At one time or another, in our lives, we have all had that one friend. You know: that friend who takes up all of the oxygen in the room, who has to be the center of attention, and who seems to take pleasure in your misadventures, instead of your successes.

But, has it ever occurred to you that your difficult friend may have a personality disorder called Narcissism?

Narcissistic parents

When you gravitate to a friend like this, it is often because you have had a parent like this. After all, as adults we are always trying to get right the problems of our childhood. And the most significant people in our lives, from birth to death, are your parents.

It is those two people that teach us the patterns of how to interact with the others. This then becomes the standard for our behavior, both in general and in relationship.

As a result, you often draw into your social sphere people who allow you to do what you know how to do…what you have learned within your family of origin. You could say, that your comfort zone are those people who reflect the familiar patterns of your childhood.

Common characteristics of a narcissistic friend

With a narcissistic friend, you are required to suppress your own wants and needs to accommodate the wants and needs of another. A narcissistic friend will show little compassion for you and disregard that you have any purpose on earth, other than functioning as an accompaniment for her.

Your narcissistic friend all too often, displays a sense of entitlement, and you may find ultimately that your narcissistic friend has encroached, upon your life and your identity.  In fact, befriending a narcissist, may cause you to lose your sense of self, your confidence, and your self-esteem.

If you look at your relationship with a critical eye, you will find that it is similar, to that all-too-familiar critical parent. And, if you misstep, or let her down, or fail to admire her, she will recite a laundry list of your offenses. While saving that list, to be used again and again to, keep you in line.

On the other hand, a narcissist, though needing your praise constantly, will rarely site your achievements, for to do so, diminishes hers. As a result, you can never really get satisfaction or get your wants or needs met, in friendship with a narcissist. Although, she wants your performance to be perfect, she is far from it.

Further, a narcissist carefully chooses those with whom she surrounds herself.  Her inner circle must reflect her sense of self and thus, perfection.

Narcissistic parents, for example, cannot see their children as separate from themselves, but rather as reflections of themselves. Moreover, when a narcissist’s child is less than successful, she feels embarrassed, shamed, and diminished as a parent.

Her way, or the highway

As a close friend of a narcissist, you will find that you are always on high alert, putting out fires while defusing stress and anxiety. The narcissist, by its very definition, is a natural-born bully.  She wants her way in everything that she does and if she can’t get it, she will pick up her marbles and go home. She wants to win, she wants to be the best, and she wants you and the others in her social circle to see her, in a special light.

This places you, as her friend, in the role of hand-maiden or parent, someone who always goes along, to get along. You may find yourself giving up your life, and your interests, for that of your demanding, narcissistic friend. You might even find yourself dressing according to her style, purchasing a house in a location close to hers, or buying a car that gains her approval.  On the other hand, it is more than likely, that a narcissist will completely copy your lifestyle, in an effort, to merge with you. This is the most dangerous situation to find yourself in. As you may wake up one day, realizing that not only has your identity been stolen, but also, that you no longer know how to reclaim it.

Ultimately, you spend so much time erasing your feelings, you no longer know, or feel entitled to them. In a sense, if you are looking after her, who is looking after you? If you are giving out, all of the honey from your honey pot, who is replenishing your honey?


  • Dr. Gail Gross

    Author and Parenting, Relationships, and Human Behavior Expert

    Dr. Gail Gross, Ph.D., Ed.D., M.Ed., a member of the American Psychological Association (APA) and member of APA Division 39, is a nationally recognized family, child development, and human behavior expert, author, and educator. Her positive and integrative approach to difficult issues helps families navigate today’s complex problems. Dr. Gross is frequently called upon by national and regional media to offer her insight on topics involving family relationships, education, behavior, and development issues. A dependable authority, Dr. Gross has contributed to broadcast, print and online media including CNN, the Today Show, CNBC's The Doctors, Hollywood Reporter, FOX radio, FOX’s The O’Reilly Factor, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Times of India, People magazine, Parents magazine, Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine, USA Today, Univision, ABC, CBS, and KHOU's Great Day Houston Show. She is a veteran radio talk show host as well as the host of the nationally syndicated PBS program, “Let’s Talk.” Also, Dr. Gross has written a semi-weekly blog for The Huffington Post and has blogged at since 2013. Recently, Houston Women's Magazine named her One of Houston's Most Influential Women of 2016. Dr. Gross is a longtime leader in finding solutions to the nation’s toughest education challenges. She co-founded the first-of-its kind Cuney Home School with her husband Jenard, in partnership with Texas Southern University. The school serves as a national model for improving the academic performance of students from housing projects by engaging the parents. Dr. Gross also has a public school elementary and secondary campus in Texas that has been named for her. Additionally, she recently completed leading a landmark, year-long study in the Houston Independent School District to examine how stress-reduction affects academics, attendance, and bullying in elementary school students, and a second study on stress and its effects on learning. Such work has earned her accolades from distinguished leaders such as the Dalai Lama, who presented her with the first Spirit of Freedom award in 1998. More recently, she was honored in 2013 with the Jung Institute award. She also received the Good Heart Humanitarian Award from Jewish Women International, Perth Amboy High School Hall of Fame Award, the Great Texan of the Year Award, the Houston Best Dressed Hall of Fame Award, Trailblazer Award, Get Real New York City Convention's 2014 Blogging Award, and Woman of Influence Award. Dr. Gross’ book, The Only Way Out Is Through, is available on Amazon now and offers strategies for life’s transitions including coping with loss, drawing from dealing with the death of her own daughter. Her next book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, is also available on Amazon now and teaches parents how to enhance their child’s learning potential by understanding and recognizing their various development stages. And her first research book was published by Random House in 1987 on health and skin care titled Beautiful Skin. Dr. Gross has created 8 audio tapes on relaxation and stress reduction that can be purchased on Most recently, Dr. Gross’s book, The Only Way Out is Through, was named a Next Generation Indie Book Awards Silver Medal finalist in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the categories of Death & Dying as well as Grief. Her latest book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, was the National Parenting Product Awards winner in 2019, the Nautilus Book Awards winner in 2019, ranked the No. 1 Best New Parenting Book in 2019 and listed among the Top 10 Parenting Books to Read in 2020 by BookAuthority, as well as the Next Generation Indie Book Awards Gold Medal winner in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the category of How-To. Dr. Gross received a BS in Education and an Ed.D. (Doctorate of Education) with a specialty in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Houston. She earned her Master’s degree in Secondary Education with a focus on Psychology from the University of St. Thomas in Houston. Dr. Gross received her second PhD in Psychology, with a concentration in Jungian studies. Dr. Gross was the recipient of Kappa Delta Pi An International Honor Society in Education. Dr. Gross was elected member of the International English Honor Society Sigma Tau Delta.