Losing Narcissistic Friends

Lisa E. Scott's picture

Yes, it's completely normal and healthy to start losing friends once you wake up and realize what you will and will not tolerate in a relationship. Once we begin to understand narcissism, we see that not only do we attract narcissistic romantic partners, but friends as well. I have lost more than one friend this past year.

As a result, I've started asking myself why I'm so drawn to these personality types and would like to understand why they’re drawn to me. The first part of this question is a no-brainer. It’s easy to fall for a narcissist. They are very charming, witty and often the life of the party. To spend time with them is intoxicating and exciting. There’s never a dull moment.

On the other hand, understanding why they are drawn to me is a bit more perplexing. Recently, I have finally started to understand this and want to share it with everyone here. Just like many of us here, I am an Empath, which is a relatively new term in psychology, but one worth noting for purposes of getting over a narcissistic relationship.

An Empath is someone who is highly tuned into other’s emotions and extremely sensitive. I have always been this way. In fact, my childhood buddy was asked to describe me in one word and without hesitation she responded by saying “She’s SENSITIVE.” I was surprised by the rapid-fire response she gave, but it was eye-opening, to say the least.

Being an Empath is both a blessing and a curse. I can feel other people’s emotions as if they’re my own. This has worked very well for me in my career as an HR professional. I am always aware of an employee’s feelings even when disciplinary action is required. I’ve been told by colleagues that my ability to empathize with them is palpable. I absorb and feel the pain of others while talking to them in such a way that they know I have considered their feelings and have done everything possible to minimize their pain. Without a doubt, this is the most consistent piece of feedback I have received in my career as an HR professional.

While this is a blessing in many ways, it proves tricky in interpersonal relationships. As a business professional, I have no difficulty setting boundaries. No one has or will ever take advantage of my ability to feel for them in the workplace. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about relationships outside of work. A narcissist picks up on the sensitivity of an Empath like white on rice. An Empath is the perfect accoutrement to a narcissist.

Empaths are incredible listeners, naturally giving and always there for people they care about. Narcissists notice this immediately because they purposefully seek out relationships with people who are compassionate and in tune with their never-ending emotional needs. An Empath absorbs the emotions of others and will easily fall prey to a narcissist, who simply uses others as an emotional sponge.

Whereas a narcissist doesn’t connect well with others, an Empath connects too much. When Empaths are around peace and love, they flourish. However, when surrounded by an emotional vampire, like a narcissist, an Empath is ravaged.

An Empath absorbs the negativity, fear and rage of a narcissist. So much so that they take on these problems as their own and try to fix things for others. This is precisely what a narcissist is looking for in someone and exactly why they seek out relationships with Empaths.

Recognizing that you are an Empath is the first step to taking charge of your emotions instead of letting others take advantage of you. If someone asks too much of you, it’s ok to say no. You need to start standing up for yourself and setting boundaries. I have finally started doing this in my personal life and it’s amazing how friends I have known for years are reacting. Some really don’t like it.

A high school friend recently sent me an e-mail to tell me “You bring nothing to the table.” I was astounded. I didn’t know after 25 years of friendship, the only thing that matters to her is what she can get out of our relationship. A college friend chose to end our friendship this year when I told her that her direct reports were talking about the affair she had with her boss. She ended our 20 year friendship by telling me I was wrong for being in a position to hear this type of information.

Unfortunately, this just goes to show what kind of people we surround ourselves with as Empaths. I have been putting other people’s needs before my own to the point of self-destruction. Instead of absorbing everyone’s feelings, I am starting to notice how my own emotions make me feel and I’m acting on these feelings. I will never again allow anyone to take advantage of me or insult me without defending myself. I have learned who my real friends are and I cherish them.

Overall, I believe being an Empath is truly a gift, but we must be careful not to allow others to take advantage of us. By setting boundaries and surrounding yourself with positive, healthy, well-adjusted people, it is my hope you will begin to appreciate this gift and find it as life-changing and transformative as I have.

Comments

kristin10's picture

!!!

I've never heard of the term empath until today. I am even a HR professional just like Lisa, and she's right, that personality trait is incredibly helpful in this line of work.

Since E's hoover attempt last week and finding this site, I've been considering my life. I initially thought my childhood and family situation may have created a codependent personality in me, but I do think the empath definition fits me better. Because of my experience with E and the research I've been doing, I've realized most of the people I consider myself close to have varying levels of narc (only one or two at harmful levels). I've purchased some books about codependency and the magnetism that attracts narc's to people like me and vice versa.

I usually feel silly for acknowledging the blatant narc actions rounded at me: almost like I'm being oversensitive. I've always been one to roll with the punches and kill people with kindness. Expressing my needs has always been hard for me. Questioning myself and my intuition are things I struggle with as well. I usually get to my wits end before I speak up.

Lisa, thank you for this post, I feel less crazy everyday since I've found this website!

Lisa E. Scott's picture

Kristin10

Great to meet (albeit virtually) another HR professional! Even better to hear that you feel less crazy every day since you found our website! You have no idea how much that means to me. That's precisely why we're here. Narcs engage in crazy-making behavior to make us feel like we're the ones at fault. I'm so glad you now see that's not the case.

I would never discourage anyone from reading something to learn, but I caution you from reading too much on Codependency. Most of us here are Empaths, NOT Codependents. It's important to understand this. Empaths are targets for narcissists

"On initial contact, a sociopath will often test other people's empathy, so questions geared towards discovering if you are highly empathic or not should ring alarm bells. People with a highly empathic disposition are often targeted. Those with lower levels of empathy are often passed over, though they can be drawn in and used by sociopaths as part of their cruel entertainment." - Dr. Jane & Tim McGregor

Here's a great article on this topic:

http://www.sott.net/article/268449-Empathic-people-are-natural-targets-f...

Again, so glad you found us and are beginning to see you have done nothing wrong. Being an Empath is a gift, but must only be shared with those deserving.

Love & Light,
Lisa

greengirl91's picture

This is TRUE from start to

This is TRUE from start to finish!

All my life I have been surrounded by narcisists it seems, everywhere! School, home, love interests..Jesus! And friends.

Major cleaning is required!

Gravity's picture

This post was EXACTLY what I

This post was EXACTLY what I needed today. I've been reading so much on Narcissm while at the same time sitting here thinking, how can I pin point SO many people in my life that fit this description! It's because I am an empath, I feel other peoples pain, and on top of that I make excuses to the ends of the earth for people. Much like N's project, I project too and because I am such a kind and giving person I want to believe others are the same way and this is why I constantly put up with innapropriate behavior.

I am taking out the garbage! I've been recently obsessef with the quote: "it's only after you've lost everything that you're free to do anything!" After losing all of these toxic relationships I feel I can start healing and start to recognize who I am as a person without all of this negative energy

Hope's picture

Subjugation

Hi, I was told by my therapist that I had a tendency to subjugate, which is pretty much the same I think, basically putting everyone else's needs before your own. The dictionary says "to bring under control or subjection; conquer, to cause to become subservient; subdue. A lot of mother's have this tendency. I think it can be a learned type of thing, if you had a troubled childhood, i.e., alcoholic parent, etc. where you were not accustomed to receiving the love you deserve and were like the parent and not the child. Many years ago I was told to read the book, "women who love too much" I remember reading it, might help some on this web site. Good luck.

PhoebeR's picture

Feel so much comfort and peace right now

Your words ring so true. I have decided to end the toxic friendship that i have had for over 15 years. It's sad and unfortunate but it's what i need to do for me in my life.

When you said "Instead of absorbing everyone’s feelings, I am starting to notice how my own emotions make me feel and I’m acting on these feelings" Like you, i will also never again allow anyone to take advantage of me or insult me without defending myself.

I am learning so much about myself and other people through out this whole process, first with the Ex N and now with an ex friend. If she contacts me again, which she will when things in her lie fall apart, I will be friendly, but it will never be like it was. Too much has happened and the history and scars run deep.

I am learning who i can trust, and who my friends are as well. More importantly I am learning to value myself.

sweetsamm's picture

eye opening!

Wow....that makes so much sense..i am definitely an empath!...i think thats why I have problems in relationships,because I can sense pulling away or a change in behavior immediately...maybe it was just gona be temporary,i want to confront it and find out why,which in turn makes some men leave..i love being able to feel the good,but absorbing so many people's pain is so emotionally draining...i'm gona def look into this more....

J16's picture

Spot on!

This is me! I've wondered about this empathy I had and you have described it exactly. Everything you said. Nice to know that someone else is like this and I can relate to someone! From feeling like you feel someone's emotions so well, it's like you can actually feel exactly what they are feeling, to flourishing when around positive people as opposed to dealing with negative people. And I've been most affected every time I pick a narcissist to be with. Kicks the shit out of me! Like right now, I am so "ill" internally right now, I mean not good, having dealt with so much crap from a narcissistic guy. It's affected my appearance too. My eyes are looking droopy, my whole face looks droopy & unhappy. Ugh... Anyway, everything you've said I can relate to. Nice to have answers.

Amazed's picture

Lisa, your being an empath

Lisa, your gift of being an empath is probably what motivated you to your book, and the site,,,,right! Look at all the people you have TRUELY helped, because of your qualities.

It is a wonderful gift, and you need to protect yourself from people who take advantage. It is hard to detect a N (wish there was a way obvious red flag alert warning) however as you say, we are naturally drawn to these folks, probably because of the way they make us feel. They are very much disconnected from us and everyone else, which makes us want to connect more (or something like that). They feed on this, and use their evil mindgames to thwart us.

Thank you for your post, it has a lot of insight.

You are awesome for so many reasons.

: )

Kelly's picture

Hey Lisa . . been too long

That's awful. Ugh! Hopefully, she is only projecting her feelings of shame and guilt onto you and will realize with time that she was incredibly hurtful and you did not deserve that.

Something I'm starting to understand about myself is that I am definitely an empath, however, it may also be that my deep caring about other people is an escape from recognizing and respecting my own feelings.

I have lost nearly all of my "friends." At this point in my life, I'm incredibly lonely. I keep myself busy, but I am still longing for close friendships I can count on.

I'm trying to shy away from labeling others with NPD, because I do realize that everyone has narcissistic traits and although there are people with high levels narcissism and no doubt in my mind plenty with NPD whom I've had relationships with.

I'm trying to keep in mind instead that these are all people who are very limited in their ability to care for others. I think it's helping, but I'm not completely sure. I'm not making new friendships yet and I am certainly not ready to date or think about dating.

Anyway, hope this helps and thanks for sharing!

KellyAnn's picture

Losing Narcissistic Friends

I'm new here, but this topic really rang true. I lost three longtime friendships in the past 3 years -- and thus could no longer ignore my propensity to attract narcissistic friends.
One friend was from college -- I was really shocked to lose that friendship, but when I looked back and started to add things up over the past two decades, I realized it shouldn't have been a surprise at all. She's got Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder, if I were an armchair psychiatrist. She worships at the altar of tasking and order. It finally took over to such an extent that she told me "Friends are a luxury -- I'm just too busy."
The other two friends, who used to be my travel buddies (we'd take one fabulous trip together yearly) -- planned a trip without telling me. When I found out, I was devastated. They, however, justified it and blamed it all on me. Nothing stained them at all. I felt like Alice in Wonderland. I was even interacting with one pretty regularly and she never said one word -- we had even just gone out to dinner one evening, and talked about trips! And she sat there KNOWING that she about to embark on a fabulous trip with my other friend (I introduced them!) of 25 years. Not one word! They left me out.
I had to face the fact that all three of these are not appropriate for me anymore. (After giving them a 2nd chance, of course -- I "forgave", opened my heart again and thought "Oh, they wouldn't do it again", and of course, they all did. All three of them, in separate incidents, hurt me again. Thankfully, I was strong enough to say "I'm done with all of them.")
I've done a lot of growing through a good therapist in the last 5 years, and I guess I got too healthy for these friendships to survive. I'm finished with anything but a superficial interaction with all of them.
Anyway, thanks for posting this. It really hit home.