Friends In Low Places: How To Recognize A Toxic Friendship

How To Recognize A Toxic Friendship

Jealousy, Shame, And Belittling Attacks

Narcissists also struggle with intense jealousy of other people while simultaneously feeling superior and elite. No one is allowed to be smarter, or more powerful, important, or beautiful than the narcissist. As seen with Grace and Victoria, shame is a powerful tool for narcissists who need to regain their control in a relationship.

Hannah describes a former friend, Maisie, who used shame and superiority as her favorite attack methods. “Everything I did was wrong or not good enough. She constantly competed with everything I did. If I ever had something positive in my life, she would downplay it and tell me why her life was so much better.”

To a narcissist or anyone with an inferiority complex, they must be the best in all situations. If someone else has a success, it must be followed up with a better story or outcome by the toxic friend. Hannah would make a statement, and Maisie would discount it or claim Hannah was wrong. Maisie would repeatedly call Hannah a liar or stupid or dumb; even when presented with evidence, nothing was legitimate unless Maisie herself found it first.

In one situation, Hannah had information to back up her claim about a company work policy; Maisie went as far as downloading the handbook and still refused to admit Hannah was correct. Hannah says that was the last straw, and she realized she needed to establish boundaries.

“I explained that she was making me upset for how she was treating me, and despite how much proof I showed her, she kept telling me that I was lying and wrong and she was right and knew more and was better. She told me to either shut up and drop it or not be her friend anymore…I immediately knew where I stood in her life and how I was never going to be happy being her friend.”

Hannah describes their friendship as exhausting and mentally abusive. The friendship caused Hannah to doubt herself, her abilities, and her intelligence, and she realizes now how it was never a friendship in the first place.

Narcissists never have close relationships for any purpose other than to benefit themselves, even if that means destroying another person in the process.

Related: Toxic Friends: 10 Signs Of An Unhealthy Friendship

Boundaries As Protection

Boundaries exist not to keep people out but to protect oneself from hurt, hatred, and mental attacks. Victoria admits she misses Grace, “but if she didn’t want to stop focusing on herself for one moment to listen to my concerns, then was she ever a friend in the first place?”

Friends are meant to help you grow, encourage your positive lifestyle changes, and provide a safe place to unload and cry. Tearing down your successes or reveling in your failures is not a sign of a true friend. It takes just as much energy to listen and support as it does to laugh, point, and gloat. However, it takes more time to solve a problem than to walk away from it, and narcissists will always take the easy way out.

Hannah reflects: “That friendship’s ending was a huge relief, and I now have very strict boundaries with friends. I never really thought narcissistic people existed as friends, but more as partners or in family relationships. After that experience, I put up a lot of boundaries with all of my platonic friendships, and a few more people walked out of my life because they didn’t like the boundaries I put up… but I’m much better off.”

Kristy Lee Hochenberger can be contacted for life coaching at and

Written By Kristy Lee Hochenberger  
Originally Appeared On Psychology Today  
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Friends In Low Places: How To Recognize A Toxic Friendship
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Kristy Lee Hochenberger

Kristy Lee Hochenberger is a doctoral student of psychology at Capella University and a member of Psi Chi, the international honor society in psychology. A graduate of prestigious Wells College, Kristy Lee is also a licensed funeral director and co-founder of Salt City Legacy Scholars, Inc, a 501c3 nonprofit organization that awards scholarships and financial assistance to young women across New York State. In addition to her Bachelor's degree, Kristy Lee has an Associate's Degree in Occupational Services as well as a Master of Business Administration. A native of Queens, NY, she currently resides in upstate New York where she is an adjunct faculty member at Syracuse University School of Information Studies (iSchool) and University of the People.View Author posts