3. She sabotages your friendships and relationships, stirring chaos within social groups.
The female narcissist may use her affiliation with her target to gain access to resources or status, but as soon as the idealization phase is over, the devaluation and discard follows. She then engages in rumor-mongering, smear campaigns and creates ‘triangles’ where she feeds others false or humiliating information about the victim. She may pit her friends against each other by claiming that they are gossiping about one another, when in fact, it is her falsehoods that are actually manufacturing conflict within the group. By subjecting her victims to covert and overt put-downs, she is able to then confirm her own false sense of superiority.
You are probably dealing with a female narcissist or sociopath in your group of female friends if:
- You notice an uncomfortable silence, a covert exchange of looks or odd energy when you enter the room. The friend who is overly friendly in contrast, happens to be the very person who is speaking about you behind your back.
- You are idealized by your female friend, sweet-talked, admired, praised and shown off in the beginning of the friendship. You might have found yourself sharing your most intimate secrets early on, due to her disarmingly sweet and trustworthy demeanor. Later, you find yourself being excluded by them in group conversations, social events or invites. You hear about your deepest secrets being spoken about with derision among the group or rumors based on vulnerabilities and fears you confided in your friend about. You also notice a chilling smugness when your female friend talks down to you or as she devalues your accomplishments.
- You bear witness to the narcissistic female friend frequently speaking ill of your other friends in an excessively contemptuous tone, while appearing friendly and engaging with them in public. This is evidence of her duplicity and ability to deceive. An authentic person might vent about others occasionally in the event of stress or conflict, but would not engage in excessive gossip or indiscriminate character assassination. He or she would be more likely to cut ties with those they thought were toxic or address it to them directly rather than bashing them unnecessarily. Make no mistake, the way they’re speaking about others is the way they’ll eventually speak about you.
4. She has an obsession with her appearance as well as a high level of materialism and superficiality.
This could also translate into a haughty sense of intellectual superiority, if the narcissist in question is more cerebral than somatic (focused more on her mind rather than her body).
As Christine Hammond, LMHC (2015), notes in her article, The Difference Between Male and Female Narcissists, the female narcissist “battles with other females for dominance” and while male narcissists use their charm along with their appearance to achieve their goals, “females use it to gain superiority.”
Female narcissists fit the ‘femme fatale’ stereotype quite well. Many of them are conventionally attractive and, much like the male somatic narcissist, use their sexuality to their advantage. Since females in our society are also socialized to objectify themselves, the female narcissist follows this social norm to use whatever physical assets she has to assert her power.
Hammond (2015) also observes that while males are more likely to obtain money, female narcissists tend to excessively spend it. This may result in a highly materialistic female narcissist who enjoys adorning herself with the best designer clothing, indulging in luxuries at the expense of her loved ones or allowing herself to be excessively catered to by a wealthy significant other. Female narcissists can also accumulate their own wealth and use it as an indication of her superiority as well.
For the more cerebral narcissist, the female in question might use her accumulation of credentials, degrees, and accomplishments to control and terrorize others. For example, a narcissistic female professor may routinely subject her students to hypercriticism, bullying and cruel taunts under the guise of “constructive criticism,” usually targeting her most talented and brilliant female students in the classroom. This is because, despite her own expertise and position of power, she is still threatened by any other female whose intellect might surpass hers.
5. A blatant disregard for the boundaries of intimate relationships, including her own.
In keeping with typical narcissistic behavior regardless of gender, the female narcissist is likely to have a harem of admirers – consisting of exes that never seem to go away, admirers who always seem to lurk in the background and complete strangers she ensnares into her web to evoke jealousy in her romantic partner. She frequently creates love triangles with her significant other and other males (or females, depending on her sexual orientation). She rejoices in male attention and boasts about being the object of desire. She engages in emotional and/or physical infidelity, usually without remorse and with plenty of gaslighting and deception directed at her partner, who usually dotes on her and spoils her, unaware of the extent of her disloyalty.
She also crosses the boundaries of her female friendships by attempting to “make a move” on the partners of her friends. She is disappointed and envious when her “seduction” falls flat or when her friends enjoy more attention from their partners than she does. To a baffled outsider, a female narcissist’s betrayal is incredibly hurtful and traumatizing – but to the observant eye, it is a clear sign of how far the female narcissist’s pathological sense of entitlement goes.
I suspect I am dealing with a female narcissist. Now what?
If you are dealing with a female malignant narcissist in a friendship, relationship or in a formal or professional setting, be on guard. Remember that they can “turn” at any moment, so don’t be fooled into thinking you will ever be the exception to their interpersonal exploitation. If you are dealing with one in a professional context, stick to e-mail or small talk that can be easily documented. Do not reveal personal information in the early stages of a budding relationship that can later be used against you.
If a female narcissist wants to spend all her time with you and is pressuring you to spend time with them constantly, minimize communication and slow things down. According to life coach Wendy Powell (2015), this can be an excellent way to discourage narcissists from dating you as well. In addition, it can reveal her ‘true self’ more quickly, whether in a relationship or friendship.
A female narcissist’s response to your boundaries will tell you all that you need to know. Most narcissists cannot stand to be ignored; they feel entitled to your constant attention, so they will continue to make persistent efforts until they get it or attempt to sabotage you if they fail.
If you notice that a female friend of yours tends to spread rumors or engages in malicious gossip, try to cut the interaction short and excuse yourself – remember that the toxic person will try to convince others that you are the one speaking ill of them, so anything you say in agreement can and will be used against you.
Stay calm whenever a female narcissist tries to provoke you; your indifference and courage in the face of their threats or insults is actually your greatest ‘tool’ against their tactics. It unsettles them when a target is not so easily rattled, because that means there is something more powerful about their victim than they expected.
If you’re being smeared by a female narcissist, calmly state the facts of the situation to your friends and take note as to who stands up for you and who believes in the female narcissist.
Remember that in the presence of a persuasive narcissist or sociopath, there will always be a few people who are fooled. Do not waste your energy on trying to convince them; if they are that easily fooled by someone else’s claims rather than your track record of loyalty and support, they do not deserve your friendship. You’ll find that they will uncover the truth for themselves eventually – and even if they continue to enable the narcissist’s behavior, they still get the short end of the stick because they chose the fake friend who can turn on them at any point.
Detach from the narcissist’s harem and stick with the people who do support and defend you. Do not be swayed by flattery or charm in the early stages of any interaction – if it is genuine, it will be given as positive feedback throughout your friendship or relationship and you will not be blindsided by a sudden personality transplant.
Remember that a narcissist’s greatest fears are exposure and a victim that they cannot control. So long as you are deeply grounded in your own self-validation, any narcissist – whether male or female – cannot truly use the threat of tarnishing your reputation or friendships against you, because they know you will see any loss of such disloyal friends as a gain. They also know that deep down, while they will spend their entire lives trying to protect their false image, your own integrity will continue to speak for itself.