If you are ending a relationship with a narcissist, it is important to remember that just because the relationship is over, it doesn’t mean that the abuse is. Narcissists try really hard to maintain a certain level of power and control over you when the relationship ends. One of the ways that they do this is by suggesting that you remain friends when the relationship is ending.

Narcissists want to stay friends because they feel entitled to using you as a source of narcissistic supply as long as they see fit. If you allow them to remain in your life as one of your friends, they will be able to use a variety of narcissistic behavior patterns to turn you into a source of  narcissistic supply.

This article guides you through the reason that narcissists want to “stay friends” and the consequences of doing so. A narcissist’s desire to “stay friends” at the end of the relationship is an incredibly controlling behavior that you need to be aware of. We’ve created a short video (see below) that has all the information that you need to better understand this article and the reason that narcissists are so controlling.

A Short Video About the Reason That Narcissists Are So Controlling

What Do Narcissists Gain If You Decide to “Stay Friends” With Them?

The bottom line is that narcissists pretend that they want to “stay friends” because they feel entitled to using you as a source of narcissistic supply. It is so important that you do everything in your power to prevent the narcissist from remaining your “friend” after the relationship has ended. 

To make a well-informed decision, you have to grasp a comprehensive understanding of what narcissists want out of their relationships. The two most important things that narcissists want out of their relationships are narcissistic supply and a repository for their suppressed negative emotions.

Narcissists Get a Lot of Narcissistic Supply By Remaining Friends With You

Narcissistic supply is the validation, admiration, and reassurance that narcissists get from their external environment. It is believed that a narcissist’s need for narcissistic supply originates from their childhood upbringing. 

In our article How Are Narcissists Made we outlined many different theories about this, but generally speaking, it is believed that narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) originates from an unhealthy/abusive childhood upbringing with emotionally unavailable, unresponsive, and inconsistent primary caregivers. 

A neglected child trying to get his parents attention

The emotional neglect that the narcissist experienced prevented them from having their thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs mirrored. Unfortunately, this means that they never got the validation, admiration, and reassurance that they need to develop a sense of self and have a healthy cognitive development. 

When this happens, the narcissist is forced to focus all of their attention on their external environment to get the validation, admiration, and reassurance that they need to construct a sense of self (e.g. a narcissistic woman constructing her sense of self out of the validation, admiration, and reassurance that she gets for being he most beautiful woman in her class.)

While the narcissist is developing a sense of self out of the superficial and materialistic validation, admiration, and reassurance that they get from their external environment, they are also developing a dangerously large amount of negative emotions about themselves because of the neglect they are experiencing from their primary caregivers. 

These negative emotions are powerful ones such as a sense of inadequacy, a fear of abandonment, a belief that they are unlovable, unwanted, and weak, and a fear of their own vulnerabilities and insecurities. 

This is a massive problem because the unhealthy cognitive development that narcissists had means that they never had the chance to develop the emotional skills needed to manage their unstable emotional environment.

This places the narcissist in a really tough position because on one side of things they are developing a very grandiose perception of themselves because of the superficial and materialistic validation, admiration, and reassurance that they are getting from their external environment.

A narcissist getting a lot of attention from his external environment

But on the other hand, their emotional stability is being torn apart by the negative emotions that they don’t have the emotional intelligence to manage.

What ends up happening is the narcissist uses their grandiose perception of themselves, also known as their falsified identity or false sense of self, to suppress all of their negative emotions deep within their psyche to protect their emotional stability. 

This approach works really well for a narcissist unless their grandiose perception of themselves gets contradicted. When this happens, all of their negative emotions get triggered and this compromises their emotional stability.

Because of the emotionally stunted and immature approach that narcissists had to constructing their grandiose perception of themselves, it is extremely fragile, making it vulnerable to contradictions on a daily basis.

A narcissist’s biggest source of narcissistic supply, the validation, admiration, and reassurance that they’ve constructed their grandiose perception of themselves out of, are the people they abuse. By “staying friends” with a narcissist, you give them an unlimited amount of validation, admiration, and reassurance.

5 Forms of Narcissistic Supply That You Give Narcissists By “Staying Friends”

  • Liking, commenting, or sharing their social media posts.
  • Celebrate their good times and support them during their bad times.
  • Loyalty.
  • Validating and reassuring their perception of themselves and the world around them.
  • Being a good listener that they can talk to.

“Staying Friends” With a Narcissist Allows Them to Use You as a Repository for Their Negative Emotions

A repository is a place, building, or receptacle where things are or may be stored. Narcissists use the people that they abuse as repositories for their negative emotions because they are too emotionally stunted and immature to use healthy forms of emotional regulation.

A narcissist projecting her negative emotions onto her partner

If you decide to “stay friends” with a narcissist, you allow them to remain in a position from which they can still use you as a repository for their negative emotions. The most common ways that narcissists do this is through a defense mechanism called projection. 

Projection occurs when someone takes parts of their identity that they find unacceptable and place them onto someone else. The negative emotions that narcissists have are the parts of their identity that they find unacceptable and the manipulative techniques that they use to place them on others are scapegoating and narcissistic rage. 

Scapegoating

A scapegoat is someone who gets subjected to a disproportionate amount of abuse in comparison to the other people that narcissists abuse. They are punished, ridiculed, and mocked for the shortcomings, mistakes, and negative emotions of the narcissist.

A scapegoat is not randomly chosen. A scapegoat is chosen because parts of their identity remind the narcissist that their grandiose perception of themselves is a lie (e.g. a narcissist targets her daughter to be her scapegoat because she views her daughter as ugly and this reminds her how ugly her own mother made her feel).

Suggested Reading: How Do Narcissists Choose Their Scapegoat?

Scapegoating allows a narcissist to attract parts of themselves that they find unacceptable without acknowledging it. They subject others to unfathomable levels of invalidation, devaluation, dehumanization, and humiliation to project their emotional instability onto them. Doing this allows the narcissist to point their finger at their scapegoat and think to themselves, “I’m not the inadequate, insecure, weak, vulnerable, worthless, unlovable, and unwanted one, they are.”

Narcissistic Rage

Narcissistic rage is an explosive, unpredictable, and unjustified response that narcissists often have when their grandiose perception of themselves gets contradicted. There are many different forms of narcissistic rage. It could be physical violence, psychological violence, sexual violence, or neglect. 

Suggested Reading: What Happens During Narcissistic Rage (Survey With 100 Survivors)

A common misconception about narcissistic rage that people often make is that it is just anger from a narcissist. This couldn’t be further from the truth because anger is a normal response that everyone has from time to time. 

When we are angry, we may say or do something that we regret later on. But when the dust settles, we are able to regain control of ourselves, regulate the negative emotions that we may have, and make a well-informed decision on how to move forward. 

Narcissistic rage is nothing short of a manifestation of just how emotionally stunted and immature narcissists really are. When a narcissist experiences a contradiction to their grandiose sense of self, it triggers all of their negative emotions and they panic and attack the person or thing that triggered their negative emotions.

a quote about narcissistic rage from Heinz Kohut

Much like scapegoating, narcissistic rage allows the narcissist to attack parts of themselves that they find unacceptable without acknowledging it. 

What Should You Take Away From This Section? 

If you remain “friends” with the narcissist, you give them the opportunity to use you as a repository for their negative emotions. Keeping a narcissist as a “friend” is extremely unsafe because they don’t view you as a human being. They see you as a tool that they can use to regulate their own suppressed negative emotions. 

Good friends protect your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and needs, they keep your private information confidential, they cheer you on when you are having a good day and support you when you are having a bad day, and they respect/value your presence. Narcissists do the exact opposite of this. Keeping a narcissist as a “friend” is a bad idea.

What Should You Take Away From This Article?

Narcissists want to “stay friends” because they want to keep you as a source of validation, admiration, and reassurance for as long as they can. Being “friends” with a narcissist is extremely dangerous so we highly recommend that you read our article Why Is It So Important to Go No Contact With a Narcissist and Does the Gray Rock Method Work to learn about how to be safe around the narcissist in your life.


All of the content that Unfilteredd creates is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for clinical care — please visit here for qualified organizations and here for qualified professionals that you can reach out to for help. This article has been reviewed by our editorial board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policies.

References

Destaney Sauls, Virgil Zeigler-Hill, The narcissistic experience of friendship: The roles of agentic and communal orientations toward friendship. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships Volume: 37 issue: 10-11, page(s): 2693-2713.

Tortoriello, Gregory; Hart, William; Richardson, Kyle; Tullett, Alexa. Do narcissists try to make romantic partners jealous on purpose? An examination of motives for deliberate jealousy-induction among subtypes of narcissism. Personality and Individual Differences 114 (2017) 10-15.