• Resolving Problems

Can’t get close to my self-centered friend

Published: September 16, 2012 | Last Updated: August 9, 2015 By | 1 Reply Continue Reading
If you are unable to get close to someone, it may be that the person is self-centered and emotionally incapable of focusing on others.


Hi Irene,

I found your website after searching about “self-centered friends.” I find your topics very useful and decided to let you know about my friend.

We’ve known each other for many, many years and it’s one of those friendships where even if we didn’t see one another for a while we’d still be friends. But during the later years of high school, I’ve really begun to notice how my friend is (and almost always was) self-centered. I discovered this when I began looking to broaden my range of friendships and meet new people.

My friend is shockingly self-centered and has tended to not care about me. It was never one of those friendships where we never had a deep emotional connection but I never wondered why. That’s just the way things were.

But now I yearn for more friends and to have close relationships with them, although this goal is a long and patient one, I feel the need. I’ve been inviting him over less and just seeing what he does. He rarely communicates (which it used to he back and forth), and at times tells me very negative things, most stories he has revolves around him and how he’s better than everyone else. Of course, Irene, there are good memories we share and not everything is bad. What’s you’re advice for this friendship? Thank you and I apologize for writing such a long email.

Signed, Michael


Dear Michael,

It always takes time and experience to recognize (and admit) that someone you know is self-centered: As you and your friend spent more time together, it’s natural you would expect him to become more sensitive and responsive to your needs. Also, many people (especially those who have a positive attitude toward other people and life, in general) tend to be forgiving at the start of new friendships: They focus on the positive aspects and withhold seeing the negatives.

In the relationship you describe, it seems as if your friend has a limited ability to see beyond his own needs. Unfortunately, when someone is self-centered and self-absorbed like this, it is a personality trait that tends to be enduring and difficult to change.

It sounds like you would still like to keep this friendship—perhaps, because of your long shared history. If that is the case, you will need to accept it with its limitations. It’s unlikely that your friend will be able to turn a new leaf and deflect attention from his own needs to defer to yours.

For the friendship to work, you need to become more assertive when your needs aren’t being met. For example, letl your friend know when you are upset and need him to listen, or when he has been speaking incessantly about a miniscule problem of his.

Additionally, as you surmised, it’s likely that you will need to find other friends to meet your needs for emotional intimacy and sharing.

Hope this helps a little.

Best, Irene

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Category: Narcissists

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  1. Alice says:

    I have had a friend for 43 years never a sexual relationship but a fun good friendship until the last few years. I recently recovered from breast cancer and my friend has made jokes that I had faked the breast cancer. After healing, i bought an RV and began to travel. throught another friend, I began taking care of two horses for a women on her ranch.Having owned a horse for some 30 years, I was thrilled to do this and live on this beautiful property. During a phone conversation my friend said he would commit suicide if he did what I do meaning the caretaking. I responded in disbelief and commented that I couldn’t believe he said that. He seems to have a need to find fault with me. He refuses to talk about it after several attempts on my part. I have pulled away and make little effort to keep in touch with him. If we do email it is very superficial. I feel as though I just want to tell him please no further contact rather than continue on this path of a distant friendship. What is your take on this?

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