She was never really a friend

She was never really a friend

Losing a good friend is always difficult. Losing a friend with the realisation that the person was never really your friend at all is devastating. It’s a double whammy in the loss of friendship that you valued dearly and the gradual reveal of what that person really was. I’ve spent way too many hours now on the internet trying to make sense of my experience and want to share my story for two main reasons. Firstly, most stories of abusive relationships on the web assume a role of partner, not platonic friendship and I would have liked to read about other people’s experiences when the words emotional abuse first appeared on my radar and then secondly, given that no closure will ever be given by my former ‘friend’, I’m hoping that by retelling the story I can do this for myself.

It wasn’t an instant bond that developed. I met this person and liked them but didn’t really spend a lot of time with until several months after we met at an evening class. There was a little group of us that used to meet up and socialise together and I enjoyed the company. The special individual attention then got focused on me with many nights out arranged, almost daily chats on the phone and an eagerness to spend time with me that I found touching at the time.  I now realise that this was all part of the assessment process to see if I would make good supply or not. Very quickly from being part of a group, the friendship became more intense and exclusive. My suggestions to invite others along were rejected as it being better fun ‘just the two of us’ and I was flattered, sadly. Having recently lost my best friend of many years to cancer some months before, I can now see how ripe for the picking I was. It felt great to have a ‘best friend’ again. Someone who was always happy to see me, make plans at short notice, never say they were too busy and yet…sometimes I had a funny feeling in my gut. Some of her stories didn’t always add up, some of them even sounded a bit unlikely and then the recounting of her terrible childhood, in the middle of a busy pub, with tears appearing then disappearing again almost as fast as I comforted her, and said how sad it was to hear all this.  But I submerged those feelings of doubt as me just being over analytical.
The thing about manipulative behaviour is that it is stealthy. You don’t go from being adored to devalued overnight. It is more sly and subtle so you don’t realise how your position has changed to always being in need of some correction, ‘too sensitive,’ ‘too quick to overreact,’ ‘can’t take a joke,’ ‘the most sensitive of any of her friends ever.’  Actually there were no other friends in evidence. I was much struck by this but the answer was that many of them had just lost touch over the years. One other name got mentioned but only in very derogatory terms. How she had been a good friend but had changed and now was just a user, was guaranteed to spoil a night out with negativity and she probably should just cut her out of her life. No surprise that the last time I saw my ex friend socially, she was sitting next to this woman at the pub.

The selfish, inconsiderate behaviour increased. Always late, never sorry, increasingly critical, demanding of my time, high expectations of what I should do but favours never reciprocated, not the person I first met who told me how much we had in common and what close friends we were.  Phone calls went unanswered, plans got cancelled on the day last minute.  And all under the veil of me being too sensitive if I reacted in any negative way to this. She would ‘toughen me up’ to do me a favour!!

She asked once ‘what has happened to the easy going, cheerful person I used to know?’ and I accepted this, although a bit puzzled and apologised for being a bit stressed from work, even though I didn’t think I had been. This is the effect she had on me. She was so confident and had this air of always being right I assumed I must have been what she said I was. It’s like a subtle form of brain washing where you lose sight of the actual facts to the version they tell you.
The last time we arranged to go out, she cancelled just as I was leaving the house to meet her. I’m an easy-going, placid kind of person who gives people the benefit of the doubt (perfect target really!) but that day I had enough and told her so in no uncertain terms. Her reaction was astounding. Screaming at me about who did I think I was, did I think I had some control over her, how dare I and how this was all too much for her but with a lot of swear words in there too! That was effectively the end of the friendship although I didn’t realise that at the time. I tried so hard to make amends, to sort things out and build a bridge for the sake of the friendship I believed we could re-establish.  I know, mind-blowing even reading that myself! Her reaction was aloof and icy cold. I had suggested meeting up for a chat. She ignored my text for days then said she might consider it but was too busy at the moment. I felt totally bewildered that someone who a matter of months ago was professing how happy she was to be my friend was behaving like this. Then I discovered the concept of an emotionally abusive relationship on the internet and the rest began to fall into place. I gave it one last shot after a few weeks of silence. I regret doing so now but at the time it felt so important to try, in case I had got it wrong about what I thought she was. There was no warmth there, no acceptance that her behaviour had been even a bit inconsiderate, it was all my fault and she’ had never had a problem with anyone like this before.’
Last time I saw her was at a birthday party of a mutual friend. I felt very nervous about having to see her. She totally ignored me whilst making a massive fuss of the people I was with, hugging them all and saying how great it was to see them (not having made any effort to see any of them for over a year) I felt angry and hurt but managed to hide it. In fact, I felt a surge of power from within and decided I would go and speak to her to not allow her to treat me like that. She was quick to blame me for the friendship failing , saying I’m ‘vindictive’ which is so far from the truth that I burst out laughing, but I now also know is just projection. Within five minutes of saying this, she was suggesting we meet up for a chat and a coffee the next day. This didn’t happen as I realised it would be a very bad move and I declined the offer politely. And so that is it. Radio silence and I’m glad.

To anyone out there going through a similar experience, it hurts, it is unbelievably hard to wrap your head around the fact that someone who allegedly cared so much for you could treat you like this. Other people won’t understand the depth of your hurt unless they have lived through a similar experience. They can’t as none of it is comprehensible through ‘normal’ eyes. This is just a snapshot of the relationship.  In hindsight all the red flags were there from the beginning but it didn’t seem that clear cut at the time.  I realised something helpful that last time I spoke to my ex friend though – she really is just a child in a grown up’s body, lashing out, acting superior, trying to protect herself from her own feelings of inferiority and hurt. I don’t know if she is narcissistic, sociopathic, a combination of the two or just manipulative and emotionally abusive but I’m realising it shouldn’t matter as she was toxic to me and I need to ensure I don’t ever involve myself with someone like her again.

13 thoughts on “She was never really a friend

  1. Your writing is excellent and really portrayed you as a stable force. All I pictured was you standing there like a rock, and this immature lunatic over reacting and flailing her arms, huffing and puffing in multiple tantrums. I guess that is really what she wanted. Your stability. She wanted to be you. A rock. But narcissists will never get well or have normal relationships because they cannot admit fault. EVER. Great article.

    1. Thank you for your kind words. It felt helpful to get it down on paper so to speak. I never thought of myself as a rock but maybe I am after all. Thank you again for your lovely feedback on my story.

  2. I had the same experience with myex friend ..a plutonic relationship..real close to your “situation”..and hard to understand what was happening…but once the mask slipped it was on ..that was when the fireworks started…sounded to me like the same women that i was sleeping next to..I also tried to re-establish the friendship a couple of times but she was totally hostile towards me…with more projection,blame shifting and slanderous lies……and with her the phrase ” I Love you” was a trigger for her to abuse…I had a really hard time trying to wrap my head around it all…the extreme ptsd caught me off guard and still does if our paths cross…and they do alot ..I get a feeling that she is close by and ptsd spikes as if she is going to attack me…now the mutual friends we had that know me wont talk to her and are afraid of her and her friends are all flying monkeys doing her dirty can count them on 1 hand

  3. This story is all to familiar to me. I also had a very close friendship with someone and he just seemed to change overnight. It’s so hard to understand and accept, but I have no choice. It’s almost like dealing with death but harder because the person is very much alive. And because of who I am I feel sad for him, I know it’s not normal behavior and that he is suffering also, just in a different way. And my experience with him changed how I view friendships and people, changed me. I wish others really knew how much they effect those around them. But sadly, they don’t and we all have to just find our own way. It’s been a devestating experience at least.

  4. This sounds a lot like a “friend” I had during a very rough time in my life. My husband was abusive; this “friend” had been through the same thing (a couple times) and really wanted to be my friend. I was leary because something seemed off. I would discover later that she was just using me to get what she wanted…my husband. Apparently even after a few previous marriages that were also abusive she wasn’t worried about him being abusive because she was special and he’d never treat her that way. I finally divorced him (and her) and less than a year later they married. While searching for answers to his abuse so I could have some sort of closure (he’s a narcissist), I discovered histronic personality disorder. Her behavior started to make sense. She’s a poster child for HPD (with a hefty dose of narcissism). He’s still an abusive jerk and she’s still playing her games to get attention. I’m just glad to have washed my hands of them both.

  5. Thank you for sharing such a personal encounter. It is devastating to be so vulnerable and have your good nature exploited. They are so crafty and manipulative and frightening when you begin to figure out their agenda. The attack on your sanity and character for me almost destroyed me. I feel like this is something I will be trying to recover from for years to come. Big big hugs to you.

  6. Hi.. I had a very similar experience… you can read parts of it at I spent 9 years in an emotionally abusive relationship with my so-called best friend. It was when I found out about narcissistic abuse that I was able to recognize her tactics and walked away. She never came looking for me…never tried to talk….didn’t care what I had to say or how I felt…she since changed her looks to match her current target….

  7. This is the first time I’ve seen a story about being friends with a narc. It was almost refreshing to read as most stories are indeed about dating or being married to a narc.
    I can resonate with some of this. I have a friend with narc traits. He is straight, (despite the mixed signals he has sent) and I am not. I fell in love with him and although I told him it was just a silly crush, it was far more than that.
    I had to accept his answer when I asked him in a letter for clarification so I could move on from him. He never gave me a rejection when I first told him in person about the crush. His answer then was “I know”
    He said he was straight 3 times in this one rejection text in reply to the letter. I know I’ve come so far but still got a long way to go. He would let me give him a foot rub frequently even though he said he didn’t like it, he wouldn’t really pull away and just let it carry on. I once ended up rubbing his legs too with my hands reaching up to the very tops of his legs and he didn’t attempt to stop it. That’s stopped now as I realised it wasn’t helping me move on from him.

    Now he has female attention I’m slowly being dropped and ignored and that hurts. More than I care to admit. He is still a funny friendly lad who I like to have a laugh with but I’m not stupid, much. My gut has been usually right when it’s said something didn’t add up.
    He’s never been aggressive or rude with me as in the original post but I recognise the lots of contact bits and spending time with me, lies and stories of difficult child hood. But he has started to be distant with me and on a couple of occasions selfish too. I’m guessing because he’s found some female attention therefore I’m not needed. I expected this as we all neglect friends and family when we meet someone new. But this is killing me more than I’d like.

    I’m living for the “what if” moments that replay in my mind or ones I try to play out differently.
    I did think he valued my friendship as much as I did his. I now realise he probably doesn’t yet I still hope it’s not true. The empathy in me wants to help him as I don’t believe he’s a full narc as he admitted some of his lies when I challenged him.
    The fact I still fancy him a bit (no longer love him) despite everything annoys the hell out of me.
    I wouldn’t wish this experience on anyone as it is awful. None of my friends or family truly understand so I have to suffer alone.

  8. Thank you so much for your story, I had a similar one until I remarried. She was suppose to be my made of honour, but after yelling false accusations at me, for what felt like at least half an hour over the phone, we stopped talking. She never showed up to my wedding. I ran into her years later and she tried to have a conversation with me and although I didn’t encourage it, I couldn’t seem to pull myself to safety. When she suggested I give her my phone number, I answered that it was in the phone book. Thank goodness she never called! But now that I have so much healing, I hope that I would be comfortable in refusing her calls or false friendship with grace and firmness.

  9. Thank you for this article and all the comments too. I can relate to it very well. The story is similar except it was a friend of many years. Keeping a distance was my saving grace. Until a physically abusive husband put her into hiding! I hid her for awhile, the pattern of game playing , lies & returning to the abuse and drugs. It still hurts that I became the enemy, when the truth came out.

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