Isolating friends, partners and family members from one another is a common trait of narcissism, but non-narc. people with social anxiety also may do this. They may have anxiety about group activities, even if everyone who would be invited is known to them. If they have past trauma, they may fear being excluded when those friends connect with each other. They may fear being ganged up on, or left out of conversation or jokes. They may fear being seen as less cool, less intelligent, less talented, less funny, less desirable when there is more than one friend present. Those with social anxiety may try to control plans, and bow out of things they can't control, or if more than one friend is going. They may make plans with one person, even for public events, and fail to mention those plans to anyone else due to their own social caution. They may not even realize they are isolating people, and they may also be doing it out of consideration when they are worried how one friend will act toward another friend, and are unsure how to deal with such a situation (they may not realize that they aren't responsible for the behavior of others.)
Manipulators and Narcissists on the other hand may have all these same fears and do the same things, but they also have the fear of being found out, and of being "outshined". This fear, which is usually well-founded, drives their need to isolate friends from one another. They often think of themselves as the hub of all of their relationships, and others like spokes, all radiating out from them. Friends (and family) are purposely kept apart from one another in order to maintain all kinds of fictional facades, both about the manipulator, and about certain "friends" who are painted in a bad light. They can not have Jack meeting up with Mary and finding out that she's actually a normal, intelligent, kind person who shows no signs of being crazy or mean. And if they become friends, they may exchange information.
Manipulators and Narcissists do not attend events to share experiences with friends, except when that "friend" is a co-narcissist with the same agenda. They are there more to be seen than anything else. Only those who enhance their appearance or go along with their agenda will not be ditched. They aren't at the concert to experience the music, they are there to BE SEEN. As...the number one fan (no one else gets this music the way I do), or part of the "In Crowd", or as a fellow "star", or as one of the "Hot People", maybe even the "Hottest" or "Cutest" or "Coolest". They are there not to SHARE the experience, but to feel a rush from feeling like they are BETTER in some way, either better than those who are at the event, OR better than those who were purposely left out.
Manipulators and Narcissists have agendas. If their plan for attending an event is to see if they can meet a new romantic interest, of course they are going to hide the event from anyone they're currently dating, or any friends of the person they're dating. This agenda is a common reason why the smear campaigns begin; if someone sees them, the manipulator has to have a "reason" why they have ditched their partner, and it has to be their partner's "fault" in order for them to look innocent. They will always turn around anything they get caught doing wrong (betrayal) on either the person who caught them, or their partner. Any of their co-conspirator friends (also manipulators) will back them up. It's just second-nature to them, they've all been getting out of "trouble" most likely for years this way, and are unlikely to wake up.
Manipulators and Narcissists often play to others' personalities; they create a persona that will elicit sympathy, respect, or desire from each individual person. So when there is a gathering of people who the manipulator has played different characters to, they are going to be seen by at least one person as being fake. (When this does occur, that person is often targeted for reputation destruction.) When the Narcissist is being seen by a lot of people for a reason, they will often be aloof, flitting here and there very briefly, making a big deal about how busy they are, even barking orders or displaying dramatic frustration at how much has to be done (but refusing help). They will leave early unless they can isolate themselves away from the crowd. They can not risk being seen for too long as NOT playing the various personas they have set up with each person. Adapting a stuck-up attitude, an overwhelmed attitude (too much to do) or even an angry attitude can facilitate their hiding if all else fails. These attitudes make them unapproachable, and will keep anyone who would see through them at a distance. (They can often be seen suddenly dropping their attitude to talk calmly and happily with certain people, even at length, making small talk. "Which attitude is real," you may wonder, '"the frustrated and angry one, or the calm and happy one?")
In summation, the social anxiety isolator may bow out of going to a local festival because more than one friend wants to go, but they won't try to hide their plans of going or not going, and they won't be angry about other friends showing up. But the manipulator will invite one friend, or one group of friends, and purposely exclude another person by hiding their plans from them, hiding the event from them, even acting as if they aren't going. They may even ask the person they're excluding "what are you doing on Sunday night" just to make sure that the person is not planning on attending the event.
- "What can I do if I find myself isolating people from one another? Am I a Narcissist?"
- If I am afraid I am isolating friends or family, I probably don't have the Narcissist Disorder, but I still may be causing unnecessary distress and problems for other people, and for myself. Human beings do have a bent for manipulation in childhood, but as we mature we learn why it's wrong and how to navigate life in an honest and more straightforward manner. If I find myself isolating or triangulating people, it would be helpful if I take a look at my relationships, and things that could be causing me stress. Often we don't realize how much stress we are dealing with until something "breaks". I can ask myself these questions:
- Am I trying to deal with my own anxiety issues by trying to exert control over other people?
- Have I been dealing with someone who is controlling, bullying, abusive, manipulating, toward me or toward others?
- Do I actually and honestly TRUST all the people I am in close contact with?
- Am I doing something that I feel guilty or ashamed about, and might be unconsciously trying to hide it?
- Am I afraid people will see the "real me" and not like me anymore?
- Am I jealous or envious of someone in my group?
- Am I harboring trauma from my past that I have not healed from?
I don't want to be kept a minute longer from engaging fully in life, love, adventure, and happiness, so I am fully engaged in healing my own scratches, bruises, and wounds, and helping others heal when they need to, as much as I am able.
(Imagine a world where every person kept themselves emotionally healthy AND was aware and willing to help everyone else stay healthy, and feel supported, included, and respected? There would no longer be any need for counseling, or prison, for that matter! Idealist? No, other animals pull it off, it can be done. It has been done. It is the not the will to do it that is required so much as the lack of REFUSAL to do it.)
A note to readers: everyone in a free country has the right to write, you have the same right to write as the editor of the New York Times. That's what "free" means. If you don't like what someone else wrote, or don't agree with it...or you don't like the person for some ego reason so you want to disrespect everything they write... or you have prejudice against certain kinds of humans so you dispute everything they write about...DO REMEMBER that you are solely responsible for your own actions, and that NO piece of writing can "MAKE" a person say or do ANYTHING. Only the mentally disordered actually believe that a piece of writing MAKES people do or say things. So if you disagree, and you want to express that, feel free, that is also your right! But if you want to harass someone for what they wrote, THINK AGAIN. Writing is protected under free speech. LIBEL is when that writing spreads false information about a REAL PERSON, not generalities about human behavior. Harassment is against the law, for real, even in this current ridiculous atmosphere of entitlement and nastiness.