Weeping With The Frenemy




You will be familiar with the concept of a frenemy. One of the applications of this oxymoronic portmanteau is to describe a person who pretends to be your friend but is actually your enemy. The frenemy makes several appearances in the narcissistic world. The most obvious one is us. We appear as friend but we are really the enemy. If you are an intimate partner who is the primary source you witness this first hand as love turns sour. As a secondary source you also experience the narcissist as frenemy. It is not always obvious because as that secondary source you may experience a lengthy golden period but even if you do, we are your enemy because we are taking from you, taking your fuel, acquiring your attributes for our own use and drawing on your resources by way of residual benefits, such as using your car, borrowing money, blagging invitations to events and so forth. The same applies to tertiary sources who are more likely to witness the charm turn to malice as a consequence of a delayed serving or giving attention to someone else instead of us in the store. Our kind are the frenemy incarnate. If we are not plain using you for fuel and other benefits as we smile, charm and compliment, we then turn rogue on you, lashing out and devaluing you.

With that stated however let us turn to another type of frenemy. The Lieutenant. The loyal and obedient puppet that not only provides us with fuel but supports us and carries out our wishes and wants without hesitation or complication. Every narcissist has at least one lieutenant, usually more and the lieutenant performs a range of actions on our behalf. The lieutenant will naturally provide fuel, praising and admiring, being a great audience to our witty repartee, providing a sympathetic ear when we complain about the behaviour of others and ensuring as a dedicated secondary source that we can always rely on them. The lieutenant can be relied on to acquire information for us in respect of the targeting of a potential victim. The lieutenant will form part of our façade and will welcome you with characteristic smile and warmth to be part of the coterie and as soon as the command is given by us, turn his back on you and pretend that you never existed. He or she will do favours for us, ever eager to gain our trust and praise and outperform other lieutenants. This is especially so if the Lieutenant is earmarked for potential recruitment to intimate partner. It is not just the victim who receives some future faking. A lieutenant will be promised jam tomorrow – whatever it might be, promotion to intimate partner, that promotion at work, the membership of that club we can secure, a weekend away with us – whatever lies within out gift will be dangled before this lieutenant in order to secure loyalty and their commitment to us. Of course the rewards will be delivered from time to time, so long as we have extracted a sufficient price from our part of view, but future faking plays its part in keeping the Lieutenant ready, willing and wanting. The Lieutenant will also be used in our post escape and post discard campaigns. They will assist with hoovers, they will hoover on our behalf, prove receptive to our smearing of you and indeed assist in plastering mud about you far and wide.

How then does our kind go about identifying and maintaining these Lieutenants? Naturally it depends on the nature of the relevant member of our kind.

The Lesser

The Lesser Narcissist operates with fewer Lieutenants than the other two schools. This is because he lacks the charm and ability to acquire them so readily but also given his low control threshold he also runs a greater risk of his devaluation of them proving too much and resulting in them no longer remaining loyal and thus they are either discarded or they escape the narcissist. The Lesser has very little trust and his inherent paranoia makes it difficult for him to create a wide network of those he can call on. Instead he often relies on family members to be his Lieutenants. Parents, siblings, extended family and adult children are common Lieutenants of a Lesser Narcissist. In terms of friends, he may have one or two friends who are longstanding. These individuals are often childhood friends who have known the narcissist all his life and feel a sense of duty and obligation towards the narcissist borne out of when the narcissist put his furious temper to good use in giving a bully a hiding and thus earning the ongoing gratitude and admiration of the Lieutenant. This Lieutenant is also frightened of the narcissist, as he knows what he is capable of and consequently aims to stay on his good side and therefore is very loyal. The Lesser makes no conscious decision to recruit people to assist him but rather, owing to his sense of entitlement, he expects those around him to do what he wants. Owing to his low sense of trust, he feels he can only rely on those close to him either from blood (family) or longstanding friends. The Lesser ensures that those who are Lieutenants do his bidding through a combination of guilt-tripping (“We are family; you should have my back on this”) or intimidation (“If you don’t do it I will kick your teeth in”). It is rare to find a Lesser able to recruit a Lieutenant from your own ranks and therefore your vigilance should be maintained primarily in respect of those people you know who are his friends and family.

The Mid-Range

The Mid-Range Narcissist is an extensive user of Lieutenants because of his generally passive aggressive nature he would rather have other people doing his dirty work for him (the Greater is similar but his rationale is different – see below). The Mid-Range possesses sufficient cognitive function and pleasant charm to recruit suitable people to do his bidding. He will have a circle of dependable friends from whom he will draw a few Lieutenants. He also makes extensive use of family and colleagues as well. The Mid-Range also recognises the benefit of having a Lieutenant from within your ranks He will do this on the basis of wanting to curry favour with you by cosying up to your parents, a sibling or a good friend in order to inveigle his way into their affections. He will not necessarily possess the out and out charm of the Greater but rather be regarded as a “good egg”, “a decent person” and “pleasant and likeable”. The Mid- Range will ensure he has numerous lieutenants because he will need them to be used extensively when he hoovers and smears at a later juncture. Master of the Hard Done To, he will tell his sob stories about how badly he has been treated by you in order to have those Lieutenants propagate this position to others through a smear or to convey to you how much the narcissist is hurting and needs you back.

The Mid-Range usually maintains his Lieutenants by doing two things. He does not future fake extensively (with Lieutenants) and whilst there may be occasional rewards he does not rely on this to any great degree in order to keep his Lieutenants loyal. He instead relies on being liked and also for people to feel sorry for him and thus they will do what he wants. He will use emotional blackmail extensively in order to ensure that his Lieutenants act on his behalf.

“I am in a bad place right now and you need to help me.”

“I knew you couldn’t stand by and see me be treated like this.”

“She has said some horrible things about you, naturally I defended you, so I know I can rely on you to do the same for me.”

“It just isn’t right for someone to behave like this.”

“You are better at dealing with people like this.”

“I am on the edge here; you need to help me out.”

“I know she is your friend but I don’t think someone as decent as you would want to be associated with someone who behaves like this.”

“I appreciate she is your daughter but she is letting down your family with what she has done.”

The Greater

The Greater has many Lieutenants. He recruits them from friends, colleagues, family and even acquaintances. The Greater makes its aim to have at least one (but usually more) from your ranks. His huge reserves of charm ensure that people are made to feel so special to be associated with him that they want to do his bidding. They want the Greater’s approval, favour and largesse. A master at future faking, the Greater will not only reward those who carry out his commands but he will also ensure that larger rewards are repeatedly on offer. These may be material in nature but they are often based on elevation. Promotion from outer to inner circle friend. Advancement from colleague to outer circle friend. Potential to move from inner circle friend to intimate partner. The Greater is no fool though and will ensure that rewards are provided, not only to maintain the loyalty of the recipient but to act as an incentive to the others who have not been rewarded on this occasion. If your narc seems to know when you leave home and arrive do not be surprised to find that he has even recruited a neighbour minion as a Lieutenant.

The Greater will use a varied range of techniques to ensure that his Lieutenants remain loyal and willing to assist him: –

–         Reward

–         Threats of devaluing behaviour/ expulsion from the clique

–         Emotional blackmail

–         Smearing the victim so the Lieutenant is motivated to “do the right thing”

–         Threats of exposing or exploiting a vulnerability of the Lieutenant.

Of all of the three schools the Greater is the only one who engages in calculated behaviour to recruit and maintain his Lieutenants. The Lesser has a limited range to choose from and thus there is no consideration given. He expects loyalty anyway. The Mid-Range does it by making himself likeable and then playing on a sense of obligation and loyalty. The Greater will scrutinise who will have something to lose and who will want to gain in order to use this information is his advantage in due course. These Lieutenants will then be subjected to the love-bombing charm (adjusted appropriately depending on status) and brainwashed (along with the presence and effect of the façade) into believing that the Greater is better than anything else, is to be worshipped and can do no wrong.

Keep in mind that you as an intimate partner may well be recruited for Lieutenant purposes as well as against the primary source that you have replaced. Think how often you have witnessed the incoming primary source join in on attacks against you once you escaped or have been discarded. Indeed, using the primary source as a Lieutenant in such circumstances takes them beyond the sphere of Frenemy and into total enemy territory, but that person remains a Lieutenant nevertheless.

We use Lieutenants extensively. We ensure we maintain their loyalty and you should always exercise caution in your dealings. You may think we are off the scene and we have disappeared but there are Frenemies lurking all around you ready to continue our campaigns against you.

7 thoughts on “Weeping With The Frenemy

  1. Triad says:


    How to know who our lieutenants are? Intuition isn’t enough.

    Anyone who is still talking to us, that you and us both know, is, or has been manipulated into being, one of our lieutenants.

    Every contact they have with you, they are pulling you deeper into the reality we have created for you, and reporting your continued compliance with that reality back to us.

    Even if you are away from us you still are made to live in that reality through those people, and this makes it even easier for us to hoover you later, because you are even more exhausted and helpless. You are at one and the same time trying to figure out the shape of your prison, and struggling to get out of it.

    The only way you know someone isn’t one of our lieutenants is if you’re sure they have cut ties with us out of loyalty to you. But it almost never happens that we can’t get what we want from them through some subterfuge.

    Either way, you have to make absolutely certain they’re not talking to us. And the only 100 percent way to be certain of that is if you know they’ve never had the great opportunity to meet us.

    When you go no contact with us, you sometimes have to go no contact with any of them you haven’t completely verified as loyal. Try using our tactics to verify each one separately, if you really want to feel yourself in peace.

    1. Matilda says:


      you overestimate your ability to manipulate: not all people can be brainwashed.

      If I put myself in a narc’s shoes, and applied his tactics, I would probably approach those whose loyalty I doubt and tell them something intriguing but untrue, and wait if that information is passed on to the narc and returning back to me in some manner, even in a hoover. Awful, absolutely awful to have to do that, but it would bring clarity.

      In any case, I have gone no contact with traitors and grey rock with almost all others. A handful of family and friends remain, those I can trust with my life, and that is all you need. I have found solace and peace in solitude (which is not to be equated with loneliness). Once you remove yourself from the drama and distractions, you have time to spend with people who matter, time to do things you love, time to figure out who you really are and what you want from your life.

  2. Ollie says:

    So accurate and true again! Sjeez, you’re good!!! I always thought my Greater ex N didn’t really have any real friends, but more followers, people who wanted to be in his inner circle sucking up to him. I defintely feel the luitenants around me, even my neighbour who was recruited and who could inform him if there was an unknown car parked in the driveway or not and if I had guests or not Nd who they were. My sister fell for it as well sadly. Everybody’ ‘loves’ my ex N because he is so succesful, on TV and what not… it’s disgusting.
    As far as my lesser ex N goes, same thing, had his adult kids contact me with sad stories to please contact their dad and make things right…
    Thanks again for the insight, you confirm once again what i suspected all along. Unbelievable…

  3. Matilda says:

    That is why we need to understand that leaving the narc means cutting all ties with him. All. For good. We delete his family, friends, common friends that lean towards him from our phone, email accounts and social media. All of them. We should undertake a factory reset on technical equipment (phone, tablet, computer) to get rid of potential spyware, or get new devices if possible. All social media accounts need to be locked down (set to private).

    That is the easy part. The heartbreaking questions we have to face, are: are there any Lieutenants in our ranks, reporting back to the narc after escape? and how do we spot them? I guess we have to trust our intuition…

  4. HG,
    I have a what seems to be a narcissistic frenemy with widely intermittent blanketed benefits. Am I burning myself by engaging him? Perhaps my frenemy is just a sadistic pyromaniac? What should I do HG? Stop playing with matches? Or could the narcissist ever become my friend without the enemy part? Can a narcissist ever truly be a friend in a mutually beneficial situation that does not require negative behavior on his part? A friendship where each one gives what the other requests of them? Your answer to this is most pressing, so if you could please provide it I would of course be most appreciative of that kindness.

    Seperate topic scenarios….
    How do you feel about indebtedness? My narc brother can never owe anyone anything. It’s always tit for tat, even steven. I give him something like tickets. He has to give me tickets to another event back. If I refuse he gets mad. I buy him and his wife dinner. He will take me to dinner not too long after. If I say no, anger.

    He texted me recently. All it said was, “How’s it going ?” I did not text him back until 5 days later. I sent him a picture of an event I was at and it just said yay!!! as the caption. He immediately responded, “Bout time you answered me back!” No hello, nothing about event, no are you having fun, no nothing. Narc behaviors in each situation?

    Thanks HG.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Yes it can happen. I have certain longstanding friends who have never experienced my dark side because they are loyal, compliant and good providers of fuel as and when required.
      If you know what you are dealing with and experience periods of devaluation which are troubling to you, then you know what to do. If you feel you can handle the devaluation and you still want those benefits, then you are an adult and entitled to make such a choice, so long as you do so in the knowledge of what this person is and what they are capable of concerning you.

      Indebtedness. Everyone owes me and I ensure that they pay.
      Your brother does this to exert control over you, to reinforce his superiority and to emphasise his perceived omnipotence. He equates indebtedness with a loss of control.

      1. Thank you HG.
        I am going to reiterate for understandings sake and relatable questions.

        In the first part I have to decide if I want to keep being abused or if I will go no contact. Correct? I don’t like either of those choices. The reason being is when he does engage me, I find it enjoyable. No matter what the nature of the engagement be it likes/dislikes, hobbies, sex, music, jokes, etc. Why does engagement with me in such non threatening superficial context cause him to want to use his narcissistic behavior on me? A third option is to remain aware of what he is and expect nothing and only grovel over him when he decides it is my turn? Being subjected to all types of lies, games, future fakes, etc.? I don’t like this either because my own narcissistic tendencies flare and I think why does someone as special as me have to bend to him? Doesn’t he see how beautiful, intelligent and hilarious I am? Does he not know that there is no reason to hurt me? Especially if I am not in close proximity to him? Doesn’t it occur to him that I am neutral? Is neutrality boring? If I am a tertiary source why have to devalue me? Would he rather have hysterical angry than pleasant gratifying exchanges? Could you advise me please?

        Second part, I knew that somehow fit in with his N traits. After he said it was about time I texted, I laughed and thought typical my brother behavior and I texted back I love you (his name, which version only I call him since we were children) He texted back, I love you too. Haven’t heard from him since.

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