Why Do Narcissists Copy You? The Shocking Psychology of Mirroring in Narcissists

Why Do Narcissists Copy You? The Shocking Psychology of Mirroring in Narcissists

(Prefer to watch/listen instead of read? See video on YouTube)

I remember thinking I’d met my soulmate within a couple of weeks of meeting my ex. It was so crazy how much we had in common. He was an artist like me and even wrote dark, brooding poetry as I did at the time. We liked the same music and we both loved to dance – the list could go on and on. And while I didn’t think much of him when we first met, it wasn’t long before I was telling a girlfriend that while we seemed so different, I couldn’t believe how much we had in common.

Of course, I’d later understand that he was likely a toxic narcissist, and relationships with narcissists move quickly. So, within less than a year, we’d be living together and married with a baby on the way. It was around this time that I’d be smacked in the face with the fact that much of what he’d claimed we had in common was a complete fabrication. But why would he do this?

Why do narcissists copy your personality as well as the personalities of others? Is it a manipulation tactic? Do they know they’re doing it? Well, I have a theory on this, and the answers to these questions will go much deeper than you might expect. So, that’s exactly what we’re talking about today – the psychology of how and why narcissists copy the personalities, behaviors, hobbies and speech patterns of the people in their lives.
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Narcissists, Codependency, and Mirroring

Narcissists have a way of copying you, or mimicking you or in some cases, nearly becoming you. And, when you think of narcissistic mirroring or copying, you think of the average narcissist who sort of takes on parts of the identities of other people. But what you may not know is that this behavior, as annoying as it can be, is often the result of an early childhood wound caused by a lack of mirroring. And while narcissists manifest this by imitating people around them, any of us could have been affected by the same childhood wound and could be manifesting it through our own codependency. Yes, I’m serious. Let’s talk about it.

What Is Mirroring?

Mirroring is the usually subconscious replication of another person’s nonverbal signals.  In layman’s terms, mirroring is when you reflect back the mannerisms, behaviors, and other behaviors of other people. It causes us to adopt different facial expressions, body language, as well as tone and for some of us, will lead to empathy.

As adults, we may use mirroring subconsciously as a way to create rapport with others. And, despite what a lot of people will tell you, mirroring isn’t a narcissistic behavior, technically. In fact, mirroring is a normal part of the development of humans. It begins as early as the day you’re born and is a requirement for the normal development of babies, toddlers, and kindergarteners. It helps them to develop their identities. But what happens when a tiny human doesn’t experience this important connection during infancy and early childhood?

How Does a Lack of Mirroring in Early Childhood Affect You Long-Term?

As infants, humans will naturally adapt to whatever parenting we get. When our parent is depressed, anxious, stressed, or even distracted often, they don’t always give us the eye contact we need. In these cases, and in the case of a parent who might have narcissistic personality disorder, we are nearly doomed on a psychological level when we don’t get the kind of connection we need for our brains to develop normally.

See, published research tells us that beginning when we’re born and throughout our in early childhood, regular eye contact with our mothers indirectly helps us develop a sense of self.

For most people, the natural times to give this kind of eye contact would happen during feeding, diaper changing, and other kinds of physical care of their babies. And you would think that it’s a sort of natural thing for most people to look at their babies and talk to them or coo at them, right?

Good Enough Parents Vs. Toxic Parents

The thing is that most parents do this naturally, even parents who might not be considered “good” parents by the average person. And even when “good enough” parents do what comes naturally to them, babies and toddlers will reciprocate and even begin to initiate eye contact and connection over time.

But when our mothers have the problems I mentioned or any other issue that causes her to not focus while she’s feeding and caring for us, for example, she might not give us the eye contact that we’d so desperately have needed to properly attach to her. This leads to us losing not only our ability to develop our authentic selves, but it leaves us instinctively feeling that our needs haven’t been met.

That is because we are receiving an unconscious message that we don’t matter – and later, if our mother IS a narcissist, we learn that in order to have any value whatsoever, we must meet her needs (and the needs of others). This kind of perception can manifest in several ways, becoming a big part of the core self we develop. It will, in nearly every case, affect our relationships in adulthood as well.

Two Extreme Ways a Lack of Mirroring Can Affect Your Adult Relationships

Since the lack of mirroring in early childhood leads to you feeling unimportant and that your value comes from how you serve other people, you would naturally become more attractive to someone like a narcissist. You spend your life trying to make the people around you happy and take care of their needs in order to feel like you’re worthy.

While you and I might have developed the “disease to please,” if our mothers were unable to connect with us on this level, those who develop toxic narcissism or even narcissistic personality disorder are affected differently. See, when narcissism manifests, it is because those who develop that way have developed the trademark lack of empathy as a result of not having felt understood, appreciated or tuned in with their parent. So, unlike those of us who became people-pleasers, narcissists are unable to see others as whole people – they can’t understand or appreciate the autonomy of anyone else.

Worse, the lack of mirroring in infancy can lead to a very toxic legacy in your family. That’s because, for example, when a mother doesn’t naturally mirror her babies, chances are she didn’t receive mirroring in her own infancy and early childhood. As a result, unless she chooses to develop the awareness needed to overcome this and to intentionally change the pattern, she won’t be able to offer it to her kids either. This leads to her trauma being passed on to her children, and this can continue in families for generations.

How Does Mirroring Lead to Copycat Behavior in Narcissists?

Maybe you’ve noticed that the narcissist in your life picked up some of your hobbies or ideas – or even certain personality traits you have. Your reaction might have been to worry, and then you might have thought you were reading into it too much. Or maybe you thought it was an amazing bit of kismet and that you’d finally you met your soulmate, as I did initially with my ex.

But by now, you’ve realized you’re dealing with someone who might be a narcissist. And you are painfully aware that narcissists are manipulative. Mirroring can be used by narcissists as an almost unconscious manipulation tactic and it can be used consciously by sociopaths and psychopaths.

When adult narcissists use mirroring, they copy your behaviors, mannerisms, speech patterns, and personality traits – it can really be extreme and for some of us, a little disconcerting. Since narcissists feel like they have no substance, it is almost like they cannot exist without being a reflection of someone else – or more than one person. This, as I explained, is likely due to that early childhood wound of not getting the kind of nurturing they needed on an emotional level – their mothers often didn’t give them the eye contact and recognition that they needed to properly self-actualize.

When the Narcissist Suddenly Changes Their Personality or Behaviors

Often, when you’re in a long-term relationship with a narcissist, you’ll notice a shift in their personalities over the years. For the average narcissist, you might see a sudden shift in personality when they start spending time with a new person. Or, if they are your parent, they might take on some of your own qualities, habits, or hobbies as you develop them, and this might continue into adulthood.

What’s interesting about this is that it can be a “tell” if you think about it. Why? Because when they do suddenly change, you can often just look around at the people in their lives and figure out exactly what is going on. Chances are that they are either jealous of someone and taking on their qualities, mimicking them, or they’re obsessed with them and taking on their qualities, behaviors or mannerisms for that reason.

Why Do Narcissists Engage In Mirroring in Relationships?

As you know, narcissists are by nature very competitive, and when you’re in a relationship with them, it can feel like they want to take your identity in one way or another. In the case of mirroring, they will almost become you on some level. Ironically, they will often find you attractive for whatever quality they will eventually take on, and as the relationship progresses, you may actually lose that part of yourself. for a codependent, this can be devastating and have lifelong effects. But what is the psychology of the mirroring behavior for narcissists in adult relationships?

There are several reasons that narcissists engage in mirroring in adult relationships, including the following.

Narcissists don’t have a stable identity

I’m not talking about the kind of identity theft in which criminals use your information to open up rogue bank accounts to hurt your credit – though narcissists aren’t above it. They never established a real sense of identity growing up, thanks to the lack of eye contact and human connection in early childhood. They might be literally attempting to adopt your identity.

A tactic to win you over

Mirroring in narcissists also happens when they really want to win you over. I like to call this a sort of “soulmate scam,” because they will pretend they like and dislike the same things that you do. For instance, if you love Fleetwood Mac but strongly dislike The Eagles, then ‘coincidentally’ they will too. Meeting someone who is so much like you might make you feel like they’re your soulmate and cause you to warm to them more quickly.

They pretend they are being intimate

Narcissists are not by nature able to express true empathy. Certainly, in some cases, they are able to fake it when they need to, but generally, they don’t have the skills or even the desire to have a connection that is real. But they need narcissistic supply, and in order to get that, they need relationships. They logically understand that intimacy is important. So, they pretend, and they learn to do this by watching your own behaviors. In other words, they fake intimacy by imitating you.

While narcissists will stop actively mirroring you after the love bombing or idealization phase, they’ll also continue to hold on to whatever qualities or traits they’ve picked up from you, unless and until they find someone else to imitate.

So, what do you think?

Question of the day: have you experienced a narcissist who copied your identity, and if so, were you surprised by the answers I shared today on why that happens? Do you agree or disagree with my theory? Share your thoughts, share your ideas, share your experiences in the comments section below this video, and let’s talk about it.

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Narcissists and Psychological Projection In Toxic Relationships

Narcissists and Psychological Projection In Toxic Relationships

One of my clients told me a story that is all too familiar for anyone who has been in a toxic relationship with a narcissist. During her relationship, her ex would consistently accuse her of cheating and wanting to cheat on him. He had become so obsessed that he was secretly tracking her car with a hidden low-jack device he bought on the recommendation of a private eye friend of his, and he’d even put apps on her phone and computer that allowed him to watch her every move.

Later, she would learn that he was a self-proclaimed “love addict” who had been actively cheating on her for years, sneaking around and hiding everything. Turns out, while she’d been doing everything in her power to be transparent and to soothe his insecurities in the relationship, he’d been the one cheating and hiding the whole time. He was clearly projecting his own bad behavior on to her – a common way narcissists manipulate us in relationships. But was he doing it to distract her from his bad behavior, which it thoroughly did, or was something more at play here?

Here’s the thing. There’s a difference between the kind of psychological projection that happens for the average person and the kind that happens when someone is a toxic narcissist. And that’s exactly what we’re talking about today – psychological projection, what it is, how it works and how narcissists tend to use it to manipulate us. (See video on YouTube)

What is Psychological Projection?

Psychological projection is a defense mechanism in which the human ego defends itself against unconscious impulses or qualities (both positive and negative) by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others. It is part blame-shifting and part misdirection of a person’s inner insecurities, behaviors and issues.

Do Only Narcissists Use Projection?

Anyone can find themselves projecting – it isn’t just a narcissistic quality. The fact is that we all have insecurities. And even the most emotionally balanced among us can find ourselves subconsciously projecting our worries and insecurities on to the people in our lives. In most cases, we aren’t really even aware of it. But when we’re dealing with toxic narcissists in our relationships, whether they’re our partner, family member or friend, we are often actively being psychologically abused, and our self-esteem – if we ever had any – takes a nosedive.

So, when we project, it’s our subconscious sort of seeing qualities or issues within ourselves that we consciously deny. And then, without realizing it, we sort of attribute the feelings (or the issues) on to someone else. A lot of times, this is because the way we feel makes us uncomfortable and we don’t really know how to deal with it or can’t bring ourselves to do so.

For example, if we are stressing out and worried that our boss dislikes us, we might think, “Wow, she really hates me!”

But if we don’t have any actual evidence other than a general sense of negativity around her, we might ask ourselves how we really feel about the boss. The fact is that it’s possible that we’re just projecting our own stuff on to the boss. It’s possible that we don’t like her or feel somehow threatened by her.

In general, if you find yourself projecting, you can trace the trigger back to something that happened to you that made you feel insecure – and the situation you were in reminded you of that time. For example, during my pregnancy with my oldest child, my ex-husband made me feel like my changing body was grotesque. He was literally disgusted by me.

Eventually, I’d leave him and six years later, I’d find myself in a new relationship, pregnant with kid number two. And even though I would go on to have that baby and another four years later with my second husband, I struggled a lot during my second pregnancy with projection issues. I was triggered by my condition, and even though I logically knew that my husband loved my body during pregnancy, my thoughts raced and I struggled with doubting this and thinking he must be secretly disgusted as my ex had been.

I managed it, knowing logically what I was doing. But, boy, was it difficult!

Projection is a Primal, Reactive Behavior

Here’s where it gets interesting. Projection and our ability to resolve it within ourselves is all about emotional maturity. In fact, projection is considered a primitive defense because it preserves the ego by ignoring and/or distorting reality on some level.

In other words, projection is a primal, reactive behavior that is used by children and that eventually, most of us grow out of on our own,  or at least we become aware of it and actively work to overcome it as I did with my pregnancies.

(For the record, my third pregnancy, though it was physically harder than the others since I was 32 years old by then, was far more emotionally satisfying as I had recognized that I was projecting old feelings onto my second husband, who didn’t, in fact, have the same issues as my ex, in the moment with my second and worked to get through it. That was because I had by that point developed enough emotional maturity to recognize the issue and deal with it.)

But narcissists tend to be emotional toddlers (or at best, emotional pre-teens) no matter how old they happen to be at any given moment. What I mean is that while they may appear to be a regular adult when you first meet them, narcissists are notoriously emotionally immature. In fact, on so many levels, their emotional maturity (or lack thereof) and manipulative behaviors can be compared to those of a toddler. But at least a toddler is cute. Narcissists can be downright ugly (on the inside at least) and while most of us begin to develop empathy as early as two years old, narcissists aren’t so lucky. They either never develop empathy or lose it during their own traumatic experiences in childhood. (In fact, if you have a minute later, take a look at the video I’ll leave right there and in the pinned comment for you – this is a literal comparison, not a figurative one. )

Narcissistic Projection vs. ‘Regular’ Projection

So, as you might imagine, narcissists are different when they use projection. While they may also be projecting due to their own insecurities, most of the time, projection acts as yet another manipulation tactic. This can become a serious issue, especially since it is often directed at people like us – people who are sensitive, empathic and who care too much about how they feel – at least until we recognize what they are.

And since many of us were also raised by narcissists or other toxic people, our own emotional struggles and lack of confidence can then be compounded by any narcissist we are in a relationship with,  thanks to their extreme manipulation and gaslighting during our relationships. On the narcissist’s part, the goal is to divert your attention from what is really going on. By distracting you, not only do they get you to focus on yourself as the problem, but they also get you to take responsibility for the problem.

The Effects of Narcissistic Projection

When narcissists project their own issues on to us, we tend to actually personalize it and in some cases, we even accept the projections as true, or we worry that it could become true. Then, we might actively work to change something about ourselves that doesn’t need changing – or that isn’t even a quality or issue we have, but rather one of the narcissist’s projections of their own issues or qualities. Alternatively, we will spend our lives attempting to soothe their projected insecurities and ignore our own wellbeing in the process. In either case, it spells disaster for our core selves.

But on the plus side, if we can learn to recognize when the narcissist is doing this and identify it as projection, then we can label it and choose to see it for what it is and not internalize it.

So, how do you know if a narcissist is projecting on to you?

Since narcissists are well-known to lack self-awareness, it makes sense that they wouldn’t necessarily be consciously aware of their projecting thoughts and behaviors. And, since the narcissist’s ability to feel any self-esteem or self-worth is entirely dependent on how other people see and perceive them, they have a tendency to deny that they are in fact flawed humans who, like everyone else, have their own shortcomings or limitations. But rather than accept and recognize them, the way I did with my pregnancy issues, they will blame the people around them for anything about themselves they deem less than perfect.

So, in a way, you could almost say that narcissists tell on themselves through their projections. Using the example of the cheater who accuses his partner of cheating, we can see that projection is one way they reveal their own bad behaviors and ideologies on to us. It’s how they show us who they are and tell us what they’re doing.

When the narcissist projects on to you, they are essentially calling you by their own name, in a way. They’ll accuse you of doing whatever it is they are actually doing, or what they’re considering or planning to do. And since narcissists aren’t prone to feeling guilty for their behaviors, even when they should, they end up assigning that guilt to you through projection. Does that make sense? They unconsciously deny the existence of a feeling or action of their own and attribute it to you or someone else, thereby externalizing it.

Some people would call this intentional manipulation. Others would say it’s a subconscious way for them to avoid taking personal responsibility for their behavior. I say it’s a combination of those two things.

Examples of Narcissistic Projection in Toxic Relationships

Let me make this a little easier to understand by sharing a few examples of psychological projection in relationships.

1. The Narcissist Says You’re Something They Are.

This is where the narcissist has some insecurity about their personal selves and then they either call you that thing or they put a lot of pressure on you to change it. For example, if the narcissist is lazy around the house, they will accuse you of the same. Or they might constantly complain about the extra 10 pounds you’re carrying around, while they’re carrying an extra 50. They might even say something like, “You never put my needs first. You only care about yourself.” Sound familiar?

They do this because in fact THEY never put your needs first (or even second), and they care only about themselves. And think of the example I explained with my client in which she was constantly on-guard to stay transparent with her partner after being constantly accused of cheating or wanting to cheat, and later learned it was actually her ex who cheated.

And in some cases, they are projecting on to someone else in a similar way. Maybe they over-focus on the fact that a neighbor doesn’t keep their yard tidy enough, while their own yard leaves a lot to be desired.

2. The Narcissist Plays the Victim.

This is one of the most infuriating types of projection: when the narcissist plays the victim – also known as narcissistic injury. When the narcissistic person abuses or victimizes you in some way, they will act like you’re the one who did it to them, and they’ll twist everything you say and do to fit the narrative. For example, if you finally get fed up with the way they treat you and go no contact, they will tell everyone (including anyone they’re currently grooming to be their new source of supply) that you did everything they did. They play the victim, play up the sob story and get plenty of narcissistic supply out of the deal.

3. The Narcissist Flips Accusations Around.

When you call the narcissist out on something they’re doing or have done that upsets you, they will turn it all around on you and before you know it, you’re the one apologizing. So, for example, if you notice that your partner is paying too much attention to a particular person of the opposite sex (or same, or whatever y’all are into) and you call them out on it, rather than explaining and or acknowledging their behavior and trying to change it, they instead find something to poke at you about. In the case of this example, they might say you are overly jealous and have nothing to worry about – but that if you continue to bother them with your nonsense, they may as well go ahead and cheat on you anyway. I mean, after all, you’re accusing them of it. What is really going on here is that they’re once again deflecting their bad behavior on to you and getting you to focus on what they’re accusing you of instead – so you end up trying to stop being jealous and end up allowing them to do things that make you really uncomfortable in order to prove that you’re not. It’s crazymaking, to say the very least.

How do you deal with narcissistic projection?

It helps to first recognize the issue, and then to see it for what it is – just one more way the narcissist is manipulating you – consciously or otherwise. You should also realize that as someone who might be an empath and who is sensitive, kind and compassionate, you might have the unfortunate habit of projecting your GOOD qualities on to the narcissist, so be careful with that. Be sure you take off your rose-colored glasses and see the narcissist for what they really are.

Once you’ve done that, identify and focus on your boundaries. Be sure to stand firmly behind them and to be aware of what is true and what is a manipulated falsehood designed to push you down and boost the narcissist into the position of power. Take the power back by refusing to be convinced of something that isn’t true. If you need to, keep a journal of what actually happens so that you don’t doubt yourself. It can be a really helpful way to deal with both projection and gaslighting – which, of course, can be dealt with using the gray rock rule. If you aren’t familiar with the gray rock rule, take a look at the video I’m sharing with you right here, where you can learn everything you need to know about how to use and benefit from the gray rock method of dealing with manipulative narcissists.

Question of the day: Have you experienced narcissistic projection? Have you, yourself, ever found yourself projecting? Share your thoughts, share your experiences and share your ideas in the comments section below this video and let’s talk about it.

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9 Things That Drive Narcissistic Mothers Crazy

9 Things That Drive Narcissistic Mothers Crazy

If you grew up with a narcissist mother, then you already know that the effects they have on their children as they grow up are profound and life-altering. The truth is that living with a narcissist can be difficult for anyone, but growing up in the care of one can affect your life in some pretty surprising ways. For example, most narcissists use a really pervasive sort of manipulation called gaslighting. You probably already know that it’s the worst kind because it messes with your mind in ways you’d never expect. This is especially true for the children of narcissistic mothers, who can’t get away from it and have no concept of what “normal” actually looks like from the inside.

If your mother was a narcissist, you probably spent most of your childhood thinking you weren’t good enough and you probably assumed that your mom was right about everything she said about you. You might have spent most of your childhood trying to get her approval, desperately seeking her validation, and failing miserably. For me, and for many of us, this would continue into adulthood.

Of course, many of us actually internalize the toxic mother’s image of ourselves. And often, we do our best to attempt to become the person she wants to be, even when that person isn’t who we really are – and when we fail, we begin to think we’re worthless.

Like all narcissists, these women have two faces – the one they show the public, and the one they show you at home behind closed doors. And very few people outside of your family will have any idea of what you’re dealing with. Most people will either not be aware of her, or they’ll think she’s amazing and hung the moon.

This can really mess with your sense of self, to put it mildly. Worst of all, as the child of a narcissistic mother, you are forced to pretend in public that all is well–all the while knowing that when you get home, things will be different. In some cases, you literally dread going home because the difference is so significant. And if you’re a little rebellious, you might not pretend all the time. And then people will ask questions. They won’t get why you’re not happy, and they’ll believe her lies when she tells them there’s something just not right about you (or whatever excuse she makes). Alternatively, you’ll spend your life living up to an impossible standard trying to keep her happy.

And also like other narcissists, she will not have the ability to tune into you emotionally, and she has no empathy. The concept of unconditional love is foreign to her – she ONLY loves conditionally and makes sure you know it. She is critical and she is judgmental. But what exactly drives her crazy? Well, that’s exactly what we’re going to talk about today (see video here) – 9 things that drive narcissistic mothers crazy.

9 Things That Drive a Narcissistic Mother Crazy

1. When you have an independent thought or opinion on literally anything that differs from her own.

Narcissistic mothers are very opinionated, and no matter what their stance is on any given subject, they absolutely hate it when you have the nerve to think anything other than what they told you to think. Since a narcissistic mother sees you as an extension of herself rather than a whole person, she cannot imagine that you could possibly have a thought or opinion that doesn’t mirror her own. The fact is that your thoughts, feelings and opinions are rarely, if ever, validated by a narcissistic mother – and when they are, it’s only when you happen to feel the same way your narcissist does. This continues into adulthood for most children of narcissists. Once you realize that, you might even start to tell yourself that your opinion is, in fact, always consistent with hers, at least on some level. It causes so much less trouble, and you’re treated to the illusion of approval if you comply. For example, each of my children has two middle names. Why? Because my mother HATED the names I’d chosen and insisted that I add in names from her family. And when I got pregnant for the first time, I really felt the need to be connected to her. It’s something that seems to happen, I guess. But when I finally told her, she literally called me an asshole and didn’t speak to me for the next 8 months. She said I’d done it to hurt her and felt personally offended by it, apparently. (But of course, she showed up for the big day and pretended to be the doting grandma – it got her lots of attention. And in my clueless and desperate state, I took it. All I ever wanted was her approval and that’s one thing I’d never end up getting).

2. When you know something she doesn’t know.

Narcissistic mothers hate it when you have a skill they don’t have or you know something they don’t know. For example, my own mother once had a complete meltdown when I used a word she didn’t know during a counseling session. She said nothing during the session, but as we drove home, she called me every name in the book and I had no idea why. The 45-minute drive felt like it lasted hours as she raged on and on, and I remained in the dark on what I’d done wrong – until we got home and she pulled out the dictionary to look up the word I had said. (For the record, the word was “pensive,” as in thinking about stuff.) And one of my viewers recently commented that she speaks Spanish, and her mother would rage about it, telling her she thought she was so great because she speaks Spanish, but that she wasn’t, and I quote, “all that.”

3. When you don’t like something she wants you to like.

This could be the food they’ve cooked or purchased, the clothing they buy or even something like their choice in a scented candle or a paint color. Narcissistic mothers have decided who you are and what you like (hint: think some version of themselves), and you better not go outside those lines, or else. After all, she sees you as a possession, an extension of herself, so why would you have the nerve to be anything else?  For example, my mother always forced me to eat things I hated, and I was required to pretend I liked them. And if I didn’t, she would punish me in various ways. One year on my birthday, she invited a few of my friends to her favorite pizza place and proceeded to order a pizza “with everything,” which was her preference. She knew very well that I seriously disliked that kind of pizza and would’ve preferred something simple like pepperoni only, or even just plain cheese. When I asked her why she did this (because of course, she included olives and mushrooms on the pizza – two things she KNEW I hated), she literally told me, “Well, I didn’t know what everyone liked.” And when I told her she knew what I liked (and reminded her that it was MY birthday), she pulled out the poor me act, AKA narcissistic injury, and acted like I was being completely unreasonable about it. Oh, did I mention that I was 12 when this happened? Yep. Anyhoo, this brings me to number 4.

4. When you’ve accomplished something – especially when it’s bigger than or more recently than anything she’s accomplished.

Narcissistic mothers love to brag about your accomplishments to others, don’t get me wrong. But they also secretly (and sometimes, not so secretly) hate it when you win. Whether it’s your graduation, or you got a book published or you won an award, beware of the wrath of the jealous narcissistic mother. And yet ironically, being raised by this time of mother might lead you to spend your life trying to prove something–maybe that you have value. The day I got my first book published, for example, I called my mother all excited, telling her I couldn’t believe that I was finally seeing my name on the cover of a book. She brushed it off and told me she was very busy and had to go. And then never mentioned it again. And a client tells me that her mother is insanely jealous of her career in high-tech. It seems her mother never went to college and while she pressured my client to do so, she has always tried to get her to stop working such a stressful job and go get a job at Starbucks or some such thing.

5. When you are the center of attention.

When you’re raised by a narcissistic mother, you know the rules. She is the center of EVERYTHING – and that includes your life. In fact, she’d prefer to be at the center of everything that happens, all the time. Even if they’re more covert, they want to make everything about them. This includes your wedding day, the birth of your children and even your birthday. On any day that is supposed to be “your day,” you can count on a narcissistic mother to ruin it, if you allow it. My mother, for example, made all three of those events all about her, each time – and when it wasn’t about her, she wasn’t interested.

6. When you grow up.

In some cases, narcissistic mothers can seem great when their kids are small. But especially for female children, when they start to show physical signs of becoming an adult, the narcissistic mother will feel literally jealous of them. This can even lead to her attempting to compete for the attention of other men, and in some cases, can result in the mother creating an uncomfortable situation in the home by pushing the child away from the father out of actual jealousy – she feels like she’s competing with her daughter for her husband’s attention. This can, in some cases, get even worse when the man she’s married to isn’t the father. For example, I had a client who told me her mother refused to buy her a bra when she began to develop. This left her feeling very self-conscious, so she’d wear big sweatshirts and overalls as often as possible. The mother was jealous of the daughter’s youth and her developing body. It’s horrific when you consider the implications – and in this case, there were lifelong struggles that took years for my client to resolve.

7. When you don’t take her advice.

Narcissistic mothers are full of something they claim is “advice,” but in reality, their advice is more like an order. As in, do it, or else. When you make a decision that she doesn’t agree with, whether it’s as simple as a haircut (or as complicated as what college to attend or who you should marry), she will make your life difficult. She will play the narcissistic injury card and throw out the poor me act, and if that doesn’t work, she may rage at you or even do sneaky things to try to “take you down a couple of notches.” For example, my own mother once called CPS on me and tried to have my children taken from me for not following her orders. (I won’t go into it here, but you are welcome to read the full story at QueenBeeing.com/Story if you are interested).

8. When you do what she wants.

Say your narcissistic mother complained about your grades not being high enough. So, you’d work super hard and pull your grades up – maybe you even get straight A’s. Rather than be happy for you, she might say something like, “Oh, great. Now let’s see if you can keep it up,” or “Oh, you think just getting these grades once makes you perfect? Let’s see what happens next semester.” Or maybe you search for weeks to find the perfect gift for her, and when you give it to her, you expect her to finally be grateful for once. But when she opens it, she rolls her eyes and tosses it aside. She might say something like, “Oh, I guess you know I already have one of these,” or she might just say nothing. Either way, she’s invalidating you. For example, one of my clients told me a story where her mother got angry with her for not defending her when the mother argued with my client’s brother. The next time they started to argue, my client dutifully jumped in to defend her mother – and then she was chastised for getting in the middle of something that had nothing to do with her and trying to “censor” their discussion. No joke.

9. When you’re not perfect, as far as she’s concerned.

Narcissistic mothers have a very specific idea of what their children are supposed to be, and when they don’t “measure up,” as in, when they choose to be who they want to be instead of who she tells them to be, it’s a big problem And in many cases, this can be the case with stuff that isn’t your choice as well. For example, she might be upset that you have a physical or mental disability, or that you’re overweight or underweight, or that you were born with blue eyes instead of brown. And in some cases, such as in the case of Gypsy Rose Blanchard, the girl whose mother pretended she was very ill and required constant medical procedures and a wheelchair, they might even get mad at you for being healthy. What it all comes down to is whether you choose to become “perfect” or you go to the other extreme, your narcissistic mother will likely actively discredit everything you do, say or feel. You might start to think you don’t matter–and that you’re not even all that “real.” Like I’ve mentioned, I remember believing that nothing I felt or wanted was as real as whatever my mother felt or wanted.

Question of the day: were you raised by a narcissistic mother and if so, could you relate to any of the points I made today? And what would you add to my list? Share your thoughts, share your ideas, share your experiences in the comments section below this video, and let’s talk about it.

12 Big Fat Lies The Narcissist Wants You To Believe

12 Big Fat Lies The Narcissist Wants You To Believe

Lies Narcissists Want You To Believe – An empath friend of mine, let’s call her Jane, was in a relationship a guy – we’ll call him John – and while they didn’t seem to be an ideal couple to the average eye, they managed to stay together almost 10 years. If we’re being honest, this was all thanks to Jane and how good she was to John (even though, if you like me, he didn’t deserve it!). John had many narcissistic qualities, but he was also a good-looking guy who, while he had kind of a weird personality, was okay to be around most of the time.

Anyhoo. A few years into the relationship, John started acting weird. He would disappear for hours at a time, or he’d say he was going to work late, but when Jane would call his office, he wouldn’t be there. But Jane would always say he had a good reason and apparently whatever he told her made sense.

Fast-forward a few years, and something weird happens. I get a call from Jane, and she wants me to help her figure out who is stalking John. She says someone has been sending both of them really scary and cryptic messages. The mysterious person has been texting Jane that John is cheating on her and pushing her to leave John. The person also insults her personally on a number of other shocking levels.

John swears that he has no idea who would do this. He says they must be crazy! Jane is very concerned, she tells me, and knowing that I have a gift for finding out information on the internet, she wants me to dig around and see what I can find out. She sends me the phone number of the person sending the texts and we dig into her and John’s Facebook friends lists. Before long, we have a name.

We ask John if he knows this person, and he says they work together, and that he’s “been there for her as a friend.” He claims she’s been talking to him about her husband and how he is abusive. He even says he’s been referring her to my videos and websites. But he has no idea why she’d say this stuff.

Jane confides in me around this time, letting me know that while John has cheated on her in the past, she really believes that this time, it’s different – she knows he loves her. And they’re living together now, so she can’t imagine he’d do it again. I want to believe it too.

A few weeks later, Jane has a dinner party, and sure enough, the stalker happens to send a message during the party. Only this time, she describes Jane’s house. She’s literally sitting outside, it turns out. Jane and John go to the police and the incident the next day.

Jane and John later figure out where the stalker lives, and they go together to confront her. There, they meet her husband, who defends the stalker. They have a really difficult interaction, and they leave. Jane tries really hard to continue to believe John, but she’s finding it increasingly difficult.

A few weeks later, it all comes out. John has in fact been cheating on Jane with the so-called stalker, and in fact, he tells Jane, they are now in a relationship. But, he says, he’s going to continue to live in Jane’s house since he can’t afford to move out just yet. (Side note – that didn’t last long. Jane came to my house a few weeks later complaining that he wouldn’t leave. But you know me. I helped her figure out a plan and he ended up leaving the same day).

Anyway. Here’s the thing. The truth is best seen in a person’s actions, and if you’ve ever been involved with a narcissist, you already know words don’t mean much. After all, most toxic narcissists are pathological liars who can, at times, be so convincing that they even believe their own lies. (No, I’m not kidding!) And it can be hard to catch a narcissist in a lie since they’re so very skilled at gaslighting and manipulation in general. It doesn’t hurt that they are also able to say anything, whether it’s the gospel truth or a blatantly invented lie with total conviction. And, their complete lack of concern for you and other people kind of rounds out the idea that when it comes right down to it, you can’t really trust a narcissist any further than you can throw them.

So, what exactly does the narcissist lie about?

Literally anything that serves them. Oh, and sometimes, they lie just for the sake of lying. But today, I’m going to share a dozen of the most commonly uttered lies narcissists want you to believe – as well as the truth behind each one – read on or watch this video on YouTube.

12 Lies The Narcissist Wants You To Believe

1. “Everyone else agrees with me on this.”

Narcissists will tell you this when you question or argue with them for any reason, or anytime you offer anything that feels like criticism – as in, anything that doesn’t sound like “you are so amazing!” They’ll say things like, “What do you mean the sky is blue? You are clearly color-blind! Everyone agrees with me that it’s really green and yellow striped!” or “How DARE you question my judgment or choices? You are clearly not very smart. Everyone knows I’m the only expert in the world on this stuff – and they all agree with everything I say, literally all the time!” But what that really means is, “I don’t actually know what I’m talking about and I realize that you are well-aware of it, but maybe if I tell you about all these pretend people who agree with everything I think, say and believe, you’ll doubt yourself enough to think I might be right. And my self-esteem can’t handle a hit right now, so…” In other words, for narcissists, saying it out loud is an attempt at self-validation, as well as a way to gaslight you into believing that you are the problem and that everyone else must be right. Yeah, they’re lying to you – but they’re also lying to themselves. Deep down they are often really insecure, which is why they have the need to say this phrase. This brings me to my next point.

2. “Everyone says you’re (lazy/no good/insert other insult here)

Despite the fact that you are a decent person with good intentions, the narcissist is always finding reasons to have you believe that they regularly poll the general public about you. They say things like, “Everyone says you’re difficult to get along with,” or “Everyone agrees that I’m too good-looking to be with you,” or “Everyone says you’re a gold digger,” or “Everyone knows you’re a bad parent.” Anything to hurt you. Now, you can test this one pretty easily – just ask for names. Who, specifically, said that? Sure, they might say that “everyone” is their friends, family, or even coworkers. But 9 times out of 10, if you ask them specifically WHO said whatever they’re claiming, they either won’t give you any specific name, or they’ll give you the name of someone you don’t know or can’t contact. That’s because this is another big fat lie narcissists tell you.

3. “I Promise You!”

Someone who is a good person will say this phrase and mean it. A narcissist says this with literally no actual intention of living up to their promise. So why do they say it if they don’t mean it? To shut you up, of course – basically get you off of their back for anything you happen to be upset about. The narcissist will say, “I promise I’ll never cheat on you again!” or “I promise to stop yelling at you every time I hear you breathing the wrong way,” but what they really mean is, “I see that you have needs, but I don’t want to deal with this right now. So I’m saying what I think you need to hear so that you will keep thinking things are okay, and I can keep controlling you.” In other words, they’ll promise to do whatever it is you’re hoping they’ll do in order to get you to behave in a way that they like – whether that means they promise you they’ll be better so you won’t leave or so you’ll come back once you’ve already left – hoovering – or it means they promise you they’ll change/grow/do better in some way. But they will only follow through if it’s convenient for them – or for only a short time (or as long as it takes for them to know they’ve got you fully enmeshed with them again).

4. “I’m Just Better Than You…and Everyone Else, Too”

Sometimes, the narcissist will literally say those words, but most of the time, it comes in the form of actively insulting your morals, ethics and behavior. They’ll say things like, “I can’t stand to look at you – you’re just disgusting,” or “You are clearly clueless and you never have anything of value to say.” But they mean, “You are making me feel less than or unattractive or in some way inferior, and I don’t like that. So, I’m going to make you feel like your feelings and thoughts aren’t as real or relevant as mine.” Oh, and don’t try to prove them wrong! Even if you show up with documented proof of your claim, they’ll blatantly deny it. in fact, they’ll also insult anyone else who offers advice or information that is contrary to what they want you to believe. This is even true if that person is an expert, such as a doctor or lawyer, or even someone like me – a subject matter expert. Just remember that this is less about YOU or even the other people they insult – it’s really more about the narcissist and their inability to see outside their own head. They are so sure they’re right about everything that to be open-minded enough to even consider that any opinion outside their own is valid would be nearly impossible. Remember too that anyone who goes out of their way to say that they are ‘better’ than you or anyone else has a need to say it due to deep, often hidden insecurity.

5. “Don’t Worry, I Got You, Boo”

When a narcissist says this phrase, then you really do have every reason to worry. Are they going to cause trouble for you? Will they fail to follow through on whatever it is that they’re saying they’ll do? Should you be worried? Yes, yes you should. They’ll say things like, “Of course I paid the mortgage! Don’t worry about it!” and “Yes, I will absolutely pick up our kid/your life-sustaining prescription/insert important thing here. I gotchu, Boo!” But what they really mean is, “I’d like you to stop talking about this now, so please shut up and let me get back to whatever else I’d prefer to be doing right now.” In other words, they’ll say whatever they need to say to get you to be quiet or stop bothering them with your silly questions. Just remember that narcissists don’t care about boundaries and rules. They are well-known to lack morality and credibility – so just be aware and double-check them when they utter this line – especially when whatever they say they’ll do could affect you in a big way if they skip it.

6. “I’ll be there for you.”

When the great Jon Bon Jovi serenaded the world with these words back when I was a pre-teen, I want to believe him so badly. I mean, who could look into those bedroom eyes and doubt anything he said? Yeah, I know. But can you blame me? I really wanted to believe that whoever I ended up with would actually be there for me. Unfortunately, I ended up with a toxic man who stereotypically proved to me that for a narcissist, this is the ultimate lie. They say things like, “I’ve got your back,” or “you can count on me!” But what they really mean is, “I only care about my own feelings and issues, unless it’s convenient for me to pretend to care about yours. And I want you to be there for me, so sometimes, I’ll pretend to be there for you. But when the chips are down, you’re on your own, boo.” Remember that narcissists have no empathy – so they don’t care how you feel, and they show you this with their actions. So don’t believe their words.

7. “No one else will love you.”

Narcissists want you to feel REALLY bad about yourself. They want you to believe that you’re so flawed, bad or damaged that you are literally unloveable. They’ll say things like, “Go ahead and leave! Good luck finding anyone to take care of you,” or “You are a total piece of poop. I must be crazy love you – no sane person would,” or “of course I don’t love you anymore, you’ve gotten so old/ugly/fat/skinny/rude/dumb that no one would love you!” What they really mean is, “I want you to think I’m doing you a HUGE favor by being in a relationship with you, but the truth is that I’m not good enough for you and I’m afraid you’ll figure it out, so I am just emotionally and psychologically abusing you into believing this BS.” Yeah, they want you to think that they are doing you a huge favor by tolerating you in their lives. The truth? You’re freaking amazing and they KNOW IT! But if you know it too, then you’ll know that they aren’t good enough for you. In other words, they only say this to keep you around, firmly under their thumb, and under their control.  And speaking of love…

8. “I love you.”

This one, for me, was the ultimate insult. Don’t get me wrong. I think they believe they love you in the moments they say it – at least in the early stages of the relationship. But what they really mean at that time is “I’m infatuated with you at this moment,” or “You’re super hot and I wanna get with you,” or “I think you could prove to be of value to me in some way, so I’m going to attach myself to your heart if at all possible.” It could even mean, “I want the validation of knowing that you love me, so I’ll tell you I love you and you can say it back.” Later in the relationship, it means something more like “I know that love matters to you, so I’ll pretend to love you in order to keep you around or control you in some way.” Narcissistic love isn’t the same as other kinds of love. It’s more like the love you have for your smartphone. You dig it when you first get it because it’s new and shiny and runs so fast. But later, when newer, shinier, faster models with better features come out, you kind of start loving it less, and before you know it, you’re finding reasons to dump your old phone for a new one. And that’s okay – when we’re talking about objects. Not so much for people.

9. You’re my soulmate.

I used to actually believe in soulmates and I still want to. But narcissists have a way of ruining everything, and for me, the concept of soulmates is one of them. They’ll say things like, “I’ve been searching for you forever,” or, “I knew I loved you before I met you. I think I dreamed you into life!!” (Yep, that WAS a Savage Garden song lyric from 2012, thank you for asking!) or “OMG! We have so much in common,” or “I know we’ve only known each other for a few hours/days/weeks, but I feel like I’ve known you forever!” What they really mean when they say this is “I am going to mirror you and pretend to be everything you’ve been looking for in a partner, but in reality, all of this is fake and once I’ve got you hooked, I’ll begin the devalue and discard phases. But until I’m there, I’m going to do my best to keep you in the dark about who I really am – because if you knew, you’d totally dump my sorry ass.” Or something like that.

10. My ex is crazy…or amazing.

Nearly every narcissist I have ever met has told me something about how crazy or bad their exes were early in the relationship And many times, later in the relationship, I’d be told that their ex was so much better than me – and/or regularly compared with the ex in a negative way. Stuff like, “Wow, you’re just like my ex,” which really meant, “How dare you try to have an independent thought, a backbone or disagree with me in any way ever!”  Or, “You’re starting to make me miss my ex – I thought she was crazy until I met you!” And then there was the old, “I should’ve never left my ex.” In reality, their ex was probably not a terrible person and in many cases, they are actually projecting their own bad qualities and behaviors on to the ex. For example, if they say the ex cheated on them, chances are the opposite is true. On a similarly upsetting note…

11. This person is stalking me!

This one’s a fun one. The narcissist will claim that someone has become absolutely OBSESSED with them and in some cases, say they’re being stalked. But often, this is used as a manipulation tactic. And I’ve seen this work in a couple of ways. The narcissist might say something like, “I had no idea that the attractive, younger person I’m interested in cheating on you with would be at the party. They are TOTALLY obsessed with me!” That really means, “I totally knew they’d be there, but I didn’t tell you because I knew it would cause confrontation, and honestly, I just don’t have the time for that right now or I don’t want to deal with your emotions.” Or, the narcissist might say something like, “Those super-intimate pics and texts you found on my phone were TOTALLY not my fault! That person is literally stalking me and I’m scared! Save me!” And what THAT really means is, “I am SO already cheating on you with that person but they aren’t following the rules, so rather than own up to it when they try to reach out or connect with me, I am going to go ahead and tell you they’re a crazy stalker who has imagined this whole relationship with me. That way, you won’t believe anything they tell you, even though it’ll probably all be true!”

12. I Would, But…

Narcissists use this kind of lie to kind of keep you hooked. In order to make you THINK they care and to also point out how important they are at work, or how popular they are socially, they say things like, “OMG, that sounds SO fun! I really wish I could help you or attend your event! But I’m just so busy right now…maybe next time, okay?” And of course, what that really means is, “I am just not interested in supporting you or showing any concern for you at all unless I feel like it can somehow benefit me or give me a good dose of supply. It sounds like whatever it is you want me to attend is going to be boring or too ‘you-focused,’ so I’m going to just sit around at home and watch old Price is Right reruns or go out with my friends in hopes of meeting someone to cheat on you with, or whatever. Because you don’t matter to me unless I need something from you – and btw, go ahead and ask me again next time because I just realized I get a big boost of narcissistic supply whenever I see the disappointed look on your face after I tell you no.”

So, what do you think? The question of the day is: do any of these lies sound familiar to you? What other typical lies narcissists tell would you add to my list? Share your thoughts, share your ideas, share your experiences in the comments section below this video, and let’s talk about it!

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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