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Why Narcissists Have So Many Friends?

There are many misconceptions about narcissistic personalities. It is a general assumption that narcissistic people will act like stars, tend to always be the center of attention, and invite applause wherever they appear. 

In reality, though, things don’t quite work that way. Narcissistic personalities do cry out for constant recognition and applause, but the ways they choose to get it may not be as flashy as is often expected.

Narcissists have a lot of friends because they like to be surrounded by a lot of people to be the center of attention, but also because they know how to be manipulative in a way that some people may not notice.

Friends on vacation laughing outside

When you meet a narcissistic personality, you will most likely be fascinated. Narcissists put a lot of energy into making fantastic impressions wherever they appear.

But the fascination with their abilities soon begins to fade as you become aware that you are part of a game where you are not pulling the strings.

However, you should keep in mind that true narcissists are not so easy to come by. According to research, narcissistic personality disorder affects only up to 5 percent of people.

Men and younger people tend to exhibit narcissistic traits more frequently. Not everyone who tries to impress others or who has high self-esteem is a narcissist.

How to Spot a Narcissist?

Grandiosity, a lack of empathy for other people, and a need for admiration are characteristics of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).

Although narcissists often exhibit arrogant, self-absorbed, manipulative, and demanding behavior, they may also seem incredibly charming, charismatic, and warm.

But regardless of how they choose to act in different situations, they are motivated by the fundamental idea that they deserve special treatment. 

These people have grandiose fantasies and strive to connect with people in high places, celebrities, and all those who seem special to them.

They require this social profile of those around them to validate their perception of themselves.

When criticized, the narcissist becomes incredibly defensive; however, good-intentioned the criticism might be. No one likes being criticized, but for a narcissist, every criticism feels life-threatening.

The more subtle narcissist may pretend they are fine with the critic, but in their mind, they are planning revenge. 

Narcissists often seem like wonderful people at the beginning of a friendship. They will go to great lengths to charm you only until you are seduced.

Then, you become their groupie, and they take it for granted that you have to accept them, however badly they may treat you. 

Who Are a Narcissist’s Friends? 

Another misconception about the narcissist is that they always have many friends. Many very different personalities can have narcissistic traits.

Some narcissists maintain only a few carefully selected relationships with friends who admire them unconditionally. A more extroverted narcissist will tend to create a rich network of acquaintances who are either special in some way or act as his fans.

The problem with narcissists is that they believe they deserve to live, to be loved and accepted only if they are seen as special, unique, and one of a kind.

The only love they experienced in life was never unconditional. They don’t know who they are if they are not praised for their often imaginary uniqueness. For them, not being seen as special literally equals death. 

They feel incredible pressure to hide any flaw, real or perceived, from others, which prevents them from establishing any honest, close relationship with anyone. It is clear that behind this is the constant need of a narcissist to always be better than others.

Suppose they somehow manage to maintain a close friendship. In that case, the other person in that relationship will typically be submissive, with low self-regard, full of insecurities, and unable to say no or express their needs. 

These people often have different categories of friends – the ones who are there to serve them, who are inferior to them in different ways, and the ones who are there to confirm their image of themselves, who they find superior for different reasons.

But they don’t honestly care for any of them. Both categories are there only to support their grandiose ego. 

How Narcissists Aquire So Many Friends? 

Group of young people standing close to each other on the bridge

Narcissists had to profoundly develop their social intelligence to survive and keep the image of uniqueness.

They lack empathy, but they are usually great at reading other people’s weaknesses, which they use abundantly to control and manipulate them.

Since the relationships they form are very superficial, maintaining them is not hard. Other people may stay enchanted for long periods until they realize what narcissists are actually doing. 

If you accidentally see through them, they will cut you off in seconds and sever any ties they ever had with you.

They easily come up with explanations for their cruelty in such situations – they are never to blame. It’s always others who are not special, gifted, or noble enough to keep up with the narcissists’ pace. 

Signs Your Friend is A Narcissist

Although they are not easily spotted as they are very skillful at maintaining the desired image, some signs may point to you that you are dealing with a narcissist:

  • They relentlessly seek out praise and admiration and get angry at the tiniest criticism.
  • They always put their needs first. Even when they help you, they will point out how smart and competent they are for helping you. It is never about you. 
  • Conversations are skin deep.
  • They are rarely there for you in your dark hour unless it serves them somehow.
  • They behave as if they are entitled to time with you.
  • They never miss an opportunity to put you down when you make any kind of mistake – this is their tactic to keep you in an inferior position. 
  • They are never sorry for their mistakes.
  • They get very jealous of your relationship, talent, success, or anything threatening their superior position.
  • They frequently lash out and blame you for doing so.
  • They end the friendship when it stops serving their needs.
  • They seek out better, more special friends, so you feel you are not good enough for them.

Wrapping it All Up 

Being friends with a narcissist can lead to communication problems and intense, frequently unexpected emotions.

Nevertheless, whether you want to keep the friendship or not, there are constructive methods to do so.

You could attempt to establish boundaries in the friendship. In this case, it’s critical that you are firm in stating your demands because showing signs of hesitance might encourage a narcissistic buddy to push your boundaries. 

If you are emotionally stable and have a profound awareness of your identity and limits, you may eventually understand how fragile narcissists are.

If, for any reason, you care deeply for your narcissist friend, assuming a parental role will often be the only way to maintain that friendship. But, for many, relationships with narcissists become exhausting – they expect a lot and offer little in return, and people naturally abandon them at some point.