The Sophisticated Narcissist


Their fans are everywhere.  They have loyal followers who will publicly defend them.  They have street-smarts, play the game well and have a diploma to prove it.  Martyrs pale in comparison.  She/he is the sophisticated narcissist (SN).

The SNs make you feel crazy, make you feel you are abnormal and by the time you have figured them out, your family and friends are in their web.  It is scary.  They have managed to infiltrate your life and turn it upside down without you even knowing it.  It makes the word, subtle, seem misdefined.  And it is not even a movie…it is your life…it is my life.

I got in deep with Lydia, who I would consider an SN.  I became good friends with her (I thought we were good friends).  After dealing with that level of sophistication, I didn’t even know what was going on.  The moment of realizing how much I had been fooled sent me down a bad path.  I was angry.  It took me a while to realize that no one would validate my feelings about her…not even my significant other.  She seems perfectly normal to others.

Then, recently another SN entered my FOC (family of choice).  She married my boyfriend’s best friend.  She came across like someone I could hang with (of course).  But when I had met her I had already discovered NPD and narcissism.  I was more cautious with getting to know her.  I let down my guard a few times and I paid the price.  It became clear.

The SN differs from the everyday narcissist.  The everyday narcissist that slips up and leaves a trail of ex-friends behind.  The history and at times the validation that they are in fact a narcissist provides you sanity.  The SN offers none of the comforts the everyday narcissist provides.  That is their sophistication.  Their secret.  You stand alone.

But you are not alone.  Fellow readers and bloggers hear you and feel your pain.

Their secret seems to be untouchable and escapes reality.  The SN has a network of friends and family.  She has enemies too but her enemies are her friend’s enemies.  Her network of constant supply is established and I was on the outside.  I was the supply to her narcissism…why does she go outside her network?  Imagine if she made her inner circle feel like how I or you do constantly and repeatedly?  She knows when to take a break from her inner circle…she knows when to search for it outside.  She cares for the inner circle, she spent a lot of time establishing it and fine tuning where and when she can get her supply.  Her inner circle provides her her history…proof and reminders everyday of her greatness.

And if you leave, you will face the consequences.  Any friends you may have picked up from her inner circle won’t be there after you leave.  Worse, she picked up some of your friends and family.  And they won’t believe you.

The Sophisticated Narcissist.  They can manipulate like its breathing.  They are that good.

9 thoughts on “The Sophisticated Narcissist

  1. I’m glad to say my mother isn’t a sophisticated narcissist. Well, sorta glad. There really is no positive side to being in a relationship with a narcissist. But it does help that I (finally!) realized she can’t really hurt me outside my relationships with my sister, brother & father because she has no relationships or friendships with anyone else.


    • It was weird with the sophisticated Ns in my life…they didn’t have a long trail of ex-relationships. Somehow the 2 I know managed to use me as a supply on their outer circle. They protected their inner circle. A fast learning curve. In a way being on the outside was better…it allowed for an easy escape!


  2. Wow, I feel a huge sense of relief reading other people’s accounts of Ns friends. I have been under a stealth attack from a sophisticated Ns for some years. I’m unable to escape as she is my sister in law. I broke contact with her five years ago, however this has enraged her and she has blackened my name to all our mutual friends and my husband’s family. We are excluded from family events. I’m hoping to find advice on this site on dealing with her but moreover her family or our mutual friends who believe that I have caused trouble and persist in asking me to ‘mend’ the situation. I am not prepared to go back to trying to resolve the issue as when we speak I am verbally attacked by her with the same put downs (I have no real friends, no one likes me, I’m pathetic and have achieved nothing with my life etc etc). Thank you so much for the info on here, it has opened my eyes.


    • Hi AnnieF,

      Thank you for reading and you are welcome! The blogging community is a great source of support. It has helped me a lot!

      I am so sorry it is a family member and she has treated you that way. One of the things I have found is that I feel a lot of anger and hatred when I can’t escape. I have the same feeling with my mother-in-law. And even when you can escape the N, you still have to deal with ALL the people entangled making the situation unbearable at times.

      I will share with you my experience with the sophisticated N as I think each of us needs to find our own answer to our situation. You know your situation best and you are strong.

      (my apologies for the length…I write some background info on my sophisticated N)

      My MiL is a sophisticated N and for a long time I haven’t handled the situation the best with her over the years. After going from trying to ‘get’ her to like and accept me and reaching for the sense of belonging I started to begin to hate her. For a long time it resulted in a lot of arguments between me and my boyfriend. I found out (after 7 years of being with him) that she had been talking behind my back to her friends for a long time (which explained why all boyfriend’s friends and family acted a certain way towards me and still do).

      I became even more upset and angry at this news. For about 5 years after learning this I handled things badly. I went from talking behind her back with my friends to treating her passively aggressively when I was around her. I couldn’t take the fact that I had to deal with someone I genuinely hated and she clearly did not want me as part of the family.

      Then, something ‘great’ happened. I discovered Narcissism. As much as that sounds like a paradox…it helped me sort out (and I am still sorting out) all the ‘weird’ things in my relationships past, present and future. It was eye-opening. Throughout this journey (reading blogs, writing this blog, listening to your comments) I understood my personal relationship with Ns.

      Probably the most important thing that I am learning (still learning) is to be myself. Do things as I normally would and live my life without thinking about the consequences of the N behaviors (that was a big one for me).

      Here’s a list of a few things I have learned dealing with my MiL and other sophisticated Ns in my life that I have to deal with:

      1. They are N. They are not my best friend nor will be. That is their place in my life…they are a little bit more than a stranger. Sad but true. I go about my life and dealing with them as an acquaintance. I am polite but they are not the first people I call to tell them great or bad news or to share my life. It is very sad but she is the last to know of anything in her sons’ lives. My boyfriend’s brother eloped…everyone (and I mean everyone knew they were going off to get married before they did it)…she found out after the fact. That is her place in her sons’ lives…her two sons don’t feel the urge to call their mother first when there is news.

      2. Let your character speak for itself. When I learned about my MiL talking behind my back, I contributed to that image…I started talking behind her back…I was feeding her gossip and slanders. Show your great character. It takes time for people to put two and two together but people (the one’s worthy of hanging out with) will notice there is a difference in what is being said about you and how you behave.

      3. When dealing with an SN I find it better to do it with a lot of people around…I never deal with them alone. Dealing with them one on one makes you go crazy. They say one thing when you are alone and then stab you in the back in front of a group. Even on e-mail I do this in a ‘group’ setting. If I get an email from an N I immediately reply with others on copy…(a mutual friend). If the N is acting normal it doesn’t matter that others are on copy, does it? So if you are ‘forced’ to make amends do it with others around…that way she can’t go back on her word. I am never alone with my MiL anymore and my other sophisticated Ns.

      4. Get back on track. When I have to deal with my MiL and 1 other SN it is usually at family events, holidays, etc. And these types of events are never about one person…it is about getting together with the family. I have noticed that the SNs can subtly try and move conversation about them and keep the interest on them. I try to get the conversation back on track. Just last Xmas one SN was talking about her job and then she proceeded for another 15 minutes to talk about the details of an upcoming internal promotion…and I do mean the details! It is one thing to share news that you are going after another job but it is another to focus on it when there are others that you need to catch up with. I have become really good at changing the subject to get the conversation away from them and onto a better topic.

      My apologies for the length. I hope this helps. We are here to support you and I wish you well in dealing with the Ns. Stay strong!

      T Reddy


  3. Dear T Reddy,
    Thank you so much for your reply. I have read it a quite few times & come back to it when I am feeling down about the situation or I have taken some more abuse. There are certainly some good pointers in there that I will use. I appreciate you taking the time to write such a lengthy response too. Thanks again for your help, you have given me great encouragemant X


  4. #2 is an especially crucial one. Plus, then you don’t get the dirty from acting like them.

    As for when you have to be in situations with a narcissist, always have an exit plan in advance. Even if you have to deliberately schedule an appointment so that you have an excuse to cut out of an untenable situation. You can always cancel the appointment if things don’t get ugly, but by having a graceful way to escape, you can relax during the time you have to be in the N presence.


  5. They’re “Charming Chameleons.” Charming when they need to impress, and mean when no one is around. As a result, no one will believe you or validate your feelings about them. They are pure evil.


    • Hi Amy,
      That is a great way to put it ‘Charming Chameleons’. Yes, they seem to impress when others are around. So strange.

      Thanks for reading.

      T Reddy

      P.S. My apologies for my late response; I had a family emergency last week.



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