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By April 10, 2017 Read More →

How do I recover from a manipulative friendship?

LETTERS LOGO 2Editor’s note: Lovefraud received the following letter from a reader whom we’ll call “Lois.”

I have no one to turn to, as I have never spoken to anyone regarding my friendship with the narcissist apart from the narc, which suited him perfectly.

This friendship was in person but I live in a different city so it was mostly on the phone and a few face to face meetings during the year. However, I was also dropped and put in the box as needed, and picked up as soon as he would leave his families’ or friends’ home and work. And I had to be there when he was ready to make contact. However, the same did not apply to him. Many times when I needed to lean on him he was not contactable.

I have gone no contact now for 2 months, been hoovered a few times but managed to avoid getting sucked back in. Now he has got the message that I no longer will provide him with the “fuel” he depended on so much from me that he has also gone no contact for 2 weeks now, by that I mean his hoovering has ceased since then.

What I struggle with is not having that friend I spoke to daily and having someone turn to. The company that I got used to over 6 years and all the things he would do, which now I realise were all ways to keep me hooked and manipulated. Every night I would receive a good night and every morning a good morning. And calls and texts throughout the day. Made me so dependent on such gestures and crumbs and all the time I thought it was a way of saying thinking of you rather than creating this covert web of manipulation.

I grieve the illusion of that great friendship and soul mate I found in him. My sentiments towards our friendship were so pure that it hurts that all this time he was taking me for a ride. During the 6 years friendship I did see several red flags but I ignored them and tried to focus on the positives in him rather than my intuition.

It pains me that I will never have that friendship with him again nor will I ever speak to him again like we used to. That is what I grieve the most.

He was never out right nasty with me, but rather with hindsight I can now see was manipulative, gaslighted me and I was permanently on a roller coaster and often told I was over sensitive. Silent treatments were periodic even though I was not the cause for him to withdraw for a week at a time, but I was made to suffer whilst he appeared to speak to everyone else. If he had issues with other friends, our friendship would have to suffer, as he would withdraw from this friendship too. So I was made to pay too.

For the past year we have been in no contact on and off. Once for 4 months as he suddenly disappeared out of the blue and then came groveling back, telling me that he did it to protect me.

Knowing him has caused me to have panic attacks, insomnia and fatigue. Over the past 6 years there have been days I struggled to get out of bed, as my brain and thoughts were so muddled and confused. I felt I became hooked onto this toxic friendship. If I did not hear from him it would pain me. This was not normal. It took the last 4 months break for me to find out about narcissism and suddenly I realised that is all what I had gone through.

Please help me as I struggle alone in all of this watching YouTube videos and reading to archive a better understanding and trying to now give self love and self healing to get out of this mess.

Donna Andersen responds

Lois,

Yes, your friend has been manipulating you. Here at Lovefraud, we typically talk about manipulators in the context of romantic relationships, but these people also manipulate friends, family members, co-workers, neighbors — it’s simply how they live their entire lives.

But you didn’t know that. You thought this man was your close friend, someone with whom you shared so much.

Please understand that your reaction is typical of someone who has been manipulated. Even though he was not authentic in your relationship, you were. Your friendship, your caring for him, were real. Therefore, your loss is real, and your grief is real.

You do need to process your emotions. So it is okay to feel your loss and your grief. However, do not let the grief and loss weaken your resolve to stay away from him.

Maintain No Contact. Do not see him. Do not call him. Do not send email or text messages to him. If he sends any to you, do not read them. Do not visit him on Facebook or any other social media platform. In fact you should block him.

The longer you stay away, the more his toxic hold on you will dissolve.
And what exactly is that toxic attraction? It is addiction.

Involvements with sociopaths are addictive, even when the involvement is a friendship. So you have to treat it like an addiction. Just like someone who is giving up drinking or smoking, you need to quit — and not go back.

If you do allow him back into your life, sooner or later, the bad behavior will start again. In fact, it is likely to be worse. And you’ll be back where you started — except that you’ll also be angry with yourself.

So how do you stay strong through the recovery process? Distract yourself. Keep busy. Do things that you like to do. Activities involving other people will be really helpful — especially if they present the opportunity to make new friends.

While you are moving along the path of healing, be gentle with yourself. Know that you were exploited because you are a normal human being, capable of offering real friendship.

But now you know that these manipulators and exploiters live among us. So if you start to see similar behavior in someone else that you meet, you’ll know to keep the person out of your life.

Involvements with sociopaths are painful. But sometimes they also bring a gift — the gift of wisdom.



9 Comments on "How do I recover from a manipulative friendship?"

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  1. Lois,
    Narcissists and manipulators would love your first sentence. It describes perfectly the way they want their life to go. They don’t want you telling anybody about them because then they will feel exposed! Sometimes it’s a lot to take on when you say you don’t have anybody to tell or talk to. Maybe find a support group but never lie to yourself about the reality of the situation. I often used to feel that way about my former husband, but let me tell you I never was honest with myself about the depth of problems in the relationship. In the end I spent way too many years of being with someone who you really just took more and more advantage of me. You also described very well how he is not supportive to you, but you must be supportive to him. This is also very common with a sociopath whereby the same rules that they want to live by won’t be applying to you . Thank your lucky stars sweetheart that you’re breaking this addiction and genuinely start loving yourself. And you’ll quickly see how other people also start treating you better. You’ll eventually even attract the kind of person you actually deserve. Follow Donna’s advice. It’s excellent advice. Read it every single day for strength just like you would read quotes about strength, wisdom, and direction. Read it every day to protect yourself. I was married for over 22 years to a joy sucking. Money sucking, emotionally sucking narcissistic manipulator who would’ve buried me if I continued to give him the opportunity. Sweetheart, my divorce finalized over five years ago, it took two years to complete my divorce and I am still in court situations trying to enforce our divorce agreement. MoveOn, move on, MoveOn. It’s easier now than it ever will be. Invest not another nano second with a scumbag. Love yourself love yourself love yourself. Remember the first three most important people in your life are me, myself, and I

  2. kalina says:

    Friends
    Can an 86 year old woman actually be a narcissist-exploiter? Perhaps, Donna is! I have known this woman casually for years. Her husband was my accountant and business friend. If I had a financial problem, Bob was there for me. I trusted him and he seemed to consider me more as a friend, than a client. When Bob passed away, I wanted to be available for his wife, the way Bob was there for me. She lives close by and and we typically keep contact by phone.
    For the past few years Donna has come to rely on me. Usually she asks for contact information or research on a product, or a small favor, such as, “Will you pick up this or that for me?”. I always oblige when I can.
    Lately she has given me items. The items are dirty and of absolutely no value. I usually simply put them in the trash. Sometimes she calls me in a panic, “I have to see you right away”. Of course I believe she is in a panic for a reason, so I accommodate her. Ultimately I am given coupons for Ralph’s supermarket or coupons for Subway, for a free soda with a purchase of a sandwich. This trickle down style of giving me various forms of garbage has been so consistent and routine, I have felt “red flags” going on and off in my head. Donna has never asked about me or my family. She has never consented to visit with me in my home. Most recently she has actually tried to sell me her broken and ugly garbage jewelry. The problem with Donna is that “No, thank you”, has no meaning. Finally, I broke down and sent her a note. I was not polite and now I feel a little guilty. I promised myself not to ever get involved with her again. An old woman, stuck in her past, surrounded by memories she cannot see to process. When Donna admitted to me that she lies, I was astonished, “Why would you lie to me”,?”. I exclaimed. Since then I have been no contact. On the one hand I feel relieved but on the other hand, I feel a bit guilty. I do expect in time Donna will contact me and again this bizarre cycle will begin a new. I am at a crossroads and am simply asking for insight. Thank you, Kalina.

    • slimone says:

      I feel like you just described my mother, though she is only in her 70’s now. She loves to target new people and glom onto them, and she can tell her little white lies to make them think she is SO much more than she really is. She ‘know no strangers’, but is basically a leech. Her generosity is really perverse.

      About 10 years ago she sent me some of her used panties for Christmas. All gift wrapped and everything. At least she had washed them! She is forever trying to give me, and others, her goodwill garbage, or worse.

      If my step father dies before her, I am sure she will live off relationships like you describe with Donna.

  3. regretfullymine says:

    Sad to say, I found out that friends can be just as tricky, cunning, manipulating as any psychopathic husband. They can be SO sweet, funny and loving, only to leave you hanging when you need them the most, or worse, you’re being ‘set up’ when they want YOU to do a big favor for them..and you’re obligated to keep your word. This has happened to me, a lot. You learn NOT to believe people like this.

  4. kalina says:

    Wow! These posts have been so helpful. Thank you, thank you. I did not know that people even disturbed people, could be so “perverse” in their “generosity”. Perhaps these perversions are variations on the theme of “gas lighting”. People tend not to see how they are perceived by others. Thru their behavior we can get a glimpse into their psyche. I use to minimize a lot; giving the other “the benefit of the doubt”. This was a habit that led to my demise. I lost the ability to judge and with that, I lost my identity. It has taken me years to rebuild my sense of reality. I learned about “grace” and general good will. I learned to trust but verify.
    Thank you for your support!
    Regards, Kalina

  5. Stargazer says:

    I had a friend for several years who was very similar to kalina’s. I befriended her and her husband years ago because they had a huge daylily garden (acres) and had a lot of cats. I was a cat person. I used to visit them and their cats and sometimes volunteer to work in their garden during their flower sales. They were older, and eventually the husband died. I stayed friends with the wife by offering to stay with her in the hospital while her husband was dying (I hardly knew her at the time, but she had no other friends). It was there that I got a first glimpse of the narcissism. Her husband was dying of sepsis, but she had to go get her hair done! So she asked me to stay with the dying man while she went to the hair dresser (!). I asked if she needed food at the hospital, and she asked me to bring her some, so I stopped and bought food. She never offered to reimburse me. There were just all these little things over the next few years…

    She was constantly needing favors, but when I would do things for her, she seemed not to be grateful. One time I baked her a cake and surprised her with it on her birthday. She opened the door and told me she couldn’t have it in the house because of the cats. She didn’t even say thank you! I brought it home and gave it to another friend who had just had a birthday. That friend was ecstatic.

    The sad part is that I really did like her, but eventually there was a last straw – it was a small thing but it just bothered me. I stopped calling or responding to her calls. Eventually, one of her calls did get through a year or so later. She asked me why I had stopped calling. I was very honest. I explained how several of her behaviors were hurtful and made me feel used. She apologized that I was hurt (not for what she did because she didn’t remember). Then she proceeded to tell me about her life (in a very one-sided way) and try to suck me back in. She acted like we would just pick up our friendship where it left off. But I never called her back again. I really miss the cats and the flowers and hearing about her life. I was probably her most trusted friend – maybe her only friend – and she always talked about willing to me her expensive jewelry and even her house when she died. But ultimately, she drained my energy, and I had to move on. I still think about her sometimes.

    I’ve had friendships with a few narcissists over the years. One was a massage client I grew very fond of. One was an old college friend I was helping through a hard time. I let them all go as gracefully and non-dramatically as I could – stopped calling, got very busy, etc. – because you can’t tell a narcissist why you are cutting them off. They won’t understand and will try to suck you back in. Because of this lack of closure, I still think about them sometimes and wonder how they’re doing. But I guard my energy carefully these days. Going through menopause, I am sometimes fatigued and have less energy to squander.

  6. kalina says:

    Thank you for your post, Stargazer. Your words touched me deeply. I could imagine how you felt when this woman continuously took you for granted. I agree that no contact is the only dignified solution to closure. It takes more than emotional courage to be consistent. I believe, the issue is moral in that we are living in good faith with ourselves. This is our commitment to self. Being kind is a virtue and being truthful in our kindness, is a must. I do not want to appear, even to myself, to be “self-righteous “. Therefore, I tend not to correct anyone. Narcissists especially will twist our words and defy logic no matter how sensitive our feedback might be. The mediation towards closure can be sweet only if we remain coherent in our attitude our values. The world is full of “crazy” people. Let us just identify them earlier and move on before they can trap us in their bizarre mentations.
    Be well, Kalina

    • Stargazer says:

      I like the term you used, kalina – emotional courage. I think it does take courage to end a relationship that you have become accustomed – and maybe even addicted – to. You have to be willing to face pain and loneliness. It also involves faith that new and better friends will come into your life (which they did, in my case).

      There is this dream I’ve had on a number of occasions. In the dream I’m waking up in a very dingy house like maybe an old 70’s trailer. The walls are wood paneling and the floor are olive green shag. My room is just a cot in a small dirty room. The people around are people I’ve either grown up with or lived with for many years, but I don’t remember much – I am waking from a fog. I wske up and know I have to leave that place. But it all I have known my whole life, even though I knew I deserve better than that. In some of the dreams I have been kidnapped and maybe even drugged for several years, and I’m just waking up as an adult. In these dreams, I realize I need to leave. But it’s not easy. I have grown accustomed to the dingy home and dull unconscious people. They are all I have ever known of a family. And yet, I don’t really belong there……..this is the dilemma. This has played out so many times in my real life when I’ve had to break away from people who dimmed my energy. Even if they weren’t totally toxic, I just felt tired around them. It was always hard to make that decision. I often feel like my spirit that desires freedom battles with my human desire to simply belong at all costs.

  7. kalina says:

    Stargazer, thank you for your post. Your dream is similar to the content of dreams I have had in the past. I believe our consciousness emerges in stages and the dream-language is a metaphor for that process. Perhaps, keeping a dream journal would help you to integrate the content of your dreams with your higher states promoting self-awareness. Short cut language, metaphor, into articulated awareness. I loved your description of toxic people as “dull” and “unconscious”. Perhaps this expression could help you to redefine yourself as “not” dull and more conscious. This term, I call transvaluation, is extremely important, as most often we are tempted to devalue our worth in relation to others.
    Be well. and continue growing! Kalina