A community member wanted us to answer the question, “Can a narcissist be a good friend?” I pulled together the best information I could find. Here it is.

A narcissist can’t be a good friend because they don’t listen or show empathy, they feel threatened by the success of others, they don’t respect boundaries, they aren’t trustworthy or supportive, and they don’t respect one’s autonomy.

In this article, I will explain each of these reasons to help you understand why narcissists can’t be good friends.

1.) They Don’t Listen or Show Empathy

A key quality of a good friend is the ability to listen and show empathy.1

Good friends make you feel heard and understood. 

They can put themselves in your shoes, offering support and compassion when you’re going through tough times.

Narcissists often struggle with empathy, making it hard for them to genuinely listen or relate to your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs.2 

For example, imagine you’re telling your friend about a difficult day at work, hoping for some understanding or advice. 

A person speaking to a narcissistic friend.

Instead of listening, they quickly turn the conversation to their achievements or problems, dismissing your feelings. 

This behavior leaves you feeling overlooked and unimportant, highlighting the lack of empathy and support you’d expect from a good friend.

Related: Why Narcissists Only Talk about Themselves

2.) They Feel Threatened by Your Successes

Another hallmark of a good friendship is genuine happiness and excitement for each other’s successes. 

Good friends celebrate your wins as if they were their own, without jealousy or competition.

Narcissists find it hard to celebrate the successes of others.3 

They often feel threatened by others’ achievements and use them as opportunities to draw attention back to themselves.

For instance, say you receive a promotion at work and share the news with your friend, expecting excitement and celebration. 

But instead, your narcissistic friend downplays your achievement and starts talking about a time they were promoted.

This reaction can make you feel your accomplishments are insignificant, leaving you feeling inadequate and insecure.

Related: Why Do Narcissists Want You to Fail?

3.) They Don’t Respect Boundaries

Respecting boundaries is crucial in any healthy friendship.4 

Good friends understand and respect your limits, whether they’re about personal space, time, or emotional capacity. 

This respect for boundaries helps maintain a balanced and healthy relationship.

Narcissists, on the other hand, often ignore the boundaries of others because they feel entitled to get what they want when they want it. 

For example, let’s say you tell your friend you need some quiet time this weekend to unwind and recharge. 

A friend of a narcissist asking for some alone time.

A good friend would understand and respect your need for space. 

However, a narcissistic friend might ignore this request, calling and texting repeatedly or even getting upset with you for setting this boundary. 

This lack of respect for your needs and boundaries clearly shows that they don’t care about you and are only interested in themselves.

Related: 7 Ways Narcissists Respond to the Boundaries That You Set

4.) They Aren’t Trustworthy

Trust is the foundation of any solid friendship. 

Good friends keep your secrets, stand by their word, and show up when you need them. 

They create a safe space where you feel comfortable sharing your thoughts and feelings, knowing they won’t be judged or betrayed.

Narcissists struggle with keeping things confidential and being reliable.

They often use your secrets against you or share your private information with others if it serves their interests or gets them attention.

For example, suppose you confide in your narcissistic friend about a personal issue, trusting them to keep it between the two of you. 

However, you later discover they’ve shared your story with others, not considering how it might affect you. 

This breach of trust would most likely make you feel exposed and betrayed, something a good friend would never intentionally do.

5.) They Aren’t Supportive

Unconditional support is yet another hallmark of a true friendship.

Good friends stand by you during your ups and downs, offering encouragement and help without expecting anything in return. 

They celebrate your strengths and accept your weaknesses, ensuring you feel valued and understood.

Narcissists often offer conditional support. 

Their help or encouragement might come with strings attached.

And they often withdraw their support when it no longer serves their needs or when they feel like they’re not the center of attention.

A narcissist being unsupportive.

For instance, imagine you’re going through a rough patch and decide to reach out to your friend for support. 

Initially, they seem helpful.

But as soon as they realize your situation doesn’t spotlight them or provide them with any benefits, they begin stonewalling you.

This is an example of the conditional support narcissists give, and it often leaves you feeling alone and unsupported when you need help the most.

6.) They Don’t Respect Your Autonomy

Good friends encourage your growth and independence. 

They want to see you succeed and become the best version of yourself, even if that means spending time apart or pursuing different interests. 

They understand that a healthy friendship doesn’t mean being inseparable but rather supporting each other’s personal journeys.

Narcissists tend to feel threatened by your independence or successes.

Instead of encouraging your growth, they attempt to undermine it or discourage you from pursuing opportunities that would lead to your independence from them.

For example, say you decide to go back to school to pursue a degree, something you’ve always dreamed of doing. 

A good friend would be thrilled and supportive. 

A narcissist might criticize your decision, question your ability to succeed, or make you feel guilty for “abandoning” them. 

Under these circumstances, their response is driven by their insecurities and desire to keep you dependent on their approval.

For more helpful information like this, visit Unfilteredd’s Institute of Healing from Narcissistic Abuse today.

What Should You Take Away from This Article?

As a general rule, a narcissist can’t be a good friend for the following reasons:

  • They don’t listen or show empathy.
  • They feel threatened by the success of others.
  • They don’t respect boundaries.
  • They aren’t trustworthy or supportive.
  • They don’t respect one’s autonomy.

Thank you for reading! If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to leave a comment below; I’d love to connect with you!

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About the Author

Hey, I’m Elijah.

I experienced narcissistic abuse for three years. 

I create these articles to help you understand and validate your experiences.

Thank you for reading, and remember, healing is possible even when it feels impossible.

Unfilteredd has strict sourcing guidelines and only uses high-quality sources to support the facts within our content. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate, actionable, inclusive, and trustworthy by reading our editorial process.

  1. Suzanne Degges-White. (2015. March, 23). The 13 Essential Traits of Good Friends. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/lifetime-connections/201503/the-13-essential-traits-good-friends ↩︎
  2. Baskin-Sommers, A., Krusemark, E., & Ronningstam, E. (2014). “Empathy in narcissistic personality disorder: from clinical and empirical perspectives.” Personality disorders, 5(3), 323–333. ↩︎
  3. Shahida Arabi. (2017. August, 14). 5 Ways Pathologically Envious Narcissists Undermine Your Success. Psych Central. https://psychcentral.com/blog/recovering-narcissist/2017/08/5-ways-pathologically-envious-narcissists-undermine-your-success#1 ↩︎
  4. Barbara Field. (2023. July, 13). How to Set Boundaries With Friends—and Why It’s Necessary. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/how-to-set-boundaries-with-friends-7503205 ↩︎

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