How to Deal With a Self-Absorbed Friend in Social Situations

Try to appreciate your friend for her positive qualities.
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Self-absorbed people find it hard to put themselves in anyone else’s shoes. They see only one point of view: their own. That’s because self-centeredness actually arises from deep-seated feelings of inadequacy. Their self-worth depends upon being the center of attention at all times, so relinquishing the spotlight even for a moment is threatening. Unfortunately, that can leave you and your friends feeling as though you just don’t matter whenever she is around.

1 Accept Your Friend for Who He Is

Trying to change a self-absorbed person usually is futile precisely because he can’t consider anyone else’s point of view. On the other hand, he may be fun to have around -- self-absorbed people often are very charming because they place such importance on being admired, asserts author and psychologist Roya R. Rad on "Huffington Post." Perhaps he’s got a great sense of humor, or maybe he’s always the first with the latest gossip. Accept and enjoy him for those qualities, while realizing that ultimately he will try to make everything all about him.

2 Show Compassion

Someone who doubts her worth as a human being must seek satisfaction from outside sources, such as constant compliments and approval from others. She may place great importance on status symbols like the latest fashions as a way of telling the world she is special. Realizing that her actions are driven by feelings of emptiness and fear may help you approach her with compassion. Comments such as, "You always say the smartest things in class," or "I love the way you do your makeup" may boost her confidence enough -- at least in the moment -- to allow her to share center stage with others, if only for a little while.

3 Set Firm Boundaries

Setting and enforcing firm boundaries often works best when dealing with self-absorbed people. For example, if he always hijacks the conversation with his issues, let him speak for five minutes or so, and then say, “Joe, maybe we can come back to this later, but I think Sally had something she wanted to talk about.” Be prepared for him to sulk or even leave the room entirely when the attention shifts away from him.

4 She Might Be a Narcissist

If your friend always seems to hog the spotlight and becomes enraged at the slightest suggestion that she might be anything less than perfect, she may have narcissistic personality disorder. On, author Martha Beck writes that when one person in a group becomes too emotional or demanding, the best strategy may be to humor her for a while, and then to simply stop engaging with her. Most likely, she will gravitate to another group in her quest for the constant attention she craves.

Norra MacReady has more than 30 years' experience as a health and medical writer and editor. She has been published in medical journals, such as "The Lancet," as well as consumer publications such as "Self," "Glamour," "Neurology Now" and "Heart Insight." MacReady has a Master's in human nutrition from Columbia University and also obtained a Master's in clinical psychology. She is pursuing licensure as a marriage and family therapist in Los Angeles.