Narcissistic Behavior May Be a Friendship-Ender

By Amy Dickinson | November 17th, 2023

‘Are we unreasonable for feeling this way?’

A loving couple in an embrace, for an article on a couple who was disappointed in a narcissistic friend and wonders if the behavior is a friendship-ender. Image by Yuri Arcurs

A husband took his wife away for a weekend trip before she began chemotherapy for Stage IV cancer. The friend who had volunteered to dog sit and housesit demanded they come home early. Was the demand a friendship-ender? See what advice columnist Amy Dickinson thinks.

Dear Amy:

My wife was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer that has metastasized.

Our friends (a couple) volunteered to stay at our house and watch our elderly dog so that I could take my wife out of town for a nice weekend before she started a 12-week course of chemotherapy. We thought this was incredibly kind and beautiful.

Only the wife showed up (the husband did not come).

On the last morning the wife texted me at 7 a.m. to call her.

I feared our dog had died. I called her and she said she had fallen in our house and wanted our help.

I asked if she needed EMS and she said no, but she reiterated that she wanted us to come home right away.

We were five hours away but immediately packed up and started driving. Her husband, who was nearby, did not go to the house to help his wife.

When we got back, the wife made a big production of showing us her ankle, which was slightly swollen and bruised. She had me drive her to an urgent care facility nearby. Her husband still had not come, but called us and was critical that we had not done more. She made comments suggesting that she might bring a personal injury claim against us, even though there was nothing wrong with our house.

She had a mischievous grin on her face for much of the time. We could not believe it.

This might have been my wife’s last trip away, ever. It was as if she was jealous of the focus on my wife’s illness. Who does that?

We thought this was the height of narcissistic behavior, and we have decided we want nothing further to do with these people.

Are we unreasonable for feeling this way?

– Dismayed

Dear Dismayed:

I’m amazed at how often people ask me if it is “reasonable” for them to feel the way they feel.

Heck yes!

This entire episode sounds like a friendship-ender. I’m sorry you had to experience it during such a challenging moment in your own lives.

It’s a cliché, but true, that when times are tough is when you really learn who your friends are.

I hope you and your wife discover that you have other friends who are helpful, generous, and reliable.

Want to get even more life tips from Amy? Read more of her advice columns here!

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart – ranging from a friendship-ender to dark family secrets and DNA surprises. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.

©2023 by Amy Dickinson

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