How Should You Handle an Arrogant, Narcissistic Army Officer?

Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I have a quick question: How would you handle someone in your social group who is a total "butt" to everyone? And that's saying it nicely!

Here are some scenarios to illustrate: He has to make sure that everyone knows that he's a West Point graduate. I don't know how much you know about the military, but West Point graduates today can get passed over for promotions just like everyone else. Other things he continues to hammer on are the jobs he has had as a captain. He continually talks about how he's selected for positions that a major should hold.

Most of us guys are married, and some have children. At every function, he shows up with some new hot lady that he just met. Of course, she has no idea that she's only with him for a quick second. He brings good-looking women around just to try and show up the other ladies. It's all a competition to him, and he wants to be the man on top. Frankly, I'm tired of his arrogance and narcissism.

My plan is to make a career of the Army, but I don't want to do it on the backs of other people or by putting other people down.

This brings me to my second question: How do I separate myself from this jerk without ruining my friendships with the other guys, who I like being around?

-- Sick of the Jerk

Dear Sick,

This situation is a little bit funny to me for many reasons. I'm picturing all of this macho-ism in the room but no one says, "Dude, please shut up!"

Why do you think you have to be silent and just accept his arrogance and narcissism? Occasionally, I also find myself talking to someone who doesn't know how to reciprocate in a conversation. They just go on and on about themselves. Here's what I do: I politely excuse myself from the conversation. That's it. You don't have to listen to him.

Your friend sounds like a narcissist. Narcissists think that people are listening because they want to compete -- and narcissists love that. It feeds them. The problem here is that you don't want to compete.

You sound like a humble man who has his heart in the right place. You want to do good and treat other people fairly. I admire those qualities. I also get the feeling that you're not the person who is inviting Capt. Arrogant to the parties. If these are planned events, it's OK for you to ask the host who else will be attending. If Capt. Arrogant is on the invitation list, you can decline to attend.

It also sounds like you're not the only one who is sick of hearing this man run his mouth, but no one is stepping up and tell him to hush. You can be that person. If you do, I would advise you to speak only for yourself and not for the group. Also, be prepared that some of the same people in your circle who may have privately expressed their disdain for the jerk will go against you. That's part of group dynamics.

So those are your choices: Tell him to shut up yourself; leave the conversation when he gets annoying; or distance yourself from future social events. Let me know what you decide to do. Thanks for writing.

-- Ms. Vicki

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