How to Deal With Friends Who Think They Are Better Than You

Two Parts:Finding the Best in Your FriendsNurturing Your Own Self-Confidence

If you have friends who think they are better than you, it can be easy to get caught in the trap of feeling inferior. These friends are most likely narcissists, and there's a good chance that they are putting other people down to compensate for their own insecurities. Sometimes, the best thing you can do with friends like these is to sever your ties with them, but other times it is possible to repair the friendship. No matter how you proceed, it's crucial that you don't let them make you feel badly about yourself.

Part 1
Finding the Best in Your Friends

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    Don't fall for the image. Even if your friends' lives seem perfect in every way, they probably aren't. If you really get to know your friends, you will find out that not everything is as it seems. They might be struggling at school or they might have a really difficult home life, and these things may be causing them to feel insecure. [1]
    • Don't point out all of your friends' shortcomings to them. If they are the type of people who feel the need to emphasize their superiority, they will not respond well to this kind of criticism. Instead, use this knowledge to help you better cope with your friends' behavior.
    • Your friends may even be envious of you. Some people have a very hard time accepting that they are not the best at everything, which causes them to put successful people down.[2]
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    Act unimpressed. Snobs thrive off of other people's willingness to accept that they are inferior to them. If you drool over their expensive clothes or praise them excessively for their accomplishments, you're only fueling their feelings of superiority. Instead, try not to show any emotion when they start bragging. Just say, "cool" or "congratulations," and change the subject. [3]
    • If your friends are genuinely more knowledgeable about a topic than you are, it's fine to be respectful of their knowledge, but if they are acting so superior that they refuse to let you contribute to the conversation, you need to stand up for yourself. Try doing your research so that you are well-informed about the topic. This will put you in a much better position to engage your friends with thoughtful commentary, and maybe even to let them know when they are wrong.[4]
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    Stage an intervention. If you think your friends might be willing to change their behavior, but need a bit of a wake up call first, you might want to stage an intervention, in which you sit them down and honestly talk to them about how their behavior affects you and the other people around them. You can also suggest ways that they can change. Interventions are typically used for people who are struggling with substance abuse, but they can work well in this kind of situation as well.[5]
    • Telling narcissistic people that they are arrogant or selfish will only cause them to become defensive, which will likely make their behavior worse. If you are going to confront your friends about their behavior, you need to do it in a nurturing, non-insulting way.[6]
    • Don't expect too much from this interaction. If your friends truly believe in their superiority, they are unlikely to offer you any recognition or acknowledgement. Even if they don't change, however, you can still be proud of yourself for being a good friend and trying to help them.
    • You can stage an intervention by yourself, but if you have other friends who are also affected by the behavior, a group intervention may be even more effective.
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    Set boundaries. While you need to be cautious about insulting your friends' personalities, it is perfectly reasonable to let them know what kinds of behaviors you find unacceptable. Make it clear that if they don't respect the boundaries, you will walk away.[7]
    • If, for example, your friends tease you about your looks, tell them that you are not okay with it and will not tolerate it. The moment they begin to engage in the behavior, you should end the conversation and walk away.
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    Encourage empathy. Many people who feel the need to put others down do so because they are afraid of being vulnerable and relying on others, not because they are completely lacking in the ability to express empathy. Help your friends feel more comfortable relying on you by praising them whenever they display empathy and by letting them know how special the friendship is to you.[8]
    • It may help your friends let down their walls if you can be a little vulnerable around them. Once they realize that you are not a threat to them, they might be willing to expose their own insecurities. Try having a conversation with them about your fears and encourage them to contribute.

Part 2
Nurturing Your Own Self-Confidence

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    Think about the triviality of status. If your friends are making you feel jealous or inadequate, it's important to take a moment to consider how trivial status can be. People outside of your small circle of friends are unlikely to attribute much meaning at all to your friends' elevated statuses. Remind yourself that your friends' superiority is entirely in their own heads.[9]
    • Even if your friends are prettier, wealthier, or smarter than you, try being grateful for the natural advantages that you possess instead of being jealous of what they have. It's important to let go of the childish notion that everything in life needs to be fair.[10]
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    Find what you excel at. Chances are you can do at least one thing better than your friends. No matter what this thing is, embrace it and do your very best. The point is not to prove to your friends that you are better than them, but rather to prove to yourself that you are worthy and unique.[11]
    • Instead of comparing yourself to your friends and trying to be as good as them, focus on constantly becoming a better version of yourself. Keep in mind that your friends' success is not in any way related to your own, so their achievements should never take away from yours.[12]
    • If your friends truly believe they are better than you, they will never recognize your accomplishments, even if you succeed in outdoing them. This is why it's so important to recognize your own accomplishments.[13]
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    Put your own needs first. Try not to think about what your friends will think about every little decision you make in your life. Chances are, they will put you down whether you try to accommodate them or not, so don't worry about it. Do what makes you happy and don't worry about getting anyone else's approval.[14]
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    Leave when it's appropriate. If your friends are abusive, deceptive, or in denial about their behavior, it's probably time to end the friendships. You can do so much better, and you will be much happier with friends who treat you well.[15]


  • Take a minute to consider that it may all be in your head. If you are insecure, you might imagine that your friends think they are better than you, when they don't really think that at all.[16]
  • A true narcissist will never change, no matter what you do. Sometimes it is best to just walk away and seek out healthier friendships.[17]

Sources and Citations

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Categories: Friendship Problems