Narcissists and Friendship

A very dear friend called this weekend.  We’ve known each other since college.  She’s one of those special friends that, although we may not get to visit as much as I’d like, when we do talk, we pick up right where we left off.  She’d been reading my blog and thought maybe I needed a call.  I didn’t realize I was sending out an S.O.S.  That’s a beautiful thing about good friends, they often know you better than you know yourself.  They can tell when you are feeling vulnerable, they can appreciate your successes, they know your different phases.  They can tell you to quit taking yourself so seriously, just as you can do that for them.

When I was first dating Mark, I was curious about the fact that he didn’t have any friends.  Actually, there was one guy that he would do a few things with, but he was kind of an odd duck.  He didn’t have any friends, either.  I just assumed that Mark poured himself into his business, and he didn’t have any time to cultivate friendships.  Funny how you can so easily turn a negative into a positive when you are in a new relationship.  Then, when Mark and I had been married for awhile, I would think to myself, “Well, I guess he just prefers to spend his time with me when he’s not working.”

I would have killed to be a hunting widow or a golf widow.  Every healthy relationship needs those spaces where you go away, get a new perspective, and come back to look at your partner with fresh eyes.  You don’t need to go away for a long time.  Maybe you need an afternoon break, or a weekend break.  Never having a break from your partner is like never changing the sheets on your bed.  They can get pretty stale and smelly.

Several years into our marriage, Mark would rant about how I prevented him from going on his mountain adventures.  He felt tied down and never got to take off like he did before we were married.  I had heard the stories of his adventures.  In most cases, he was by himself.  I think he was angry with himself for not wanting to go by himself any more, and so he directed the anger at me.

Narcissists are lousy at friendship.  They aren’t interested in carrying on a conversation unless the talk is all about them.  And they sure aren’t going to spend any time worrying about someone else’s issues, feelings or concerns.  A close friend of ours was going through a divorce.  I had invited her for dinner.  I wanted her to know that she had our support while she went through a difficult time.  We shared some beers on the front deck, and we just let her vent.  That’s what friends do.  At one point, Mark got out of his lawn chair and headed into the house.  I thought he was getting something to drink.  He didn’t come back.  He didn’t come back for dinner, either.  I made some excuse for our friend, saying something like, “Oh, Mark hasn’t been feeling well.”  I had seen him do this before — get up from the dinner table, or simply leave a room in the middle of a conversation.  His rudeness astounded me.  After the friend had gone home, I asked what had happened to him.  He simply said, “I was bored with the conversation and wasn’t interested in sticking around for any more.”  That is precisely why he’d find himself alone on his mountain trips.

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One comment

  1. Wow, all sooooooo familiar! I too have been shocked at the absolute blatant rudeness that narcissists exhibit. They just don’t care because it’s not about them. End of story.

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