A lot has been written about narcissistic abuse from a romantic perspective. But this blog is dedicated to female friendships that have gone bad. From my own experience, when a woman betrays another woman, the root cause is often envy. If the betrayer also tries to destroy a former "friend," we are usually looking at deep seated personality issues, such as malignant narcissism or borderline personality disorder. People who are mentally balanced do not act this way.
Even though I'm not a trained mental health expert, I've been "studying" psychopathy and malignant narcissism for a number of years, following an unfortunate encounter with a morally disordered woman I met at church. (Life was turned upside down for a stretch.) Since then, I've come to realize that narcissistic abuse typically follows a three-phase pattern, whether it's romantic or platonic.
The first phase is when the narcissist is just getting to know you. This is often referred to as "grooming," because she's using this time to look for your weaknesses. Ironically, during this phase, she also idolizes you. You may think you've found your soul mate, because her thoughts and desires so closely align with yours. This is because morally disordered people have few thoughts of their own. They are empty inside, so they "mirror" back whatever you're thinking.
This first phase can last for months, or years. But, eventually, it ends. That's because people with personality disorders have trouble maintaining relationships. In their mind, you are either all good or all bad.
Inevitably, since no one can live up to their impossible standards, you tumble from your pedestal. When this happens, you're headed into the discard phase, which I'll talk about in a minute. But, first, you'll probably be the subject of a vicious smear campaign. (This is the second phase.) A narcissist will do this for a number of reasons. One is to maintain power. Another is she doesn't want anyone else to think she's a bad friend, so she needs to get your faults (real, perceived and fabricated) out into the public arena. She wants everyone to "understand" why she's breaking off the "friendship."
The third phase is the discard phase. A malignant narcissist isn't just content to end things. She also likes to inflict as much damage as she can. If you work with her, she may find a way to get you fired. If you belong to the same social group, she'll damage your other relationships so much that you have no choice but to move on.
No one expects a good "friend" to have a such a sinister side. This is one reason why it's so shocking when we discover someone's true colors.
Pixabay image top by Violetta