A friendship is a bond between two people. Friendships operate on reciprocity of trust, respect, emotional support and admiration. For most people, a friendship is an interpersonal bond that they value more than an “acquaintance” or an “association”, such as a classmate, neighbor, colleague, etc.
You can’t have a genuine friendship with a narcissist because they don’t respect your thoughts, feelings, emotions, or needs. Narcissistic friendships don’t operate on reciprocity of trust, respect, emotional support or admiration. Narcissists only view you as an object that they can use to fulfill their own needs.
In this article we are going to guide you through the qualities that are required for true friendship and compare them to the characteristics of a narcissistic personality to help you grasp a better understanding of the reason why you can’t have a genuine friendship with a narcissist.
Narcissists Don’t Possess the Qualities That Are Required for True Friendship
As promised, this section of the article is going to walk you through the qualities that are required for true friendship and explain why narcissists are incapable of having them. But first, let’s familiarize ourselves with the nine traits of a narcissist.
According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), narcissistic personality disorder is defined as the following:
We are going to be using these nine traits when explaining the different reasons that you can’t have a genuine friendship with a narcissist.
They Don’t Live With Integrity
Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. Integrity is important in a friendship because it allows all parties to feel comfortable sharing thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs without fear of being judged and/or betrayed.
One of the core characteristics of a narcissistic personality is interpersonally exploitative behavior. This means that someone takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends.
A narcissist’s tendency to engage in interpersonally exploitative behavior such as financial abuse, scapegoating, gaslighting, triangulation, and other forms of emotional abuse, is one of the many reasons that you can’t have a genuine friendship with a narcissist.
They Don’t Value Honesty
Honesty is the quality of being honest. To have a genuine friendship with someone, you must be honest. Of course, nobody is perfect and there will be some lies. But genuine friendships aren’t characterized by lies and deceit.
One of the most common forms of honesty that any true friendship has is holding someone accountable for their actions. With accountability comes accepting criticism, acknowledging your mistakes, better communication, etc.
The combination of the fragile ego that narcissists have and their need for excessive admiration makes it impossible for anyone to be truly honest with them.
If you were to try to hold a narcissist accountable for their actions, you would likely be met with narcissistic rage, self-victimization, and other forms of manipulation and emotional abuse. A narcissist’s disdain for honesty makes having a genuine friendship with them impossible.
You Can’t Depend on a Narcissist
Dependability (i.e. the quality of being trustworthy and reliable) is a fundamental requirement of true friendship. When you have a friend that you can depend on, you trust that they will show up, keep promises, do what they say they will do, and stand up for you.
The sense of entitlement that narcissists have prevents them from being someone that you can depend on. In fact, regardless of what you do for a narcissist, they are never going to feel like they are obligated to show up, keep their promises, do what they say they will do, and stand up for you.
Remember, narcissists don’t view you as an individual with thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs of your own. To them, you are an object that they are entitled to using. The second you ask for even the slightest amount of dependability, they will punish you for it because they don’t see you as an equal.
They Aren’t Loyal
Being loyal means giving or showing firm and constant support or allegiance to a person or institution. True friendships thrive off loyalty. A true friend will never speak negatively about you, they will listen to your side of the story, they will always give you the benefit of the doubt, and they will defend you when you deserve it. That is loyalty.
Unfortunately, none of this is true for a narcissist. The combination of their grandiose sense of self-importance, excessive need for admiration, and tendency to engage in interpersonally exploitative behaviors prevents them from understanding the true meaning of being loyal.
If a narcissist were placed in a position which meant being loyal to you would limit the amount of narcissistic supply (i.e. validation, admiration, reassurance, power, and control) that they can get or comprise their “perfect” image, they will betray you every single time.
Not sure what narcissistic supply is? Our article “What Is Narcissistic Supply and Why Do They Need It So Badly?“ has a lot of helpful information about it.
They Lack Empathy
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. Empathy is a really important quality to have in a friend because it allows them to place themselves in your shoes, understand what you’re feeling, and react accordingly.
Narcissists lack empathy. In fact, lack of empathy is one of the key defining characteristics of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). Unsurprisingly, a narcissist’s inability to understand and share the feelings of others goes back to their tendency to only view others as objects that they are entitled to using.
A true friend will be able to support you on your darkest days but a narcissist’s lack of empathy prevents this from being a possibility. Therefore, having a genuine friendship with a narcissist is impossible.
A Short Video From Our Interview With Therapist & Professional Counsellor Nicki Paull About a Narcissist’s Lack of Empathy!
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Narcissist’s Aren’t Good Listeners
A good listener is someone who listens carefully, attentively, and sympathetically, typically imparting support and understanding to the speaker. Good listening skills are a fundamental requirement for a genuine friendship.
When you have a friend who is a good listener, it means that they give you room to speak, ask questions, validate your emotions, and help you find perspective. To be a good listener, you have to have empathy, be comfortable with not being the center of attention, and respect the person that you are listening to.
These are three qualities that narcissist’s lack. But narcissists also demonstrate arrogant and haughty behaviors or attitudes on a regular basis. All of these poor qualities that narcissists have prevent them from being good listeners and subsequently, good friends.
Spending Time With a Narcissist Doesn’t Make You Feel Good
A good friend has a positive mindset, they can cheer you up when you feel down, and they are someone that you look forward to seeing. Of course, they are going to have down days, but overall they are someone who makes you feel good.
A narcissist’s excessive need for admiration is so excessive that they view your happiness as a threat to their happiness. Sadly, one of the only reasons that narcissists seek out relationship of any kind is to use others as repositories for their painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
We will provide you with a few different resources down below so you can understand this better, but deep down narcissists feel unlovable, unwanted, inadequate, worthless, and weak, but are too emotionally incompetent to manage these thoughts, feelings, and emotions through healthy forms of emotional regulation.
Instead, they subject others to unfathomable amounts of invalidation, devaluation, degradation, humiliation, and other forms of emotional abuse so they can project all of their painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions onto them.
By seeing someone else in pain, narcissists are able to figuratively point at that person and think to themselves, “I’m not the unlovable, unwanted, weak, worthless, and inadequate one, they are.” This insufferable need of theirs makes it so that being around them never makes you feel good.
Of course they have some manipulation tactics such as mirroring, future faking, and love bombing that manipulate you into feeling good for a short amount of time. But in the long run, being around a narcissist makes you miserable and that is why they can’t be a good friend of yours.
Here are a few resources that will help you grasp a better understanding of everything we just mentioned in this section.
- If you want to learn more about the reasons narcissists seek out relationships, visit “What Do Narcissists Want In a Relationship?“
- If you want to learn more about the painful thoughts, feelings, and emotions of a narcissist, visit “How Are Narcissists Made?“
- If you want to understand why narcissists hate your happiness better, visit “Why Do Narcissists Want You to Fail?”
- If you want to learn more about a narcissist’s relationship with projection, visit “Why Do Narcissists Use Projection?“
Narcissists Are Extremely Judgmental
Being judgmental means having or displaying an overly critical point of view. It is important to not be judgmental in a friendship because true friendships allow us to feel comfortable sharing thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs without fear of being judged.
Narcissists are incredibly judgmental. This largely has to do with their envy of others and/or belief that others are envious of them. In fact, narcissists often pass judgment before they even get to know someone.
The judgmental nature of a narcissist makes maintaining a healthy friendship with them nearly impossible. And as we mentioned before, narcissists despise your happiness, success, goals, aspirations, etc., making their judgmental nature even more profound.
This can, and often does, cause them to create a deeply invalidating, devaluing, and degrading environment that is designed to keep you oppressed for as long as possible, making a friendship with them utterly hopeless.
Narcissists Are High-Maintenance
When you have a friendship with someone who is low-maintenance, there is no drama, they respect your boundaries, they understand that you have your own life outside of the friendship, and they respect the time that you spend together.
A narcissist’s excessive need for admiration, grandiose sense of importance, and belief that they are special and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people or institutions, drives them to be incredibly high-maintenance individuals.
Meaning that they require a lot of attention, time, money, and/or effort, they tend to cause problems and demand your attention, they are highly sensitive and temperamental, and they are horrible to be around because they always need to be the center of attention.
The high-maintenance characteristics of a narcissist prevents them from being capable of maintaining a healthy, and genuine friendship.
What Should You Take Away From This Article?
Narcissists do not possess the qualities that are required for true friendship. If you plan on pursuing a friendship with a narcissist, you have to adjust your expectations for the relationship if you want to protect your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs from their abuse.
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.