Do you have a narcissistic sibling? Take a look at the characteristics of a narcissistic sibling

Discovering or investigating if your brother or sister is a narcissist is a difficult, but necessary step in trying to put the pieces of your life/history together. You have probably seen good and bad behaviors from your sibling(s) and you may still hold onto the idea that there was something you could do or could have done to save them. If you feel guilty for even looking this up, it means you have seen behaviors that trouble you. So, let’s not jump onto the diagnosing of them and look more at their behaviors and your feelings, then you can be the judge. In the end, a label gives you an explanation for the things you just didn’t recognize. There is much empowerment in understanding about a narcissistic sibling. The biggest benefit is that with this knowledge you can begin to make decisions to protect yourself and begin to heal.

In my own process of healing I eventually had to open Pandora’s Box to look at my own siblings’ behaviors and my own role in the family dynamic. My own recovery journey was to discover that I had married, dated, been the daughter of narcissists and now I can, without question, identify that I also had narcissistic siblings. No matter where you are in the process, it is never too late or too early to arm yourself with the knowledge of knowing where you came from. I call this Pandora’s Box because many times victims of narcissistic abuse by others come to learn that they were quite familiar with these behaviors from a narcissistic childhood home.

Before we get deeper into the narcissistic siblings’ behaviors, you need to first understand the DSM’s Criteria for any narcissist.

The disorder begins by early adulthood and is indicated by at least five of the following to be medically diagnosed as having Narcissistic Personality Disorder

An exaggerated sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
Preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
Believes he/she is “special” and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
Requires excessive admiration
Has a sense of entitlement
Selfishly takes advantage of others to achieve his own ends
Lacks empathy
Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him
Shows arrogant, haughty, patronizing, or contemptuous behaviors or attitudes

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If your brother or sister is doing these things you need to evaluate no contact

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DOES YOUR NARCISSISTIC BROTHER OR SISTER DO THESE BEHAVIORS/SIGNS?

Your narcissistic brother believes they are more important than you are and that they deserve to be recognized in the family lineage as smarter, more successful than you. Were there any family jokes about them being better looking than you or smarter?

Being the superior off-spring, they feel entitled to everything from the parent’s attention, to the better education, better job, better spouse and better kids. They might feel entitled to your money; some narcissists are successful where they tend to live parasitically off others and you might have been one of their victims.

Does your sister have an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of you or others? The lack of empathy is most clear in a narcissistic sibling when they cannot conceive of the harm they have caused you. They may be unable to hear stories of your struggles or illness, but you must listen to theirs. Have you noticed that your sibling has no interest in hearing about the great things in your life? It can go both ways with no empathy for your struggles or strengths.

When your sister is a pathological liar she will lie to exaggerate her own achievements and talents. The narcissistic lies start off gradually at first and snowball into crazy off-the-chart stories. Over time the stories become harder and harder to believe and you will start to see the lies; in fact things just don’t add up or make sense. When you press her for more details (fact checking) she will get angry at you for questioning her and then you are to blame. Lies are often told about you. Stories told are designed to hurt your reputation and your place in the family.

Was your brother always looking for you or your parents to tell them how great he was? It can be relentless and exhausting to listen to or compete with this constant need of excessive admiration. Was he self-boastful and a bit pretentious with his mission to make sure everyone knew how great he was?

Your sibling is extremely envious of you despite the constant put downs, and they believe you are envious of them. They will never show that they know you are better than them unless the situation requires them to charm someone; if this happens then you are being used as a pawn to make them look like a good brother. You should never interpret this as a real compliment. Your brother has always considered you his “rival” and in his eyes he must do anything to win the parents’ attention away from you.

Being entitled to get all the attention. The narcissistic sibling will monopolize conversations to show everyone how important they are. There are different ways they do this: they can boast about themselves, pull the sympathy card to get everyone to sympathize with them or they can use illness to get attention or ruin parties. If they are successful, they will shower people with gifts to show how caring, generous and fruitful they are. Either way they are getting the attention.

A narcissistic sibling will take advantage of others with cunning style and charm so people never see what hit them. They use this tactic to get what they want, but you will not see this behavior if there is no gain for them. They are not charming; they can be pure evil.

Like all narcissists, they use masks to play various roles depending on who they are with and what they need to do to control them. One of the most common masks is that of the innocent victim. This role is used when they want attention from mommy or daddy and again will be used later in life to manipulate people into giving them what they want. Other masks may include playing the role of perfect daughter or even perfect sibling. This is where it gets confusing because you see this side of her and think this is the ‘real’ her and behind closed doors all hell breaks loose and she reverts to the lying, denying sister.

Overtly or covertly, the narcissistic sibling has been sabotaging you your whole life. They may have tried to get you taken out of the family will? The lies and secrets revealed were done to alienate you from the family and possibly get the family money they feel they are entitled to.

Did your brother triangulate, spin stories or tell half-truth lies to alienate you from your other siblings or your parents? Triangulation is the art of pitting people against each other – using lies and manipulation tactics. The goal here is to not have the other family members unite against them. If they tell you lies about your other sibling and tell them lies about what you “said”, they are pitting you against each other. If the narcissist can keep everyone else in small little wars against each other then they become the sane one, the peaceful one and no one can see the pulling puppet strings of manipulation. Each side is pitted against the other and the only winner is them, and that is because they leave a wake of chaos in this path. Victims of triangulation feel betrayed and don’t know who to trust. Note: if you had a narcissistic parent, they probably started the triangulation game early in life with the goal of keeping the siblings apart because even if you were strong then together you would have had more confidence to stand up together and the narcissistic parent would have had no control over any of you.

 

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HOW DOES IT FEEL TO HAVE A NARCISSISTIC SIBLING?

Do you enjoy being around them?
This is usually the first sign you know something is wrong. Many sibling victims do not enjoy time with their siblings. It’s exhaustive and takes so much energy to keep up the charade of playing the game of “I know” what you did and who you are, but I will still sit and eat Thanksgiving dinner with you. Anxiety before you see them in anticipation and dread of the depression you will have at yourself for allowing this to ruin another holiday is another tell-tale sign. The non-narc sibling often feels obligated because they do not want to risk isolating themselves from other family members, so they break bread and endure another holiday.

Is it hard to talk to your narcissistic brother or sister?
Does your head spin like you are being served “word salad”? Word salad is a term for conversations that go around and around in many directions with nonsense arguments that just don’t make sense. Think of Gaslighting and mix it with a dash of confusion, lies, and crazy and you have word salad. Do they always bring up things from the past to use against you? Are your conversations blame-game conversations?

Are you always the loser?
Is your role to never win when arguing? Narcissistic siblings always need to win, so by default that means you always need to lose. Even when evidence comes into play, perhaps you got a better grade or job, expect that they will seek to devalue your achievements. Narcissistic siblings will often put you down and tell lies about you to take away “your win”. If the spotlight dances on you and you gain praise from parents and family, expect them to toss out an old argument or thing you did when you were six. They are happy to smear your name whenever that light shines. This leaves a sibling victim always feeling they need to compete for any attention, depressed and never being able to measure up.

Is your sibling unable to accept accountability?
Nothing is ever their fault. Think back to childhood. Did your sister always blame you for things she was doing? Did she leave the dog outside and then blame you? Does your sister still today blame everyone else for her own choices? As an adult, the narcissistic sibling has not learned that it’s okay to make a mistake, because to them making a mistake and admitting it will make them less then perfect. Perfect is the mask they want to world to see.

The secret dance
When your brother first asked you to do his homework but not tell anyone, the dance began. From that point you were probably covering up so many secrets you couldn’t keep track. If you did tell the secret, you probably paid the price of possibly being physically abused or verbally tortured, so you learned it was easier to go along with their lies to keep the peace. Later in life the secret game masks their fails and protects their lies.

Are you dealing with sibling rivalry?
Are your narcissistic siblings always in competition with you? In childhood and in a dysfunctional home, rivalry amongst siblings is encouraged as sort of a competition to push the weaker one to be more like their stronger brother or sister. Competition in sports among rival teams is in many ways accepted practice. Sibling rivalry can drive siblings to no longer want to spend time with each other because it is so painful to live in this role.

Are you the crazy one?
To make themselves always look like the perfect child they will create stories about you to make you look like the crazy one. This can be overt where they are outright smearing your name and telling people you are crazy, or they could be more covert and be very subtle using tactics like creating an argument to make you look unstable or telling complete lies about you to people. This tactic is crazy making because victims are forced to defend themselves against these false accusations.

Do they honor your boundaries?
Most narcissists are boundary violators and the reason for this is quite simple – they are entitled not to need to comply with your wishes. It probably started early in life where you didn’t even understand you were setting boundaries. For example, if you picked the chocolate cupcake and they picked another flavor. Later at night after dinner they decided they wanted the chocolate cupcake, they created a fuss and mom or dad ordered you to be nice to your brother and let him have the chocolate cupcake. It starts off slowly and you were trained that giving in is the easiest way to get through life.

Has your narcissistic sibling betrayed your confidence?
Personal example: During my divorce, my sister had stepped up to be there for me against my husband. She was uncharacteristically friendly, open, listening and caring. This built trust in our sisterhood again and I conveyed what my lawyers were planning to do and what information I was being asked to disclose. I should have suspected something because she hadn’t been nice in years, but I was vulnerable and in great isolation being 2000 miles away from my core support system, so I trusted her again. I never suspected that she was playing double-agent, relaying my secret divorce tactics back to my husband. They were never close, in fact, he really hated her, so I would have never believed they would team up. I never saw it coming when my lawyer informed me that she had offered to testify against me. She was after his money and hoped that being a snitch would give her some financial gain. She never made it to the stand or (to my knowledge) get anything out of him. She didn’t realize she was up against a sociopath mother in-law that was just using her to extract what they needed and then she was discarded. Her lies and efforts went to good use in ruining me and giving them advanced knowledge so they could counter attack.

Can you think back to times your brother or sister betrayed you? How did it feel? Did you trust them again like I did? If you did, please don’t blame yourself. You were fooled by a con-artist that knew more about you then you did. Going forward you will need to decide if they are trustworthy and even then, you need to always be careful to trust or reveal any information. Keep it light and remember to give them as little personal information as possible so you are not giving them data that they can betray you with.

WHAT DO YOU DO IF YOUR SIBLING SHOWS SIGNS OF THESE BEHAVIORS?

Never tell them you think they are a narcissist
This tactic never ends well. You are dealing with someone with no ability to care about you and are willing to up the game to destroy you, no matter what the cost. This is a secret you will need to keep from them. When a narcissist feels like the game is up, the mask has fallen and you are no longer going to be under their control, then the game changes and they will do everything to hurt you: the lies and the smears will reach epic proportions. Try to avoid this common mistake.

Protect yourself and listen to your intuition
There is no one that can tell you whether to have your sibling in your life but you. Ask yourself what types of behaviors you are willing to allow from your sibling and be honest with yourself to examine if they can keep their end of your guidelines. Your intuition has always been warning you of the dangers; now tap into that and listen to it.

Set better boundaries
The boundaries we tried to set as children didn’t work. To set a proper boundary you need to clearly define what it is that you do not want them to do anymore. Then decide a consequence if they violate it. It is so important to set something that is possible. If you tell them if they violate your boundary again that you will…. Make sure it’s enforceable. Then communicate to them the boundary, because if you don’t tell them and you keep this only in your head then it’s not a boundary, it’s a wish. They need to hear it for it to be a proper boundary. Then, if they violate it again you must be willing to enforce the consequence or they will begin the walking all over you again game.

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Often going no contact is your only solution
Narcissists do not like to play by a new set of rules and narcissistic siblings that have had a lifetime of using you as a punching bag will not go down without a fight. The game you are playing now (self-healing) will piss them off and they may begin to jack up the pain and smears, in which case evaluate going completely no contact. It may not be easy to never see your sibling again because of family events that you may need to skip if they are there. Understand what the price will be of this choice. Not a day goes by that I don’t wonder about my sisters, but I know I am finally healing because of the drama being gone. If you cannot go completely no contact, then learn Grey Rock techniques to manage the exposure you will have with them going forward. Only when you are free from the narcissistic sibling are you free to heal and release the drama.

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