Do narcissists ever feel sorry for themselves

Narcissists never apologize

Last update: September 02, 2020

Viewed from a distance, a narcissist can appear charming, confident, and even considerate. Even so, there are some things that narcissists would never do, especially when it comes to relationships. For example, you would never apologize. They would also never admit that they did something wrong and therefore do not stand by their mistakes. Experts say this is due to their self-centered and dominant demeanor, which often doesn't even have a glimmer of basic empathy.

In every relationship, be it romantic, platonic or family, there are discrepancies and friction. This is perfectly normal and common, but sometimes you offend or hurt the other person without even realizing it. When that happens, the best thing to do is to apologize sincerely. You should also aim to prevent the problem from recurring.

The more socially and emotionally intelligent you are, the more likely you are not to just apologize, but to do so as effectively as possible. Someone who is emotionally competent and mature approaches such a situation with sincerity, openness, and a desire to make amends.

That being said, in this post we are concerned with the question of what goes on in a narcissist who is in such a situation? Studies such as those by Joost M. Leunissen, Constantine Sedikides and Tim Wildschut from the University of Southampton (England, United Kingdom) make this clear: Narcissists don't always feel bad about the bad things they do. This means that while they feel the social pressure to make amends, when they do so they feel internal conflict and even pain. This is because this action is in conflict with their own wants and desires.

Narcissists don't apologize

James Masterson reminds us that narcissism is on a continuum. At the lower end is what we call “normal”. People at this end of the continuum are more or less in control of their self-esteem. At the other end we find the pathology that defines Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

People with narcissistic personality disorder need to build up an inflated self-image and protect against outside attacks. This is how they manage to protect their weak and broken selves. You strive for perfection and develop arrogance in the process.

But what happens when your partner speaks of a lack of respect or selfishness? What if a narcissist commits a crime? The truth is simple: the narcissist cannot take responsibility for anything. If he did that, he could no longer hold the self-constructed image of perfection.

Narcissists want to be agreed and do not tolerate contradiction

Andrew P. Morrison is an expert on narcissistic personalities. In its introduction to Essential Papers on Narcissism (in German: Essential Writings on Narcissism, not available in German), he argues that the primary goal of narcissists is to find a “mirror”. They want you to agree to them.

  • Narcissists prefer to relate to people who constantly remind them of their virtues. You long for the mirror of Snow White's wicked stepmother. Every day he confirmed to the queen that she was the most beautiful of them all.
  • When addressing a narcissist about their hurtful acts, it is almost impossible to get them to apologize. He won't do it because he feels absolutely no guilt.
  • Narcissists have no empathy. As such, they just cannot understand why something hurt the other person or why they are worried about something.
  • Considering the fact that narcissists view relationships as a means to an end, they have no problem telling the other person that it is their own problem. As you can imagine, this kind of dynamic can easily damage a romantic relationship.

Narcissists make them believe it is the other's fault

We now know that narcissists don't apologize. This can lead to even more complex and contradicting behavior.

  • It may not seem like it, but narcissists fight too. They suffer a lot because they are always frustrated and bitter. Their low self-esteem puts them on a constant battlefield trying to obtain the greatest weapon and the most formidable trophy.
  • Your need to feign perfection, efficiency and vanity, often lets them run right against the wall of a realitywho will not tolerate this kind of attitude.
  • When a person apologizes for a specific situation, the narcissist wants them to feel guilty about themselves. Why? Because they don't understand things the same way, or because others might think they are weak or ignorant. This is how a narcissist can switch roles. Then the real perpetrator quickly becomes a victim.
  • Let's not forget that narcissists are skilled manipulators. As such, in the end it could actually be the other person who apologizes.

What can be done about narcissists who don't apologize?

We want to repeat what we talked about at the beginning. There are many types of narcissists. At the higher end of the spectrum we find narcissistic psychopaths. They are people who work, who seem perfect yet normal. However, they are also very good at damaging others emotionally.

  • Narcissists need special help. They need therapeutic interventions that help them with anti-social thinking, the illusion of superiority and the acceptance of their own imperfections. They need to become aware of how they hurt others with their behavior and attitude.
  • When dealing with a narcissist on a daily basis, there are only two options. You can either act respectfully or not. In addition, you can help them change and get professional advice. Or you can consider the option of moving away from him.

Many cases depend on the type of narcissism. There are great variations across the spectrum. So don't lose hope as there are many ways you can turn the situation around for the better. If you have a family member, partner, or friend with this trait before you, help them understand the implications of their actions and ask them to seek professional assistance.

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