Jazmin Kopotsha | Culture Writer | Friday, 19 February 2016

How To Spot The Narcissist \'Friends\' Who Will Inevitably Make You Feel Bad About Yourself

How To Spot The Narcissist 'Friends' Who Will Inevitably Make You Feel Bad About Yourself

The Debrief: Turns out our parents were right about this the whole time

Taking the piss and generally being a bit of a dick to each other is a pretty much a given among most groups of mates, because let’s face it, it’s one of the ways we show affection these days.  Good-natured mockery about that time one of your best friends fell asleep in the middle of a nightclub, or the time she had sex in a wardrobe (true story), is definitely fair game. 

But just as much as we’re accustomed to this type of lighthearted pisstakery, we can still get hurt when things turn nasty. There’s having a laugh, and then there’s being made to feel really shit about yourself, and we’re not okay with being made to feel like poo.

Have you ever noticed at work or uni, maybe even in your flatshare or at the Old Man And Poodle down the road, someone who makes a habit of throwing out insults and putting people down for no apparent reason? Well, science thinks that this type of behaviour is actually linked to narcissism. 

Now, I’m just going to take a hunch and say that ‘narcissism’ is one of those words we tend to throw into conversation without wholly knowing what the word actually means. And for those of you who already do, here’s a friendly refresher to top up your encyclopaedic brains. 

Psychology Today describes narcissists as people who ‘spend excessive amounts of time polishing up their appearance, and believe themselves to be the centre of the universe, an extreme form of egocentrism.’ Sound familiar?

They go on to talk about ‘narcissistic entitlement’, which means believing that you’re more important and so more deserving than others; and ‘narcissistic grandiosity’, which is pretty similar but more to do with believing you’re better than everyone and so take advantage of other people. 

The key point though, is that narcissists ‘tend to lack empathy, so they don’t realise the impact that their remarks or behaviours have on their targets’. 

Now that we’re all caught up with what narcissism means, it all seems pretty clear as to why people with this particular trait are most likely to say something shitty to other people they feel threatened by. It won’t come as a surprise that some even see narcissism as a cover up for things like vulnerability or not feeling good enough yourself, which drives you to lash out at other people. 

If you’re ever on the receiving end of this kind of stuff, and are left wondering ‘what the hell have I done to deserve this’, chances are it’s nothing to do with you at all.  Further research has found that ‘narcissists like to denigrate [put down] everyone else, even if there’s no direct threat to their feelings of self-importance. For them, insulting others just comes with the territory.’ Which okay, is a bit of a backhanded consolation, but at the very least you can know that it’s absolutely nothing to do with you.

Basically, if we’re looking at it that way, it turns out all that stuff our parents told us as kids about trying to see things from the perspective of the mean kid in the playground who made fun of us for being taller than all the boys in our class (you should see me in heels now, Matty Jackson*) is pretty spot on. It’s probably got more to do with their own insecurities, because you are actually really bloody awesome (thanks mum).

*Changed his name. There is no Matty Jackson.

Like this? You might also be interested in:

The Psychology Of Being Cheated On

How To Tell If Someone’s Lying

What It Feels Like To Be The ‘Ugly’ Friend

Follow Jazmin on Twitter @JazKopotsha