'teasing'. You might only sense it in your gut, though.

    If you confront this person and tell them how their comment made you feel, how do they react? That's the clincher!

    People who really care for you, take it seriously if they hurt your feelings or made you feel bad.

    Some people however, criticize you for complaining, for being too sensitive, for not being able to take a joke. It's the turnaround we need to pay attention to!

    How does that person react when you tell them your feelings were hurt?

    How would YOU react if someone said you had hurt their feelings?

    If we don't confront the situation when it happens, we might fall prey to intermittent reinforcement. This idea suggests that the worse someone treats you, the more you try to please them.

    You get a cookie and then you get a turd. Instead of looking at that turd and ending the relationship, you keep trying to get more cookies.

    Sounds crazy but it's a powerful tool to keep people trapped in abusive relationships.

    Maybe your neighbor is doing something similar. YOU however, are ON TO HIS GAME. Good For YOU!

    p.s. Not all people are aware they are cookie-turding someone into staying attached. They have done it before and it worked, so they do it again.


  3. P.S. I have the flu right now and I'm miserable as can be.

    So your comment and support has lifted my spirits today! Thank you, dogkisses!


  4. Hi CZ,
    I'm very sorry to hear you are feeling bad. I hope you get well soon.
    You know, I told this neighbor he hurt my feelings and I cried because he had been really mean. He did not care. He was even more rude and disrespectful. I told him to get out of my house. I stood up and opened the door as he had said he felt trapped talking about feelings. (???)
    When I stopped crying and told him to get out he changed drastically, sat down and was nice again.
    I tried to be friends again. Same thing happened again only worse, of course. This time I would get physically hurt. I had to go to the doctor and my neighbor, he laughed about it.
    I just could not believe I tried to be friends with someone who was so rude to me, but particularly someone who showed every sign of being a narcissist. It's like I was testing every inch of the waters because I did not want it to be true.
    After he saw me returning home with prescriptions and a limp, that night he got really drunk and appeared at my front door. Crying, drunk and apologizing, begging me to forgive him and also begging me to take care of him for the night. I did not. I helped him off the front porch and left him there.
    If someone says I hurt their feelings I feel bad. I thought he would feel bad when I told him mine had been hurt. He didn't even care when my body was hurt too.
    I wish people were nice and cared and had good hearts.
    As to my injury, I am recovered after about two weeks. I don't like my neighbor anymore.
    I'm glad I shared this with you. I needed to get it out. I was literally ashamed of myself CZ, not to mention hurt.
    I hope the day comes when I am stronger in life. I hope the day comes when I absolutely stop letting people treat me poorly. I guess that will be the day when I say enough is enough, I guess. It's like it is something buried deep inside of me that allows this. I know where it comes from but I often feel lost as to what to do about it.
    Thanks for your support. Take good care of yourself so you will heal -- and I'll try to do the same.

    hugs and dogkisses (and catkisses too)

  5. Nothing cures ‘shame’ like telling your truth. I would like to ask you to do one thing today. Walk to your bathroom, stand in front of the mirror and say OUT LOUD, “I am a wonderful woman of worth.”

    Your neighbor is an asshole. He’s narcissistic. How narcissistic is he? Don’t stick around long enough to find out! People who are good-hearted give the benefit of the doubt to these characters. It gets us in a lot of trouble, so if you are feeling guilty about ignoring this jerk, go back to your bathroom and repeat Step One.

    The more you realize how wonderful you are, the better able you will be to cut nasty people out of your life without feeling guilty. You’d never throw your precious doggies in a den of lions, now would you??? Do you feel guilty because the lions’ tummies are growling and your dogs could satisfy their hunger?

    It’s an ‘out there’ metaphor but I have a terrible sinus infection. LOL

    I do find it VERY interesting to see how he ineffectively tried to manipulate you into feeling SORRY for him when YOU came home limping. Let’s just call that Red Flag Number TooMany.

    Big Hugs!


  6. Hi CZ,

    Thanks for your response to my comment. It was me who posted as anon, I meant to sign off Bec at the end but forgot...ha! Too caught up in the emotions of what I was typing at the time when I finally realised what was going on and how I was being treated it was like a light bulb had been switched on, infact your whole webiste is just that the lightbulb! I never expected a whole article on the subject but I am so greatful to you for having done this as I am sure there are loads of people out there like me who have been in simillar situations to mine and need help to realise exactly what they are dealing with in order that the healing may begin. At the moment I am still struggling with low self esteem over this whole issue, I feel knocked for six to be honest. I am going back to do Psychology at college and so I am now trying to focus on this and healing myself so that I am ready and prepared for my future. I cannot change my past, or my bestfriend for that matter, but I can change my future and how I deal with people like her in the future. Infact I have cut off another friend who constantly put me down, I felt empowered with confidence to do so only after coming her and reading your advice. I've read through everything on this site and feel my confidence gradually starting to grow in myself, thank you so much!! I can only hope others recieve help from reading about my situation and then start the long journey of learning how to take care of oneself.


  7. Hi CZ,
    Thank you. I feel better after reading your second reply (particularly about having shared).
    I don't think your advice is out there at all. I really appreciate your words.
    I was angry at what happened and still am to some degree. Then I was also sad that my hope to have a friend in a neighbor can not be so.
    I'm going to ignore him from now on but so far it's been weird having him as a neighbor after what happened.
    Too bad a narcissist moved in next to me. I mean what kind of luck is that? Okay, there's that self-blaming voice coming in to find a way to tell me it's somehow my fault that I got him for a neighbor. I need some boxing gloves and I think I'll go to the mirror now :)

    PS I hope this comment finds you a bit better and that you get well soon. ((hugs))

  8. you know something? On the day of her wedding (this is after I had accepted her only appology as genuine and agreed to be cheif bridesmaid)I actually dropped to my knees and massaged my coca butter into her feet. She was concerned she wouldn't fit in her shoes and her wedding would be ruined. Despite forgiving her for everything and all we had been through I done that and she was bragging about it to people. Saying she didnt know anyone in her small circle that would ever do that for her. I would have done anything for her, walked over coals. But not long after this occasion I found out that she had talked about me again behind my back and twisted round the whole event of me confronting her the first time aswell as her appology and proceeded to accuse me of more ridiculous sh#t, all making herself look so much better ofcourse, this led to me starting to distance myself from her, I didn't confront her a second time because I saw it leading to nothing but more grief.
    She has recently invited me to her sons birthday and I don't know what to do. I haven't lost my love for her, yet, but have been keeping my distance. The more apart we are the more my own self esteem is rising, it's almost sky rocketing infact, I feel strong, and now rose tinted specs are away I feel empowered, I recognise these people for what they are and have since weeded the other one out of my life, I broke contact!!! And what is more, I am cultivating those relationships with the friends who are true to me and my partner, who love and care and react with normal responses to things like college for example : they were encouraging me, I was taken aback by how nice they were compared to the others.

    Thank you for letting me share with you and others, I hope you are all able to find healing and peace in your own situations.

    CZ, I wish you all the best and hope you are well.

    Love and light,

    Bec xxx

  9. Okay, I want to be "Dog Kisses!" Dogs are so not NPD that it should teach us all a thing or two. Your post, as usual, is spot on. Ns love to be there to "listen" while we pour our heart out, but it's all an act. True friends feel our pain and don't feign it. :) Jan

  10. I'm so not anonymous, but that's how my attempts to publish my comment came up. Don't even get me going. :-) Jan

  11. "Where love rules, there is no will to power; and where power predominates, there love is lacking. The one is the shadow of the other."
    Carl Jung


  12. Hi Anonymous-Bec!

    It takes time to Practice what we learn. That means we will make mistakes and need to be extra kind to ourselves when we do. If you can tell yourself that “yes, you will make mistakes in the future”, you’ll notice the very moment you put on those rose-colored glasses your new friend looks utterly hideous without them. Eventually, I believe we will trust our ability to deal with rejection (or abuse as the case may be) and we aren’t afraid of risking being hurt because we KNOW we can deal with it if it happens.

    After a N-relationship, people are prone to feeling jaded, cynical, even isolating themselves from people because they are fearful of being hurt again.

    This is so sad to me because while there are enough narcissists to keep Kleenex in business, there are far more people who are trustworthy, kind and of Good Will. I feel it is such a loss to society when kind people are fearful to be their Truly Good Selves.

    I hope my determination to work through the aftermath of the N-relationship inspires everyone reading my blog. Instead of shutting down my heart, I’ve done specific things to keep it open and so far, only a couple of Narcopaths have snuck in there and squeezed my aorta.

    Well, so what? You get over the love-of-your-life treating you like a virus and subsequent rejections aren’t life-threatening. Guess that’s the silver lining to being victimized.

    I know some people are adamant about No Contact, suggesting that we must eliminate the narcissist from our lives in order to be healthy. I am not of the same mind. It all depends on the potential for further harm; so in your case, you may not need to stay away completely. You could go to the birthday party with your eyes wide open and take notes on her behavior: what she wore, how she stole the attention from her son, how she pretended to be the perfect mother, and how she delegated the hard work to other people, including her friends who bought birthday cakes that were inferior to the one she served. Who cleans up after the party? That could be your observational question.

    If you decide to go, make sure you leave those rose-colored glasses behind! And if she says to you, “HI BEC! I’m so happy you’re here. How about we catch up on each other’s life while we clean up this mess?”, then I want you to stand firm and say, “Sorry! I can’t!”

    And then, when she demands to know WHY you can’t stay because yes, you must cow-tow to her royal majesty, just smile leave.


  13. Hi CZ,

    It;s Bec again. Well things have gone from bad to worse! I just noticed a comment she put on her page it is an old one, and had I noticed it at the time things would have been different...I wouldn't have been her bridesmaid. Basically, she was talking nonsense and at the end said "the only reason she (meaning me) is with her partner (I am engaged to her cousin) is because she must be desperate to join my family as her family are all dead."

    Well..........I do not think I can put into words how hurt I am by this malicious comment, the only issue is it was said without my prior knowledge and I have since as you know been her bridesmaid amidst more troubles and even went to her sons party, I wasnt sure whether to go or not....I wen't just to see how she would be, to see if maybe she was different I don't know what I was hoping for. But then I find all this stuff out. I really feel so dumb for having been there for her despite all this and giving her chances. The comment clearly indicates she was never sincere in her appology to me atall.

    Bec xx

  14. Wow! this is exactly what has been happening to me and my "best friend". I always knew she was a bit narcissistic but didnt know just how much she held me back. Of course I needed her at the time but suddenly I realise just how much she needed me on stay sick. I have written more about it on my blog. Worst thing for me is, that she actually believes that I am the abusive one [because I dared defend myself against her cruelty]. usually I believe her and submit but when I dont believe her, and I wont submit, she will make sure she gets her validation [of me being the sick and abusive one and her being the victim] from people around her. People who feed her narcissistic supply. This is a real mind f*ck and something I struggle with alot. Thank god for blogs like yours that explain exactly what is going on! thank you!

  15. Hi UnmotheredChild,

    People have a hard time creating Peer relationships, that's my experience. To truly delight in a friend's successes, to truly sympathize with her when she's suffering---this is a rarity in our culture.

    I can't speak for men but in a woman's world, we're trained to compete with each other. To be 'frenemies'---we think it's entertaining to watch women fight and scheme with one another in our media. Unfortunately, our media is the role model for our daughters so again, we reinforce competition through 'story'.

    And the truth is, it feels much better to be the HELPER than the HELPEE. When you're down-and-out though, it's a relief to accept any help someone's willing to offer but as you start to get stronger, THEN the competition kicks in.

    Some people, as mentioned in my post, need a SICK friend in order to feel better about themselves. And sometimes, once you recognize the unhealthy dynamics, you can facilitate a deeper relationship based on YOUR empathy of her feelings. Her struggles. Her social grooming, too.

    And of course, there are those dysfunctional relationships that just have to be DUMPED once and for all. My guess is that most relationships are not dysfunctional to that degree, it's just that neither person is aware of the underlying dynamics ruining a 'perfectly good friendship.'

    That's a short answer to a complex problem....


  16. I am having a very hard time understanding how my bestfriend so I thought could do& say the things about me that she has. We've been bestys for just over 9yrs.we've been threw so much.death of loved ones birth of a child divorce&so. She lost her son to the state & she begged me to step in her children are my godchildren & mine are hers. I did take my two try old godson ivory had him sense 2010. Shes been to prison &got out I gave her place to live car to drive paid bills bought clothes n so on for her. After prison she has continued to lie use drugs n just run all over. Iv always had her back iv had faith n believed in her when no one did. Still today I have my godson whom now is 5 he just had turned 2 when I got him. Now she has told courts n anyone who will listen that iv done drugs with her n so on. She now wants the child back. I do no she is his mom I'm fine with that. Wat I'm not ok with is for years she has told me my family her family & children services that I'm the best person for the child to be with. Now I'm not a safe person or my home. She also says I can't see him after she gets him back. I have truly loved her with all my heart. She has even layed her hands on me few times. I'm very angry hurt frustrated etc. But I still care n love her. I guess I know the otherside if her. I have not spoke with her sense 10-31-12 do too a argument over my own car. She is selfish n has away with words. I don't understand how anyone could hurt someone like this there is so much more but that's the just of it. Will she ever see her fault will she ever say sorry.. I am so confused. Plexus any feed back would be helpful thank. Signed yes truly hurt&confused

    1. Dear Hurt&Confused,

      I am so sorry to hear about your best friend suddenly turning on you, as if you were her enemy. This is one of the most painful experiences people can ever go through because we don't understand what's happening. We may even get stuck going round-and-round in our heads, trying to figure out what set the whole thing into action. BUT, that's a waste of our time because we/you didn't do anything to cause your friend to "turn on you."

      You have been there for her through thick-and-thin. You have taken care of her child when she couldn't. You have supported and loved her and most people would realize that. In fact, for most people, your caretaking and love would make the relationship secure and life-long! So it really doesn't make sense for her to treat you like this!

      Will she ever see that this separation is her fault?? Who can say. Some people wake up but a lot don't. About the only thing we can do is take care of ourselves by grieving the loss and moving forward with our lives.

      It is SAD, so SAD that she is using her child to hurt you. It must feel like she's trying to punish you when you didn't do anything to deserve it, right? Well, when people "split", they have this need to hurt the person who was probably closer to them than anyone else.

      I hope other people realize she's lying. I hope you aren't being punished or ostracized from your other friends and family.

      You might find it helpful to read about Splitting. (I'm posting about it on my blog tomorrow if you want to check back). This article offers an explanation:

      There really isn't much of anything you can do. If she is not interested in getting help for herself and she won't listen to reason, you will need to back away completely---just as you've done. It sounds like she's willing to 'use' you to get what she wants, until she doesn't want your friendship anymore. Those kinds of friends we don't need but it's pretty common for a GIVER like yourself, to end up with a TAKER like her.

      It's really sad about her son since he's been with you so long. Will you be able to keep him even though she says you're unfit to care for him?


  17. Dear czbz thank u for try reply iv asked my friends&family so many? They are all just soo close to this situation so its nice to get an outsiders opinion. If she has her way I will never get to see him. I have potty trained took care of him when sick took him first tym camping,fishing,quad riding etc. My kids are 17-18 they have been there sense day he wuz born they call him there lil brother. Its all power&control with her. I'm only 38 yes old she is also. I just never thought for one Sec. She would ever hurt me. She has told me I'm the bestest thing that has ever came into there lives she has told me how greatful she is to have me. I don't feel so loved & great now. I guess beening a true friend really hurts. It makes me soo angry that I miss her. Ugh Im just not a hurtfull person. I dnt get how anyone could be so cold hearted. Hurt&confused

  18. This is what exactly my x friend did.

    1. So sorry anonymous and Hurt&Confused, too. It is heartbreaking when we lose a close friend who then TURNS on us in a complete 180 from the way she was before! How crazy it feels. How crazy we feel! What could we have possibly done to tick someone off so badly that she'd cut us out of her life as if we were barnacles or something.

      I think that it's extremely extremely important for people to recognize when someone is "splitting." Splitting is when someone divides people into black or white. good or bad. dual opposites. It usually happens quickly and they're prone to saying "WE" suddenly changed because they are incapable of seeing themselves as the ones who changed.

      If you study this primitive psychological defense, it may help you work through the shock and the sadness. Narcissists are prone to splitting reality so most people have experienced the sudden Devalue and Discard without realizing their partner/friend/parent/child was "splitting."

      Hugs to all,


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