Sadistic Narcissism

Sadistic Narcissism

While not all narcissists can be described as sadists, narcissism and sadism go hand in hand. Let’s explore the relationship between sadism and narcissism, as well as the psychology of sadistic narcissists.

How is sadism different than narcissism?

Once you begin to learn the traits of a sadist, you might have trouble distinguishing them from people who have narcissistic personality disorder. Both are manipulative, arrogant, disdainful, indifferent, critical of others, controlling of others, and lacking in empathy. Both will seek to isolate their targets through the use of contempt to encourage social alienation.

What is sadism?

Sadism is the enjoyment of cruelty in others, including in oneself. To be titled a sadist, this enjoyment must be intentional, not accidental. The term is derived from the name of Marquis de Sade, an 18th-century philosopher, and writer who got pleasure from inflicting pain on others.

The diagnostic criteria of the DSM-IV-TR, a catalog of distinctive symptoms used by mental health professionals to categorize psychological conditions, lists sadism as a potential symptom of certain personalities. In particular, it is considered a symptom of antisocial personality disorder, psychopathy, and paranoid personality disorder. In the context of BDSM, the term “sadomasochism” is used.

What are the traits of a sadist?

  • Sadists are known for their aggressive or dominant behavior that stems from a desire to impose their will on others, whether they be friends or strangers.
  • Sadists often portray themselves as victims of circumstances beyond their control.
  • Sadists are people who have a strong interest in inflicting pain on others, especially if they derive pleasure from the suffering of others. That sounds like a lot of online commenters, doesn’t it?
  • A sadist is someone who takes pleasure in pain, malice, or suffering.
  • They don’t care about their partners, their children or even themselves.
  • They often make you feel like an object without a past or a future or a reason to exist.
  • They can be charming at first but eventually, they reveal their true nature and make you feel small, insignificant, and worthless.

What is narcissism?

Narcissism is a deeply rooted personality trait whose roots may be traced to childhood experiences. For the most part, when we’re referring to narcissism, we’re talking about the kind that might also be a personality disorder – usually a cluster B personality disorder. When we say “narcissist” what we really mean is someone who is a malignant narcissist or pathological narcissist.

What are the traits of a narcissist?

  • Extreme lack of emotional and compassionate empathy for other people
  • May or may not be diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)
  • Has an extremely inflated sense of self-importance.
  • They may engage in grandiose fantasies.
  • Feels that they are special and unique
  • Feels they should have special privileges and allowances of every kind
  • Requires excessive admiration
  • Thinks that only they are acceptable and deserving of love
  • Bragging/requiring admiration for their accomplishments and attributes

How are narcissism and sadism connected?

  • Sadism is one of the dark triad traits, along with narcissism and psychopathy.
  • More than a third of people who are diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder reportedly have a sadistic side.
  • Narcissists tend to be self-absorbed and self-centered. They often have no empathy for others and have difficulty identifying with the feelings or feelings of others – which leads to a lack of concern for their well-being and safety.
  • A sadist enjoys inflicting pain on others or being the cause of others’ pain. This may include aggression, cruelty, lack of empathy, and indifference to victimization. In other words, people who exhibit these character traits tend to derive pleasure from the suffering of others.
  • Sadistic narcissists combine these two personality traits into one very dangerous combination: they enjoy inflicting pain on others and enjoy seeing others hurt as well.

What is sadistic narcissism?

If sadism is to love (and/or lust after) another person’s pain, then it certainly can coexist with narcissism. Sadistic narcissism seems to be almost ingrained into the person displaying it, which is sort of possible since it most often begins to develop as early as infancy and is dependent on how the mother bonded with the child, or not. It is often also the result of being controlled, ignored, over-controlled, and/or otherwise traumatized later in childhood during important developmental years. People who become sadistic narcissists often use their lack of empathy and cunning nature to get ahead in business (ethically or otherwise) and to attract the partners they want, who will often later become their victims.

What are the traits of a sadistic narcissist?

A narcissistic sadist is someone who has both a sadistic personality and a tendency toward narcissism. The narcissist-sadist combo is especially dangerous because it can create intimidation and fear in their victims, making them more vulnerable to further abuse.

  • Feel superior to others.
  • Can be shockingly cold to people, and also irresistibly kind and warm if and when it suits them.
  • Indifferent to punishment (which allows them to get away with things they wouldn’t otherwise be able to)
  • Lack empathy.
  • Highly manipulative
  • Use their knowledge of others’ weaknesses to control them.
  • Find pleasure in the suffering of others and in treating others as objects – in other words, they treat people like things.
  • Take pleasure in hurting others by inflicting pain or humiliation, or by taunting them with cruel jibes.

.How do you deal with a sadistic narcissist?

There are several steps you can take to deal with a sadistic narcissist.

  • First, you’ll need to recognize that the abuse is happening. Maybe that sounds funny to you, but it is really difficult sometimes to even recognize the abuse from a sadistic narcissist, thanks to the extreme mind games they’re prone to play. In fact, many victims will describe their abusive relationships as normal and even good before they realized they were being abused. Narcissistic abuse, in general, can be subtle and sneaky, so don’t beat yourself up if you’ve missed it.
  • After you’ve recognized the abuse and you’ve started to learn about what you’ve been dealing with, you’ll want to know more about both narcissists and about narcissistic abuse. This is normal – take your time and do the research you need to do to fully understand it. But don’t stay stuck in research forever!
  • You’re going to want to assemble a sort of support system to help hold you up during this process. Start by identifying the people closest to you who you can completely trust. Don’t be surprised if this group is very small. You can also look for local support groups if you feel comfortable with in-person support.
  • In any case, connecting with others who have also experienced being victimized by sadistic narcissists can be incredibly validating and can help in your recovery. Whether you’re worried about face-to-face contact because you’re afraid people will find out what you’ve experienced, or because you don’t like crowds, or because you’re struggling with fear or even just social anxiety, you might not love the idea of connecting in person.
  • You might also not know anyone you can trust with this particular problem because those who understand won’t support you, or because no one understands at all. In that case, and even if you just want a little extra support, you can look into online narcissistic abuse recovery support groups, or you can seek help from professionals who can provide support and guidance as you begin the healing process.

Or, you can start your narcissistic abuse recovery right now, right here.

Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today

Online help is readily available for survivors of narcissistic abuse. If you feel you need additional help and support in your narcissistic abuse recovery, look for a trauma-informed professional trained in helping people who are dealing with overcoming narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships. Depending on your particular situation, you might benefit from Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Coaching, or you might do better with a therapist. But, first, you have to decide what to do from here – if you’re unsure, start with my free Narcissistic Abuse Recovery quiz. With your results will come recommended resources for your situation. Here are some options to begin healing from narcissistic abuse right away.

Empath and Codependent Are Not Synonyms

Empath and Codependent Are Not Synonyms

I’ve got two questions for you. Are all empaths codependent? Are all codependents empaths? I think it’s time we clear up some confusion for our community. You often hear people in the narcissistic abuse community talking about empaths and codependents as though the terms were interchangeable. The thing is, they aren’t. What I mean is that while some codependents are empaths, not all empaths are codependents. In other words, they are two separate concepts that some people have mistaken for synonyms. Let me explain.

(Watch this video or keep reading) To understand the difference between empaths and codependents, first, we need to define empathy and codependency.

What is Empathy?

There are three types of empathy – cognitive, emotional, and compassionate. Emotional and compassionate empathy seems to be intrinsic for most people, and cognitive empathy can be learned. So, an adult empath would be able to logically understand what a person would feel, be emotionally affected by what they feel, and also be moved to take action to help them deal with what they feel. For example, an empath might, at the age of 3, notice when someone is hurting and try to comfort them, even if that person doesn’t say anything about it or indicate directly that something is wrong. The child might not understand logically or have the vocabulary to describe what they do understand, but when they instinctively comfort someone, there’s no question that they understand. At the same time, an adult narcissist, who would not be considered an empath, would be able to logically understand what you feel, but they wouldn’t be emotionally affected by it for the most part, at least not in a normal way, and they would not be moved to help you deal with it unless it benefited them to do so in some way.

What is Codependency?

Codependency is when you are dependent on another person in unhealthy ways. It seems to be, in most cases, affected by some form of trauma that often occurred in childhood. It is also considered a behavioral condition as it inhibits your ability to have a healthy and mutually satisfying relationship. A good synonym for codependency might be “relationship addiction” because codependents tend to be perpetually involved in relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive, and/or abusive.

The Differences Between Codependents and Empaths

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s discuss empaths and codependents. We understand that empathy and codependency are different. So, why do people in the narcissistic abuse recovery community so often confuse the term “empath” with the term “codependent,” if they’re two distinct terms that aren’t synonymous? The answer is as simple as it is complicated. It’s because there are many codependents who do happen to be empaths. But then, there are many who are not.

And, of course, just consider the definition of codependency. As it turns out, toxic narcissists can also be considered codependents, given their excessive need for attention, adoration, and narcissistic supply. They clearly need to be dependent on others for their emotional validation and all of that tasty, tasty supply. But even though they require so much of your emotional energy, they do not have emotional or compassionate energy, so they do often emotionally neglect and abuse their so-called loved ones. Therefore, by definition, they are codependent, but they can’t be considered empaths.

What is an empath?

If you are an empath, you’re highly sensitive to the emotions and energy of the people around you. Empaths tend to be very intuitive and may also be spiritually inclined. In other words, if you’re an empath, you’re someone who naturally “feels” the emotions of other people and acts in accordance. Empaths, however, seem to have a more natural inclination toward naturally understanding the psychology of both humans and animals.

Are Empaths Rare?

Most humans above the age of two or three have some ability to show empathy, which is, on its most basic level just the ability to perceive what other people feel on some level. And many animals seem to have some level of empathy, even for humans, as evidenced by pets who appear to show concern when their owners are feeling blue. But there are different levels of sensitivity when it comes to empathy, and those who are at the highest end of that spectrum might be rare. Still, even the most basic understanding of and concern for others’ feelings makes life easier for everyone.

Are Empaths Real?

Some people seem to think that empathy is a supernatural ability. But while on some level, there are things we don’t understand about empathy, there is a lot of scientific research that explains how it works. In fact, a study focused on a specific type of empathy called mirror-touch synaesthesia offers some very interesting insight that supports the idea that empaths exist. Mirror-touch synaesthesia is the ability to feel a sensation of touch when you see someone else being touched. Study authors Dr. Michael Banissy at the Goldsmiths University of London, along with researcher Dr. Natalie Bowling, the research found that up to 2 percent of the population could be considered empaths.

Why Do Some People Have More Empathy Than Others?

Clearly, there are some people who seem to be more personally affected by empathy than others. For example, someone who might be considered a natural empath would have a clearer and more comprehensive intrinsic understanding of how people feel. Using this natural ability, empaths can quickly interpret a person’s thoughts and feelings.

“The scientific studies that are often used to demonstrate that empaths exist, however, provide indirect evidence,” said Kristen Milstead in a 2018 PsychCentral article.”This includes research showing the existence of mirror neurons in the brain, which are said to enable us to read and understand each other’s emotions by filtering them through our own. Other studies used to explain empaths include the concept of emotional contagion, which is the idea that when people synchronize their attitudes, behaviors, and speech, they also synchronize their emotions both consciously and unconsciously.”

Milstead noted that while the studies explained the existence of empathy as a concept, they didn’t make it clear why some people seem to have a higher sensitivity to it than others. So for now, the idea that there is a supernatural element to being an empath isn’t completely disproven, but that doesn’t mean that scientists won’t decode it in the future. After all, there were once people who worshipped the Sun. Science has a way of explaining things we don’t understand.

Signs of Being Codependent

If you really want to understand the differences between codependents and empaths, it can help to see the signs of each. While you may be both, you may also just be one or the other. People who are codependent typically have the following behaviors.

  1. Codependents struggle to make decisions alone, especially where their decisions would affect their partner in any way.
  2. Codependents may find themselves having a hard time identifying their own feelings.
  3. Codependents might have a hard time communicating in their relationships – even if they’re really good at communicating in other ways and with other people.
  4. Codependents are more concerned with getting the approval of people outside of themselves.
  5. Codependents have low self-esteem.
  6. Codependents may not trust their own instincts and intuition.
  7. Codependents may have an unhealthy level of fear of abandonment.
  8. Codependents may need approval to the point that they’ll even go against their own ethics in order to get it.
  9. Codependents might feel overly responsible for the actions and behaviors of other people.
  10. Codependents are inevitably miserable if they’re not in a relationship, and they’ll stay in a relationship that is harmful to them because they might feel as if it’s better than being alone.

Any of that sound familiar to you? Now, let’s talk about the signs you’re an empath.

Signs You’re an Empath

How do you know if you are an empath? While there are no easily available scientific tests that would prove your empath abilities, there are empath self-assessments, such as the one here, that will help you to recognize yourself as someone who might be an empath. There are, of course, both positive and negative sides of being an empath – and some of them overlap.

1. Empaths Can Be Targeted by Toxic People

Empaths often deal with overwhelming feelings as it is, so when a relationship is toxic, they will feel like they are in agony. They often end up going numb because they feel like they might not survive otherwise. Narcissists and other toxic people seem to be drawn to empaths. Most likely, that’s because empaths are generally moved into action by the emotions of other people. So, when the empath knows you are sad or upset, they do what they can to comfort you. When someone screams and yells at an empath, they will do whatever they can to resolve whatever the person is screaming about.

It doesn’t occur to an empath to feel angry at someone who is so clearly distressed. THAT is what attracts toxic people – the fact that the empath is so focused on making sure they are comfortable and happy in any given moment. It makes for an ideal source of narcissistic supply. And, since an empath is completely focused on them, they won’t have to do much to keep them happy.

See, if an empath is feeling needy and reaches out for validation, they will quickly forget their feelings if the other person expresses strong feelings of their own in the moment. This nature leads empaths who aren’t aware of these types of manipulations to miss the fact that they’re actually not being nourished in the relationship.

They end up starving for validation – giving and giving until they sort of burn out (literally in some cases through adrenal fatigue associated with C-PTSD). The empath ends up drained of their so-called light: they have little energy – they literally are almost “not even there” in some ways. They have grown so emotionally broken that they have literally stopped experiencing these emotions.

2. Empaths Find Large Crowds Are Draining

You will not find a happy empath at a Black Friday sale. In general, empaths can only take crowds in small doses, if at all. That’s why a lot of them don’t like large parties or concerts. And when an empath does spend too much time in crowds, most of them really need to take some time alone before and afterward in order to recharge. If they don’t, they will feel exhausted and tired for days or weeks afterward. In some cases, they may even physical effects, which brings me to my next point.

3. Empaths Need Plenty Of Time Alone

Most empaths require time alone to recharge, especially when they’ve dealt with emotionally difficult situations such as crowds, but also through various interpersonal interactions with people in their lives. An empath who is also an introvert may prefer to be alone more often than not. But even empaths who appear to be more outgoing will still need that alone time – or become unbalanced without it. However, an introvert that is not an empath would need, in general, less alone time for winding down. And in the case of codependents, whether they’re empaths or not, they may feel that they don’t want time alone at all, for any reason. This is one way that an empath can manifest emotional and/or psychological damage caused by their toxic relationships.

4. Empaths Feel Their Way Around New Places

Empaths seem to feel the energy of any location in which they happen to be. In a calm, clean, and organized place that is lit with candles and has soft colors, for example, an empath might feel calm. They might sense relaxing and positive energy. On the flip side, if an empath walked into a room where a crime was committed (sometimes even if they were unaware that a crime was committed there), or if they walked into a room directly after a confrontation as small as a marital spat – they would FEEL the energy buzzing without question, They’d even ask something like, “you guys okay? or “should I come back later?” They might feel uncomfortable or be physically affected, but not be able to put their finger on WHY they know something is wrong. They just know. Ya know?

This video offers 10 more signs that you might be an empath.

Still not sure?

Narcissism And Attachment Theory – What Is The Connection?

Narcissism And Attachment Theory – What Is The Connection?


Prefer to watch/listen? See video on YouTube.
If it’s not one thing, it’s your mother. At least that was the case for me. For years, I lived with a kind of anxiety that made me almost physically sick at the idea of disappointing or upsetting someone. I couldn’t stand the idea that anyone didn’t like me or felt like something was not acceptable about me. This is probably because, growing up, I believed that my value was dependent on the way my mother felt about me. This would continue well into my adult life, and if I’m being honest, that was a pretty dangerous place to base my self-worth since my mother was not super fond of the person I’d turn out to be, to put it mildly.

I wonder if you can relate. Have you found yourself dealing with a narcissist or toxic person who actively tore down your self-esteem or devalued you in some way? Did you find yourself struggling with anxiety and feeling not good enough? Rejected even? If so, you’re going to want to stick around, because today, I’m going to explain to you exactly why you feel this way, and how it relates to your relationships with narcissists. See, there a theory that could explain narcissists and the way they behave in relationships, as well as how you fit into all of this. It’s called attachment theory.

What is attachment theory?

Let’s start with a brief overview of attachment theory. Attachment is defined as a deep and enduring emotional bond that connects one person to another across time and space. Attachment theory basically helps us understand that our relationships with our mothers can affect us and our lifelong development (and even our relationships with others) in profound ways.

In psychology, attachment theory as we know it today first originated in 1958, when child psychiatrist John Bolby recognized the importance of a child’s relationship with their mother. It turns out, he realized, that our emotional, social, and cognitive development are directly affected by our attachment to our mothers.

Along with fellow researcher James Robertson, Bolby found that children who were separated from their mothers experienced extreme distress, which led to anxiety. This, they assumed, could have been related to the idea that their mothers fed and cared for them, but they noticed that the separation anxiety would not diminish even when the kids were fed and cared for by other caregivers.

Before this, other researchers had underestimated the bond between a child and its mother and had assumed that it was the feeding of the infant that bonded a mother and child.

Bowlby was the first to propose that attachment could be an evolutionary thing – the child’s caregiver obviously is the person who provides safety, security and food. So, he reckoned, being attached to the mother would increase a baby’s chance of survival. Makes sense right?

What are the four attachment styles?

There are four primary attachment styles, including secure, anxious-preoccupied, dismissive-avoidant and fearful-avoidant, though many sub-types have also been identified. For today, we’re going to focus just on the four main attachment styles, which, for the record sort of explain why families tend to see generations of healthy – or unhealthy – relationships and why it’s so important for those of us who have grown up with toxic parents need to intentionally change our own lives so that our kids, if we have them, can do better than we did in the future.

Secure Attachment Style

A secure attachment style is probably the most desirable – it’s where you feel comfortable and connected to the person, and where you trust them and the integrity of the relationship. You feel secure in the relationship.

People who have this style of attachment had healthy relationships with their parents and also felt secure enough in those relationships to explore the world and other people in it. They felt loved and supported in childhood. This helped them to grow up feeling safe in to grow and involve themselves a variety of situations and activities, knowing they could always still get support and love from their parents. And their parents were likely also securely attached to their own parents, so this healthy pattern would continue through to the next generation.

Anxious-Preoccupied Attachment Style

If you’ve ever met a hopeless romantic, you may have met someone with the anxious-preoccupied attachment style. This person desperately wants to be connected to others, and craves the emotional intimacy that comes along with it. The only problem is that this person also tends to want to jump ahead in the game, even if their partner isn’t ready for it. So, they’re likely to say, “I love you” too quickly and to push ahead even when the red flags are everywhere.

They need constant approval and reassurance from their partner, and they feel anxious if they don’t it. They doubt their self-worth, probably because they need others to validate them – and when their clingy behavior pushes away their partners, they feel like they were right all along – they might really be worthless. They have a positive opinion of their peers, but not so much of themselves.

Their parents may have intermittently met their needs – they were loved and cared for, but not on a consistent, predictable basis. Interestingly, this kind of person develops when their parent seems to need the child to meet their own emotional needs. Their mother might have been the type to think to herself, “Well, if I have a baby, then I’ll have someone to love me.” Once again, you can see how this would carry on throughout the generations.

Dismissive-Avoidant Attachment Style

This is where you might find your narcissist. Someone with a dismissive-avoidant attachment style appears to be emotionally independent and is often likely to be afraid to commit to a single person in a long-term relationship.

This person would have had parents who were either not around a lot, or who were negligent in their care in other ways. They may have been ignored or undervalued in childhood. They felt rejected, not good enough or unwanted. One or both parents might have been completely absent for this person. Their needs may have been partially served, but not fully. For example, they may have received enough food and were bathed regularly, but they weren’t held often enough.

They may have been rejected by peers as they got older and may have lived their lives feeling not good enough entirely. This would leave them afraid to trust people and, as a result, likely to be really dismissive of others. They tend to cover up their insecurity with a sort of false sense of self-confidence. But when someone is dismissive-avoidant and manages to find a secure, loving relationship and works through their own issues, they can manage healthy relationships. Unfortunately for most narcissists, they don’t develop the emotional maturity to do that and stay stuck here.

Fearful-Avoidant Attachment Style

This person might always date the “wrong” people for them, and on the flip side, they might also end up rejecting those who would be good for them. They might find themselves feeling “normal” in unhealthy relationships where they feel the need to earn the other person’s approval and feel scared or threatened when something seems “too good to be true,” or when things are going toward a bigger commitment such as marriage.

Their attachment style might lead them to actually sabotage a really good relationship, maybe because they are afraid it will end and leave them feeling devastated.  They struggle with jealousy and distrust in relationships, even when it isn’t warranted. This person grew up with parents who made it clear they were unwanted or maybe that they were not acceptable as they were.

They are a walking conundrum – they desperately want emotional intimacy, but they also push it away. They want to be in a committed relationship with the right person, but actively seek out the opposite or avoid relationships completely out of fear of rejection. Psychologists say that this kind of attachment style is sort of a combination of the dismissive-avoidant and the anxious-preoccupied attachment style and that it is a result of dealing with a lot of trauma or loss in childhood.

Like the dismissive-avoidant, their parents may have been unable to fully meet their needs in infancy – they might have been fed enough and always wearing a clean diaper, but they might not have been held or interacted with enough, for example. They may have really difficult relationships with their parents or they may even become completely estranged from them in adulthood. Their parents may have been alcoholics or addicts – or narcissists – and they may have been physically and/or emotionally abused.

Which Attachment Style is Yours?

You might have any of these attachment styles and end up dealing with a narcissist, but those of us who end up in longer-term relationships with a toxic person are most likely to fall into either the anxious-preoccupied or the fearful-avoidant attachment style categories.

If you have an anxious attachment style, you’ll find yourself completely bowled over by a narcissist. That is because you might tend to have high anxiety responses to their behavior. Think about it.

If you have the anxious-attachment style, then you have a tendency to be sort of emotionally hungry. You might find yourself holding on to the idea of being deeply bonded with someone else, even when it’s just a fantasy and not reality in your relationships. What I mean is that you might sort of self-invent a bond that your partner isn’t feeling at the same time. That is due to the history of how you were not nurtured enough as you probably had at least one parent who did not give you the love and nurturing you need. You’ve dealt with a lot of turbulence in your life and felt unloved and unwanted, so you might have a tendency to latch on and hold on for dear life.

Narcissists see this and sense this, which is why you are vulnerable to them. They know how anxious you become and that alone gives them the narcissistic supply they need – which is why they see you as the perfect prey. Since narcissists are known to have the avoidant attachment style, they can be abusive and will always find faults with you. They will place blame on you as well because since anyone with the avoidant attachment style will not take responsibility at all. The more they do this, the more you become anxiety-ridden that your bond with them will disappear and the vicious cycle keeps going.

Which Attachment Style Does the Narcissist Represent?

As I mentioned earlier, while technically a narcissist might classify themselves under any of these categories, they are most typically identified as the dismissive-avoidant attachment style. That is why they maintain a certain distance when it comes to their relationships and why they make you feel like you’re unwanted or unneeded – even if they do clearly depend on you completely for narcissistic supply, among other things.

The dismissive-avoidant style leads to being overly self-reliant and downplaying the importance of relationships. However, they are quite vulnerable when there is a big crisis as they don’t handle crises well. They may have a super-inflated opinion of themselves and be very critical and suspicious of others, making their relationships miserable for their partners.

This is where you’re likely to find the overt narcissist, anyway. But the covert narcissist can fall into the avoidant-fearful style – which seems counterintuitive since their victims can also fall into this category.

The Wild-Card Attachment Style: Fearful-Avoidant

Many people who could be classified as codependent might fall into the fearful-avoidant attachment style. As adults, fearful-avoidant types might become overly dependent on their relationships. While they may have had similar experiences in childhood, the difference in whether they become a narcissist or a more empathic kind of codependent depends on how they deal with their childhood experience.

In either case, those who could be classified as fearful-avoidant are terrified of rejection, and they are constantly dealing with inner conflict. They sometimes thrive on drama and they nearly always suffer from low self-esteem. They show anxiety when it comes to relationships as well, whether they’re super-clingy or constantly avoiding intimacy.

So how could codependent, people-pleasers potentially fall in the same category as a covert narcissist? Well, it is the codependency factor – both narcissists and their victims could be considered codependent. At its most basic level, codependency represents someone who has sort of “lost themselves,” or never found it in the first place.

The ‘Lost Self’ Disorder

In other words, a codependent person has no connection to their innate self. Rather, probably due to being raised by toxic parents, they have learned to base their lives – as in, their thinking and their behavior – around someone or something else outside of themselves. This could be a person, or a process or even a substance.

For narcissists, the lack of connection to their true self can lead to a connection with a made-up or ideal self- the mask we often discuss. In contrast, a people-pleaser might find their identity in the approval of others instead, or at least find value in themselves this way.

Interestingly, narcissists in general are also thought to be emotionally immature. Like I’ve said before, they are emotional toddlers. See, when an infant is cared for by its mother, it does not think about the mother’s needs at all. Most people begin to develop this awareness of the needs or feelings of others on a really basic by the age of two or three. Narcissists never develop it fully – so in some cases, even people who had really attentive parents can become narcissists, especially when their parents did not actively teach empathy.

So what does all of this mean? Are you doomed to a life of miserable relationships if you do not have the secure attachment style?

Hope for Narcissistic Abuse Victims: Earned Secure Attachment

Good news! There’s hope for you yet. I’ve been telling you for years that it is possible to heal from narcissistic abuse and to create the life you want. And studies confirm this, telling us that with intentional healing and focus on creating the life you want, you can actually develop something called “Earned Secure Attachment.”

At its most basic level, it means you can sort of build a new attachment style that is healthier and better for you on every level. This just means that you’ve done the work and managed to deal with and heal from any dysfunctional parenting you had growing up. Even better, you can do this at any age. It’s about taking the time to understand where you came from and working to sort of rewrite your story in the process. If you’re interested in learning more about how you can do this, take a look at the video I’m going to leave for you right here.

Question of the Day: Have you looked into attachment theory before? Where do you think you fall into these categories, and where do you see the narcissist in your life among them? Share your thoughts, share your ideas, share your experiences in the comments section below this video, and let’s talk about it!

 

 

The Cheating Narcissist: Why Narcissists Cheat, How They Get Away With It and Signs to Watch For

The Cheating Narcissist: Why Narcissists Cheat, How They Get Away With It and Signs to Watch For

Prefer to Watch/Listen Rather Than Read? Watch Narcissist Cheating & Gaslighting on YouTube.

The Narcissist Had an Affair?

A former client once told me how her husband of 30 years and the father of her children had seemed totally perfect. Even at home with the family, he was mostly a decent guy. The client said he was actually easy to live with. Obviously this made me wonder exactly why she had signed up for sessions with me, at first. This wasn’t the usual narcissist story.

The guy was prominent in his community and well-known at church to be a generous, decent person. He regularly went on mission trips with his men’s group and was loved by all who knew him. And until fairly recently, his wife had been happy.

But as it turned out, things weren’t as rosy as they’d appeared. It seemed he’d been having affairs for the majority of his marriage, and she had recently learned that he’d been introducing their kids to some of his conquests. And this guy wasn’t just a one-night-stand kind of man – he would have long-term relationships with these women.

In fact, the client confessed, there was a situation several years ago where a woman contacted her and said that he’d been living with her for the past decade in another state. It turned out that at least some of these mission trips he’d been so dutifully attending were actually a cover for his need to go and live with his mistress.

He got so good at it that the mistress in this case actually believed she was the only one for most of that decade, so she was completely bowled over when she learned that she was actually the other woman. She ended the relationship as soon as she found out, and my client thought maybe that would be the end of it.

But she had learned that he was now with a new woman he’d met at a local bar, and now she was done. As it turned out, that was why she’d called me. This particular narcissist was especially skilled with manipulation and hiding – to the point that he’d managed to have, the client later learned, several other long-term relationships within the time they’d been married. And, thanks to his manipulation, he’d also turned their children against their mother, blaming her for all of his affairs – despite the fact that she was a loving and devoted wife.

Worse, he’d somehow managed to convince all of their friends and extended family members that his cheating was somehow warranted. So, rather than supporting her when she needed it most, they shunned her and supported the cheater and his new source of supply, which the narcissist paraded in front of his wife without shame or remorse.

Why does the narcissist have affairs?

This was an extreme example of a cheating narcissist who clearly had a double life going on, without a doubt. But many narcissists have a need to cheat on their partners, and as research suggests, often even when things seem to be good in their marriages. And their reasons for cheating as well as their behavior around their infidelity are different than your average person.  If you’re concerned that your partner is or might be cheating on you, or you’ve experienced this in the past, you’re going to want to stick around for this one. Because that’s exactly what we’re talking about today – why narcissists cheat on their partners and the signs of a narcissist who is cheating on you.

Narcissists are well-known to be disrespectful to their partners and anyone who is close to them. Their marked lack of empathy makes it possible for them to actively cheat without remorse. For the most part, a narcissist’s primary focus is getting their needs met – and one of their biggest needs is for narcissistic supply. While narcissistic supply isn’t just about physical intimacy, it can certainly be a big part of it in many cases.

How Narcissistic Cheating is Different: Secondary Supply

Let’s talk about what I like to call “secondary supply.” See, unlike your average player or pickup artist, many narcissists will become habitual cheaters in their relationships. This is one way narcissists can be different when it comes to cheating. Because, rather than having a one-night stand here or there, a narcissist needs the supply provided by a secondary partner. In addition to getting their extramarital physical needs met, this secondary partner can provide emotional supply as well. In some cases, this can get as serious as the example I mentioned – where the narcissist creates a whole double life involving their secondary supply.

Published research tells us that someone who is narcissistic is more likely to have an extramarital affair, and is likely to be okay with infidelity, and this is even true when they are happy with their partner in the current relationship. (Foster, Shrira, & Campbell, 2006; Hunyady, Josephs, & Jost, 2008; Mcnulty & Widman, 2014).

The secondary supply and the double life setup offers the narcissist something extra – another person to control and manipulate. Someone who, in many cases, doesn’t know them quite as well and is more willing to look past some of their flaws than a longer-term, live in supply like a spouse who has kids with them. This person might be a little younger or less established, and they might give the narcissist an ego boost more directly and more often than the emotionally numb spouse who is at home worrying about them, taking care of their kids and doing their laundry. And, this secondary supply may be one of several members of the narcissist’s own private little harem.

What is a narcissistic harem?

The term “narcissistic harem” actually means a group or “collection” of friends/admirers (AKA sources of narcissistic supply) that a narcissist gathers up to stay topped up on their daily supply of love and admiration.

Since no single individual person could ever fill the void that is the hole inside a narcissist’s soul, they seek to fill it with whomever they can – and often these relationships are interchangeable. Now, the harem doesn’t usually include only intimate partners. It could also include friends, relatives and others. Put more simply, a narcissistic harem is a group of people who are happy to stroke the ego of the narcissist as needed.

And in some cases, this harem can also involve a number of “virtual” friends in the form of an online harem – and those can sometimes be the most dangerous because they are the most underhanded and easy to hide. Plus, if you think about it, it’s much easier to manipulate a person’s perception if they’re only seeing your world through your eyes.

Do All Narcissists Cheat?

Despite popular opinion, not all narcissists are cheaters. And not all cheaters are narcissists. But being a toxic narcissist or having narcissistic personality disorder certainly makes cheating more likely, and the reasons narcissists cheat are different than your average cheater.

Why Do Narcissists Cheat on You?

For narcissists, cheating on their partner isn’t just about having sex with someone else, although that can be part of it. But it is also about being in control, getting narcissistic supply and more. Narcissists also have a sense of entitlement that would shock most people. This feeling of superiority and their genuine belief that they should have the right to do whatever they want is a dangerous combination.

Along with their known tendency toward impulsivity and the number of narcissists who are known to have a high sex drive, they are among the most likely to cheat on their partners.

The other thing that you have to remember here is that, in their search for narcissistic supply, one of the biggest things they’re seeking is validation. Ironically, validation is one thing they also starve their partners of in the process of trying to get their own needs met. Combined with the excitement of an extramarital affair and the sneaking and hiding involved with it, narcissists almost can’t resist the thrill. They can become predators who will at any cost get what they want, leading to a seriously high risk for their partners to be emotionally devastated in the process.

On top of this are two other factors: narcissists believe they are above the rules, so they can rationalize their cheating as acceptable due to what they consider extenuating circumstances – and the fact that they don’t see you as a whole person. What I mean is that they see you as an extension of themselves or an object – so in their minds, they might not actually think you even deserve the fidelity they promised you in the beginning.

Like the client’s husband I mentioned earlier, many narcissists are really good at putting on the mask of decency and convincing everyone around them that they’re standing on high moral ground even as they cheat on the person they once vowed to love and to be faithful to. They gaslight and manipulate everyone involved, and leave their partner (and often, also their secondary supply) with cognitive dissonance, confusion and a completely destroyed sense of self. It is very painful and can make you feel like your world is ending.

What are the signs the narcissist is cheating on you?

If you have been cheated on by a narcissist, you understand the pain that is associated with it. The signs of a cheating narcissist might be a little different than the signs an average person is not being faithful. Perhaps at the time, you weren’t able to tell, but you might see in hindsight that the signs were there all along. Let’s go over the 5 signs of a cheating narcissist right now.

1. The narcissist tells you a sob story of how their ex cheated on them.

Narcissists are really good at playing the victim, and one of the first signs that they might cheat will often happen very early in your relationship. If you think back, you might remember exactly what I’m talking about. Did they tell you sob stories about how they were cheated on? They can appear to be quite vulnerable in those moments, and this lends to you sort of rallying around them. As they see you do this, they know they’re getting somewhere. Since they seem to be completely genuine when they describe the pain they felt when their ex cheated, they sort of tug at your heartstrings. It can feel like you’re bonding with them. You end up feeling so sorry for them, and you promise you’ll never cheat on them as their ex did. And, while you feel sorry for them, you also think this means that they would never cheat on you. The two of you end up forming what you believe is an unbreakable bond. And then if and when they do cheat on you later in the relationship and you confront them, they may throw these moments back in your face and act like the fact that you suggested they might be cheating is an insult in itself. This would, in most cases, lead to you feeling bad for even thinking it, and then the narcissist feels vindicated and continues their affair, unimpeded.

2. You get accused of cheating.

We all know how narcissists have a tendency to project their own bad behaviors on to us. Well, in this case, the narcissist will start to notice anyone in your life who could be a potential partner for you. They’ll accuse you of being too flirty, or of wearing that outfit you love because you’re trying to impress other people. In some cases, this will lead to you sort of dulling-down your look in order to ease their minds. This inadvertently also might lend to your already-struggling self-esteem taking a big hit – and combined with the constant need to reassure the narcissist that you’re not their cheating ex, you might find yourself so busy and unfocused that the narcissist finds it much easier to actually cheat on you. This particular tactic is also helpful for the narcissist because, even if you do believe they are cheating on you, it is difficult to actually make this accusation as you try to defend yourself. And if you do, they’ll claim that you’re just trying to hide your own guilt by blaming them. This is ironic because it is quite literally what the narcissist is doing to you in this moment.

3. The narcissist suddenly gets too busy and starts canceling plans.

You make a plan to go for dinner and a movie with a narcissist, then they cancel at the last minute because an “emergency” came up. Or you’ve planned a vacation together, and suddenly they have to work all week. So they tell you that you should go ahead without them – after all, the deposits are non-refundable, and you sure look like you could use a break. You take this as kindness and think how selfless they are as you hop on the plane, clueless that they’re actually going to spend the week with their secondary supply. Or they start taking a lot of unusual business trips, or long weekend fishing trips.

And you’ll notice that, suddenly, this is something they are doing over and over again. Not only do they cancel the plans, but they might even end up disappearing for days. Then they randomly show up out of the blue. Sometimes they even apologize and promise to make it up to you – but then they never do. In fact, they often end up repeating this behavior.

4. Something seems off with their social media stuff.

Narcissists are known to create love triangles on social media. They sometimes sneak around with dating and hookup apps and they also can be known to share provocative status updates on their networks. You might notice that they suddenly stop using their usual accounts, and that can be an indication that they’re using alternate accounts. Or they suddenly become friends with a new person – and/or an existing friend starts liking all of their photos and statuses. In some cases, they won’t post photos of the two of you together, or they will hide their relationship status, if they don’t refuse to put one up at all. The social media age makes it so much easier for the narcissist to cheat and hide their double lives, and you know narcissists: they’ll take advantage any way they can.

5. They won’t let you near their phone.

Whether they’ve always been secretive about their phone or it just started, a narcissist who actively hides their phone or who freaks out anytime you go near it is probably hiding something from you. This could be an actual affair, or it could be whatever they happen to be doing on social media. In some cases, you might find questionable messages and photos from someone, or they might just want to hide the people they’re following or otherwise engaging with. In any case, when they are overly concerned about their phones and your ability to see what they’re doing there, it can be a red flag.

6. They shove their phone in your face and dare you to find something wrong.

I know, you’re probably like wait…I thought you said they hide their phones. And, yes, in many cases they do. But, in some cases, the narcissist gets really devious. So, when you accuse them of cheating, they may throw their phone at you and tell you to go ahead and dig through it. They’re doing nothing wrong, they say. In these cases, if they are cheating, they’re either really on top of deleting stuff – and have made arrangements with their secondary supply to only contact them when they say so, or they’ve got a secret secondary phone.

7. They change the way they spend money.

If a narcissist is cheating on you, the way they spend money might change. This could be because they are now spending money trying to love bomb and woo the secondary supply, so they suddenly have no money to spend on the bills or other stuff they usually buy. Or, if they are on the higher end of the income spectrum, they might suddenly start buying all kinds of unexpected gifts for you in order to throw you off and keep you from investigating them. They might also have unexplainable charges on their credit cards or in the bank account.

8. You’ll get a heads up.

In some cases, you’ll get a heads up – either from an ex or from someone the narcissist has actually had an affair with. This may happen because the ex is genuinely concerned about you, or because they are angry at the narcissist. And in the case of the person they cheated with, they may tell you because they didn’t know the narcissist was married or had a partner, or because they are upset with the narcissist for some reason. There could of course be a number of other reasons for such an admission. But in any case, the important thing to remember as well is if you encounter someone who was cheated on by the narcissist that you are seeing, or who cheated with the narcissist, then at least consider looking into the allegations.

These are just a few of the signs that a narcissist is cheating on you. Of course, just like any cheater, you’ll also see things like a sudden concern for their appearance, where there wasn’t before. Or you’ll see a change in routine – like they might join a new gym. You might notice that they are different in the bedroom – you’ll see them being intimate more or less often than before, and suddenly they might show up with a new trick after being married for 20 years.

Should you confront a cheating narcissist?

This is entirely up to you. But you should know what to expect if you do confront a narcissist you believe is cheating on you. Here is what to expect.

The narcissist will deny everything.

Narcissists are known liars, and this is especially true when they might otherwise lose you as a source of narcissistic supply. You will not get the truth ever from a narcissist when it comes to cheating – even if you actually catch them in the act. They will gaslight you and tell you that you didn’t see what you did. They will also attempt to discredit whatever information you have, as well as its source – even, again, if you caught them in the act.   Since they have no respect or empathy for you, they see no reason not to lie. They figure if they never admit the truth, you’ll never know it.

The narcissist will say it’s your fault.

We all know that narcissists can’t or won’t take personal responsibility for anything they do that’s wrong. In the case of cheating, the narcissist might actually blame you for their bad behavior. For example, they might say you’re too boring, or that you’re not interested in them, or they might complain that you don’t spend enough time with them, so they had no choice. In any case, they’ll make you the bad guy.

The narcissist will rage.

When you don’t agree that it’s your fault, the narcissist is likely to go into a rage. Narcissistic rage is a common reaction to not getting what they want. It is unreasonable and illogical, but the narcissist doesn’t care. In many cases, they will convince you to shut up and accept whatever they’re doing – and this is especially true when you aren’t aware of what they are. When you do know, though, you might hold out using the gray rock method. And that will lead to narcissistic injury.

This playlist will help you learn how to use the gray rock method effectively.

The narcissist will play the “poor me” act.

This is where the narcissistic injury comes in. They act like you’re hurting them or you’ve done something to them by accusing them of cheating. The idea that you’d actually expect them to take responsibility infuriates them – and if you don’t respond to the rage in the way that the narcissist prefers, they will make you out to be the aggressor. They will tell everyone what a terrible person you are – and how mean you were to them. Don’t fall for it – it’s just a smear campaign and a last-ditch attempt to get what they want.

Personally, I don’t believe you should tell them right away, given how you know they will react. If you do tell them, you will be unable to get the satisfaction you hope for – and if you tell them before you’re ready to take action (such as leaving them), they will make you completely miserable in the process.

But if you hold your cards close to your chest, you can decide when and how you tell them. This gives you a little power back, at least.

Question of the Day: Have you experienced being cheated on by a narcissist, or think you might be experiencing it now? How did or will you get through it? Share your thoughts, share your experiences, share your ideas in the comments section below this video and let’s talk about it. 

Worried that you might be dealing with a cheating narcissist? Take this quiz and find out if you might be a victim of a narcissist cheater. 

Get help with narcissistic abuse recovery, right now.

 

Identifying Toxic Narcissist Friends, Plus How to Deal

Identifying Toxic Narcissist Friends, Plus How to Deal

Have you ever been friends with someone who made you feel terrible after spending time with them? Have you found yourself wondering if they were toxic, or whether they might be a narcissist? Well, that’s exactly what we’re talking about today: narcissistic and toxic friends – how to identify them and what to do if you have one. (See video on YouTube)

A few months after I left my ex-husband and became a single mom, I got a job working in healthcare billing. The hours were good for a single mom, I got health insurance for my son and me, and the pay was better than I could do elsewhere at that time. After a couple of weeks on the job, I met a fellow single mom working in my department. Let’s call her Brenda.

I was so happy to meet Brenda because I really didn’t know anyone in the area (because my narcissist ex had isolated me quite thoroughly, and because I’d moved to be closer to my family when I left him). Plus, our kids were similar ages and we could hang out and have playdates outside of work. It seemed perfect.

At work, we started having lunch together every day. I was thrilled to have someone to hang out with and fully embraced the friendship. But after a few months, I noticed that every time I spent time with Brenda, I felt super-stressed and like I needed to calm down. I couldn’t figure out why at first, which I know sounds odd, but I wasn’t as self-aware back then as I am now.

I wrote about it in my journal a few times, and I realized that I must be missing something. There didn’t seem to be a logical reason that I’d feel the way I did – Brenda was a good friend, right?

Well, after that, I started to watch our conversations a little closer, and pretty soon, I realized that Brenda was a very negative person. If I had an idea or talked about trying something new, she’d instantly go into all the reasons I shouldn’t bother doing it, or why it wouldn’t work. If I bought my lunch, she’d make subtle jabs at me for not being more frugal – and if I brought my lunch, she’d pick it apart for any given reason. If I talked about a guy I was interested in, she’d do everything in her power to tear him down and divert my attention. And she NEVER liked it if I tried to bring another friend along to hang out – she’d tear that person apart verbally and refuse to participate in whatever we were doing.

She was SO negative! In fact, I struggled to find a time where she said anything positive. But when we’d first met, I had taken her negativity as sort of commiseration between two single moms – you know how it is.

Once I realized what was going on, I wondered if I should end the friendship. I mean, it wasn’t like I had a million friends at that point in my life, but should I really maintain a relationship with someone who was bringing me down so much?

After a few days, I realized that I wanted to still be her friend, and so I started trying to subtly turn our conversations toward the positive. I’d counter all of her negativity with phrases like “but on the plus side” and “now here’s the silver lining…”

But Brenda didn’t respond much to those things – except to occasionally roll her eyes and continue with her negativity.

Then, one day, I got moved to a new team within the department, and they all invited me to lunch. Brenda was annoyed when I invited her to go along. She refused and told me she’d rather eat lunch in her car than to put up with those people, and that we’d just resume our lunches the following day.

After spending my lunch break with this group, I felt a bit of an uplift in my spirits. And the next day, they invited me to join them again. Once again, I invited Brenda, and this time, she begrudgingly accepted. With all of these more positive people around, I felt better. Brenda’s negativity couldn’t quite infect me the way it usually did, and it was harder for her to dominate the conversation with so many of us at the table, But after a few days, she told me she was done with them. It was too much for her. And she gave me an ultimatum: her or the group.

Whether it was right or wrong, I chose the group. And while I told Brenda that it didn’t need to be this way, that we could all be friends – or at least that I could be friends with them and her as well, she disagreed and she gave me the silent treatment for the remainder of the time we worked together. I felt really bad about it, but I knew I’d made the right choice. Negativity is so difficult to deal with – and Brenda’s especially toxic version of it was infecting me like a disease. I knew that if I wanted to feel better, I had to move on.

Now, I can’t say for sure if Brenda was a narcissist or just a very broken woman. But either way, she had become toxic for me. So let me ask you – does any of this sound familiar to you?

Have you ever had an experience like that?

Have you had a toxic friend?

Before we dig into our discussion on narcissists and toxic people as friends, let’s talk about true friends. What is a true friend, in your opinion?

Everyone has a slightly different definition–but bottom line, a true friend is someone who is there for you when you need him or her, someone you trust, someone who makes you feel good.

Probably you have great conversations, share interests, and support one another in your every day lives. You help each other out. You have each other’s backs. You know.

But what happens when a friend turns out to be “not so good” for you – if the friendship becomes toxic? Worse, what if your friend is a toxic narcissist?

What is a toxic narcissist?

In case you’re new around here, let me quickly define the term “toxic narcissist.” Officially, this refers to a toxic, verbally abusive person who may have narcissistic personality disorder.

To avoid the whole “pop psychology” thing, let’s just put it this way. If we’re talking about a toxic narcissist, on the most basic level, we’re talking about someone who lacks empathy and who acts from that perspective. It’s someone who demonstrates toxic narcissism – as opposed to healthy narcissism, this is excessive self-focus that involves a marked lack of empathy for others.

So what does a toxic or narcissist friend look like?

In layman’s terms, that means someone who, after spending time with them, makes you feel bad about yourself instead of good. This person might have a tendency to be critical of you — sometimes subtly, and other times, not so subtly. They may also make you feel drained – emotionally, financially, and/or mentally. Ultimately, this is someone who you might recognize as not very good for you.

How do you truly identify a toxic friendship?

It can be difficult, especially if you have been close to a friend for a long time. If you suspect that a friend is (or has become) toxic, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How do you feel after spending time with or speaking to this person? Do you feel good and positive (for the most part) or do you find yourself worrying, stressing or obsessing about some aspect of the visit or call?
  • Are you afraid to tell your friend about some aspect of your life for fear of how they’ll react or fear of being judged harshly?
  • Do you sometimes find yourself avoiding contact with the person or ignoring their calls?
  • Does your friend consistently “forget” about your plans or cancel at the last minute?
  • Does your friend actively insult or offend you on a consistent basis?
  • Do you find yourself feeling uncomfortable or bothered by your friend’s life choices, behavior or moral conduct?
  • Do you feel comfortable bringing up concerns about your friendship with this friend?
  • Does this friendship benefit you?
  • Do you trust this friend, really trust him or her?

These are just a few questions to get you started. In general, your friends should be an asset to your life, not a detriment.

How do you deal with a toxic friendship?

Does someone in your life seem to be more of a hindrance than a help in your life? If so, it may be time to reevaluate your choices. So, once we’ve figured out that a friend IS toxic, what can we do about it? How do we deal with a toxic friendship?

1. Recognize the Problem

When we start feeling bad about spending time with or talking to our friends, it’s time to take a look at the relationship. Identifying the friendship as a toxic one is the first step to dealing with the problem.

2. Own Up to It, People Pleaser

Friends of toxic types often have something in common. According to Charles Figley, a spokesman for the American Psychological Association, “It’s a pleaser personality — you want people to like you, you want to get along, and it’s hard to say no. But you can pay the price in one way by having toxic friends.”

The fact is that, whether you can see it or not, you’ve got some responsibility in this relationship too. Maybe you’ve allowed your friend to treat you negatively or to make you feel bad about yourself because you want them to like you, or because you don’t like confrontation.

3. Develop Strong Boundaries

Often, people pleasers aren’t good at setting boundaries. When your friendships become toxic, it’s time to stand up for yourself and let friends know what isn’t acceptable.

For example, I used to have a close friend in college who always did the “one-up” thing when I’d tell her about my problems or my accomplishments.

For example, when I told her about a promotion I had received at work, and she was like ‘oh yeah, I heard I might be getting a promotion at my job, too.’ Then she went on to tell me how much better her promotion would be than mine, and how much more money she’d be making than me. Another time, I told her about a problem I was having with a guy I was dating, and wouldn’t you know it? She launched into a big monologue about her problem with her boyfriend, which was, of course, far more serious and difficult than mine.

So, in that case, I could’ve set boundaries by explaining my concerns to my friend and asking her to avoid the “one-up-manship.” I never did, unfortunately. But hindsight is always 2020, right? Anyhoo…

4. Talk It Out

Talk to a trusted (non-toxic) friend or family member about your concerns if you can. Many times, it’s easier to figure out the problem when you’re “outside looking in”–that is, when you’re not the one with the problem, the solution to it can seem crystal clear.

If you can’t find an “objective” third party, it’s a good idea to seek outside counseling. By employing the skills of a trained coach or therapist, not only do you get the objectivity you need, but you may also get answers or learn coping techniques you wouldn’t on your own. If not, talk to a support group like my SPANily group on Facebook.

You could also journal or blog about the problem. Personally, I have worked through almost literally every problem in my life this way – including toxic friendships. Sometimes, just putting our thoughts into words and getting them out of our heads can be enough to help us figure out our issues.

5. If All Else Fails, Walk Away and Go No Contact

If you’ve tried setting boundaries and discussing the problem with your toxic friend and have not been able to resolve the issues, it may be time to consider limiting contact or ending the friendship. It’s not an easy choice and certainly shouldn’t be taken lightly, but when it comes down to it, your sanity and mental health are more important than any toxic friendship. Take care of yourself first, and then you can take care of others. People pleasers often forget this little piece of wisdom.

  • There are many ways you can do this: email, phone call – you can just stop talking to the person. But in an ideal world, you’d do it in person. Maybe you’d invite the person to coffee or lunch. Before meeting them think about why it is you don’t want them in your life anymore and figure out how to phrase it in non-judgmental ways.
  • Try using “I Statements” – meaning, make an assertive statement without putting your friend on the defensive.
  • Explain clearly (but kindly) how their behavior makes you feel. Say something like ‘Brenda, I feel upset when you ask me for advice and then tell me that I don’t know what I’m talking about.’ Or “Brenda, I feel stressed out after having lunch with you each day because it feels like you rarely have anything positive to say.”
  • Be clear and assertive. Let your friend know that you do care about them; but that you don’t feel like you can be involved in a friendship with them any longer. Give the person a chance to respond, they may not even be aware of their behavior and the idea of losing a friend might give them a good reason to think about their own behavior. If the conversation turns towards the negative, you can just end it there and walk away.

Of course, this is always much easier said than done. But I promise you, when you have the weight of a toxic friend lifted off your shoulders, you’ll feel so much better and be able to heal that much faster.

Question of the Day

Have you ever had a toxic friend, and if so, how’d you deal with it? Share your thoughts, ideas and experiences in the comments section, below this video.

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