From the UK: I have a close relative who displays many traits of having a narcissistic personality disorder. She is absolutely fine but this is leaving a trail of upset family members and ex-boyfriends in her wake.

The one thing which makes me doubt her narcissism — despite ticking nearly all the boxes on the DSM criteria — is that she has a small group of very loyal friends some of whom she has been friends with since school — she is seen as the leader and organizes them, sorts out their problems and socializes with them. Is it very unusual for a highly narcissistic individual to have a group of loyal long term friends?

A: Narcissists are wonderful friends as long as you admire them and need them. It’s when they are challenged or criticized that they turn on people. If her friends only look up to her and praise her for how wonderful she is, your relative will stick with them. That’s the simple answer to your question.

However: Do be cautious about “diagnosing” someone. Labels aren’t really very helpful. It’s more useful to work to understand someone and to decide what kind of relationship you are willing to have with her.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie