Does this sound like NPD, and is an NPD friend worth keeping?

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Swarley

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Hi, new here. Need some help understanding 1) does what I'm describing sound like NPD, 2) is there any way to set boundaries with NPD and have them stick or is it a never-ending process of defending your boundaries over and over, and 3) is it worth it?

I've known this person for about 12 years. In the last 3, It's really come into focus for me and I've become acutely aware of her narcissism. She's had multiple fallings-out with family, friends, neighbors....nothing is ever her fault and she seems utterly unable to anticipate how people are likely to react, given her treatment of them. (She's described these disputes to me; I find it impossible not to sympathize with the other party).There is always some crisis she's going through - it is, of course, the most important thing happening at the moment and everyone must drop everything and help her. She is a chronic complainer, primarily about how people are not doing enough for her. Everyone is supposed to constantly consider her needs and act accordingly.  She affects helplessness over jobs she considers too "manual" for herself to do.  She's very "bougie" and modest accommodations are never good enough for her; there is always some flaw, some thing that is too "common" and ought to be fixed for her benefit (imagine going to a restaurant with her- nightmare). She gloms onto to others' resources and uses them shamelessly- borrows possessions, cars, drops by for meals, expects help constantly. If you agree to do her a favor, she acts like it's a contract and you're her employee. She piggybacks additional favors on to the one thing you actually agreed to do. She's managed to latch on to some of my friends as well and now expects to be invited to everything I'm invited to and sulks if she's not.

She's very personable and charming, at least at first and makes friends quickly. She is not "grandiose" and does not boast or exaggerate although she can be arrogant and stubborn. She is truthful and appears to relay stories factually; she doesn't "spin" stories to her advantage (I think she is just always so convinced of her rightness that it's inconceivable to her that anyone could interpret HER as the jerk in these scenarios). She has good manners, remembering birthdays, important occasions and sending thank you notes. She is charming and self-deprecating and has a good sense of humor. In a crisis situation, she can be relied on to "be there".

I notice that she is slow to return borrowed possessions and has a tendency to leave many items behind at my home ( and she does it to other people too). I get the strong feeling this is so you can't just cut off contact with her- as long as you have some of her stuff and she has some of yours, she has a reason to contact you/ see you.

Her life is a mess. She is not working, has a hoarding issue as well and multiple areas of her life that need attention (her car, her property, her finances).

If confronted, she is outraged and hurt and will not acknowledge your side. She is constantly bad-mouthing and complaining about kind friends who have done many things for her (especially if they do something like rightfully point out ways in which she could be helping herself and improving her own life.) And I know that if she's doing it to them, then she's doing it to me.

This week, after another long period of being taken advantage of by inches and degrees, I again set a firm boundary (told her she should not assume I'd do something for her just because I'd done it once before and she needed to get someone else). I also returned several items she'd left at my house- she was not pleased about this, saying I "should have checked with her" as if I need her permission to return her own possessions to her. As I thought she might, she is giving me the cold shoulder, not calling or returning my calls (which, right now, is actually making for a nice break.)

So- do you think I am correct in assessing this as NPD, although some typical traits are not there? Has anyone successfully "dialed back" the scope of a relationship or successfully set firm boundaries with an NPD? Should I expect to be permanently dumped if I reduce her "supply"? Is anyone in a position with an NPD where they can enjoy their better side and not be driven crazy by their staggering selfishness.

Thanks and a cookie if you read this whole thing.


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leapsand bounds

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Re: Does this sound like NPD, and is an NPD friend worth keeping?
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2016, 05:59:34 AM »
Hi Swarley, I'll take that cookie, though I should be cooking a meal right now.

 It certainly sounds like she is narcissistic:

-Interpersonally exploitative
-Lacking empathy
-Haughty, "superior" and arrogant
-Unable to reflect on her own behaviour or take personal responsibility/never in the wrong
-Selfish/ self-obsessed
-Manipulative
-Aggressive
-Charming  (someone once told me that charming is something adults do, not something they are)

I don't know if she meets the criteria for full-blown NPD, but it sounds like you don't want to be friends with her and you are done with being used and having friends she meets through you also taken advantage of.  Friendship is never compulsary.

In my experience notching back doesn't work.  It would end up in a never ending battle over boundary violations, being punished, being bad-mouthed and hoovered and around in a never-ending and vicious circles.  It might be possible to establish firm boundaries with someone like this from the outset, but setting them retrospectively doesn't work.  It might be worth a try, but I wouldn't get your hopes up, imo.

But why would you want to "manage" a friendship with someone who behaves like this?   It doesn't sound like you like or respect her anymore. Friendship isn't compulsary.  In this kind of situation you can expect some serious kick-back if you end the close connection.  But the alternative is being forced into being a friend against your will.  Which isn't friendship.

The toolkit has a lot of helpful advice about how to manage situations in which you have to interact with aggressive and self-obsessed people. For what it's worth, I recommend you read up and start working on your exit strategy, and prepare to manage the fall-out.

To tell you the truth, my first impulse was to just say 'get away from her'.

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Regina

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Re: Does this sound like NPD, and is an NPD friend worth keeping?
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2016, 09:09:56 AM »
 1) does what I'm describing sound like NPD, 2) is there any way to set boundaries with NPD and have them stick or is it a befriending process..

Hi and welcome to getting Out of the FOG. I'm pretty new myself.

Sounds like you have a long history with this person and you've noted some things you like about her.
I'm always saying how I try to work with my deficiencies. So I don't stay stuck in the ol' 'Ill do it when I .... (am richer, better, fatted, older).
Compared to the malignant NPDs I have known, she sounds pretty mild. You say she's honest and you can count on her.
I wonder what she would say about her friendship with you?

Returning items, I M E is sometimes just forgetfullness.
If her life is a mess, how have you tried to help as her friend, if that is something appropriate for you.
Everyone seems to just be discarding the main people in their lives on here. I M E people who have told me to just get rid of that person never seem to do that themselves. What do you want to do with this friend, Swarley?

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Joan

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Re: Does this sound like NPD, and is an NPD friend worth keeping?
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2016, 09:26:36 AM »
IŽd say BPD. Some traits overlap, but to me, its mostly BPD behaviour. And once she paints you black, thereŽs no way back. Well, unless she wants something from you, of course.....

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Spring Butterfly

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Re: Does this sound like NPD, and is an NPD friend worth keeping?
« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2016, 09:51:53 AM »
Quote
Need some help understanding 1) does what I'm describing sound like NPD, 2) is there any way to set boundaries with NPD and have them stick or is it a never-ending process of defending your boundaries over and over, and 3) is it worth it?
Welcome and what a handful you've got going on with your friend! Multiple falling out, drama and chaos while at the same time personable and charming you describe is a challenge. While no one here can diagnose there's much information to help guide you to your own conclusions and it helps to put a label on things so we have some direction. Start here at the Disorders descriptions http://www.outofthefog.website/overview/ and the Traits is a good place to dissect the most I difficult issues and what to do or not do for yourself.

Boundaries are all about what you do and have nothing to do with the other person. You do not need their agreement or cooperation. Boundaries are actions you define and decide ahead of time what *you* will do when others do not accept your stated preferences and wishes. More information here:
http://outofthefog.website/what-to-do-2/2015/12/3/boundaries
http://www.outofthefog.net/forum/index.php?topic=24.0

Are boundaries worth it? They are a necessary part of life. Others whether PD or not are not mind readers so we need to clearly state our wishes and expectations. We also need to be prepared for others to do what they want regardless of our wishes. It's their personal right as much as it is ours to do as they please. So if what others please conflicts with what pleases us we need to plan how we deal with that because it will happen all the time.

For me being raised in a toxic environment where boundaries didn't exist the whole concept was foreign to me. Fortunately I have learned boundaries but my life would have been so much easier had I had this concept clearly in mind from the beginning. Instead I was a codependent fixer who pretty much sacrificed my wishes and will for others feeling like there was nothing I could do when all along I had my own power. It's just that no one told me. People here told me and I learned right quick!
· Every interaction w/ PD persons results in damage-plan accordingly, make time to heal
· Individuation is one key to emotional freedom
· It's foolish to expect of others what they have no capacity to give
my Empowered Growth blog

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Swarley

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Re: Does this sound like NPD, and is an NPD friend worth keeping?
« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2016, 03:52:17 PM »
Thanks for the replies. I go back and forth a lot about whether the things I enjoy about this friend are worth tolerating the constant narcissism. I don't like the idea of discarding friends easily but at what point is someone toxic and not merely annoying? She is not cruel and doesn't do things to undermine my self-esteem or play me off against others. It's just- the whopping sense of entitlement, the negativity, the constant self-focus, the total refusal to even see, much less accept, responsibility for her life are maddening, and so draining.

Yes, I have attempted to help her with her hoarding, others have as well. It's an impossible process because she refuses to relinquish control over anything or actually throw things out. She sees great value in what most people would classify as trash, and refuses to throw it out, believing it can be recycled/re-used and that it will be wanted by someone, and she will not spend money to rent a dumpster. I have picked her up when her car has broken down (more than once) and she has an unrepaired smashed driver's side window (which means I become the designated driver whenever it rains) and this has been going on for a year. She deeply resents being told anything (like, she needs to either buy a new car or put serious money into the one she has before she really gets stranded somewhere) and there are a million poor-me reasons she can't take care of what needs to be done to run her life- everyone is just supposed to be endlessly patient and understanding and not resent how her chaos impacts their lives.

On the borrowing thing- she still has a friend's shop-vac from two years ago. She has DVDs and books I've lent her from over five years ago. I know better than to lend her anything I actually will need back, because it will disappear into the morass of her house and yard and it will be years before I get it back, if ever. Even more distressing is her habit of treating others as free storage. At present, I have a laptop she left here 8 months ago, a fishbowl, Tupperware, bottle washing implements and a case of empty bottles (for use at a winery bottling event) that have been here longer than that. The stuff I just returned to her? Four large shopping bags and a garden trug stuffed to bursting with clothing, garden tools, recycled food containers from restaurants, mail, etc. These were items offloaded from her car to my garage during the last breakdown of her car, with the apparent expectation that she could just leave them there indefinitely and take them back "a bit at a time" as is convenient for her.

I care about her, but she's a lot of work for a friend and there is a clear imbalance in this relationship. Over and over, what happens is: she takes advantage until I get sick of it, I set a boundary, she acts wounded and mistreated and withdraws,  this gives me enough of a break that I can eventually remember what I enjoy about her, and the cycle repeats.

Our friendship from her perspective? I can only go by what I hear her speak of her other friends. The neighbor, dying of cancer, who was kind enough to water her plants while she was away, but was terribly thoughtless not to also scrub the bird poop off her patio. The friends who have her to dinner several times per week and have invited her on every family vacation for the last few years but who she refuses to babysit for anymore because they dared point out she needs to do something about her falling-apart car. The friend who agreed to help her clean up her yard but selfishly declined to start at 7:00 am. I don't know what she'd say about me but I assume it's along those lines.

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Spring Butterfly

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Re: Does this sound like NPD, and is an NPD friend worth keeping?
« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2016, 10:50:10 AM »
The fact is she's an adult making her own choices. Her job to live with the consequences. If she want to hoard no one has the right to tell her otherwise. It's her adult human right.

Having a 'broken' person for a friend is a choice. One needs to have the strong willpower to not attempt control of fixing. There is a person in my life who is so very broken. She respects my boundaries and I accept her as the completely broken person she is and she appreciates I don't try to fix her. She was actually tired of people trying to fix her. As long as she accepts my 'no' and limits I place on her including acceptable conversation topics and lack of availability then she is not toxic for me and I am not toxic for her.

It wasn't until I let go of my codependency and got strong boundaries that I am able to be a better friend. The book review board has a book called 'I don't have to make everything all a better' that helped me learn to walk with others in a validating way rather than fix them or their situation. I'm so much better off and wish I'd learned this so much earlier in life. Wishing you peace.
· Every interaction w/ PD persons results in damage-plan accordingly, make time to heal
· Individuation is one key to emotional freedom
· It's foolish to expect of others what they have no capacity to give
my Empowered Growth blog

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Sunshine days

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Re: Does this sound like NPD, and is an NPD friend worth keeping?
« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2016, 09:19:19 PM »
Swarley , your friend is high maintenance , no wonder you are drained. Do you feel she is draining your good qualities ? And giving nothing back ? . I have a friend who I feel this with , when I was broken and she was broken but with stability , I helped her see her brokenness and guided her across the road as we had this family problem in common and our paths met and we made each other healthy but because she was sat in my wound and I had no stability like spring butterfly described ( boundaries they came later) I couldn't shake her of but I loved her but she wouldn't open up and only gave bits when I was weeping for 4 years and bared my soul, she was kind in that time and we exchanged what each of us needed , we helped each other overcome things by understanding each other. In time because of boundaries she has become hard and I have to but I am still a caring person and I am trying to work out whether she is playing a game with me. She arranges things and then cancels things and I am always available no matter what so now I don't feel so dependant and needy on her but I enjoying talking to her and her company, I have decided to hold my own and we seem to clash, she's stronger rubbing shoulders with me and I am stronger but I don't want to open up like I once did, so the dynamics have changed and she won't open up and give more of herself, she's denies stuff and won't let you see into her wounds, family etc and because I let her see into my raw wound , I can't see it working. Any ideas whats happened here ? She once said we are made of the same mould, I am the other half. We are so alike it's driving me crazy and she will argue if I don't give in when she next appears via text message to go out , I can't explain how she does it but I tell her what I don't like and what she's like and she can talk her way out of it until we agree to disagree and I feel like she pulled a fast one but I am happy we are out like old time sakes. Sorry for high jacking your thread but I need opinions on this , her x has narc traits and I know she was beaten down by his family and I have seen her suffer and get stronger but she never fully showed emotion and has become hard. Where as I showed to much emotion and have become hard but I am still soft inside , I don't see a soft side to her and I feel she's selfish and now I don't want to give myself over. Spring butterfly I to wish I had discovered what I know now, we are catching up . People who hoard have a mental illness , my mother is a hoarded and I read it . I think it's amazing how you detailed your friend swarley. Is your friend open ? Or have you took years to detail this, I can't see my friend she gives nothing  but gave a little before .

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Swarley

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Re: Does this sound like NPD, and is an NPD friend worth keeping?
« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2016, 02:44:14 PM »
Hi Sunshine days, sorry to hear of your difficulties. In my case, it took me years to catch on. In the early part of our friendship, we both had jobs and busy lives and saw each other for coffee or dinner a couple of times a month and talked weekly on the phone. Then I took a LOA from work, she was not working at the time either, and we started hanging out more. That's when it came into focus and I noticed the entitlement, complaints, the mooching by degrees and lack of empathy. I felt stupid for not noticing the signs earlier- many years ago, I escaped a friendship with a much more dangerous and malignant NPD- so I felt I knew what the signs were and should have spotted them sooner.

A couple of things jump out at me from your post- first, that your friend has described you as "being from the same mold" and "being her other half". This is the kind of language my prior Narc friend used to create a false bond and "obligate" me to him. I was his "soul sister", we were "the only people who really understood each other" and if I wouldn't "help" him (by giving him time, attention, money, rides, meals, etc), then who would? When I realized that "special bond" was a one-way street and he got all the benefits, it helped me end that toxic friendship.

Second- "I can't explain how she does it, but <snip> she can talk her way out of it" . Narcissists are experts at arguing around and around in circles and muddying the issue until you feel crazy and stupid. At that point, you find yourself making all the concessions and compromises just to bring an end to it. The only solution I ever found to this was to walk away, just refuse to engage.

Re: my friend's hoarding- I view this as a separate, coexisting  psychological issue. It is a problem for me only because I am drawn into it through her Narcissistic behaviors,  such as assuming it's okay for her to clutter up my home with bags of stuff from her house and car. Or asking me to help her fold up 2 tarps and then playing "oh, and just this one more thing" until I've spent nearly three hours doing cleanup tasks for her at the expense of tending to my own life. She is aware that she has a hoarding issue and has requested help getting control of it, but the guy who went to give her an estimate ( a friend I put her in touch with) found her much too difficult to work with.

I am trying to draw normal healthy boundaries as they come up, such as returning her stuff to her before it sits around here too long. I have a bad feeling, though, that leapsandbounds is right and that retroactively setting boundaries doesn't work. My friend is likely to see this as rejection/ withdrawal of privileges/ withdrawal of intimacy. 


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Sunshine days

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Re: Does this sound like NPD, and is an NPD friend worth keeping?
« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2016, 09:48:36 PM »
Swarley, are you bothered if she sees it has rejection? I feel you really want to help this person but at what cost putting your own needs to one side? My knowledge is narcs don't have boundaries they are highly controlling . Me and my friend helped each other through a difficult situation and she was wounded but I emerged from brokenness and I guess I wanted how the relationship was then, we where close and she listened and understood me and gave me great answers but as we both grew , we met in the middle and I feel like my own personality was being copied, like I was giving out good energy and it helped her grow but drained me at the time but I really came out of my comfort zone and carried on being open , I had no choice I was bleeding but now I am more healed I think I can see she was always closed , I don't think she's acting she is a introvert and finds it hard to trust and be open and I have helped her but it's this lack of giving that is aggravating me. She's stubborn and I can't be the one that gives all the time so I act like she does because I have learned things of her. She has calmed me down and I have brought her out so we have met n the middle and I feel a power struggle. When I use to tell her the things she wasn't doing she never said ok I will try not to etc she would ignore stuff and change the subject and I found myself ignoring her and wondering how to handle her. My next thing I need to do is say no when she wants to go out and make it my life. Trouble is I am always there loyal but she is more about what she's doing and cancels stuff without a second thought. I felt at one point she was being to quiet so I left her but she now sees I ain't chasing her etc and if she doesn't reach out she goes back to that isolated placed she came out of. It's the all on co dependant relationship to all off , I know she's been busy of late but there's no deep meaningful texting it and I have decided not to want it . In return I am enjoying my life and time and don't want her to ask me out , she comes when she's ready and that's when I feel controlled but I need to say no and carry on for a bit with my life and if we meet again, we meet. We did have a special bond and we did support each other but now it's gone and I am wondering where our once co dependant relationship went and why she won't open up about emotions, I know she's not my mother but sometimes I expected more empathy , I think I am just a very loving and kind human being and wonder what to do ?? Don't feel stupid for not noticing its hard to detect and they are very good at it.  Me and my friend are very like minded , very similar and from the same mould, she to calls me a soul sister , she seems a true friend . I find it very intense but at the same time miss the comfort and understanding we once had.

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all4peace

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Re: Does this sound like NPD, and is an NPD friend worth keeping?
« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2016, 09:59:19 PM »
I agree that retroactively setting boundaries is challenging. I'm doing so with H and my sets of parents, and it has been taken as a hostile move.

Only you can decide how you want to handle this situation, but from my reading on narcissism, she does sound like an N but maybe not malignant--I find it nice that she's honest, for one thing. It's so hard to know how to handle relationships, as we're all aware that living, breathing and feeling people are involved. I wish you the best, whatever you decide.

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Swarley

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Re: Does this sound like NPD, and is an NPD friend worth keeping?
« Reply #11 on: June 25, 2016, 12:42:19 AM »
Do I care if she sees my boundaries as "rejection"? Increasingly, no. Actually what I fear more is that if I DON'T set some firm boundaries , eventually I will get so tired of being used to solve all her problems that I will blow up and really let her have it. That will almost certainly be the end of the friendship, and it will have ended badly.

Ultimately, of course, what I really want is for her to understand how her behavior affects others and WANT to be different. And realistically, I know that won't happen with a NPD.