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Are You Attracting Narcissistic Friends?



Are You Attracting Narcissistic Friends?

How can I tell if my friend is a narcissist?
I recently got an email from a lovely woman saying she feels she repeats the dynamic she had with her narcissistic mother in her choice of friends. She says she befriends narcissistic women, who then, like her mother, end up rejecting her. Is this you?

If you were raised by narcissistic parents, it is common to be attracted to the familiar. We unconsciously attract this into our lives and it often becomes a secondary trauma. This can be a Post-Traumatic Stress trigger for the family of origin issues.  We often feel like we have to master it and make it work because it is reenacted trauma from the past and we want to conquer it. If my own mother or father can’t love me, then I have to make this friendship work or it shows that I am unlovable and they were right.  I am not good enough! Although painful and real for many, there is another answer.

The answer begins with recovery. We attract people into our lives who are on the same emotional level we are. So the more recovery you do, the healthier people you attract. It is the law of attraction at its best. Without recovery, adult children of narcissistic parents are very vulnerable in relationships. This can happen to you and does for many. You are not alone.

So, how do you tell if your friends are narcissistic? Here’s the scoop!

The Ten Stingers for Friendship: How to assess if your friend is a narcissist.

  1. Is there reciprocity in the relationship? Is there give and take? Or is one person always the giver and the other the taker?
  2. Are you able to be yourself in this relationship? Do you find you have to play down your talents to make the friend feel less threatened? Or does this friend celebrate you and allow you to shine in your own right?
  3. Is there a sharing of vulnerability on both sides and can you both discuss your real feelings?
  4. Do you trust this person with your feelings or do you find yourself on guard most of the time? Have your feelings been used against you?
  5. Can your friend give you empathy on a peer level or is it more like sympathy making you feel less than?
  6. Does this friend bring out the best in you? Are you aware that you feel wonderful in the presence of this person? You get to be your real self in good times or bad?
  7. When issues come up that need to be discussed, can this friend be accountable for their own behavior?
  8. Do you find it acceptable to have boundaries with this friend? When setting boundaries, does it cause problems? Or is this understood and easily worked through between you?
  9. Do you care about each other for who you are as humans, rather than what you do in your accomplishments?
  10. Does the friend exploit you for his or her own ends, or just cherish what you bring to the relationship?

Choosing and keeping cherished friends can be a challenge if you are an adult child of narcissistic parents. You learned the wrong definition of love, so it has to be re-learned through your own recovery work. As you do recovery, you may find that your friends are not healthy for you and you may need to begin to develop healthier connections. This is not only ok, but good for you. It is important to find friends who add to your life rather than drain your life. Search for friendships that offer a match to your strength and honor your authenticity and passions in life. Don’t allow competitiveness and jealousy to get in the way as that is a flashback to narcissistic parent dynamics. The key is both people in the friendship are celebrating the other for who they really are! These kinds of friends are friends for life!

In summary, please allow me to share my three favorite quotes on friendship. They continue to inspire me and I hope they do the same for you.

“Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.” Oprah Winfrey

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.” Henri Nouwen

“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” Albert Schweitzer.

Additional Resources for Recovery:


Workshop: Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers Virtual Workshop. Online workshop in the privacy of your own home, complete with video presentations and homework assignments:

Daughter Intensives: One on one sessions with Dr. McBride.

“Is this your Mom?” Survey:

Authors’ Books and Kindle – Click for Amazon Reviews

Dr. Karyl, LMFT, is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Denver, Colorado with almost 30 years in public and private practice. She specializes in treating clients with dysfunctional family issues. For the past seventeen years, Dr. Karyl has been involved in private research concerning children of narcissistic parents, with a primary focus on women raised by narcissistic mothers. She has treated many adult children of narcissistic parents in her private practice. The author holds a B.A. from the University of Wyoming in elementary and special education, an M.A. from the University of Northern Colorado in counseling psychology, an Educational Specialist graduate degree from the University of Northern Colorado in school psychology, and a Ph.D. from The Union Institute in clinical psychology. Dr. Karyl also has extensive clinical experience in the fields of trauma, sexual abuse, domestic violence, divorce and step family therapy, marital and family therapy, specialized trauma treatment in Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR), and individual adjustment issues related to anxiety, depression, and life transitions. In addition, she does forensic consulting and has served as an expert witness in numerous civil and criminal cases involving children and sexual abuse. She has nine years experience conducting sexual abuse investigations with law enforcement and has conducted training for law enforcement in the area of sexual abuse investigations. In 1996, she was invited to present her doctoral research at the International Police Research Conference in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Additional information on services provided and background experience can be found on Dr. Karyl’s private practice website at Dr. Karyl is available for workshops, talks and media appearances on the topic of maternal narcissism. Contact Dr. Karyl for more information.

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