They're shameless, they're arrogant, they're entitled. On this episode of "I Want to Like You," Real Simple’s Modern Manners columnist Catherine Newman joins editor Kristin Van Ogtrop to discuss narcissists. Whether it's your cousin that never has once in your time together asked you any questions about yourself or the other parent at pickup who only brags about her son’s achievement, Newman gives you her tips to minimize the impact they have on your life in the kindest way possible.
Is it pathological? According to the Mayo Clinic, a pathological narcissist does not care about your feelings. However the social narcissist you deal with in the pick-up line at school does care about your feelings—a lot. He or she is probably fostering feelings of insecurity and shame, not superbly over-confident, as he or she would want you to believe. “If you’re dealing with someone deeply confident, they don’t actually need you to validate them constantly,” Newman says.
Do you value the relationship? Is it a family member? You probably should invest a little effort in trying to keep the relationship out of the red zone. Use this as an opportunity to be the most generous, kindest version of yourself and do what Newman calls the “shoveling in” response. Congratulate them and give them the response they are looking for—be a cheerleader.
But what if you’re not related by blood? “You don’t have to be your best self,” Newman says. If you’re not invested in this person on any deep level just walk away and refuse to play the role you know you will fail at.
And for those friends that are good for a night out but not much more? You can hang onto them. “Just enjoy what there is to enjoy and leave the rest,” Newman says, noting that she herself has some friends she might enjoy getting a drink with—but knows not to bring any of her deep friendship needs to them.
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