Is Your Toxic Sibling Really A Narcissist?

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Growing up in a family with siblings can be extremely fun. When you have siblings, you are never alone, you always have someone to play with, share things with, and talk to.

However, when your toxic sibling is a narcissist, the fun times can be few and far between.

Recognizing a narcissistic sibling can be extremely tricky. Some siblings can be mean or difficult for all sorts of reasons without exhibiting actual narcissistic behavior.

Is your toxic sibling a narcissist?

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Narcissists can be tricky to identify because they overlap with people who are toxic, mean, fake, and deeply insecure for all sorts of reasons.

Specifically, during adolescence when signs of narcissism begin to emerge, narcissistic behavior can look like "typical teen behavior."

They may have difficulty establishing and maintaining friendships, increased competitiveness, constant comparisons to others, lack of empathy with others, difficulty accepting criticism, and exaggeration of events and achievements.

As you age and transition out of adolescence into adulthood, the intense focus on "me, myself, and I" should begin to diminish. You develop a deeper appreciation for others and the world around you.

However, narcissists remain fixated on themselves and their own personal happiness, they don't consider the happiness or well-being of anyone else.

When a brother or sister begins to evolve and consider the feelings of others, while the toxic sibling remains fixated on their own needs without consideration for anyone else, this can create or widen any cracks in the family relationships.

What are the signs of a narcissistic sibling? Pay attention to these.

They need to be the center of attention.

They envy and constantly compare themselves to you.

They sabotage your efforts so they can appear smarter, more athletic, more engaging, etc.

They constantly seek praise and approval.

They're unwilling or unable to empathize with others.

They act as if you and the world owe them something.

They don't respect boundaries and take things that don't belong to them.

They play the role of the "perfect sibling."

A narcissistic sibling cannot feel genuine empathy, even if it pertains to the other sibling.

Empathy cannot be expressed if it doesn't directly benefit the narcissistic sibling. However, he or she is happy to use the ability to read people in order to manipulate them.

Even in the cases where they appear to understand emotion, for instance, it’s only to their benefit that they use that ability — only when and if it’s required to get what they want from you.

Having a narcissistic sibling can be very difficult to manage. But when it escalates into toxicity (surprisingly, not all narcissists will become toxic), it's far more damaging.

Toxic siblings will undermine their family dynamic in every way.

They will speak negatively about their sibling to their own parents, family members, even friends, and will try to ostracize the other sibling in an effort to get everyone to turn against them.

By isolating their sibling, the toxic sibling will feel like a winner, all by diminishing the other sibling. The toxic sibling will gradually try to "take over" what was acquired, achieved, or given to the non-toxic sibling.

This "take over" also includes friends, turning the non-toxic sibling's friends against her and then inserting herself into the role that was left vacant by the other sibling.

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Toxic people will also give bad advice.

When a sibling seeks advice from their toxic, narcissistic sibling, the toxic sibling will purposely hand out false or misleading advice, knowing the information they offer is faulty or an outright lie.

Being in a family with a toxic sibling and lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and uncertainty.

Siblings may feel judged by the toxic sibling for everything they do, don’t do, or every mistake they make. Successes are never acknowledged or validated by the other sibling.

In the rare case that an achievement is acknowledged, it's diminished or attributed to "a fluke of luck." They are constantly working on their siblings’ self-esteem, to reduce or break it so they themselves can look better.

When all else fails for the toxic sibling, if they can't break down a family member's self-esteem, they often become verbally abusive.

A toxic sibling will verbally abuse their other sibling with no shame.

They will constantly tell their sibling how bad they are at everything and even insult them in front of others. Toxic people show no respect to their siblings, taking pleasure in undermining them in front of others.

Control is a weapon readily used by toxic, narcissistic siblings. That control can be suffocating.

Cutting ties with your sibling is difficult and usually never your first choice. But, sometimes, it's the only way to save your sanity and heal the emotional pain caused by a toxic sibling.

Cutting ties with toxic family members is an act of self-care.

Being forced to set boundaries isn't something you do because you're mean or spiteful. It's something you do to protect your physical and mental health.

Understandably, it's never easy to cut your toxic sister or brother out of your life.

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When it comes to family it can be extremely difficult to accept that a family member is creating such intense feelings of stress, anxiety, and pain that you cannot continue to have a relationship with them.

Those who wish to maintain a relationship with their toxic sibling must create boundaries.

These boundaries should include never speaking disparagingly about you to anyone, including other family members, refraining from engaging in competitive behavior with you, respecting your personal space and belongings, and never handing out misleading information.

Insist that your sibling provide information that he or she believes to be true to the best of their knowledge. If they are unsure of the information or advice they are providing then they need to make this clear as well.

Here are some tips for cutting ties with a toxic sibling if nothing else works.

Acknowledge the relationship is unhealthy.

Acknowledge the relationship is abusive.

Give up the fantasy that your sibling will change.

Grieve the loss of having the kind of relationship you wanted with your sibling but never will.

Ask for support whenever needed from friends and other family members.

Request that friends and family respect your decision even if they don't agree with it.

Recognizing your sibling relationship is not a healthy form of sibling rivalry is key.

In order to recognize or identify the type of relationship you would like to have with your sister or brother, you must know the difference between healthy and unhealthy family relationships.

An unhealthy sibling will often make things worse instead of better.

A healthy sibling is supportive, friendly, always open to communicate, and offers constructive criticism. He or she will never undermine your ability or dismiss your efforts.

You should feel comfortable going to your sibling during your dark times. If you feel anxious, stressed, or upset when you have to engage with them, your toxic sibling may genuinely be a narcissistic sibling after all. 

RELATED: I Had The Perfect Family. But They Didn't Love Me.

Dr. Tarra Bates-Duford is a psychologist who has engaged in extensive work and research on familial relationships, family trauma, and dysfunctions. To know more, visit Family Matters Counseling Group.