Narcissistic Apologies

It’s Narcissist Friday! 


I’m sorry you were hurt.

I’m sorry you thought you heard that.

I’m sorry you misunderstood.

I’m sorry ___ made me fail.

I’m sorry you feel that way.

I’m sorry that happened.

I didn’t do that.  I’m sorry you think I did.

I apologize for trying.

I apologize for caring.

I apologize for being human.

I apologize for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.


Recognize these? They’re apologies. What? You don’t think they’re apologies? What’s wrong with them? These are typical narcissistic apologies. Some people have heard this kind of apology all their lives. Others have heard these apologies almost their whole marriages.

And then you hear, “Well, I apologized, didn’t I?”  Uh, actually, no.

There are two meanings to the word “apology” in English.  The most common is a confession of guilt and an expression of regret.  That’s the one we look for.  The other meaning is older and less helpful.  It is used for a formal explanation of position, a justification of an idea.  Socrates presented a defense of his teachings, an apology for his position.  That’s not what we want.

The narcissist uses the second when he/she should be using the first, right?  When someone hurts you, you hope for a statement of regret.  You don’t want an explanation of the philosophy that led to the offense.  You don’t want justification for the action or words.  You want the person to be sorry.

So think about that.  What you want is for the person to understand how the action hurt you and to feel some of your pain.  What you want is for the person to regret his/her actions and contribute to your healing.  What you want is empathy.

But that’s exactly what the narcissist cannot give.

The inability to apologize is a defining characteristic of the narcissist.  I realize that many people learned narcissistic ways to apologize.  Children are taught how to get out of trouble, not how to apologize with sincerity.  Many, if not most, adults present poor apologies when they want to express their regret and many try to pass the blame on the victim.  But most can be taught how to apologize in a way that does promote healing and peace.

Not the narcissist.  Think about it.  If you were to teach someone how to apologize, what would you say?  You would probably say something like this:  “How would you feel if someone had done that to you?”  The narcissist would know how he might feel, but he would have no ability to believe that you could feel the same thing.  Because everyone is depersonalized, not real, to the narcissist, he/she cannot accept the reality of the feelings of others.

Let me say that a different way.  Just because the narcissist would feel angry or hurt or afraid, does not mean he would believe or understand that someone else would feel those things.  Most of those who have lived in relationship with narcissists understand this.  They would be very upset if someone did to them what they did to you.  Yet, they cannot believe that you could feel the same way—or—they simply don’t care that you feel the same way.

Why not?  Because to acknowledge your feelings is to acknowledge you as a person.  He/she can’t see you as a real person because then you would be competition.  All attention must be given to the image.

So the best you get is an explanation of why it was entirely reasonable for him to do what he did or for her to say what she said.  You get a defense.

Here’s an idea that came out of a recent conversation with a friend: ask your narcissist to explain what he thinks you felt when he did what he did.  Ask him how a person who claims to love someone could do something like that to the one he loves.  Don’t ask what he thinks you should feel.  Don’t ask him what he thinks you should do now.  He will tell you to forgive and forget, of course.  Instead, press for the understanding.

If you are wondering whether your painful person is a narcissist, this might be a helpful test.

Maybe you have never heard a real apology.  Maybe you grew up in a home where people never apologized or did very poorly.  Here’s what an apology should sound like:

“I am sorry that I hurt you.  My words were cruel and I have no intention of defending them.  They were wrong.  I was wrong.  I apologize.”

Notice a couple of things.  There is no request for forgiveness.  Requesting forgiveness puts a burden on the victim, the one who was hurt.  If an offender is truly sorry, he/she does not want to put any further burden on the one who was hurt.  I understand that this sounds like a very Christian thing to do, but it is neither necessary nor kind.  If the one who was hurt wants to forgive, that’s fine.  But no push.

Also, notice that there is no blame on anyone or anything else.  There is no claim that the words were accidental or misunderstood.  None of these things would mitigate the pain that was felt.  Nor is it simply an apology for hurting.  It is an apology for being unkind and causing pain.

If the relationship calls for it, an expression of love is appropriate—especially if that expression speaks to the value of the one who was hurt.

“You are my friend and you are important to me.  It grieves me that I hurt you.”

“I love you and it hurts me that I hurt you.”

Don’t make the offender promise never to do it again.  That sounds good, but no one can promise that and be sure it won’t happen.  The narcissist might be very willing to make the statement, but it won’t be true.  Instead, watch to see if the offender understands how the action or words caused pain and if the offender empathizes with your pain.

Now, this is a two-minute overview of apologies and you might have a lot to add.  That’s why we have a comment section! 🙂  The point here is that the narcissist cannot say these things from the heart because he/she has no empathy, no way to understand or value your feelings.  There is no fix in this post, just an explanation.  I pray with you for the day when narcissists can finally see and grasp the truth.


Filed under Narcissism

233 responses to “Narcissistic Apologies

  1. Fellow Survivor

    “How would you feel if someone had done that to you?” I tried making this statement many times with 0 reaction. So, I tried another approach. ” If our daughter’s husband or boyfriend treated her like you are treating me, what would you think about him? Still nothing.

    • unofficialnarcissist

      That is so true! And I would say that not only can they not give apologies, they cannot receive apologies. Your apologizing is an opportunity for them to pounce on you instead of gracefully receiving an apology.

      • Yes, indeed! And despite the most earnest apology offered and subsequent deeds of atonement, they will hold the it against you anyway, in my experience …

      • P. Grace

        When I caught my xn-husband having an affair and we’re trying to mend the relationship. Of course I was the one who was blamed – “you pushed me to do that”; “your behavior caused that (refused to be abused anymore). No apology.

        Of course I wanted to keep the family, I wanted to make it work. I tried. His controlling never stop. And here is the arrogant statement “Well, if you still want me, I will try my hardest to come back”.

      • I agree they cannot receive apologies either. I would apologize to my narcissistic ex-husband and he would say my apology wasn’t good enough or sincere enough or whatever enough. He also had trouble accepting compliments. If I told him he looked nice in something like a new blue shirt he would say well you like the shirt. Don’t you like the way I look? Didn’t I just say I did? I finally told him to write me a script and I would just follow it and say whatever it was he wanted to hear. That made him mad too!

      • Pamela, your friend sounds like he might have aspergers. why? Cause they can’t answer a question, or take a compliment very well. They don’t understand motive in most situations. They are the walking talking WORD SALAD…..walkers,,,,,,,totally confused and most have alexithymia or dyslexia or some brain impairments.

      • Cecilia K

        I also found that to be true—that they can’t/won’t accept apologies. Now, I confess, I didn’t always apologize appropriately, but even when I Did (i. e., without excuse or explanation), he would still often not accept it. Sometimes I apologized too quickly; others, I took too long (ex. part of one of our arguments — Me: “I apologized for that.” Him: “Yeah, after 15 minutes!”). Nevermind that for most of his offenses, he Never apologized, but the few occasions he Did (mostly to get back together with me), I had to wait at least four months, sometimes more, for his apology.

      • Cindy

        I agree totally!

    • leeb

      Wow – that made me laugh – I have had these exact conversations!

    • Nancy

      I don’t know whether to say I’m speechless or I’m stunned at your brilliant article- so helpful. I’m 59, and I’m only now learning about the Narcissism in my family. It kills me to harm another and I make every effort to apologize to anyone, everyone, anytime. So used to apologizing and do it so often I must do it in my sleep. But if the other four members of my family are N then I’m quite sure I am too. How could I not be. They can’t change but I think there’s hope for me. I’m gonna stay as far away from them as I can, get a lot of help, keep my chin up and keep my eyes on the horizon. I miss Daddy – I realize now he was the only sane one of us and get this – he shot himself. I used to think it was his health. Nope. Now I think it was to get away from the rest of us. No – not think, positive. But truly – thanks for your article so much. And everybody who’s on here?
      Chin up – eyes on the horizon, and keep smiling

  2. Leslie

    Lol the best I got after an 18 yr marriage
    Of abuse and blame with no empathy or
    Apologies was ” I’m sorry it didn’t work
    Out between us” another good one was
    You can’t move on from the past. The most confusing part is he believes he’s a Christian. How can a saved redeemed
    And Godly man have the Holy Spirit but
    No empathy? Also 3rd party professionals have stated he has no
    Empathy. His response? These are biased opinions so even after professionals pointed out his flaws there was blame from a Christian.
    I wonder how God looked at this mess I’ve been through?

  3. Kate

    “I’m sorry you’re confused.”
    “I’m sorry that you got your feelings hurt.”
    “I’m sorry you didn’t get the joke.”
    “I’m sorry I didn’t meet your expectations.”

    I’m sorry, what was that???

  4. HDG

    Pastor Dave,thank you for another oh so true post! After telling him how hurt I was by his actions my N sent an email saying “it was not my intention to hurt you- I am thinking of what is best for us”. It seemed I had no voice in the relationship,only to go along with what he decided was ”best.”Always words,no real emotions-no genuine caring. Leslie after reading your post I wonder if we know the same man(just kidding ),your post is all too familiar!

    • joy

      That is something I’d told my ex husband over and over, “I have no voice in this marriage. I can speak, but you will act as if I never spoke.” It’s horrible to be in a relationship where you have no way of making yourself heard..except to leave and then he was mostly just mad I messed up the perfect image.

      “Apologies” I heard the most. Mostly he didn’t do “I’m sorry, but when he had to:
      I’m sorry you got your feelings hurt.
      I’m sorry you took it that way.
      I’m sorry you didn’t understand what I said.
      I”m sorry you didn’t realize I was kidding.
      I’m sorry you feel that way.

      He was always sorry about something I did or felt. A few times I told him, “Don’t apologize for how I feel…apologize for what YOU did.” He looked at me like I had 2 heads.

      • My ex-husband story is I left him when he moved out on the kids and me. He set up an apartment complete with furnishings and the night before he was scheduled to leave he asked if I wanted him to stay. i said no, I was exhausted and needed time to heal. We could continue to work on our marriage but after all the stress and demands I needed a break. How can he say I kicked him out when he had given me a move out date and rented an apartment and furnished it? Our joint marriage counselor said he was a narcissist. My counselor said as a narcissist he does think it’s your fault because you didn’t beg him to stay.

  5. Sunflower

    I’m sorry, but…… (what I call a BUTT apology)
    I did it for you………it was for your own good……..

  6. SM

    “I’m sorry you’re upset.” Stock answer, fits any situation and any particular flavor of ‘upset,’ whether shocked disbelief, anger or hurt. The apology-that-isn’t.

  7. E

    My N’s ONLY way to apologize was to ask me to apologize (for some prior infraction they were saving for a rainy day when they needed to seem more hurt than I was.) It went no where.

    “Mama, it kind of hurt my feelings when you and dad went back to the hotel after my graduation and I couldn’t find you anywhere. I thought you might have wanted to see me after the ceremony like all the other parents.”

    “Well…you KNOW I can’t be outside for long with my medication. (Blaming me for being insensitive to her needs, which she made up. Her medication had no effect on her ability to accomplish anything she wanted to do…)And it was so hot outside. You can’t have expected me to stay around, you KNOW how I feel when I get tired…(etc. etc. etc.)”

    “But the ceremony was indoors, and I waited for you outside in the shade. You didn’t even call to let me know you had already left. I was waiting for you thinking we would get pictures together.”

    “Well you need to forgive me! We’re just like oil and water. We don’t mix! Now stop talking about this!”

    After that, any time my mother brought up my graduation ceremony it was to pick on the speaker, the music, the weather, the restaurant I chose, and my friends she had to meet. It was clearly my fault for graduating and forcing her to endure such an awful ordeal. And I was the selfish one, according to her.

    • Jennie

      E..congratulations on your graduation!!! I mean that with all my heart. I never finished my degree, and good for you for accomplishing what you did! ((((hugs))))

    • juju

      for E talking of graduation with mama….I understand completely what was going on here. Your N mom left because it was YOUR special day. You accomplished a greatness and mama wasn’t ever going to acknowledge it. Mama is probably a malignant narcissist as mine is. When ever I did something of worth, it was devalued, and discarded and ignored and denied. Your mother is a Maternal narcissist and you are competition to Mommy Dearest. If you haven’t read the book Will I Ever Be Good Enough by Karyl McBride, you should,,an easy read and reality that will knock you over. No mention of reprobates in the book and that is what these maternal narcissists are. If they don’t change their ways, God will use them as his repbrobates to show his power.Look up reprobate in regards to scripture and God.

    • P

      wow E! congrats on graduating! N mother too, she did not attend my graduation but on the public thesis defense said to my co-director “let’s see if the girl does not shame us all here!”

  8. Reblogged this on Kelsey Munger and commented:
    I thought this was an interesting, helpful article on the topic of apologies and friendships. Even if we’re not dealing with a narcissistic person, like the title mentions, learning about apologies is so important because, like it or not, we’ll end up hurting someone eventually

    “When someone hurts you, you hope for a statement of regret. You don’t want an explanation of the philosophy that led to the offense. You don’t want justification for the action or words. ”

  9. Pingback: Narcissistic Apologies | Kelsey Munger

  10. I live with someone who cannot apologize, but I don’t believe they are a narcissist. Are there other psychological reasons for being unable to apologize?

    • Yes, and this is an important thing to point out. In the post I mention that most people have been very poorly taught about how to apologize. Some people think that an apology weakens them, for example. They are so afraid of being exposed in a mistake or an unkind act that they cannot open themselves by apologizing. They have to cover themselves with excuses, blame, and explanations. Often a person’s anger will make it hard to apologize, especially if their offense was in response to something they thought was wrong.

      The reluctance to go through the embarrassment or vulnerability of apologizing is not limited to narcissists. However, no narcissist will find it easy to apologize in a way that ministers to the heart of another person, simply because he/she does not understand the reality of the other person’s heart.

      • Thanks so much for the clarification! God bless!

      • Laura

        I think I’m bad at apologizing… #1. Because we were told to just “go make it right and say sorry.” #2. Because of the two N in my childhood life (one parent, one sibling), I think I learned a warped way to apologize.
        I would love to learn how to say sorry, own up for my wrong and then shut my mouth. Justifying is one of my most common defense mechanisms…

      • Cecilia K

        Mine too, Laura. Just want you to know you’re not alone. = )

      • Laura

        Thanks! 🙂

      • Luzita

        sometimes it’s shame. When I was a child I couldn’t apologize if I thought it was something huge I´ve done because I would choke up.
        I never had Heard how to apologize.

    • R

      Yes. Over-tolerant partners that put up with poor behaviour and reinforce same by enabling the perpetrator. Leave the twat and see if that changes things. Otherwise, keep putting up with it. The choice is yours.

      • Nancy

        “I admit I made a mistake. I apologize. I would never hurt you intentionally”. THAT’S IT.
        “I love you. I’m so sorry. I said that cause I knew it would hurt you and I wanted you to feel as bad as I did. I’ll try to be better”.
        AND I NEVER EVER EVER WAIT FOR HER TO APOLOGIZE FIRST. IT’S VERY HUMBLING BUT I HARDLY EVER HAVE TO APOLOGIZE TO MY PRECIOUS FRIEND ANYMORE. Anyway that’s what I do and it is really easy – for me, anyway. I don’t want to hurt those I love, plus I’ve got tons of apology practice in from a lifetime of apologizing up one side & down the other to a couple of major Narcissistic people in my family-
        DO IT!! You will feel amazing I promise – love, trying not to be N

  11. P.S. Apparently my daughter’s therapist believes both of us (her parents) are narcissists. However, she is possibly THE most self-absorbed person I’ve ever met! Hopefully she is NOT a reflection of me.

  12. Laurie

    When I shared with my N all the times she had hurt me in the past the best response I got was “well, I don’t remember that”. OK. That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. So, by His Grace I have moved on in love. So thankful to Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior that He showed me the truth and made me His child. Praying that His Light would be seen in the eyes of those eyes are still blinded by the evil one.

    • Nancy

      Read your comment 4 hours ago but just woke up on the floor, bump on the head isn’t too bad from just passing out from the “I don’t remember” part of your sentence. Hope you get that I’m trying to laugh… Oh Dear Sweet Lord please save me from the lifelong and serious damage and abuse done me and help me realize it was never my responsibility –
      I’m sorry everybody but I just have to stop reading all these now – or I will have a stroke.

  13. Penny

    “I gave it to the Lord & if you can’t then you’re the one with the problem”
    “I prayed about it so the Lord forgives me even if you don’t”
    “This was forgiven at the foot of the cross & never to be mentioned again”
    “Bury it under the blood, whatever it is”
    “The Lord knows my heart, so whatever upset you is over”


    • Oh, the “under the blood” one gets me. Really!?!

      • Penny

        Yes. That is actually my Ns “go to” response. “It’s all under the blood”. It’s a cliche designed to shut you up & shut you down. In reality, it’s a sacrilegious “one-upmanship”. In my ever so humble opinion, it exploits the grace of the cross for the N’s perceived moral superiority. I think it is lost on them the cost of that cross….as long as it costs them nothing.
        Sighing… again….

      • Over at someone seems to comment that with almost every post. “Why can’t we just let all this be under the blood?” Never mind the abuse, the manipulation, the lying, the cover-up, the intimidation, the pain.

        I believe the sin is under the blood. I also believe that those who hurt others are accountable in the here and now. And, of course, your sin is only under the blood if Jesus is your Lord. If you are your own lord, it ain’t under no blood!

      • Don Rubottom

        How about this response to “under the blood”:
        “15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? ” (Romans 6:15-16).

    • Bluebird

      Similarly, “We are equals in Christ.”. “I can’t change the past or control the future.” “God uses brokenness.” “I’m sorry for what I brought into the marriage.”

    • Tabby

      If one is going to believe the Bible, it is all or none. If the N above believes what he/she says from scripture then he/she must also
      believe Matthew 5:23-24″
      Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;

      24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

  14. Becky Allums

    Another good article. I think some apologies are based in a person’s pride.

    Sent from my iPad

  15. Sheila

    Thank-you so much for your weekly postings of support. It’s now 18 months since I was ‘discarded’ by the N. I have a new life, new friends and whilst the 11yrs of emotional/spiritual/financial abuse will remain with me for a long time I know am healing.
    In terms of an apology, the closest I got was ‘I didn’t do it on purpose, it just happened’, sounds like a 6 year old child being caught out misbehaving, oh wait, that’s exactly the level he was at!
    Thank-you and God Bless

  16. Recovering

    I am always reminded that my ex husband was like Fonzie from Happy Days. Just could NOT spit out I’m sorry. “I’m ssaasssaaa”. How horribly sad to never know the ability to be forgiven. But then again, they don’t ever think they sinned.

  17. john

    When I confronted my ex about verbally abusing my daughter (her step daughter), on multiple occasions, giving her exact examples of her behavior and how much it hurt my daughter, she said, “if I did what you said I did, it would make me a bad person”.

    In this one sentence she: 1) pretends not to remember what she did 2) implies that it may not have happened 3) implies that I or my daughter may be lying 4) accepts being a bad person, but leaves the definition of bad open ended 5) accepts no consequences of being bad 6) expresses no regret 7) conveniently avoids any issue of making it up to my daughter 8) conveniently avoids any mention of changing future behavior

    This is a narcissist’s apology

    • UnForsaken

      A logical breakdown – Thanks John!

    • joy

      My N does/did that too…he’d say, “I would never have said/done that. Only a horrible person would do that. You must think I’m a monster if you think I could do that.” So he isn’t apologizing..he is saying I made things up or remember them wrong, and also becoming the victim by saying how hurt he is that I think he “is a monster” (which I never said, he did)

  18. I am guilty of a number of these responses too, and since I read this earlier today, I’ve been really troubled by it, because I have heard myself say some of those things. But I finally came around to realizing that in some cases (many cases?) it’s because I have been gaslighted into carrying so much false guilt–everything has been called my fault, and I want so much for things to be better that I feel like I need to say sorry for whatever IS my fault, and yet, I don’t actually have something I can point to and repent of and apologize for. I’ve even said, more times than I want to admit, “I’m so sorry that this isn’t right… I don’t know what’s wrong, I just know something is wrong, and I’m so sorry!”
    I also inwardly analyze myself all the time. I know that in the very depth of my abuse, I too did turn quite narcissistic. I think it was for survival, though. And now I do have deep regrets and I hope repentance–it is a turning away, yes–for some of my clingy, “what about me!?” narcissistic responses during those darkest times when I was all but dead from it all.

    • HDG

      I can identify with your feelings. The N blames you for anything and everything,so you accept blame and apologize. I did this many times to ”keep the peace” and avoid another tirade from him. I too would sometimes ask”what about me” and got the his usual N response. Repol don’t “beat yourself up” the fact that you are troubled by your own shortcomings is proof. You are not a narcissist. You’ve only been living under the influence of one.

      • UnForsaken

        Repol ,I know what you mean . I even automaticly say “I’m so sorry” repeatedly when getting sick. Fortunately, I have a great sister who reminds me there is no reason to be….and does the same thing herself!
        HDG, ” keeping the peace” is what we have to do, and I’ve found apologizing for raising my voice ( a tad too much, as I have to anyway or he doesn’t hear me), a useful ploy. I mean, I can’t say I’m sorry for telling the truth even if it’s bad timing, but IF I’m not guilting myself, a gentle smoothing of the waters does go a long way to restoring peace.
        “Under the influence ” ….I love it!! So true. We all tend to blame ourselves, Repol, being so used to their projection. Keep Keeping your chin up and turning to Christ for clarification about reality. They are the ones who are warped, and I’ve got to try not to listen to them even in my head ! Breath , listen to Christ . There are always things that puzzle me , but when just resting with Him, they become a little clearer.

    • Cecilia K

      Repol, I have also been guilty of these non-apology apologies. I hope that they were only or primarily toward my ex-boyfriend (my Narc), but I don’t know for sure. I feel pretty certain that when I truly know I am or was wrong, I freely own up to it. I think it is when I feel wrongfully accused or misunderstood that I kind of bow up and give an insincere apology.

      I remember one time with my ex when I started to say something, then said, “No, I shouldn’t say that, because it might sound like I am saying [such and such].” Well, I shouldn’t have even said That part, because it led to a misunderstanding, where he thought I actually Had said the thing that I had said I didn’t want to sound like I was saying. I hope that makes sense, but I know it sounds confusing.

      Anyway, in the initial conversation, he had started to tease me before I completed my statement (and this was truly good-natured teasing, it wasn’t hurtful at all) – which I believe meant he wasn’t really listening to what I was saying – which I further believe is what led to the misunderstanding.

      When he later said he was hurt by what I said, I was annoyed with him, rather than sorry, because I knew what I had said, and it wasn’t what he thought I had said; and if he had actually listened instead of talked over me, hopefully he would have heard what I had actually said. Anyway, I spent the next several minutes trying to convince him that he misunderstood and I hadn’t said what he thought. It didn’t help, of course. I finally confessed that even if I hadn’t said the actual hurtful thing, what I Had said was still kind of weird to say, and I could see how it might have sounded like I was saying the hurtful thing. And I assured him I had not said the hurtful thing.

      As I look back, I do feel kind of bad over the whole incident. I wish I had been more sensitive to his feelings and just reassured him from the start that I in no way thought of him what he thought I had said.

      And I had a lot of difficulty giving correct apologies – as in, without excuse or explanation – which would make him angry. Sometimes, though, he did the same thing, so I began to see it as one of his double standards.

    • Jean

      My story exactly, and I have been married 43 yrs. Can not take it much longer, if I mention separation or divorce he flies into rage, but why does he want me here, we have no affection or intimacy in our marriage, I guess Im a maid. I used to asks for hugs, but when you have to ask all the time and he hugs you differently than a usual spouse it loses all meaning, i used to crave affection as little as it was I no longer do, maybe a defense mechanism, we cohabitate thats all. I have sorried myself out. I dont know what to do, a year ago I left for 8 months, he cried said he wanted me to come back, I said only if things wont be the same as when I left, he promised, I came back and you know rest of story.

      • Anne

        I recently was divorced after 44 years. It took me decades to realize that my husband was verbally and emotionally abusing me and I only realized last year that he was a narcissist. I filed for divorce in January after egregious gas lighting and emotional abuse. I believe he was pushing me into a corner so that I would be the one to leave. That made him the victim.

        But then a gift of sorts fell into my lap: I caught my husband having sex with another man! It all finally made sense to me; the lack of intimacy, the separate bedrooms, etc. My husband had been using me for 44 years to cover up his secret life and present himself as a good, kind, family man. He has fooled so many people for so long that I think he believes he will never get caught. I’m free now, but still long for the man I thought he was, the young man I married so long ago who seemed to be my soulmate. But it was all based on a lie.

      • contendingearnestly

        Jean and Ann, it is strangely comforting to see that I am not the only one to leave a narcissist after a lengthy marriage. I just had my 41st anniversary, and have been going through the divorce process for almost 21/2 grueling, grievous years.

        My husband left me numerous times because he refused to give up his special ‘inappropriate’ relationships. That’s what he liked to call them, he would say “Well maybe they are inappropriate, but, I didn’t ‘do’ anything with them.”, of course inferring that he didn’t have sex with them.

        One of his favorite lines is “Deny, deny, deny, if you can’t prove it, you can’t prove it!” Well, after one of his most recent long term relationships was with my sister I decided to prove it, and I proved several more at the same time. I felt like such a fool, I lived a lie and wasted so much time getting counseling to try and figure out what was wrong with me because I could not make my husband happy.

        One counselor that we saw as a couple told me that I needed to get my head around the fact that he may never change and I needed to get a good understanding of narcissism and borderline personality disorder. (This counseling was in the midst of an ongoing 15+ year inappropriate relationship.) It took me several more years to take his advice, accept the reality that I was indeed married to a narcissist and finally believe my husband when he told me he saw no need to change, didn’t want to change and wasn’t going to change.

        In 41 years I think I’ve heard every lie, excuse and false apology imaginable. I have been controlled, manipulated and abused till I wasn’t even sure who I was anymore. I am in the process of healing. God is not done with me yet. I am so thankful for God’s great grace and mercy that has given me the strength and courage to finally break out of the bondage of a narcissistic marriage. I am finally allowing myself to look forward to a future filled with hope, not fear and doubt.

    • juju

      for Repol,,, most times we are in a codependent dance. I was like you and I found out that I was high on Borderline issues which would be a good mate for the N ,,, I married. As you read more on the dance of codependency you will see some things that you also do that the N does but that could be FLEAS from your parents. Usually when we marry a N mate, we have been programmed to not know our self worth from the inadequate or abusive parenting that sometimes we are not ready to admit. I was 55 years old before I saw mom for the maternal narcissist she is. Then God revealed to me my flaws from two parents who were never parents at all but were selfish damaged children …. that should have Never had children of their own. When I married my N husband, I was a damaged child of an alcoholic and narcissistic parent. I wasn’t a narcissist but I was huge on borderline issues. I would suggest that any one who does marry a narcissist has never been taught their own value from their parents.

  19. Kathy

    What a great post!! I too received the non-apology apology.
    One was “I’m sorry for everything you think I did.”
    Ummm……not acceptable and not accepted.
    Then, when she wanted something after much time had passed, the new one was “I’m sorry for everything I ever said about you. I’m sure Daughter 1 is doing fine. I’m sure that Daughter 2 is doing fine. I’m writing this email because my dad is turning 79 and I want him to have a relationship with his grandchildren…”
    Never asked how Daughters 1 and 2 were doing since their dad died — because she’s SURE that they are fine! But she’s sorry for all she has said (and my cut off from the in-laws) because SHE WANTS something for her N dad — i.e., a relationship with the granddaughters he was so cruel to when their dad was dying. And he is an adult — if he wanted a relationship with them, he himself could apologize.
    And, when I still refused to have a relationship with them, her response was to get spiritual, tell me she was praying for me, BUT “my only consolation is knowing that someday you will pay for what you did to our family.”
    I didn’t DO anything to them. I walked away and left them alone.

  20. Jennie

    Yes, my N mother used to “pray for me” too and send me mushy cards when I put down some very firm boundaries after she emotionally knifed me in the back and lied about me and my church for over a year with some rather long term and horrific results. When I confronted her on this matter, and gave her a year of chances to come clean, she finally did, but with no apology. I had to tell her that our relationship was done, but that it could be restarted with an apology. She died 18 years later, with still no apology and never knew any of her 4 grandchildren. Her excuse was that she was entirely justified in what she did. (The lies were outrageous and hit national newspapers).

    My N husband kicked our daughter in a mall, no witnesses, after she giggled when he accidentally tried on women’s sunglasses (and she let him thinking it was funny). The store clerk came over and gave him an odd look, and when N figured it out, he was so livid, he charliehorsed our daughter which caused her to limp for a few hours. Worse than that though were the 5 months of horrific nightmares that followed. The apology a year later? With his arms stretched out wide in the “vulnerable position”, he said, “You know I would never do that. You know what a non-confrontational person I am. It must be so terrible for her to believe I did such a thing to her.” And while he was at it, he also “apologized” for our son believing that he was such a terrible person as well. Just to cover all his bases, I guess. 😛

    Ah yes, the non-apology. It garners sympathy for the N while completely invalidating what the other person has just stated. It is faster than a speeding bullet and leaps over the point in a single bound. And no, my daughter and son don’t have contact with their father now either.

    • Leslie

      Wow that’s a lot to go through one
      Narc is bad enough to deal with!
      When you brought up the mall thing it
      Brought back a memory of my son and
      His father. Kids are resilient I do think
      The healthy parent carries our children’s
      Pain till they figure it out on their own
      I’m glad your children cut out unhealthy
      So they can be healthy!

  21. How about “I’m sorry for everything you think I did”…as he tries to lure me back into his web……

    • juju

      How about “I’m sorry for ever meeting you and falling for your lies and false self”…….that is what I’m really sorry for

  22. I really struggle with this and could use perspective and opinions. My mother is a destructive narcissist. I have read several books on this and while helpful in assisting in understand- even with tips to help cope in the relationship, the fact is I don’t want the relationship any more. The cycle of abuse, explosions, extreme verbal abuse, emotional and spiritual manipulation, I’ve had enough. And now as it’s beginning to affect my children, I want to be protected from her and certainly want my children to be. In doing several Bible studies in groups of women, I often hear how imperative it is to guard from malice, gossip, anger, bitterness- all these things she spews into the lives around her. I have several siblings who choose to continue in relationship with her, I have literally hundreds of mutual friends with her- while anyone who has ever been very, very close to her has also been treated this way (and have thankfully reached out to me in kindness)- many people are blinded by what she is. She even works in a church!
    My struggle is: how do I balance the need to protect 100% (she does not adhere to boundaries and even told me recently shed rather have no contact than follow the rules) and the Biblical
    command to honor our parents? Can I healthily and in a holy way extract her or am I flat-out wrong to do so?

    • Jennie

      Rachel, this question came up with my own mother many years ago, and as you can read above, I chose to lay down the boundary of no contact. A few years after that, my step-father decided to go to a lawyer and have my marriage researched. He came to the conclusion that we weren’t really married, wrote me and told me our children were bastards, but that he forgave us…..well you get the idea. (Yes, we were married. No, our kids were not illegitimate. I did the same research, phoned the minister, phoned the provincial records office. It had thrown me into a tailspin). This was right out of the blue, and I sat and stared at that letter for a couple of months before answering it, because in it was the injunction that I was not honouring my mother by the no-contact rule.

      It made me look long and hard at my choices. In the end, I answered the accusation this way. I explained to them that I was honouring them in the only way I could honour those who acted dishonourably, because I had just walked away from them quietly. When I did this, I walked away from everyone associated with them in retrospect; my brother, neighbours and friends. And I did this without ever mentioning the horrible lies and twisted tails my mother had told of me. They only ever heard her side of the story which I can assure you wasn’t so favourable to me. 😛

      I honoured her by not telling the truth about her thereby smearing her name to her friends; by not putting mutual friends in the middle of it all; and by choosing to allow my reputation to be the one that was destroyed. And I told her that in a letter. I was never bothered by either of them again and certainly didn’t receive a reply to that letter.

      It is difficult to honour those who are not honourable. But I prayed for her; I forgave her; I did not choose to bring evil to her name or reputation but took that bad reputation upon myself. I figured that I had the Lord, which was worth more than any reputation I could find here on earth, so I was very blessed.

      Perhaps this perspective will help you to sort out your own situation. Praying that God guides you in this. (((hugs)))

      • Thank you for responding. It is helpful to know that others have walked away, level-headed and even kindly.
        I understand the frustration of knowing you’re being discussed in lies and that bothers me deeply at times. But mostly I enjoy the idea of peace, without her abuse in my life.

      • New Creature

        I struggled with this idea of honoring the N parent (my MIL). After much prayer and poring over the scriptures, I came to the same conclusion. There is a difference between honoring and enabling. My MIL wants us to “honor” her by her definition which would only be enabling her wicked behavior (described accurately by Prov 6:16-19). Another thing I believe the Lord gave me–the word “Legacy.” We need to deal with her in the way that will help her to leave the best legacy. In our case, that means very limited contact (no direct contact for 2 years), otherwise the offenses would continue to mount. This is the best way we can honor her even though it doesn’t look like “honoring” to many who don’t understand the situation.

    • Hi Rachel!

      You might be interested in reading something I wrote about honoring parents on this blog:

      Basically, I do not believe that we are commanded to bring their dysfunction and abuse into our homes and lives. Your situation is very sad, but you have to be you. If you live your life trying to please her, you will fail and never really live. Honor her by setting yourself free in whatever way works best for you.


      • Penny

        wow–thank you Dave for linking to this. It is difficult for those of us who truly want to do the right thing, but who also know “honor is not fitting for a fool”. N parents are fools, and the best way we can honor their “position” as a parent is to not be a fool, but rather to live a life that honors God and His word. Thanks.

      • Laura

        Yes, thank you, Dave! I’m trying to currently figure out if I’m supposed to honor my parents (specifically one), thus bringing them back into relationship with myself, husband, and kids… Yet we’ve been so happy since walking away and asking the N not to contact us anymore. Life has been really good. I just realized thanks to these comments on this blog- I don’t spend my days apologizing all over the place for everything. I no longer view myself as the world’s problem. (I do still view myself as an inadequate parent, but everyone around me thinks our kids are the berries. We must not be doing that bad…?) Life has just gotten really happy almost all the time. The last thing I want to do is bring them back into my life. Gonna go read that link now…..

  23. inHisgrip

    I found this blog today after what has been about a year of me finally figuring out what was going on in my relationship with my mother. It is a huge relief in some ways (I thought I was going mad) but also very sad as it has shed light on what is really a pretty dysfunctional relationship. That’s hard to swallow. After reading countless books and web-sites on narcissism, I believe my mother has many, many narcissistic traits and, as she ages, the behaviors are getting progressively worse. I can SO relate to the gas-lighting, the projecting, the narc. rage, strings attached generosity etc. I have always sought to please her, gain her approval, appease her and scramble to apologize and make things right again when she goes in to a sulk, pout, rage about something that ends up being anyone’s fault but hers. As I hit my 40s and started to be more confident in myself as a parent, lived enough life to have some of my own wisdom, I have seen her actions for what they are and have stopped running to appease her. My confusion about our relationship is lessening as I believe God is lifting the veil from my eyes finally. This has upset the status quo somewhat when we are together. We live many thousands of miles apart so our visits are twice yearly but when my parents visit, they come for several weeks and it is getting really, really hard to deal with the behaviors. They are mostly always subtle, always deniable and if I DARE to challenge her on the digs and inappropriate comments the rage or silent treatment that comes after is just awful. My husband and I have a good relationship and communicate a lot on this and how to deal with it. A couple of visits ago, he actually stood up to her when she was criticizing a parenting decision we had made “without going to them for advice first” . He did it respectfully and hugged her after but ever since then she has been different toward him. After 20 years of adoring him, he now gets subtle digs and I just know she thinks less of him; how dare he upset her matriarchal power! He had told her..”this is not about you! It’s about our son”. I KNOW she is holding a grudge and will *never* see him in a good light again. (she has a history of freezing friends out for perceived slights) So very sad to me as he’s a wonderful man, husband, father and son-in-law.
    The reason I write today is to get some feedback from others who ‘get it’ and hopefully some wisdom about how to handle future visits. I have been seeing a therapist for a few weeks but not really finding it useful yet…she empathizes but doesn’t give me the tools I need to handle the behaviors. I have a confidant in my husband so don’t need her for that!!
    I have really gotten strong in ignoring my mother when she makes the sly derogatory comments. I just don’t bite. BUT, I do not know how to handle the increasing slights against my husband ( she has even bashed him to my brother who, she doesn’t realize, is one of my closest friends and sees her destructive behaviors lately also). What also makes it really confusing/guilt-inducing/crazy-making as that she is not like this ALL THE TIME! If she was and everything she did was utterly vile, I would cut off contact. BUT, my parents are also generous, giving and absolutely love their grandchildren. They have done many things over the years to help us and I have been very kind many, many times. We do have good times though admittedly it’s when things are going the way she expects them to…
    Any help would be much appreciated….

    • Penny

      Dear InHIsGrip~the fact that a narcissist CAN be kind at times is not uncommon, & is something that many who were raised by a N find very confusing. As a child, you may have developed certain “coping skills” that allowed you to survive (i.e.: “tuning out” out the verbal abuse, refusing to speak, escaping into games, books, etc). However, those same skills in adulthood can prove to be “maladaptive”, precisely b/c you are no longer a child. In my case, my husband survived by tuning out his N parent, but when we married and the verbal abuse was now directed at me, it no longer worked for him to tune her out. I remember being thoroughly confused that he honestly did not hear her cruel words or comprehend her attacks, yet that was precisely how he had survived—but our marriage was NOT going to survive if she was allowed to continue. She was clever & skilled at “helping” (i.e.:controlling) or “serving” (i.e.: snooping) but always with a hidden agenda: so she could throw it back in my face if I dared to disagree or set a boundary, and then accuse me of being ungrateful, insensitive or worse. Even tho you say “my parents absolutely love their grandchildren”, it is entirely UN-loving of them to denigrate & attack their grandchildren’s father, and thus undermine your marriage. The fact that she is now “ramping up” her criticism to include your brother is concerning. That is a perfect example of the subtle-yet-powerful abuse of boundaries that can harm your own children’s perception of “normal”. It is not “normal” to be “nice” and then say mean things and get away with it. Anna V addresses this in her post called Stockholm Syndrome :”What helped you survive as a child in an abusive environment will be largely detrimental if those same adaptive techniques are applied in different context.” The entire post can be read here:
      I hope this is helpful, and welcome to the blog!

      • inHisgrip

        Thank you for your reply, Penny. I read the link and it makes perfect sense. I guess I really struggle with the whole ‘abuse’ label though do not want to be in denial. I cannot imagine going no contact…it would kill my parents, seriously. And my kids would be devastated. My dad is pretty much dominated by her though he most definitely has his own issues (don’t we all!) but I cannot fathom never seeing either of them again.
        Instead, now I know what is going on, what the dysfunction is, learn ways to deal with them/work to prepare myself for when they visit in terms of having the right responses; is that so terrible? Everything I read seems to advocate NO CONTACT and quite frankly, I just cannot do that. I feel I am a strong person, have a good marriage and can ‘put up with her’ when we are together and that it doesn’t impact my whole life. We live ocean apart so we only visit twice a year. Am I deluded?!

      • UnForsaken

        inHisgrip, your methods sound Good! It can be sohard to persist when they attack loved ones: your husband, my sister – usually the person in our lives They want to replace with themselves, the person who keeps us grounded . If you decide “no contact” for awhile, she may destroy more relationships than you expext….but she may also feel as if she has won, and things May cool off . I don’t think every N’s behavior is predictable, and you will find better answers through prayer than trying to figure out an end result.
        My prayers and many hugs to you as you seek His face on this ….and Welcome!

      • inHisgrip

        Thank you so much for your response, I really appreciate it!

  24. Narcissists are horrible at apologizing and typically flip any evidence they were wrong into victim blaming. It is maddening. There is such a kneejerk defensiveness that it undercuts any possibility of a give and take authentic relationship. The people the stick around in a narcissists life learn to “not rock the boat” because the consequences (rage, having a counterattack, being cut off, ext.) of stating honestly what is hurtful never seems to improve a situation. Rather, a truthful statement of “I am having trouble with your behavior” (no matter how lovingly stated) is automatically translated into a severe narcissistic injury that must be defended against- to the death!

    Sometimes I wonder if the root of hateful narcissistic behavior (that which causes the black/white thinking that leads to cruelly cutting a loved one off as an enemy) is an overdeveloped defense system. This strikes me as being very fear based. It’s as if the narcissist thinks- “If I admit that I am (or was) wrong about something then I will be annihilated completely. So rather than be killed/annihilated- the narcissist must “kill” (cut off, smear, destroy) in order to guarantee his/her own survival.

    I wonder if the key to coexisting with a narcissist is figuring out a way to deactivate this over responsive threat detection response. If the defensiveness could be short circuited somehow, I wonder if we’d be able to make progress.

    • Beana

      Its amazing the words you have used are exactly the ones that I have used trying to explain what my N husband is doing to me. He has criticized me and my children from day one. At first I just thought he was a bit negative and needed Christ in his life more, this got worse and worse yet still no admittance from him and certainly no apologies. I didn’t say anything for years and wondered what in the world was wrong with me that he was so critical yet clearly had many issues himself. He would tell me and my kids we were doing things wrong but once I mustered up the nerve to tell him his behavior was hurting me he acted like I was insane and had to be confusing him with someone else, he was so kind. He would not apologize for the longest time and then started to do the ” Im sorry you feel that way or sorry you think I did that” but you…and your kids…the craziest part is that he honestly thinks I am the enemy. He says that he is not a dictator, yet tells me what to do with no conviction, tells my kids how and what they need to do yet allows his son to come and go as he pleases, refusing to hold him accountable for anything. When I ask him why he continues to spoil his son, turns it all on me and then refuses to apologize for the horrible mean things he says. As I sit on the couch because he wont talk to me because I was wrong apparently about something and fake apology didn’t work a few days ago, he is sleeping away with no conviction. I had mentioned a few fights ago how his inability to be vulnerable or to ever sincerely apologize is starting to scare me, he went into this huge rage making himself the victim, he truly thinks breaking down his walls is weak, not just plain sincerity. His son came after me because I finally had to nerve to tell him his behavior was unacceptable and then they both blamed me for angering the kid to come after me…?? I even started taking adhd med because I was so convinced I must be driving him nuts and I don’t deserve an apology. I hasn’t helped, its made it worse because I feel I can focus better and see what the problem is. Its his narcissism, not me and he does not like that however I have never said that to him.
      He has passed it down to his son, therefore cant see it in himself or his son and blames anyone who comes against them. I am his wife yet I am the enemy. Somethings just not right there.

  25. Penny

    No, InHisGrip, you are not deluded & I cannot presume to know the nuances & intricacies of your family or your marriage. Nor would I suggest NC as a matter of course b/c each situation is different. But, I would just caution you to be aware and observant, & to protect your marriage & your children from any undermining influence. It sounds like your husband is comfortable “in his own skin” so to speak, and also willing to create healthy boundaries, even if they are “offensive” to your parents. But, speaking from experience, be aware of the covert efforts of [some] grandparents to usurp your God-given position as parents of your children to assert their own dominance, or to drive a wedge between you & your husband in an effort to challenge loyalties. Your marriage & your kids come first, not them. God is a “God of order”, so your marriage is primary, followed by your primary position as parents. This is Biblical & not to be undermined or usurped by others, including grandparents. It sounds like you have a good handle on this and are asking the right questions, but never, ever, ever, ever let a [grand]parent call the shots in your marriage or your family. Blessings on you & please know this is a safe place.

    • inHisgrip

      Thanks again for taking the time to reply, Penny. I really appreciate your input and it most definitely gives me food for thought. I have become very aware of what you are referring to over the last few visits. The usurping of my role as a mom is something that has insidiously crept in over the years since I became a parent. Largely my fault, I admit. My parents came to stay for long stays as my husband was gone for very long periods with his job. I invited the input, encouraged the enmeshing thinking this is what you do with your mother when you have children; you learn, seek wisdom and counsel from those who raised you. Our eldest child has been very difficult to handle from age 3 onwards. It really became a huge issue as he hit adolescence a few years ago. This is when everything hit the proverbial fan, so to speak. We sought professional help after coming to the ends of ourselves; my parents did not handle it at all well and we have felt very unsupported and widely criticized. My brother and I were compliant kids, my oldest son is not. My parents basically see it as a parenting fault with us, hence my husband and I are to ‘blame’. They have no clue. Having 3 other children with zero issues, we know we are not the cause. Have we at times messed up and dealt with him wrongly? Absolutely, but we have tried so very hard to do what is best for our son, NOT my mother.
      I 100% agree that my marriage comes first and I admit, if I am honest, she has subtly tried to come between me and my husband at times. I also agree God is a God of order and I endeavor to keep things in order when they visit now I am “on to her”.
      Thanks again. I really get a lot from your responses.

      • Penny

        You and I have a lot in common, as our oldest is also a “son of thunder”. He was that way literally from birth (so, right again: you are not the cause) and we too sought professional help b/c we needed to. It is exhausting for parents, but when you love your child, you will keep advocating and researching and finding the best for them–which sadly & often does NOT include family. We, too, felt ostracized from family, often from friends, and even from the church. Furthermore, the fact that you and your brother were compliant reinforces their perception that they were “perfect” parents, but you are not, otherwise you would have a “perfect” child, too. That’s a lot of “perfection” going on! (when in reality is isn’t true.) For a true narcissist (don’t know if your mom is or not) having a grandchild that is less-than-perfect can tarnish her carefully crafted, false, perfect image, and becomes intolerable for her. It may explain in part why she is becoming more difficult to have around, and in turn, the negativity may actually be “triggering” difficult behavior in your son. (My husband also traveled a lot, but I learned the hard way that Dad being gone was a trigger for our son, but adding a grandparent merely added another trigger, so that was not a good option for me personally). Even on a good day, having more people in the house upsets the “rhythm” of your family, which then gets even more complex if they do not understand/support your parenting style and approach, and who also want to be the center of attention themselves. That’s a lot of drama while Dad’s gone! The teen years are challenging enough w/o having to add another “child” to manage. Sadly, now that my son is an adult, his grandmother routinely and cruelly berates him for every little perceived slight (or, for nothing at all), rarely saying anything kind or nice to him, thus constantly reminding him how “imperfect’ he is, while insisting that she of course is the perfect, sweet little old lady Christian “St. Betty White”. It is maddening. To make it worse, she often tells him that he is nothing like his father (her son) but is exactly like me (the in-law). In other words, his personality/behavior could NOT be traced back to her “perfect gene pool”, so it obviously came from my side! That’s a twofer, and a doozy at that: her “perfect” son married an imperfect woman who is a terrible mother who produced a horrible child. (The irony of her view is apparently lost on her, that if her son really was so perfect, then how could he have chosen such an imperfect wife?) I would hate for your husband/son to be subjected to such cruelty & denigration. We waited far too long to put a stop to it, so I only mention it in case you begin to see that kind of behavior emerging in her interactions with your kids, or even between her & the siblings. Could they still visit but stay in a nearby hotel? Or would that unleash a fury of epic proportion? I will pray for you, my friend.

      • inHisgrip

        Wow, Penny. I do think we have a lot in common! I totally hear you about adding another adult to the mix when dad is gone. It’s a little complicated for me, however….would you be open to emailing me in private? I would very much appreciate your feedback on certain things and hear how you have managed your now grown up son, but feel I can’t share everything publicly online. My email is
        I can also 100% relate to the ‘in-law’ getting blamed for the troubling behavior in our son. She has said that it come from my husband’s side MANY times!!!!! Hope to hear from you. Blessings.

  26. Richard

    So now after 17 years of an N wife. I sometimes feel like an N..I apologize easily to get her to shut up. All her talking is such a waste of life and time.
    I don’t fall into her traps anymore but who am I? Anyone have a deep relationship out there? Not me! And get blamed for it..GRRRRRR

  27. john

    prodigalkatherine – very thoughtful comment. My first reaction is that you are exactly right about the overactive defense. However, any mention of an overactive defense would sound too much like insecurity to a narc and they could not allow an imperfection like this to seep into their consciousness. This is why narcissism is essentially untreatable. If you point out that they are imperfect (or even hint at this), then you must be destroyed. The other option is to treat them with kid gloves (love) to show them that they can trust you. Normal people who gain trust, lower defenses. However, this response is seen by a narc as submission and weakness, which leads to devaluing the loving friend or lover who is doing it.

    I have gone over this thousands of times in my mind, playing out scenerios and I truly believe a true narcissist sociopath can never be changed. Protect your kids and yourself and stay away either emotionally or physically.

  28. Sunflower

    This is long, but well worth the effort to listen to:

    Anything not done from love is done from fear. Ns are terrified people. Terrified that someone will find out who they really are, rather than who they project themselves to be. When they were children and some traumatic thing(s) happened to them, there was no-one with empathy to walk them through to the other side. So they find a friend/spouse who is empathetic and drain them dry, but it’s never enough, then the fear hits again, and the rage kicks in. They really do need re-parenting, but won’t let you do it. Only Jesus can do this. He has to walk them through all of it and show them that He was there and that He will heal their heart.
    We used to take in foster children. Teens. By that time they were so wounded that they couldn’t stand us to give attention to anyone but them; not each other, not company, no-one. They’d sit between us, they’d throw tantrums or run away if we had company, they’d lie to our friends and each other about how evil we were. I always thought, “If only I could put this child back in the crib and start over. Make them helpless so that I could pour all the love and empathy they needed into them and help them grow up all over again.”

  29. Kenny

    I’m curious as to any of your opinions. My history is that I had narcissist parents. I only found this out through marriage counselling. Unfortunately, my wife realized that she married me, also a narcissist and it came to light how poorly I have been treating her for the past 10 years. So it won’t be unexpected for you to hear we are getting a divorce. With that said, my first efforts towards stopping this cycle is to remove me from my children’s daily lives so that they don’t see my behavior as normal. I absolutely loathe this idea but at the same time, my wife is an excellent mother. I am genuinely giving my wife every bit of help during the separation. I do love my wife and kids. I just think of myself first. With all this said, can anyone recommend tasks, exercises, anything that i can be doing to get the best of these traits? My children do need their father in life and I intend to play that role. However, it’s obvious that my track record is dismal. Any advice is appreciated.

    • Sunflower

      This guy has been there and come out on the other end getting it right.

    • Kenny, it is difficult to know how to respond when we only hear your side. Narcissists know how to present themselves well. Assuming that you are being honest, I would strongly suggest that you find a good counselor who can help you work on how to accept and value others. It may be that your survival response to your parents was to become like them. Children of narcissists often develop narcissistic characteristics. But you sound like you could make some progress in finding other ways to cope with stress. I just think you need a “hands on” connection to good counsel. I will be praying for you.

      • Kenny

        Thank you. This is long winded but I appreciate any responses.

        You mentioned that the way I am acting is due to stress. Is that the common trigger? Is there anything else that can trigger it? I’m assuming that pretty much encompasses life in general and as I look back, my unacceptable behavior has been since I was a little boy. As for counsel, our last effort met with poor results. The good part was that this behavior was recognized. The bad part was the therapist had dollar signs rather than rehabilitation in mind. I’ve found solace in the ways of the church but not an actual testimony that God is there for me. I’m not a bad person. I’ve never cheated, physically abused or deliberately acted this way towards my wife and children. However, it did happen. My wife describes it as years of emotional abuse and lies. We are financially successful in life and our children behave better than most.

        I am moving out as requested by my wife next week. It’s convenient that we own a company in another state that seriously needs me right now so going back there will allow me to provide for my family even more than when i am here in the family home. However, my wife is a high earner so they are not hurting financially but what will happen is that the sports teams, music lessons, monthly vacations etc would stop if I did not contribute. I have proven by my actions that nothing financial changes in their lives accept for me being there every day. We have the next 5 months planned out where I fly back in and take care of the kids while my wife travels etc.

        So I ask the abused men and women in this forum as serious question with what is being decided right now in my life. What can I do to make this situation better for them? I genuinely want to change my behavior, but realistically that is going to take time. I just found out I have narcissistic qualities and though not devoid of empathy, I certainly am not on the level a healthy individual is. Any tangible advice is appreciated.

      • Jennie

        I’m way out of my depth here, Kenny, but it strikes me that even though you may have some narcissistic tendencies, and haven’t we all at some time or another, and even though perhaps they are a bit further developed because you are using them as a defense mechanism, you don’t strike me as a true narcissist for several reasons. After having lived with one for 20 years, having been raised by one for 18 and had a mother-in-law that definitely qualified, I’m just not getting that feeling about you at the moment, although admittedly I hardly know you. Here’s why.

        1. You admit you’re a narcissist. I can’t even imagine the narcissists in my life admitting that anything at all was their fault, never mind admitting a major character flaw like this.

        2. You are willingly removing yourself from your children’s lives so they are not viewing your behavior as normal. This is an act of love, a major, life changing act of love, and to my mind that is impossible for a narcissist to show. In my experience, there has always HAD to be a payback for them. That is what narcissism is all about. They get bragging rights, they remind you over and over what they did for you, you can visibly see them feeding off their actions (No. Really. It’s visible. And it’s palpable. You can feel parts of yourself disappearing as they feed off your willingness to listen). Unless you are getting a major feed off of us because we see you as humble, somebody trying to break his bonds, etc, I would venture to say this removal of yourself is not a narcissistic act.

        3. Your are giving your wife lots of room to move by separating yourself from her. Narcissists do NOT willingly give up control or contact without a fight. There may be a court fight, or just their insidious presence in front of your nose or behind your back. For instance, for 6 years my husband has driven up to my door monthly (he lives two cities away) to drop off my support cheque even though I have requested him to mail 12 post-dated cheques at the beginning of the year. I was a goof and forgot to put it in the separation agreement, and he was cagey and said that support wouldn’t go through the appropriate legal office. So without spending more money on lawyers to get the agreement changed, I’m stuck with his monthly troop up to the door. He CANNOT give up the contact.

        It took 5 years to get a simple separation agreement (which he has already breeched) because he cannot give up control. (Only two of several examples). Again, your action does not strike me as narcissistic unless you are bragging to everyone including us about how selfless you are being. THAT would be narcissistic and many times they will make known their selfless good deeds and feed of the admiration they get from others, but that is the reason they do them. There is no true philanthropy, but rather calculated odds in their favour.

        4. Your wife said she’s dealt with emotional abuse and lies for 10 years, yet you strike me as an incredibly honest fellow. Of course that’s very hard to tell in the written word, but my intuition along with the examples above, are still nagging at me that you might be getting the wrong end of the stick here. Are you sure that YOU are the narcissist? Are you sure that you are not just readily believing what you are told by way of an explanation for a marriage gone bad? If I ever told my mother-in-law, husband or mother they were a narcissist, they would turn on me with either venom, or a nasty gaslighting technique that would end up having ME believe that I was the narcissist. They have this way of getting you to believe that everything is your fault, and they can do it in the most subtle, genuine, heartfelt way. That’s what gaslighting is all about.

        Well, this has been long, but since your first post, I’ve had this weird feeling that you’ve been fed a sack of lies about this. Just in case I’m right, I felt that need to say what I have, so that perhaps you can think it through again. Narcissists don’t admit they are narcissists UNLESS it serves them to do so, and they get more feed off doing so than not.

        Praying that you might come to a knowledge of the truth in your situation, and that either way, you can find the help you need.

      • Kenny

        Thank you all especially Jennie. Facts are my parents were let’s say not the best role ,models. Even when they died, we still had to clean up their mess. I’m a fairly level headed person when I have to be and in this case with little children and my wife involved, it’s time for better efforts. What I thought were ways of getting my wife to change were destructive, so in this case I am at fault. It was wrong for me to get her to become the wife I wanted. I see now that I need to let her be the wife she wants to be. I don’t believe I am a true narcissist but I do believe I display several of the traits. I’ve raised myself from a very early age and when I spend time with my in-laws and watch them raise their children ( yes they have preteens still in the nest ) I’ve found the lessons they are teaching them on how to behave in life are new to me. I’ve never seen them nor be taught them. So though I am in my 40s, I feel like a child when faced with controversy and wish I had a parent to teach and correct me.

        Well, I appreciate your comments. I was curious if my posts would get the “if you really love them and are really a narcissist, there is no hope for you” comment. Your comment made my day. Thank you.

    • HDG

      Kenny,I appreciate you coming here to ask for help from those of us who’ve been affected by narcissism.Good start- keep up the work! WALK THE WALK DON”T JUST TALK THE TALK! Actions speak louder than words-as “victims” words don’t mean much.”Own” your behavior. If you “mess up” apologize and SHOW that you mean it.Work everyday (read stories here,read the many books,counseling etc.)just like an addict. Your children will know you love them and see the changes . ASK GOD’S FORGIVENESS AND GUIDANCE. Forgive yourself-beating yourself up won’t help-it just keeps you “stuck”. I sound like I have all the answers,I DON’T. I am struggling with and working on (with lots of daily PRAYER/help/support) my own issues.This is just what I would like have seen from my N. Prayers to you and your family….

      • Jennie

        “If you really love them” and “if you are really a narcissist” are mutually exclusive statements, Kenny. 😛

        I know what you mean by not having learned the lessons of childhood. My mother was a narcissist with a rotten habit of lying, playing deliberate favourites, guilt tripping, etc as the mood struck her. My dad was a quiet, shy man who was beaten down by her and turned to alcohol as a reprieve. He died, drinking and driving, when I was 10.

        I was with an excellent counselor for over 3 years after leaving my abusive marriage. (Thank God it was free because I was living well-below the poverty level at the time). It did wonders for me and for my outlook. I learned those lessons well. I would recommend an excellent book which also teaches these lessons. It is by a Christian author, Dr Henry Cloud, and it is called Boundaries. It teaches us to live by them, and to expect them from others. Many of our issues are often boundary issues. It’s not for nothing that God placed huge emphasis on boundary stones and penalty of moving them in the Old Testament. 😉

      • Kenny

        Thank you. I just ordered the book. I appreciate the advice.

    • Anthony de Odor

      Hi. I am unmarried and trying to heal myself, coming from a background that may have some similarities with yours. I am currently taking a deep dive into the mechanisms of the whole N business.

      There are, roughly, two groups of narcissists. The first one, in a broader sense, is the narcissistically deficient persons. There is a period in early childhood where the child builds his self or personhood by displaying varying needs of joining, belonging, being seen, being appreciated, feeling safe and being accepted. Failures in getting these needs met results in narcissistic deficiencies. About 10 to 15 percent of adult male population suffer from these, to varying degreees. And about 5 to 10 percent of the female population, likewise.

      Then there is the narcissist in a narrower sense, that is the sociopath or the psychopath or the malignant narcissist. Less than or around one percent of the general population is in this group. It is possible that a N in the broad sense will behave identically, but there is a kind of “foothold” which will enable him to become aware. Whereas the malignant N will circumvent all approaches to make him aware.

      I want to recommend that you read Elan Golomb’s Trapped in the Mirror. It is a book of uneven quality, but there are lots of necessary gems that can and will help you. Unless you already know about them. Then I recommend that you proceed to Heinz Kohut’s The Analysis of the Self. A narcissist will get better if and only if and always when he gains insight. And this book by Kohut is a framework for doing just that.

  30. Wow, Sunflower… That is an interesting blog. The one about things counselors should never say is spot on.

    And Kenny, I appreciate you saying that you recognize you are a narcissist. If you are sincere, then being willing to step back and give some space for your family to heal while you heal a little bit more distantly is very admirable.That’s one thing my husband, though he says he loves me and wants me to heal, would never give to me: real distance and space. He hovers. He watches. He doesn’t hurt me anymore, but his dissatisfied heavy sighs and body language still tell me that he doesn’t fully approve of my progress in establishing myself as a whole person with friends and activities and a savings account of my own. My healing is very, very slow, full of setbacks, because he will not give me space to heal. I know there’s risk in that: space could turn out to be a great positive. I might thrive in it. I might not ever take him back. But isn’t that the risk of true love? Isn’t that denying oneself for the good of another? Isn’t that setting free the essential part of building trust? I can never trust a man who doesn’t trust me to be free. I can only really love when it is from my heart, shaped by Christ’s love and testimony to me and his Holy Spirit working in me. A slave can serve a master indefinitely; but only a free person can love another genuinely, from the heart.

  31. Oh my word. I have just stumbled onto this site and this article finally names it for me: the non-apology apology. Thank you thank you. NOW it all makes sense! All the crazy-makingness of trying to figure out why what “sounds” like an apology doesn’t “feel” like an apology. What a blessed relief! Can’t thank you enough for your other articles too.

  32. Forrest

    Reblogged this on Tùr Làidir.

  33. Lisa

    I’ve been married for 14 years. I could never put my finger on our problem so I focused on the symptoms. He was critical, prideful, unwilling to say he was sorry. I left him for several months but came back because he “attempted” an apology. Now that we are in counseling he keeps saying he’s apologized but I won’t forgive him. The phrases above were familiar…we need to forgive and forget, etc. I asked him a few weeks ago what he thought the issues in our marriage were. He got out his Bible & read the Lords Prayer. Told me he was just concerned for my salvation since I’m refusing to forgive him. But the same behaviors are continuing. I have told him I think he has NPD & he acted like it was just another excuse to leave him…like the made up verbal & emotional abuse. He even sent an email to a bunch of our friends & family the day I left him telling them what I said & saying he’d been asking me to pray with him & talk with him for months & I refused. He asked them to encourage me to come home & “return to counsel.” Only his parents liked the email & agreed with him. Everyone else called & texted telling me I did the right thing by leaving. Several of them responded back to him that disparaging his wife in that way was not going to win me back. He just responded that they didn’t understand the situation.

    I’m living in another part of the house as we are getting counseling. He’s trying harder to watch what he says, is buying flowers etc. Still controlling & critical. Still defensive.

    My question is, how do u separate when they refuse? He won’t leave. Just bought me a new wedding ring that cost a fortune, just to show how “dedicated he is” to our marriage. Instead of feeling loved I feel silenced & suffocated. I want to stay in our house since we have 3 children & no family close by…

    Any words of wisdom from those of you who have been there?

  34. HDG

    No words of wisdom. Observations from your post: (1)If his(N’s) power isn’t working to his advantage misuse HIS(Bible)power.(2) Apologies without behavior changes are lies.(3)You are being blamed,called (to quote my N)”possessed of an unforgiving spirit.”(4) Casting himself as the hurt, innocent victim trying to(again my N)” lead you as a Christian man should”.(5)Grand gestures(the ring,visible gifts others can see etc.) might be used trying convince you and those around you how “good” he is and how” wonderful “he treats you. Questions for you: Are you satisfied with the counseling? Do you have independent sessions where you can be open and honest? How are your children being affected by staying or leaving? What type of relationship does he have with them?Would they benefit from counseling? Are you hypersensitive to his behavior now because of the past,his behavior,or another N relationship in your life? Does he pray for healing and forgiveness for himself? Are his attempts at change sincere? My only advice is PRAY and trust YOURSELF,not the words of family or friends(yours or his) not even those of us “well meaning” ones.My own words are probably tainted by my personal experience. This is a lesson I learned in my own relationship ( I dated him 2 yrs. said no to marriage): A marriage relationship is between 2 people and 1 GOD. Hope this helps!

  35. Penny

    Hi, Lisa, and welcome to this site. I am so very, very sorry for your situation. Altho I am not married to my N, I married into the N family and I truly understand the difficulty of separating when they refuse to let go—and you described it well as feeling suffocated and silenced. Everything you described is “diagnostic” of a narc: the non-apologies, the smear campaign, the spiritual abuse, the efforts to control (thru gifts, criticism, etc), all designed to force you into submission and to make you the bad guy who needs salvation. Unless your counsellor is exceptionally gifted in unmasking the N, then it will prove futile and may even backfire b/c N’s are extremely adept at using the time mainly to learn new techniques to continue their parasitical behavior. Narcs (parasites) are desperate to maintain their “supply line” which seems like what is going on here, like “buying” you thru gifts, flowers, etc. It IS suffocating & engulfing & not healthy. The gifts are but a substitute for real, meaningful relationship and apology. The “gifts” are merely bait, designed to get you to cave in to the demands. Soon, it will be “well, I bought you a ______, so what’s your problem?” The problem is that you are not an object, but the N sees you & others as objects–objects than can be controlled and /or forced into submission. Absent a true epiphany from the Holy Spirit, and a contrite heart, that will never change. Pastor Dave wrote a part 2 about apologies:

    It seems your husband is trying to get you to shut up, not to repair the damage. There is an excellent book, “The Wizard of Oz and other Narcissists” that may be of help to you; the author describes several defenses, or styles, that narcs employ trying to get you to “change back” to how things were before, designed to wear you down and force you to go back to how things used to be. Changing him is not the goal; changing your own behavior/responses to him is; perhaps refusing his many “gifts” would be a start. He needs to see you as “real”, not an object to be pacified or bought.

    Is your counsellor aware that you are living in another part of the house? And that he refuses to leave? That is significant information! Especially since you are isolated from family (another thing that narcs often do), and yet isolated in your own home.

    i will pray for you, and am glad you found this site. keep reading the stories here and pray that God will lead you to the ones that offer you hope and affirmation!

  36. Kara

    Hi! I am the daughter of a narc mother. I’m in my thirties with 3 kids of my own. Through the years I managed to distance myself from her and my father and have a relationship with them on my terms. I have heard the fake apologies all my life. I have heard the veiled put-downs when she used to interfere and make a mess of things “because I needed her to” or “I knew you couldn’t do it on your own.” She throws fits and runs from the room crying and saying “no one cares about me.” The sad thing is this is all a reflection of her insides.
    When my younger son was four days old and my older son was 19 months, she came to “help” me. She liked to “help” me and brag to family and friends about the “help” I needed and wanted from her and only her. She attacked me one afternoon because I wanted her to go pick up pizza for dinner. She didn’t want to drive in rush hour and I hadn’t made her coffee; “it’s five o clock, you know I always have my coffee at this time.” I was hormonal from giving birth and exhausted with caring for my two little ones. My husband was working. I began to cry; I don’t know where the strength came from but I looked her right in the eye and said, “I am really upset by your actions. I want you to leave. Please go. We’ll talk again at another time.” She began to cry and screamed, “You need me.” I told her, “I’ll do just fine without you.” Mind you, my newborn was hysterical and my toddler was crying. I had them both in my arms and I said, “This is not good for anyone. I’m fine.” She got this twisted look on her face and said, “I don’t think you can do it alone.” She said her goodbyes and left in a huff (to drive in rush hour:).
    Her response later that evening was that the blowup was due to my hormones and the stress I was under. That’s why I blew up.No mention of her attacks or tantrums. It was amazing how quickly she turned that around. It took me a long time to feel angry at her empty apologies and excuses but it finally began to surface. When I began to work through my anger, I began to change.
    You know what? I’m not perfect, but I now have three beautiful healthy children who mean the world to me. I have gotten help for the emotional devastation I suffered as a child. My children have benefited from this.
    My biggest issue now is I have made a friend. We’ve been friends for about two years and she is older than me. In some ways, she is like a second mother. Things were fine, normal as far as I could see. We planned a trip together and had gotten into a disagreement. It was a first for us and I thought we worked it out. I didn’t catch on until the next morning when I received an email from her saying she had booked her own hotel room IN A DIFFERENT HOTEL!; she said, “it’s better that way” We have had these plans for over 5 months. I feel that she just had to stick it to me. I was hurt. Thinking she was my good friend, I expressed how it made me feel. She responded, “I am sorry if my actions have caused you to feel hurt. My plans are made. I booked with a company that gives no refunds, no exchanges.” and she showed me her itinerary. My hotel room can be cancelled up until 24 hours before the event. She could have booked directly with the hotel. I talked to her a few days later and she acted like nothing happened. She said she hoped I would book at her hotel and she forgave me for hurting her feelings??? She was cheerful and pleasant. Looking back, I realize she has always withdrawn when I didn’t agree with her. This trip is a big deal so obviously this stood out to me. I tried one more time to talk to her, even asking if I could stay in her room. She said, “I have made my decision for the room. It is best for both of us. Discussion closed.” It’s amazing. I thought I read people better, yet this woman resembles my mother in so many ways. It seems like I had let my guard down and the wounded area of my heart was exposed to the wrong person, again….
    I know this is long. Hopefully, it can help someone else as well. God Bless:)

  37. transmtn79

    Goodness … the posts go on and on about this subject. There are a lot of us in this boat together. I have had someone do all these things to me in a relationship (as so many of you have experienced). I then turn around and do the same thing back to them. It is a horrible circle to get into with anyone. This must be human nature at its worst. How do you break the circle … the chain … and bring empathy back into your life. I admitted to my counselor that I had “lost all empathy for (their name).” I never thought I could feel that way … but I was beaten down by their constant defense of their actions. I ended up defending my own actions. It is horrible … painful … heart wrenching. Finally, one day, when they asked me to defend myself … I got up and walked out. I realized I didn’t have to defend anything. They were the one with the problem. It still hurts. But that is okay … I know I can feel … I know where my empathy is … and I am moving forward. It is God’s grace. Always.

  38. Other than narcissism, are there other possible explanations as to why a woman won’t sincerely apologize? e.g. Do other types of personalities have the same trait? This whole DSM 5 thing is too confusing for me.

    • Cecilia K

      Hi Smoothreentry, I don’t consider myself a narcissist, and I had trouble for a while giving sincere apologies to my ex-boyfriend, who I believe could be a narcissist, but I know he at least exhibited several narcissistic traits.

      I think the reasons I had trouble with this were because a) I felt misunderstood, b) I felt wrongly accused/didn’t think I had actually done anything wrong (and sometimes I KNOW I hadn’t), and c) the way he brought his concerns/accusations to me felt like an attack sometimes – he often (or always?) seemed to presume my intentions were malicious without asking questions to confirm or dismiss his allegations.

      There could be other reasons that I just can’t think of, but I guess those are the major ones. This may not be as helpful as you would like, as the circumstances (dealing w/ a narcissistic person) might have affected what I would normally do. It may sound strange, but I don’t know for sure what my normal apology pattern is, because I generally get along with most people and have few occasions where I need to apologize. I hope that doesn’t sound narcissistic. = )

  39. Just a Guest

    The narcissists in my family often put me on the receiving end, demanding apologies for things that didn’t happen. What would you suggest in that situation?

    • Jennifer

      Honestly, tell them firmly that you have nothing to apologize for, and do it with firmness and with a gracious smile. Being put on the receiving end was explained to me like this by my abuse counselor of three years (pardon the crude words but she explained that she used them because it gave a huge visual to us nice people who were being abused):

      Basically those of us who are being abused are victims of this because we are too nice, and perhaps rather needy of peoples’ approval. In a word our bullshit meter is broken and we don’t recognize the bullshit as being abnormal behavior because it is what we’ve always known for whatever reason. (I will just call it BS from now on).

      So when these Drama Queens, or Narcs, or whatever you might like to call them, don’t know how to handle their own BS, or perhaps they don’t want to handle it, or they think, “How dare the world serve me this BS”, they quickly find a place to dump it. They feel that this is their god-given right. In your family apparently the dumping ground is you. Now if somebody handed you BS on a gilt-edged platter, would you accept it and then humbly apologize for the smell it was casting off in the room? No! You’d say, “Eww….what is that? I don’t want that. That’s not mine!”, and then you’d give it back to them. If you were wise, you’d tell them to get out of the room, and probably even to get out of the house. Nobody wants that smell around!

      You see, what the narcs in your life are handing you is their emotional BS, and you have three choices. 1. Accept it and humbly apologize for the offence (their offence) which they just handed you. 2. Accept it without saying a word. (A better choice than the first) 3. Politely say no thanks and hand it back to them (the no thank you does just that).

      If you HAVE done something you need to apologize for, by all means do it. It is healthy for you to do this. But accepting other peoples’ problems, other peoples’ BS, is not healthy for you, and it is NOT healthy for them. We all need to grow up and handle our own emotions, and you accepting this stuff and apologizing for someone else’s offence, or worse for a totally fabricated offense, pretty much pastes a sticker with the words EVERYONE’S DUMPING GROUND right on your forehead.

      They will be angry. They may cold shoulder you. They may yell and try and engage you for an answer. You owe no one an explanation for your refusing to accept BS. You just have to simply say that you disagree and that you are not apologizing for something you didn’t do. Try very, very hard NOT to become angry and reactive. If you are out of control, then they are IN control and are making you dance and flail around to their tune. That is where #2 comes in. Some of us are more able to control ourselves, and especially at the beginning, when you first start standing up for yourself, it can be a very hard thing to do. If you feel your emotions rising, walk away from them. Keep silent! Put your headphones in or whatever. But don’t engage when you are angry or they WILL start controlling your emotions.

      Does this make sense?

      • Just a Guest

        Easier said than done, but yes, you’re right. Unfortunately, ‘i have nothing to apologize for’ sounds, itself, like a narcissistic apology. So I’m pretty much resigned to just staying away from them. No contact, for the most part.

    • Penny

      Just a Guest: sounds like they are blaming you rather than owning their own actions? Scapegoating? I agree that sometimes saying you have “nothing to apologize for” can mirror their own words, and also put you on the defensive, which reinforces their false accusations. Better to have clear boundaries of what you will & won’t tolerate. Never tolerate lies!! Speak the truth from strength. I had to learn to say something in the “affirmative” like “perhaps when you are ready to listen to the truth we can have a discussion” & then change the subject. If they persist with lies, &/or refuse your clear boundary, then give a consequence: warn them by saying something like “I prefer to tell the truth but if you persist then I will need to hang up (or leave, etc). If they still persist in badgering, then say “I asked you to stop, but since you won’t then I am hanging up now”. Then DO IT. And don’t answer the phone when they start the speed-dial abuse! Calmly, walk out of the house, restaurant, whatever/wherever to show you mean it. boundaries, boundaries, boundaries! Practice doing this so when it happens, you are ready–b/c it will.

      • Jennifer

        Penny and Just a Guest….

        Penny said,

        ” I agree that sometimes saying you have “nothing to apologize for” can mirror their own words, and also put you on the defensive, which reinforces their false accusations.”

        I’ve noticed something rather interesting. These folks who do this are very, VERY observant. They can read people like a book which is why sometimes they will do the Jeckyl and Hyde trick, or the bait and switch. They know when they can and cannot fool you.

        When you say you have nothing to apologize for in a scared, unsure, defensive way (it’s all in the attitude and tone) they will surely know that you are scared, unsure and defensive which means they KNOW they have you on the run. And boy howdy, will they make you dance for them.

        IF you truly know and are sure that you have nothing to apologize for and say so quite calmly and in full control of yourself and your emotions, they will also know that. THEY CAN TELL things about us that we ourselves don’t even realize. They may then possibly try and change tack by smoke screening, obfuscating, or other such nonsense, whereupon you leave the room because you’ve said all you need to say (and for goodness sake, never engage them in arguing the point. Let your yes be yes and your no be no as our Lord said.) But my point is THEY KNOW what you know and it will be a warning to them that you are not falling for anymore gaslighting garbage from them. A simple yes or no, then disengage. That is not a mirror of their behavior as much as it is letting them run up against your newly formed boundary called “the brick wall of assurance about my own innocence”. 😉

      • Cecilia K

        Amen, Jennifer! Very well said!

  40. Penny

    Jennifer: you and I are in agreement. Blessings…..

  41. mj

    Heard the so called apology of”Sorry you feel that way” when I explained feeling hurt and left out since his oldest sister moved back to the area. He has admitted he would save her first if we were both drowning. There was sexual abuse in his family growing up..His father abused all 3 daughters. Could this lead to being a narcissist? They are all sexually promiscuous. Him, too. Which I understand can be from the abuse. I have asked him if he was abused, but he said no. I guess I am just trying to find answers for his behavior. He has cheated on me many times. of course it “meant nothing”, but he really has never apologized for it. I keep explaining that we have this history of hurtful behavior, but he thinks it should just stay in the past and we should go on.. He makes me feel like it’s just me because I did have a nervous breakdown 10 years ago (due to a stressful job, raising 2 children, and our relationship) So I still have that stigma. Unfortunately, I have become an alcoholic to cope. His family is constantly (truly) partying, which makes it difficult for me to be with them alot, so I am feeling lonely and unwelcome, and ostracized. He says it’s my own fault that I feel that way. However they rarely invite me to things and make plans to do things when I am not around. I would appreciate any suggestions on how I can make things better for myself? Coming up to 25 ears of marriage and just can’t manage….

    • UnForsaken

      mj , none of this is your fault!!!

      How to make it better…..well, simply being with them is not going to get better. It’s their choice and they are not changing. You don’t want the rest of your life to be like this, so the change is up to you. You will have to come up with a plan, perhaps with the aid of a shelter , counselor, or even a listening doctor. Don’t let your life be consumed by abuse! You Can take back control !

      Coping is something we all do in many ways, trying to make life work as they guilt us for their crazy making. I relied on junk food for years, not realizing that any kind of addiction usually stems from a depletion of certain minerals that help us normally say no. –Don’t blame yourself!!! –Get to a doctor who specializes in alcohol recovery and it will also help you with your N. It will build you up physically and spiritually and make you realize how Strong you Really are!

      You can do this mj !!! Praying you get what you need soon. Get help, get it now, and this will resolve ! Hugs….

  42. KiSS

    I am very unsure if I am currently married to a narcissist. He exhibits so many symptoms. The two things that i think differentiate him are that when he is “found out” to be lying, he seems to come totally clean and gives it a good three months of apologizing, and seems humbled by the experience. He also apologizes in a proper manner, taking responsibility for his offense. However, after about three months, he usually goes back to doing whatever the offense was, gambling, smoking marijuana, etc, openly. With a more cavalier attitude of “why am I not allowed to be me?” Can’t you love me as I am?

    So many other descriptions describe him as a narcissist and quite a few of the psychopath, but there is something that seems ultimately caring in him that it seems should not be there if he were a true narcissist.

    I have had a few rage episodes due to his repeatedly making the “same” mistakes, that he does not view as the “same” and suggests that i always try to lump things into the same category. I am at war with my gut and confusion over my thoughts and his thoughts. When he presents his side, I am always left feeling that i am not a good wife, I am not understanding, why are we at war?

    I have just recently come to this realization, and am still not sure because he does have a sense of humbleness and seems to not really want to hurt me. I often say he does not have an appropriate filter, or recognize the ramifications of his actions. I believe I have been somewhat brainwashed. I recognize the love-bombing, which we are back to. I recognize his need for narcissistic supply by commenting frequently that “You don’t love me”. And me then feeling as if i don’t respond in a loving manner, etc. I have quit responding to that comment and asked him to state “I need some loving from you”. Every once in a while now, I get either one of those two.


    • Jennifer

      I am not expert at all but I would say that his addictive behaviors are a problem all of their own, and it would be rather hard to see what is what when they are in play. Addictions can cause their own dependencies and co-dependencies without adding possible narcissism into the equation. I wonder if you could get into an Al-Anon group and help sort out that side of things for yourself?

    • KiSS

      I hadn’t considered going to alanon. We have went to counseling, I have went myself. I was seeing a Christian counselor, and he said to me, “If you were my daughter, I would tell you to run.” That was two years before we were married. I know inherently something about us is not right, but have been told and really have come to believe it would be no different with another man, it is me.

      I think I will check out al anon and continue seeking information on the internet and perhaps find a counselor experienced with narcissism.

      Thank you!!

      • Jennifer

        Saying that it is you implies that your husband has no responsibility in all this which is just nonsense. You haven’t driven him to this behavior; he has willingly chosen it. 😛 Take heart.

        But you are also attracted to certain types for a reason. Your responses to them are yours alone, but they can be changed! Take heart! It is always a boundary issue in these types of marriages. You can’t change him, but you can change your response to him when you understand the dynamics of what is going on.

        Al-Anon, a good group anyway, should teach you to understand the dynamics and change your response to them. As for his guilt tripping you, yes that is a classic narcissistic tactic. They dump all their troubles on you and then blame you for them. If you look inside yourself, you KNOW that you have been trying to love him since long before you were married. You KNOW that you’ve kept trying so that he will be assured and change his ways. And now you KNOW that he chooses not to. From your description I would say that you have loved him, and that he has taken advantage of that but given very little of it back in return.

        Your Christian counsellor was probably right. You definitely shouldn’t have married him, but you did and here you are. Al-Anon is a definite. If done properly it will serve as well as a Christian counsellor. They teach you boundaries, and teach you to recognize the traps these folks set for you. An excellent book which may serve well as a Christian counsellor is called Boundaries by Dr Henry Cloud. He may even have a specific Boundaries book for marriages in particular. It’s chock full of Scriptures that will help you.

        And you can still walk away from all this. This is no good for you and believe it or not, it is no good for him. Enabling this sort of behavior is NOT good for the narcissist. It is better if they learn that people have boundaries and if they are not respected by him, than he will lose them. It’s called tough love. It doesn’t sound like he wanted a wife to love and protect as “Christ loved the Church”. It sounded like he wanted a babysitter to watch over his life, to blame for stuff which he is continually breaking, and to take out his frustrations and ego problems upon. THAT is not a healthy relationship at all.

  43. Jennifer

    I forget to mention thought that if you do not learn to build boundaries and to respect yourself enough to keep them; if you don’t change these things about yourself then yes you WILL attract the same sort of person again even if you leave this fellow. A wise counsellor told me once that we attract who we ourselves are. If we are without boundaries, so will they be. If we are insecure, so will they be. If we are confident, loving (not enabling, there is a difference), so will they be. So work on yourself and change yourself. Only you can do that for you, and only he can do that for himself.

    • KiSS

      Thank you so much Jennifer. I greatly appreciate your feedback. I took the time this morning to read all of the comments and replies on just this thread, and others, and I can see so many things I couldn’t or would not see before.

      I got involved with my now husband 6 weeks after my previous husband died of a heart attack at 37. My daughter has told me I used to be a fierce woman, and since being with my current husband have become a shell of a person – always trying to figure out what I am doing wrong, or how my thinking is wrong. My daughter is 23. I have become an avid self-help book reader, Bible reader, constantly listening to Joyce Meyer, Greg Laurie, Chuck Swindoll, and others. I constantly find myself waring with me not being faithful, loving, and selfless enough for my current husband, and his children.

      I am a helper/fixer by nature and keep trying to help him (fix him) and in so doing always find that I am lacking when he rationalizes his behavior to me.

      I originally started looking up narcissism because he has told me so many stories about his ex-wife. I stumbled upon one of the articles on headlined “All of my ex’s are bipolar, crazy, hysterical, bitter, jealous, in love with me”. I read it and it sounded exactly what has happened with my husband. I started reading more on that website and some of the exact phrases he has said to me were on there. It was like – holy smokes! Is it my husband or his ex-wife that is the narcissist/psychopath?

      My husband is the adult child of an alcoholic and has been to Al-Anon. When I first met him he talked a lot about his ex-wife and her need for boundaries. It seemed to be his mantra that he lived boundary free. He did overwhelm me with grandiose gifts, love bombed me, and manipulated the situation with keeping me scared that he was still in love with his ex-wife though he vehemently denied it to me.

      A couple of months ago, I told the husband that I would no longer tolerate him talking to his ex wife. If he wanted to be married to me he had to stop all communication. He has always said she is a narcissist and will wage an attack with the kids. She did do that. She calls me bitter and jealous because I dont’ want them “catching up on the phone everyday”. She says I am insecure and tries to manipulate the kids (which there is now a grandchild involved). I think something finally went off in my head about a week ago when his 29 year old daughter told him, (he conveyed this to me, I did not hear it) that he should give up the charade of loving me and get back together with his ex because it was obvious they still love each other and belong together. I realized things are a lot more complicated than I had thought.

      He is quite well read regarding the Bible too, and will often recite scripture to solidify his position. He has told me on a number of occasions, that he would not jeopardize his soul by not forgiving her transgressions and responding when she reaches out to him.

      So I have been so focused on how his ex-wife is the problem, that I did not see the manipulation that was right in front of me. I’ve always been a trust your gut kind of person and found myself searching his phone records, checking his email. Seeing constant communication that he would deny. When I read an article concerning becoming a “snooper” in regard to being involved with a narcissist. It was like WOW! The screaming tantrums that I have had in response to the frustration of my gut, and his logic being at war and the feeling crazy…

      All of these things are glaringly obvious after really opening my eyes to see what may be going on. The comment above about being served BS has been my life. I am always sorry for the stink he’s putting out.

      I am definitely ordering the boundaries book today from Amazon, and I will be going to an Al-Anon meeting.

      I am also going to try to figure out why I am determined to “help” him at the expense of myself and indirectly my kids by setting such a bad example of what real love looks like. What is my issue that has been ignored that I am susceptible to this, and why did I allow myself to be blind to it? I can come up with a handful of excuses, but they are surface excuses. I need to delve deep.

      Thank you for all of your assistance!

      • Jennifer

        Heavenly Father, you are father to us all, and I pray that you would especially be a dad to Kelly as she figures this all out. Guide her to those who can help her make sense of this most. Protect her as she begins the hard work of setting up boundaries. Help her to remain calm, to listen to her instincts, to not fear or be anxious. Thank you for bringing her this far, Lord. You are a God of truth. Your son’s name is Truth for He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Teach her truth, even the hard truths about herself and her loved ones. Teach her to accept the things she cannot change; give her the courage to change the things she can; and the wisdom to know the difference.

  44. When wrongly accused, when blamed for someone else’s feelings when their feelings are all about them and not about you, what should you say? I was taught that “I am sorry you feel that way” is how you put the responsibility back on someone who is blaming and falsely accusing. So of course the N who will not see it when they have done something wrong would use that, but so would someone who has actually not done something wrong.

    • Jennifer

      Yes, that’s true. They are very good mimics which is a polite way of saying they are liars because what they say is not true and is only an imitation. Never mind what they say or don’t say. YOU be honest. If what they are dumping on you is not true, just tell them plainly that it is not; that you are not responsible for their feelings. And if you do hurt them in some way always apologize. You have to be honest for you. You have to point out truth for you.

      Also, if you are NOT sorry that they feel that way, don’t say you are. Be honest, very calmly, very quietly, very deliberately honest. Look them straight in the eyes and be honest unless you feel danger. Sometimes when we catch on to their game, they realize it and can get very angry. Don’t risk getting hurt by them. Trust your gut instincts about that.

      And also you need to realize when they are baiting you to engage with them. When they are asking questions with obvious answers or to trap you, realize that you do not owe ANYONE an answer unless they are an authority like the police or your boss. If they are not asking honest questions, there is no need to give answers. If they are asking honest questions in a dishonest manner, for instance they are using questions to make you feel guilty about something, if you have no reason to fear some sort of physical retaliation, you could actually answer them honestly. They are daring you mostly when they do this, because they know you will back away in fear and they will win the latest round of “the game”. When you start answering those questions honestly, or taking their statements at face value (in a petulant fit, they tell you that they just don’t want any dinner…so make some for you and not for them, and when they ask why, look them in the eye and say “because you said you didn’t want any, dear”), they may stop doing it (or at least just change tactics).

      It is exhausting living with them which is what they like, because they will never tire of the game, and they just push you until you do. Relationships are games to be won for these folks, but for us, it is the real deal. Don’t mistake his efforts for real. They aren’t.

  45. Maria

    After my marriage broke up and awful arguing for months, my n ex husband told me, “the problem in the marriage wasn’t you it was our relationship”. No apologies for his lies, cheating, breaking and throwing things in our home when issues arose that he created, stealing money, vilifying my family when my family always excepted him even though they knew the jerk he was over our 25 years together, the list goes on. The day I knew I’d had enough was the day I left our apartment after he said to me I think we should separate and get together on weekends to try to work things out like we’d done 11 years before. He wanted me out of the area so he could have his cake and eat it too. He’d been seeing someone in the same company we worked in. I’m still finding out over time it cost me my job. Since I was always the one who made more money Id had to take a job a few years back in another city a couple hours away to increase our household income before this happened. He followed me and returned to the lending business as a processor with a major bank..thus we needed a place to live. We had an apartment we lived in during the week and drove to our home every other weekend to care for our house. We have no kids together. He’d had a daughter from his teenage years he didn’t raise that found him at the age of 13. Whole other issue. Immediately after we separated he turned on his predator radar and found some lonely recently divorced woman to use for sex and money. He found somebody to supplement the income he lost from me they began living together right away. The woman has no idea she’s being used. The n moved to Vegas last month to be near his daughter son in law he cant stand and her kids…feeding the incessant need to feel wanted and loved by 3 kids less than 5 years old. The girlfriend moved with him. He’s a pathological liar with a sex addiction problem – perfect place huh.. I am thankful I don’t have to deal with his issues any longer. I know since the day I left he’s done everything in his power to say to the world thru family, friends, Facebook and other social media how wonderful this woman is and how it’s do great to be happy. I hired the best attorney I could find to handle my divorce and protect me from losing my assets to him. He used his attorney service thru work. I still ended up having to give him half of my pension and 401K I worked for thanks to the equalizer cap in Fl. My attorney always says to me I can’t believe you were married to a guy like that – how did you put up with it for so long? It’s been 18 months since I left. I feel so down sometimes. Financially things are very tight. I was awarded everything in our home which sometimes feels like a curse..between paying storage fees and deciding to sell things from my home, I’ve had to face the real world while he has a party. I spent 25 years with a n that makes me feel like I wasted my time and the best years of my life. I saved his life with drug rehab 3 months into our marriage, endured countless infractions and drama for him over the years, have lost friends to his behavior..that still find him funny and charming; however. At least I’m not that woman who needs to put a GPS on his car to find him someplace you know he’s gonna go get his sex fix from. The loneliness sometimes and uncertainty of my future is harsh. I miss the companionship of the things we used to do, my home and the familiarity of my life when I knew, even though it was crud a lot of times, I was secure. I’d known my n since I was 13 years old. I’m now 48. I’m learning to forgive myself for the choices over the years I’d made to stay. I knew 5 days before I left something was coming when prior to leaving on a 4 day cruise with him and my niece, we were walking out of a store . While walking in the parking lot, something told me to look down. I did and saw something at the base of my feet grounded into the asphalt. I bent over and picked it up …I was blown away. It was a set of rosary exact same kind that my Grandma had when I was a kid. The same thing had happened to me years before when we’d separated after he’d cheated on me with a close friend. That time, while driving across an empty parking lot at dusk, my friend and I saw something glinting in the middle of our path. She got out and picked it up. I thought it might be a piece of jewelry someone has dropped. What was in my path was a car dash picture frame with the picture of a religious diety in it. I has no idea who it personified but have carried it in my purse ever since 2000. I found out a few years later after seeing a doll under a glass dome who the picture is..In the Philippines, Catholicism, there is an image of Jesusdepicted

    • Maria

      ..As a child..This is the image gifted to me in the photo. There have been many other signs that have come my way since. Something out there wants me to be free of the n. I know it’s God. As each day passes it does get easier and the hole in my gut isn’t so huge. Things are improving but nothing, and I mean nothing is coming easy. It’s been work and it continues each and everyday! My life has been leveled. I’m having to create new friends and rebuild my life. I’m trying to find joy and happiness but sometimes really want a person by my side that knows the goodness of me without passing judgment when I don’t do things they way they think I should. I’ve paid my dues and now with the Grace of God can live my life without the N in my life.

  46. Kel

    Wow, you totally nailed my mother in this article. It was always “I did the best I could,” and “do you forgive me?” Wow. Thank you so much for your insight.

  47. st

    My mom’s favorite one that I haven’t seen mentioned is, “We have all been hurt…so let’s just forgive and move on.”. We have all been hurt???

    • Leslie

      Yah, if the Narc’s unapologetic games don’t hurt enough let’s throw in the family, minimizing their behaviors which
      Are scary enough. Abuse is the ultimate evil, it’s a game crafted from the devil himself- all the players are deceived except for the victim who’s re-victimized by the perpetrator who makes them appear to have the problem.

    • Penny

      Just saw this st–wow! My MIL narc has said that more times than I can count. It’s a good example of “sin leveling”: trying to suck you into the “we’re all sinners & we all need to forgive”, which is scripture twisting. (It’s also playing the victim when they are really the aggressor.) The reality is that when you draw a boundary for a narc and they violate it, they are the ones who have sinned, not you. They are the ones who need to repent and repair the damage done. But since they are never wrong, they twist it into “you’re a sinner too so let’s just forget about my sin.” At some point they need to stop with the fake apologies and actually change (repent) but they rarely do. That’s when they pull the “I forgive you” nonsense when you have done nothing wrong. They don’t want to change, they don’t want to repair the damage done. They just want to restore the illusion of their perfect public image. Bestowing their “forgiveness” on you is a trick, a manipulation, to do just that. And it’s fake.

      • st

        Wow, thank you so much for writing Penny! That is exactly how it goes down in my family. I can’t tell you how many times my mom has used this tactic on me in the past and it actually has worked! She knows that my relationship with God is the most important thing in my life and if she can get me to think/ feel that I am offending Him with my behavior, she wins. I once told my Father how upset I was that my Mom had lied to/ manipulated my small children. He responded with, “Well, have you never told a lie?” Uh? Well, yeah, good point, Dad. Silence from me. Nowhere to go. And then in a table-turning conversation like this, I would lose all confidence and resolve. I would get off the phone an hour later feeling like an awful wretch of a person and an ungrateful piece-of-crap daughter.

      • Penny

        Yes, st, and THAT is exactly how they want you to feel, LIke a “piece of crap daughter”. But you’re not. Your’e NOT. Let that sink in. YOU. ARE. NOT. THAT. Pastor Dave posted a “part 2” narcissistic apology column, and he said this:
        “The difference between the narcissistic apology and a real apology is the center. In the center of the narcissistic apology is the offender saying, “I am hurting because of this.” The real apology sees the victim in the center and says, “You are hurting because of this.” The difference is empathy. Just like always, the narcissist doesn’t care about your pain, just his/her own.
        ….”Understand that the purpose of the narcissistic apology is not to admit the offense and lessen your pain. The purpose of the narcissistic apology is to get you to shut up.”
        [The link is here: ]

        What your Dad said was designed to get you to shut up. Not to admit fault or repair damage or lessen your pain. You are not at the center of their “apology”—THEY are….and THAT is the big red flag of narcissism: lack of empathy.

        If you are able: the next time this nonsense is pulled on you, be prepared to say, “we’re not talking about me…we’re talking about YOU.” That alone will demonstrate that you will no longer allow them to make you feel like a “piece of crap daughter”. Those days are gone.
        Don’t bite the bait. Don’t let them change the subject. Don’t let them frame the discussion. Don’t let them blame you. Stand tall. Be firm. Be brave. You can speak truth. Walk away. You can.
        Praying for you, dear one.

      • st

        Thanks again, Penny. What a blessing it is to read your words. I am learning so much. May God bless you richly, today!

    • Penny

      St–I replied to this but somehow it posted below Leslie’s. Just FYI .

  48. Stella

    I have recently gone through a situation where I tried to explain all my frustration and how I felt in the way that I was claiming all what I was feeling and my actions without placing any blame on the person I was mistreated by. Instead of getting a simple apology which would have made a lot of difference to me. Instead, I got an explanation for the way I was treated like she was the victim and even told that she felt she shouldn’t have to apologize because it wasn’t her fault that I wasn’t listening to her. When I said if the shoe was on the other foot, she would want the same in return. This comment lead to her thinking that i was attacking her one again although I had already claimed all my feeling as my own. I use to think that I was going crazy and maybe it was my fault that the argument got out of hands because i make mistakes to. I felt that I needed to make it right. As I looked back on it, i was always the one trying to fix things and remain friends with this person. But after reading on a lot of this stuff. I am not so sure. As a matter of fact, I am positive.

    • Penny

      some folks call that a “word salad”–tossed to perfection and guaranteed to make you choke. I have had the exact same conversation with my narc so many times that now I avoid her like the plague. As Pastor Daves says, you will never win, narcs do NOT think like the rest of us, so protect yourself and move on.

  49. st

    I recently watched a Daniel the Tiger episode with my little boy that had a catchy little song, “Saying I’m sorry is the first step…..and then a how can I help?” So, if you break your friend’s toy car, you say sorry AND then ask what you can do to help (fix it, make the situation better, etc.)
    I sat there thinking, “WOW, a concept that three year olds can understand, but apparently not many adults!”

  50. Leslie

    And the greatest lack of apology of all? Sweeping their behavior under a rug and moving on with a new life- a new woman and in my case a new child to replace the one HE physically and emotionally abused. This man has NO conscience and he sits in a non denom church on a weekly basis while living with this new woman. I’m devastated over our oldest son who has become a satanist due to his fathers hypocracy and lack of love. My soN cries every now and then over why he doesn’t have a father who loves him. His dad has never apologized to him. He didbt even get one thing for Christmas yet his brothers got lap tops and kindles. Makes me so ill! On another note, I believe what hurts so many survivors is this lack of validation from the perpetrator which goes hand in hand with apologizing, after all no apology means nothing bad happened right? All I do is pray weekly for Gods judgement or conviction on his soul. I can’t comprehend for a milisecond how he can sit listening to Gods word and not fall to his knees in repentance over destroying the family that was his to care for in the beginning. It shouldn’t surprise me, when questioned about his strangling of our child all he did was lie. My entire life with him was a lie and so it probably is with everything in his life including him believing he’s a Godly man!

  51. hetz

    This thread was very instructive for me. In the process of divorcing a Narc (his choice) and he can not take responsibility for anything he has done. This is his second marriage as well, and he seems to lack remorse for all of his bad life choices whereas I would be repentant and sorrowful for having done anything like what he has done to me or his first wife. He has all the choice in the world to not screw up his life, and he can’t seem to acknowledge the errors of his ways and correct them. I am at fault because I made his feel bad for his his lying, for his lack of care of concern for me and our marriage. It’s all my fault because I made him feel bad about himself and he couldn’t go on in the marriage. He still can’t address anything he has actually done – or not done – that would be meaningful. I just wasn’t 100% supportive of his precious ego as he made numerous marriage wrecking decisions. In the end I still wanted to work it out, but he has chosen to end it. The decision to divorce me seems to be making him MORE narcissistic. Like he is completely entrenched in his narrow world view and can not see anything beyond the fact that I was just not a good enough wife for him.

  52. Reblogged this on everythingEHR and commented:
    Excellent post.

  53. He snatched my phone from me while I was comparing notes with another woman he was also stringing along romantically to use as narcissistic supply. He cut my hand doing so. I was more concerned with his initial threat: to break my phone if I didn’t stop talking with one of the other women in his LIVES.

    He told me, as he readied the apt for the police: I did it for your dumb ass. The “it” to which he referred? Telling the woman I called that he ended his relationship with me–so that she would believe THEY WERE AN EXCLUSIVE COUPLE AGAIN…and resume giving money TO HIM. She didn’t know about the woman he called more frequently than the two of us…or the woman who may have helped him to commit credit fraud…or the woman who may have allowed him to skip a rental security deposit and a credit check because of a romantic relationship.

    I only learned what I knew because he believed that I was so in love with him–again–that I would not dare to look through his papers or his once-in-a-lifetime unlocked phone. I never got the truth. I never got an apology. I hold no illusions about receiving either.

    I believe that he has been unemployed since last September–but he has kept stalling child support proceedings (“I just started working a new job–so I have no paystubs, Your Honor.”) with the hope that he would convince me to drop the case against him by dangling “our” future together as a family. I filed the petition last February; we haven’t had a final order entered yet. Since I have been resolute in following the terms of the civil protection order and the criminal stay away order, he asked the judge to reduce the child support to $50 per month…due to his “recent” termination in December 2014. As proof of his termination, he presented a fake letter from a company which shares the same phone number as a company headed by one of his adult children. He uses his children against each other like that…often.

    I am fighting for our son’s future right now. I am scared. I don’t want a fake apology from him. I want him to get professional, intensive therapy…if that will help him to be the person that his children need him to be. My son is two years old; his oldest brother is 42. My ex has 10 children–that I know of. Someone may be pregnant with his next child (though he told me he had a vasectomy two years ago) or he could have had another child during the first two years of our relationship…before I first discovered the multiple, concurrent relationships.

    He tried to apologize–through a fake social media profile and on a post from his regular profile that didn’t mention my name or what he did to me–but this was when he was awaiting trial for simple assault and threats to commit bodily harm. He was previously charged with battery against another “baby mama”–but he wasn’t prosecuted because the complaining witness didn’t show up for the trial; he thought that offering a half-assed marriage proposal (not mentioning my name) to me via social media would get me to violate the restraining orders and help him get acquitted of the pending criminal charges. I saw THIS “apology” for what it was as well–so I didn’t contact him–and he was prosecuted.

    He probably IS sorry that he hurt me but only because he is suffering consequences for what he did–even while not admitting to anything.

  54. Rebecca

    Here is an actual email apology from my ex boyfriend after he was caught cheating and left to be with her the night I found out, I have proof from their own texts that I was receiving through his new phone, that still had his account signed in….here is his apology: “I can’t believe u didn’t even say hello to me when u dropped her off. Anyway u didn’t even say a word to me! Ur cold ! Like I told u, I never ever had any interests in contacting or hanging out with that bitch ever , and I never dated her , it was a mistake and it was wrong , WE HUNG out once and that’s it. One of the times u broke up with me and kicked me out . And I am very very sorry about it. But I understood about u and Cody and the other times I know about that u know that I know about , I’m not that fucking dumb Becky , but I let it go and didn’t dig cause I thought u really wanted to be with me and I know people make mistakes … U just don’t ever put me on ur level. U never compromise , u never give me any slack, u have always thought the worse about me … You were my world ,I worshiped and adored you, and never ever thought about someone else . U should be able to tell from the fact that any time you let me come bak , I ran back to u… And still will, no matter what I’m doing , where I am, or who I am with, all u gotta do is say it. U know that. But u won’t , probably cause u wanna be right . I love you Becky !”

    • Hahahaa! I’m sorry to laugh, Rebecca, but WOW! This guy is something else! I hope that when you read his “apology” it made it easier for you to get him out of your life for good.

      Two years ago, I discovered my then-boyfriend was engaging in Skype sex with local women. He had all these crazy “hook-up” subscriptions and a whole secret online life. But he saw no problem with it because I didn’t want us to have premarital sex (from having learned from the past and wanting more for the future), so he thought it was a perfectly reasonable outlet for him to seek this elsewhere in secret. After all, it wasn’t actual sex so it wasn’t cheating!

      I dumped him and never looked back. I still get texts about what a cold, controlling, unforgiving person I am, about how I am a “sexual anorexic” for not wanting to have sex (after I wondered aloud to him if he might have a sex addiction, and after seeking counseling with him before breaking up). I had been straight with him about my feelings about sex from our first date, and after his receptive response it seemed that we were in this thing together. Nope, that never was the case.

      He still does not account for his actions at all. But intermittently he’s telling how I’m the only woman he loves, etc etc etc. It’s all BS, though I think he really believes it. His post-break-up texts really showed me his true nature, as if the porn wasn’t enough of an indication, so at least they help me stay resolute. Over a year ago I asked him to stop sending these texts and emails, and I let him know that I would no longer reply. He still flares up and tries to coerce me to reply and I simply don’t. After another fiery rash of accusatory texts to me just last week, he followed up with another one on Friday: “Hey, wanna go out for coffee sometime?”

      Uh, no.

  55. rebecca

    Hello Kate! Its ok to laugh, I had to laugh just so I did not go crazy. When I step back and look at the whole relationship with him it makes my jaw drop. I said the exact same thing to myself after I read it, it sure does give me a good reason not to miss him this time and steer clear of any more damage to my sanity and self esteem. I have had enough, and I am using this email to help me when he does his next routine, that goes like this, “I can’t live without you, how can you leave me like this? You destroyed my ability to love and my family because you never loved me! I love you so much, can you come get me, I need money.” I think I’m going to pass on this kind of love. I love the contradictions so very plain to anyine reading it, “we only hung out once!” followed shortly by “I worshipped and adored you, and NEVER EVER thought about anyone else”…….Except for that one time they “only hung out once’
    . Its been agonizing, tiring, painful and mind boggling dealing with this.

  56. nharvey1978

    I recently recieved an “apology” from a former friend nearly a year after she lied about me. In the email, she admitted to the lie and said she was sorry, but then she went about explaining why she did it. At first glance I took it as an apology because she admitted she was wrong. But after reading it again, I realized it wasn’t an apology at all. She just wanted to let me know why she thought I deserved for her to lie about me. She didn’t say that in the email, however, why else would she say anything else other than “I lied, and I’m sorry.” ?

  57. Karen

    My husband kept saying “I’ve said I’m sorry but you just don’t want to hear it!” When he actually hadn’t ! When I asked him what he was sorry about ( cheating, lying, spreading rumours, threatening suicide, using kids to hurt me, stalking… To name a few!) he would always dodge the question by asking me if I loved him or throw something I had done or said in response to his hurt back in my face eg
    (“Your the one who said you hated me”, or “answer me this, do you love me?”)
    Give me strength!!!!

  58. Reblogged this on Gamer's Match and commented:
    Amazing insight. ….can be applied to multiple people who I know personally – former friends,ex boyfriends, family members. …and of course the ascended mystical being “Teal Swan” would be a classic example of a delusional narcissist

  59. Janet

    These morally bankrupt poster children for abortion are evil incarnate. They don’t like themselves and therefore cannot like anyone else. They are selfish and mean and are totally without a soul. I wasted 31 years with one and have been broken down by them without repair He has stolen everything from me. He is toxic.

  60. Kathy

    Well, here’s what I got in an e-mail from my mother, who has successfully ostracized me from all except one member of my family: I need your forgiveness. That was it.

  61. Kelley

    I left my N after 12 abusive years, ten of which we spent in regular counseling sessions. It took me nearly a year to prepare for separation as we were both in leadership positions at church. The “apologies” I heard most were…
    I know that sounds mean, but I never said that, you’re twisting my words.
    Sorry you’re mad, but I had to lie because you would’ve been madder if I told you the truth in the first place.
    Sorry I made you angry, but you overreact to everything because you’re a damaged person since you came from a divorced family.
    I’m a forgiver. You need to learn how to forgive.
    You have a good point, but I had to do it this way because _______.

    This has nothing to do with apologies, however, I would like to mention something that still crosses my mind frequently. He really puffed his chest out and felt like a hero in counseling when he confessed, “I really think the problem here is that I treat all our friends and neighbors better than my own wife.” That was my permission to exit the abusive marriage.

    It has been four years now and I have done a ton of healing and praise God that I am happily remarried to a lovely man who shows me daily what God intends marriage to be. I’m not an advocate for divorce, but I am blessed on the other side of a marriage that was riddled with evil.

    • juju

      so kelly, this rang familiar when you said everyone else was important to him,,, except you…My husband had two N parents and I knew my husbands abuse very well because we met in high school. So his N dad quit drinking (alcoholic ) and has been sober for 15 years. So my husband pays for his parents to come visit our new home. They stayed one tortuous week. A year ago my father in law says to me “I always did for everyone else, but never did for my own boys”…that would be my husband. I said to him “are you actually apologizing?” he says yes,,,, I said well have you told this to your son…he says no….This past visit from hell for one week at our expense, his dad managed to ignore my husband most of the week. The sixth day I took his dad by the arm and said,,,I’m going to show you a few things in our new house. They never left the kitchen table area and 7 days was focused on his mom. We had to spend 7 days asking about my husbands moms puffy ankles and worrying about her bowels… 7 days of them ignoring my husband and we paid for this. When they left ,,, I said to my husband,,, if you see my head spinning in circles,,, it’s because of the past week. I said to my husband “I’m sorry for what happened,,, I said are you ok and why didn’t you participate more with them?” He started to cry , hung his head and said “I’m don’t want them in my bubble.”

      His parents are two selfish clueless people. One of their children died from drugs, all of the children we given food and a FLOOR to sleep on and that was it. The moms siblings were always there sleeping on the beds, eating the food and it was always a party around a dining room table and the children were starving for parents that never were. These parents existed to eat and worry and never act or do for their own as they sat around a table while their children were out in the world dying from neglect.

  62. Kelley

    I regret leaving this part of the story out of the above comment. After borrowing a huge amount of money from my dad for “business” my n ex husband’s parents suddenly acquired a lovely vacation home and a couple of golf country club memberships. Coincidentally, it got harder and harder to make the monthly payments back on the loan. Every time I mentioned the subject, I was told that the conversation was off limits. He said he was sorry, but the economy was on a downturn and that I should never allow money to get between family relations.
    His family business filed BK and my parents will never see the money again! My ex still thinks and claims my dad does not hold him responsible and has no hard feelings about it. Unbelievable!

  63. Ellen

    After 16 years of marriage, 4 affairs and countless ridiculous purchases, we are heading for divorce. He’s 51 and his newest affair is 17 years his junior and a 5-time convicted felon. We are still living in the same house and I am trying to do the No Contact deal but it’s difficult when we are sharing living quarters.

    Today he made this comment: “I had no idea that this is how we would end up, bitter and fighting like this. After 16 years…I’m sorry for hurting you with my bad behavior.”

    I told him “I forgave you every time but all you gave me was words, no action…and you kept DOING it!”

    Uggghhhh….learning what I’ve learned about NPD makes me so sad. I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me to regain ME!

  64. Cecilia K

    A day or two ago, I came across a post-break-up letter I wrote to the man I dated before my last boyfriend (the one who led me to discover narcissism), who I wouldn’t say is a narcissist per se, but he could sometimes display some of those traits. I never sent the letter, because I kept thinking of things I wanted to add to it after I thought I had finished, and I kept setting it aside because I had to tend to other things along the way. It was intended to share my feelings, as well as revelations that had come to me since our break-up, in hope that maybe clarifying some things that had been misunderstood might move him to at least apologize for some of his actions. Anyway, I had mentioned in the letter an “apology” he had once given me that was really just a put-down of me and an exaltation of his wonderful self. I forget the context that prompted this “apology”, but anyway, he said, “I’m sorry, [Cecilia]. I’ve been expecting you to be something you’re not. You’re just not as thoughtful and considerate as I am.” I don’t recall how I responded, but I dimly remember feeling so let down, because when I first heard the words “I’m sorry,” I think I got a little excited that I was finally going to get the validation that I had longed for; and then–boom. There it was.

    • Me

      After I left my ex-husband, he sent me this email. I’ve just realised what a typical narcissist “apology” it is.

      “My dearest xxx

      Things have come to a pretty pass but I want you to know that I still love you and once again I forgive you unreservedly for all the things real and imagined, where I thought you have wronged me.

      I hope that one day you can forgive me too. I have behaved abominably. I have always held you to a very high standard. Perhaps too high a standard , one that you couldn’t achieve. You were my goddess. My love and my inspiration. I am guilty of guilty of being frustrated, angry and vindictive whenever you failed to match my idealized image of you and I took it out on you. It was greatly unfair of me to try and coax, threaten or guilt you into meeting my hopes or expectation. It is wrong of me to expect more of you than I can manage for myself. You have been immensely patient and indulgent with me. For all of that I am deeply sorry.

      I resolve from here on to treat you fairly as you are without critique or condemnation and accept you as you are and treat you as if you have exceeded my highest expectations. You have always exceeded what should be any good standard and you are a great cook. I shall miss your cooking. I hope you can forgive me and not hold me to too high a standard yourself. I do hope to achieve a higher standard than I have in the past and maybe one day I will have the chance to prove that to you.

      All of my Love.
      Forever yours,
      The narcissist

      • Me

        BTW, it was clear that the “apology” wasn’t sincere and was only an attempt to reel me in, because when I didn’t respond, he proceeded to rubbish me on Facebook and just over a month later, he hacked into my Facebook account and had his sister send out a libelous email about me to ALL my email contacts AND he put intimate pictures of me on his Adult Friend Finder account. His apology was worthless.

  65. sandra

    I was raised with a narccistic mother and was in my early 50’s before I realized this was the issue. It truly is gaslighting when their twisted mind and soul target you. I was the scapegoat in the family. 12 years ago my mother told me she had accepted the Lord – well, not much has changed. I found an article that helped me hold her accountable (something narcicissts think they are above). I copied it and will paste it here:
    5 Indicators of an Evil and Wicked Heart
    Association of Biblical Counselors
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    The Association of Biblical Counselors (ABC) exists to encourage, equip, and empower people everywhere
    to live and counsel the Word, applying the Gospel to the whole experience of life.
    Encourage: ABC provides a fellowship of b
    read more
    by Leslie Vernick

    As Christian counselors, pastors and people helpers we often have a hard time discerning between an evil heart and an ordinary sinner who messes up, who isn’t perfect, and full of weakness and sin. I think one of the reasons we don’t “see” evil is because we find it so difficult to believe that evil individuals actually exist. We can’t imagine someone deceiving us with no conscience,hurting others with no remorse, spinning outrageous fabrications to ruin someone’s reputation, or pretending he or she is spiritually committed yet has no fear of God before his or her eyes.The Bible clearly tells us that among God’s people there are wolves that wear sheep’s clothing (Jeremiah 23:14; Titus 1:10; Revelations 2:2). It’s true that every human heart is
    inclined toward sin (Romans 3:23), and that includes evil (Genesis 8:21; James 1:4). We all miss God’ mark of moral perfection. However, most ordinary sinners do not happily indulge in evil urges, nor do we feel good about having them. We feel ashamed and guilty, rightly so
    (Romans 7:19–21). These things are not true of the evil heart.
    Below are five indicators that you may be dealing with an evil heart rather than an ordinary sinful heart. If so, it requires a radically different treatment approach.
    1. Evil hearts are experts at creating confusion and contention.
    5 Indicators of an Evil and Wicked Heart – Association of Biblical Counsel… Page 1 of 6… 5/27/2015
    They twist the facts, mislead, lie, avoid taking responsibility, deny reality, make up stories, and withhold information. (Psalms 5:8; 10:7; 58:3; 109:2–5; 140:2; Proverbs 6:13,14; 6:18,19;
    12:13; 16:20; 16:27, 28; 30:14; Job 15:35; Jeremiah 18:18; Nehemiah 6:8; Micah 2:1; Matthew 12:34,35; Acts 6:11–13; 2 Peter 3:16)
    2. Evil hearts are experts at fooling others with their smooth speech and flattering words. But if you look at the fruit of their lives or the follow through of their words, you will find no real evidence of godly growth or change. It’s all smoke and mirrors. (Psalms 50:19; 52:2,3;
    57:4; 59:7; 101:7; Proverbs 12:5; 26:23–26; 26:28; Job 20:12; Jeremiah 12:6; Matthew 26:59; Acts 6:11–13; Romans 16:17,18; 2 Corinthians 11:13,14; 2 Timothy 3:2–5; 3:13; Titus 1:10,16).
    3. Evil hearts crave and demand control, and their highest authority is their own self reference. They reject feedback, real accountability, and make up their own rules to live by. They use Scripture to their own advantage but ignore and reject passages that might require self correction
    and repentance. (Romans 2:8; Psalms 10; 36:1–4; 50:16–22; 54:5,6; 73:6–9;
    Proverbs 21:24; Jude 1:8–16).
    4. Evil hearts play on the sympathies of good-willed people, often trumping the grace card.They demand mercy but give none themselves. They demand warmth, forgiveness, and intimacy from those they have harmed with no empathy for the pain they have caused and
    no real intention of making amends or working hard to rebuild broken trust. (Proverbs 21:10;
    1 Peter 2:16; Jude 1:4).
    5. Evil hearts have no conscience, no remorse.
    They do not struggle against sin or evil—they delight in it—all the while masquerading as someone of noble character. (Proverbs 2:14–15; 10:23; 12:10; 21:27,29; Isaiah 32:6; Romans
    1:30; 2 Corinthians 11:13–15)
    If you are working with someone who exhibits these characteristics, it’s important that you confront them head on. You must name evil for what it is. The longer you try to reason with them or show mercy towards them, the more you, as the Christian counselor, will become a pawn in his or her game.
    They want you to believe that:
    1. Their horrible actions should have no serious or painful consequences.
    5 Indicators of an Evil and Wicked Heart – Association of Biblical Counsel… Page 2 of 6… 5/27/2015
    When they say “I’m sorry,” they look to you as the pastor or Christian counselor to be their advocate for amnesty with the person he or she has harmed. They believe grace means they are immediately granted immunity from the relational fallout of their serious sin. They believe forgiveness entitles them to full reconciliation and will pressure you and their victim to
    The Bible warns us saying, “But when grace is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness; even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil and do not regard the majesty of the Lord (Isaiah 26:10).
    The Bible tells us that talking doesn’t wake up evil people, but painful consequences might. Jesus didn’t wake up the Pharisee’s with his talk nor did God’s counsel impact Cain (Genesis
    4). In addition, the Bible shows us that when someone is truly sorry for the pain they have caused, he or she is eager to make amends to those they have harmed by their sin (see Zacchaeus’ response when he repented of his greed in Luke 19).
    Tim Keller writes, “If you have been the victim of a heinous crime. If you have suffered violence, and the perpetrator (or even the judge) says, ‘Sorry, can’t we just let it go?’ You would say, ‘No, that would be an injustice.’ Your refusal would rightly have nothing to do with bitterness or vengeance. If you have been badly wronged, you know that saying sorry is never
    enough. Something else is required—some kind of costly payment must be made to put things right.”
    As Biblical counselors let’s not collude with the evil one by turning our attention to the victim, requiring her to forgive, to forget, to trust again when there has been no evidence of inner change. Proverbs says, “Trusting in a treacherous man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth
    or a foot that slips” (Proverbs. 25:19). It’s foolishness.
    The evil person will also try to get you to believe
    2. That if I talk like a gospel-believing Christian I am one, even if my actions don’t line up with my talk.
    Remember, Satan masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:13–15). He knows more true doctrine than you or I will ever know, but his heart is wicked. Why? Because although he knows the truth, he does not believe it or live it. The Bible has some strong words for those whose actions do not match their talk (1 John 3:17,18; Jeremiah 7:8,10; James 1:22, 26). John the Baptist said it best when he admonished the religious leaders, “Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God” (Luke 3:8).
    If week after week you hear the talk but there is no change in the walk, you have every reason to question someone’s relationship with God.
    5 Indicators of an Evil and Wicked Heart – Association of Biblical Counsel… Page 3 of 6… 5/27/2015
    Part of our maturity as spiritual leaders is that we have been trained to discern between good and evil. Why is that so important? It’s important because evil usually pretends to be good, and without discernment we can be easily fooled (Hebrews 5:14).
    When you confront evil, chances are good that the evil heart will stop counseling with you because the darkness hates the light (John 3:20) and the foolish and evil heart reject correction (Proverbs 9:7,8). But that outcome is far better than allowing the evil heart to believe you are on his or her side, or that “he’s not that bad” or “that he’s really sorry” or “that he’s changing” when, in fact, he is not. Daniel says, “[T]he wicked will continue to be wicked” (Daniel 12:10), which begs the
    question, do you think an evil person can really change?
    [1] Tim Keller, Jesus the King, page 172
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  66. The part that helped me to better understand how a narcissist thinks was when you said that they depersonalize other people. Now that makes sense. If the N doesn’t see us as people, then that would mean we have no feelings. And I say, but, they on the other hand do(have feelings). Now that part stumps me. The N’s are people and other people are not?

  67. Savedanddelivered

    My N husband showed what looked or looks like empathy when I was attempting to leave or actually did. He used every kind and sweet word made promises and the part that stings the worst is God. A family member of his shared with me I wasn’t the first woman to use these tactics on. I can always discern the goodness in others and i DO have empathy. I also know a great deal about psychology and the how and why people came to be that way. Whether he’s actually a N or just wounded from abandonment, life in foster care, the streets and not really taught “good” love and was early sexualized and abused by a alcoholic Narc dad and mom. Double dose growing up and so much toxic in his life. I tried so hard. I loved him dearly. I give it and him to God. Its out of my hands. What choice did the little boy who became a man ever have to grow up like that and NOT be a Narc????

    • UnForsaken

      savedanddelivered, I’m so sorry you had to go through this!

      Being raised by a Narc I have often asked myself why I didn’t become one. They give us hell, but we are not like them. We somehow do not think the actions/choices they make are options. As I look back, I see areas I could have gone that way but didn’t. It wasn’t because I’m better than my relation. I do believe God’s grace has something to do with it, but even at a young age I could have chosen.

      It’s not like the Narc is thinking: ” Hey, I’ve been so badly treated I’m going to be a Narc”, but more like: ” I’m going to do this …no matter what.” Those small choices about what we do with our emotions and actions all add up to what we become in the long run. So I believe the Narc makes choices like anyone else, and they do it by little creeping choices adding up in their damaged hearts to make them what they are. I don’t think they ever look at the big picture any more than most of us do, but their overall goal becomes obsessively self centered.

      I hope that helps to somewhat understand. Still puzzling this one out myself, but like you have found the best solution is giving them to God and healing ourselves. ❤

  68. Tabby

    I have been reading these posts for sometime now. There are so many people out there who are suffering with and in narcissistic relationships. I really believe I am in a relationship of the worst possible but have no escape available. I have a handicapped adult son living with me. He is so narcissistically sick far beyond anything I have read so far anyways. But I am stuck I cannot leave him or kick him out. No where he can go If I put him on the street he would die or worse yet hurt someone else.
    As a Christian I am so disappointed to not see anyone have answers through Christ how to battle this “demon of narcississium “. Is there no Christian church clergy who has answers?

  69. I have read alot about the toxic dance between those who have this disorder and those who love{ & live with them}- Because it is emotional immaturity the healthier party needs to read up & do some changes which forces them to change because you are no longer willing to accept unacceptable behavior- been doing this with my n husband and it’s working

  70. Susan

    I got fauxpologies, separately, from my 4 NARCISSISTERS (in law). I need someone to tell me I am not crazy here… Here they are….

    #1. “Mistakes were made by everyone but it does matter who was directly or indirectly hurt by them”
    #2. “I’m sorry. How do we move forward?” and when I pressed her to discuss the actual event(s) I got, “I said I was sorry. I don’t want to talk about those things. I would like to know how we move forward?”
    #3. “I can’t live my life walking around thinking that you think I somehow tried to offend you. This is too hard for me. How do we move forward?”
    #4. “Everyone in this has experienced much hurt, sadness and frustration. If you hadn’t shown up with your daughter, none of this would have happened. I am willing to forgive you for your actions.”

    Please tell me I am not cuckoo for cocoa puffs and that I am not being too harsh. Now, I am being called out for “judging their apologies” and being unforgiving. Any advice? I want to go no contact but my husband is so enmeshed even though he gets my position. His father’s health is failing and his narcissisters are blaming me for that too.The only one who understands all of this is the failing father…. God help me!

    • New Creature

      Judging their apologies? What apologies? I don’t see any apologies.
      I am so sorry your father in law is in failing health…praying for your family.

      • Susan

        Thank you…. I need prayers. This is so tough. Navigating the abuse and trying to be a good mom for my four kids. All they see is a shell of their former mother. Husband and I fight all the time because he refuses to acknowledge HOW abusive it all is! I think I am going crazy. Wait…. Isn’t that their goal?

    • Rita

      How those words (fake apology) can be exactly the same as my story is quite scary. Either it’s him pretending I am the narcissist or they some how use the same tactics to keep control, acting to care, but not actually taking the blame. All so very disturbing to say the least.

      • Susan

        I’m so sorry. I have had a similar experience with the acting like they care but blaming me and then stepping over the boundaries I’ve asked for the minute the discussion is over. I did not sign up for this abuse as I know you didn’t either! I will pray for you, Rita!

  71. Janet

    Virtually word for word what I experienced today with my narcissist ex friend. Unbelievable.

  72. Janet

    As Kelsey Munger posted:

    “When someone hurts you, you hope for a statement of regret. You don’t want an explanation of the philosophy that led to the offense. You don’t want justification for the action or words. ”

    EXACTLY. Thats what NORMAL people do. They state REGRET for hurting you.

    Every word posted is spot on. I have heard every one of these excuses and had everyone of these horrible conversations with my N.
    YOU get blamed for EVERYTHING, and you get no acknowledgement of having been hurt. You are a non entity, a non being. You have no value, no worth. And thats why it takes so long to heal and our wounds fester for months and years. These people, even though confessing Christians, I just cannot understand why God doesn’t intervene.

  73. Olive72

    My question is this. Do narcissist regret? Mine moved in with his married OW four days after our 19 year relationship ended. Four months later they were engaged (the day after her divorce became final). and they are to be married soon. He tells everyone how deliriously happy they are and how wonderful his life is. Is this true? Is he really that happy?

    • Nache

      Hi olive, new to this thread and the psychology. First off, let me say that I am very sorry for your pain, and suffering, but not your “loss” this person cut themselves from your life with know intention of your feelings, it is his loss, and once his new supply runs out expect him to come back to you for more, LOOK OUT, STAY STRONG! And DO NOT GIVE IN!
      I can tell you through my extensive research that, this new supply or “relationship” is not going to be enough to make him happy, he will never be able to feel happiness true to himself or the word. He will always be searching, wanting, because of his void within self (due to childhood trauma usually) he will always be searching for this “fairytale love” that does not exist because no one will ever be able to continually supply. A normal person looks deeper seeks more once the happy go lucky fades away, they want to gain that extra understanding and acceptance in a relationship, a deeper connection. A narcissist cannot handle this as they are hidden to most, they cannot accept their flaws, so as you try to accept and help, they take injury and attack in defence, there is no deeper connection, there is only more and different. A narcissist does not feel true regret, as that means they feel regret for the way they’ve made YOU feel, a narciccist is completely unable to understand how anyone else feels in a situation and is therefore able to dole out an immeasurable amount of pain, they can “dish it out but never take it” so, this narcissist cannot feel the way a normal human being naturally feels, it is very hard to understand, believe me I know, therefore this narcissist is not truly happy. His supply WILL run out and he WILL be on to the next (likely you) make sure to set boundaries and NO CONTACT if possible, these are the only 2 ways you can cut off their supply, you do not matter to this person the way you want to, take time to heal yourself and gain an understanding of this,

      I wish you so much luck, light and love in your journey, and endless strength, you will need all you can muster.

  74. Nache

    “You have no idea how bad that makes me feel when you say that” was my last apology for the worst, most traumatizing and hurtful thing anyone has ever said to me. A month after our breakup and that’s what I get, due to my most recent narcissistic injury inflicted on my ex. It stemmed from…. I don’t even remember now, and that’s what I’ve been trained for the last year. Through gas lighting and love bombing, I’ve been mind altered to believe everything is my fault. Our fights would have me begging and pleading for a bridge in communication, and an understanding of hurt feelings, his side would be to harm, and escalate, always escalate and take the victim side. My greatest issue now, is how I can possibly move on, since closure is something I will never ever get, and I gave up trying for the sake of his, every time. Then what of my will to apologize for the very last fight 2 days ago? It was the day after our biggest and my most traumatizing moment, the day after such a fake apology, but for once I left it up in the air angry, he got his last insults in, I left with with “how dare you” as always he got the last good bye and social media blocks, I blocked as well for the first time. I still want to apologize for my part in the situation, I shouldn’t have lost my cool, I should have remained calm and dropped the fight, as new as I am into the psychology of this, I still know it wasn’t right on my part, and I still want to apologize for that, even if it is another form of supply, maybe it’s just closure for me?
    I should mention that we will have to talk again, for one last exchange of things, he has since been ignoring me, which I know through research isn’t a big deal for him until he runs low, it is for me, it constantly eats away at me that someone could have negative thoughts towards me (even if that’s all he will have once I stop supplying) I still desperately want to help him, I still want to guild him to seeking help, I just want his happiness and fulfillment, even if I’m not to be involved for another day (I’ve already acknowledged to myself… And him…. that I would die trying, as his happiness is more important than my sanity/life.

    I should apologize right? Even though I know I won’t get closure at least I’ve done my part as a human being, done what is right.
    At least I’d get the last of my cash waiting and mail…. Right?

    I feel empty having to play mind games this way…

  75. Serena

    I have been dating my boyfriend for three years. During that time, whenever I would visit his family, I would bring food for dinner, wash the dishes, wash and wash the floor. I knitted washcloths for his mother, bought her flowers and offered to plant them, and I made a full course dinner for her family at one point. I tried my best to be polite to her in every way, but this got more difficult each time I saw her, on account of her nosiness. I also endured comments from her, such as “if you don’t start meshing our extended families together, I’m going to get involved in your relationship” as well as, “I wish my son was dating someone like me” and many others. She finally let loose on me and told me I was stupid and worthless, a loser, a family-destroyer, and I’d ruined her life, and I was not welcome at her house ever. She later acknowledged her wrong but refused to apologize and said that she decided I should “forgive and forget” what she said because that’s what good Christians do. I love my boyfriend and I want everyone to be happy but I can’t seem to “forget” the hurt she’s caused. I’m also terrified I might have her for a mother-in-law….

    • Debbie

      Being terrified is the correct response and I would then run! These mothers will make every single thing horrifying and extremely difficult. if your boyfriend doesn’t see it now and defends her, he most likely will not protect you,especially from her. Perhaps in your future relationship with him, down the road, he will not protect your marriage and children in order to please and protect her. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, I have experienced the exact same thing and attempting to show either of them what they’ve done or said is wrong makes it way worse. Unfortunatley you’ll never get that respect you deserve from either of them. She will continue to control, using him to control what she wants, pushing it onto you. Attempting to place boundaries and suggest he do also is another loss cause as you have already been made out to be a “loser, family destroyer etc..” So very sad, but true!

  76. Penny

    You need to run. Now.
    Run as far and as fast as you can, away from this.
    Your terror is justified, so listen to it! Your assessment is correct, and they are the ones who are wrong.
    While I understand your tender feeling of love & affection for your boyfriend, he has allowed this abuse to occur. He allowed you to do all the things you did, and he didn’t stop to honor your dignity. THAT is not love in return.

  77. Lisa

    Also when they come back with fake tears and state “look I came to tell you sorry, but wait let me tell you why I agrued” .Then of course they start with their dreeded excuses for their crazy reactions. They want you to just agree with their insane, insincere apology and if you try to speak up …now you have created another motive for the narcissistist to stir up another argument against you again ..playing the win loose battle and again draining you from all..example narcissistist will say “well now guess what! I am not apologizing! How you like that!” This is when they dont get the response they want. And tend to leave the agrument with hurtful words towards you or they also take away or hurt something you like or even do something damaging to you in secret…its scary. Example… narcissistist may say ” well now guess what ! I am taking back my apology and you go pick up the kids!” or “well guess what ! i take it back im not sorry! And i am not giving you any money…how do you like that..!” And walk away with hitting or punching a wall or kicking an object even at times saying …i will get the an evil way. Their are flags to look for….being in those situations before you would think my mind would of picked up on all these issues but being volunerble makes the narcissistic want you more.
    I have heard and seen these things so I know the narcissistist can be very apologetic even with a couple of tears but those couple of tears at the moment turn dry the minute they start feeling they are loosing…they might try to win you with couple of tears and tell you a good long story of themselves but DO NOT believe them. And at times they will use any personal issues you have had or any personal issue you have shared with them against you in a negative way. Never having consideration for your feeling or childrens feelings of how it is effecting them. But with others and in church narcissistist tend to hide behind family and act like they have it so together … making the other spouse or person seem like their the ones with the issue. It is so awkward because you don’t want to expose their true character for who they are. We dont want to judge or pin point that out to our church members about our home issues so stay quiet and along with our spouse. Even tho it is draining you and sense of overwhelming feeling inside to hide your spouses abusive narcissistic behavior. You want to be kind and not destroy their happiness even tho they dont care about yours, it is because we have compasion ,empathy ,and sympathy and would not like for anything to hurt them. I believe and have hope that faith in Jesus Christ sets us free and a narcissistist can not hide there true character. It will show up eventually and that narcissistist will be exposed, but it is in Gods timing not mine.

  78. Annie Vedeler

    Thank you for this! I am a step mom married to a wonderful man. This man unfortunately happens to be the ex of a narcissist and the father of a narcissst (taking after her mom). As I entered this family, I began noticing that there was an inability on this child’s part to own responsibility and apologize even when clearly wrong. This always struck me as odd and hurtful as I was raised different and have no problem saying I’m sorry with real integrity. My husband also has no problem apologizing. I’m realizing that this child is becoming the narcissist her mom is despite our example of a loving, nurturing, easily apologizing family.

  79. Eric

    Love this post. Thank you.

  80. Shannon

    How about the “I’m sorry for your troubles”, when they just broke your heart and damaged your hope for the thousandth time. As if the problem is yours and in no way related to their actions. It also implies that it may be your over reaction to their painful actions and suggests the need to fix your problems, that, of course, have nothing to do with them.

    Distancing themselves and letting it be known they aren’t going to change.

    Sometimes I swear narcissists, borderlines and sociopaths have a club or class they take, not to get better, but to perfect their game. Otherwise, why do they all speak the same textbook jargon?

    ” Sorry for your troubles.” Indeed, get lost.

  81. Debbie

    Will a N ever accept an apology? If so, how do you go about apologising to them? Is there any language I should use/avoid? please?

    • Penny

      An apology to a narc is not the same as an apology to anyone else.
      The bigger question is WHY do you feel the need to apologize? Did you actually DO something that warrants an apology, or is it a perceived slight from the narc and you are hoping to “make things right”?
      Be advised that things are NEVER “right” for a true narc, and “apologizing” sets you up to be further abused, exploited, antagonized & blamed. The narc is NEVER wrong, and if YOU admit to being “wrong” then you simply make yourself a target. For the narc. It never ends. They are pros at guilt-tripping and shaming their victims, targets, family, friends & neighbors. No one is immune, and while I appreciate your honesty & transparency, be aware that narcs are predators and may have even “set you up” to apologize!!
      If you really have to apologize, be prepared to grovel.
      But again…why?
      Please use this site to search for “forgiveness”, “apologies”, etc, so that you have a solid basis for what you hope to accomplish.

  82. Stephanie

    My N husband never apologized voluntarily. He did halfheartedly “apologize” when bad things happened to me, though I am pretty sure inside he was enjoying watching me go through it. Once, when he got caught in a series of affairs, he made a dramatic confession and apologies, but they turned out to be part of a remarkable effort in hoovering. He is a well trained, southern “Christian” so he knows everything he needs to say to sound remorseful and convincing, somehow managing to always draw the pity to himself. Every time he opens his mouth to apologize it is for purposes of manipulation. When the children went to confront him for what he had done (abandoning us for his latest supply, affair, lies etc…) he only said he was, “SORRY IT WAS HAPPENING”.
    My N mother (I’m just now realizing that she is the one who had me so well trained to accept 20+ years of a somatic, N husband.) abused me physically, verbally, and emotionally. Once, she stood at the sink with her back turned to me as she did the dishes. She said she needed to speak with me and get something off her chest. She then said I had turned out to be a pretty good mom, that she had tried hard to raise me, but had “NOT ALWAYS MADE THE RIGHT CHOICES”. There you have it. My one real apology from a N. I accepted that as the best she could offer. She is a difficult person, but very low on the scale of narcissistic behaviors when compared to my husband who has every single marker on the DSM..

  83. I understand what a lot of the people here say they need out of an apology, and i can certainly do that when i transgress.
    However that is not what i need from an apology. Sorry means nothing to me without three things:
    1) the behaviour must not still be ongoing.
    2) the apologizer must be clear what they did wrong and how they are going to avoid repeating it.
    3) offer suitable reparations.
    As you can see, details of my feelings are irrelevant; i dont care to express them except maybe to say “wtf did you do that?”. I dont know if that makes me a narcissist or autistic or what. I want functional responses, not regrets and empty promises.

  84. Portia Gray

    I ended with a narc BF three years ago; we were together for 12 yrs. I went no contact and have not spoken nor seen him In three years. Recent Saturday nite at a bar event, the Ex BF and his gf approached to my booth table with my current BF and other ppl seated with us. He said loudly said in sign language saying “hello, how are you”; his gf stood there saying nothing. I responded saying back in signing saying “hello, I am doing fine “with a teethy smile. My bf knew I wanted to leave. I Tld my guests that I had to leave and did side kisses to them. my BF and I walked out. My question.. Was my former BF trying to get his new happy supply seeing me again? I knew my ex bf was de-valuing his gf by ignoring her and focused being happy to see me. If he shows up un my face again, I will bolt .

  85. vix

    After my ex of 10 years and farther to my 8 year old boy pushed me to the point of crazy by constant criticism….silent treatment…gas lighting verbal aggression …I could not see wood for the trees. I ignored every gut feeling I had, being made to believe its all in my head my negativity and paranoia….to then finding out he had been in a relationship with another woman for 12 months. When I found out
    He left to live with her 200 miles away and is getting married 6 months after finding out and has not told me or our son…..his apology went like this. “Sorry I couldn’t give u what u wanted. I begged you to loose weight and your lack of effort led me to make a call. I hate you and will never forgive all this because you couldn’t deal with the truth” ????????? This guy is deluded and the projection is unreal. There is no rhyme or reason to any aspect of his accoutability. Evil.

    • Cecilia K

      Oh Vix, my heart goes out to you. What a cruel and painful response to get from the man whom you had probably once thought you would spend the rest of your life with. I’m glad you can see that He is the problem, and not you. Big hug for you!

  86. PJ

    What happens if a narcissist gives you an apology and you do not respond to it at all. In other words they “bare their soul” and you give them absolutely no reaction. What should I expect as the reaction?

    • “Well, I tried.” “How could you be so uncaring?” “I thought you were a good person.” “Say something!” “See, I am not the bad one here!” And, as soon as friends and family are told that you did not accept the apology, then they will think you are the bad one also.

      • Penny

        Dave: wouldn’t it be funny (well, not funny, but amusing & certainly enlightening) to ask your readers to share the “apologies” they have heard or read or seen or been given?
        I for one would LOVE to hear the “zingers”, the “cut-to-the-chase” one-liners that the narc thinks is brilliant but totally exposes their hidden agenda.
        It would be a lesson in discernment for sure….how to read between the lines and recognize the common tactics, phrases, methods, & duplicity that are commonly used by many narcs.
        Just a thot, but it would sure make a great post!

      • me

        That’s probably what happened to me. I knew my ex was just trying to hoover me back in with his apology email I posted above, so I didn’t respond to it. I could see that someone who was willing to “forgive” me for both “real and imagined” transgressions (the huge majority of which were imagined, but if he put real in there, it would make it seem like there were plenty of real ones) and said that the problem was that I couldn’t meet his high expectations wasn’t worth responding to and the only solution was to stay totally gray rock. However, he probably told everyone what a bitch I was for not accepting his wonderful apology.

      • me

        Like, how is it possible to forgive someone for something imagined? The man’s “logic” made my head spin.

    • Penny

      I agree with Dave. By definition, narcs do not/cannot apologize, so whatever was said, however it was said, it still has THEM at the center, not the person they wounded.
      Also, a narc rarely “bares their soul” b/c they do not have one. What they DO have is a false self, a public image, which they wear like a mask. They ALWAYS have a mask. They MIGHT switch masks, pretending to “bare their soul”, but it’s just an actor doing a costume change. It’s “Act II” of a one-man show.
      So BEWARE the narc who “bares their soul”, when in reality they are simply switching masks.

      • PJ

        Penny, great idea with sharing the “zinger” letters we have received from our respective narcs. I know for a fact that mine didn’t even write theirs because English is not their mother tongue and it was written with better grammar and punctuation than her own lawyers. It would be very interest to see common phrases and wording.

  87. Penny

    PJ–Omigosh, yes!!
    I also received one like that!
    It was written in block letters rather than cursive, as tho it had been painstakingly copied from something else, not in her own words.
    Since my narc ALWAYS wrote in cursive, it was quite odd. In fact, the very same day, she DID write in cursive, in another note, to someone else, expressing anger toward me & saying “if anyone deserves an apology, it’s me!!”
    So she mailed an “apology” & a “retraction” on the same day!

    • PJ

      Penny, here it is for your entertainment. As a pre-empt, this letter came on the heals of 4.5 years of legal battle to stop her from alienation me from our son. Two court cases she has lost (she was ordered to pay my legal fees), a recently completed professional custody assessment and possible trial in front of a judge. It took all of a week before this mask came off and the fangs came out again. She actually forced me to talk to her by blocking my parenting time unless I let her ask how my day was, with my son present. Either i talked to her or she would not allow our son to get in my car. She uses our son whenever it suits her agenda. This letter was clearly plagiarized from somewhere. Very entertaining really. Here it is.

      Hi PJ, I hope you’re well

      I’ve wanted to write to you for some time now – to thank you – for all the wonderful times we shared, for showing me a brave world filled with possibilities I’d never imagined, for introducing me to the joys of an active lifestyle, for making me smile on more occasions than I can possibly recall, and for the greatest gift in the world; our beautiful, loving, generous and amazing son – Justin. I don’t think I ever took the time to thank you for everything that you have done, and despite our recent difficulties, I know deep-down you’re still the same man I met 20yrs ago.

      Justin asked me something a few days ago. He asked “mom, why can’t daddy and you just be nice to each other like everyone else? Why can’t you both just be friends?” And his question made me pause and think “God, he’s right…”. There’s no good reason not to work towards being nice to each other; towards being friends and cooperative co-parents; toward peace and harmony. After all, you and I are both adults and I believe we’re both good people.

      If I could change the past and undo all the mistakes I’ve made, take away the bad words I’ve spoken to you and erase the hurtful actions triggered by pride, fear and misguided emotions, I would do so. For all that I’ve said and done that has hurt you or made you feel like you weren’t enough, I ask your forgiveness.

      We’ve fought enough and the one who always suffers the most from our fighting is the one we love the most; our son. He deserves the better from us PJ. For our sake and for his, isn’t it time you and I began to work towards peace, healing and forgiveness? This is work for you and I to undertake together; not the work of lawyers and courts. It’s up to you and I to seek a peaceful resolution to the mess we created. Let our healing begin with the words in this letter…

      Next time we see each other and I ask you “how are you today?”, please know that it’s not an attack or sarcasm; I am genuinely interested in your well-being.


      • Penny

        O gosh. This deserves a response. Seriously.
        If I may, I’d like to take a few days to “interpret” typical narc-speak contained within this letter.
        There are so many red flags & classic language it is almost comical if it weren’t so destructive.
        Thanks for sharing, stay grounded and strong. Keep that steel spine.
        Praying for you~

      • PJ

        Oh yes please do. I am curious and anxious to read your point of view.
        My biggest concern is the psychological damage she is doing to our son. All my wife and I can do is give him a safe and loving home when he is with us. As far as the ex is concerned I could care less.

    • PJ

      Oh yes Penny, I forgot to add that our marriage fell apart because I found out she was having an affair. I tried to move back and forgive in order to try to keep our family together for the sake of our son. She continued the affair so I decided to move on. Only when I found someone else (now my wife) did she want me back at all cost. When I told her, “no thank you”, the match showed her true nature. it has been a struggle to have time with out son ever since. But I am glad to be rid of her.

      • Penny

        Just to clarify: when I said “this deserves a response”, I meant from me to you, not from you to your narc!

      • PJ

        No worries there. I guess because I never responded to this she felt the need to send me another 2 grovelling emails. All have gone unanswered and will stay that way.

  88. RL

    My Nmom, in our last conversation, made it adamantly clear she “does not have to apologize because she is only accountable to Jesus”, as well as said other egregious comments (such as if I was sexually abused that was my own fault, and others). She verbally attacked me with all of this because I said the best thing a family member who sexually molested my young relative could do would be to own up to his behavior and make amends with her. That she needs to hear him say and feel that he means that he was wrong, and sorry. She immediately twisted this into SHE not owing who SHE wronged an apology and spiraled into a rage from there. In the process she flippantly said “sorry you’re still holding a grudge for things I don’t even remember”. After that conversation, something inside me died. I lost hope in a relationship with her, that she would ever change, and that I would ever be able to enjoy a relationship with my mother. Over the years I have forgiven and forgot, sought solace in my relationship with Jesus, and gone back for more. I have gotten these covert comments and excuses, never any apology for the physical, emotional and verbal abuse I have endured my entire life. She has always belittled me, and in this same conversation she pulled out all the stops and belittled me again. I asked for some space which she refused to give, and I went no contact after that. Now she has not only twisted my need for space into it being about me “holding a grudge about 40 years ago” so that her husband and others think I am an awful person, she has tried every tactic in the book to suck me back in, explaining how christian she is now and what a good person and how I should give her a chance and stop messing up the family. Still no empathy or apology, even though she now says she apologized! And says it like “I apologized-what more do you WANT”. This article really helps me understand this fake apology mentality. There is more to it all. I have been having a really hard time, even suicidal thoughts, trying to sort all of this out. I have felt an extreme loss of hope and even faith after all of this. I do believe Jesus is my savior, but after so many years of praying for this relationship to heal, of praying for my own ability to lead my own life free of all of this pain, feeling shame that I am indeed the one who needs to forgive and forget and is being too sensitive (all her words since birth), but also me thinking this was the way to be as a christian. Now I know this is all a game of deception (by my mom) and that I have been the scapegoat to which she can deflect all of her own traumas and problems. But where does that leave us now? She even joined MY church and is now in the position to appear that I am the wayward and resentful offspring who needs to come home to the parent, and she is the do-gooder and victim. She has gone more “psycho” and I have been realizing and working on my own codependency issues. I don’t need unloving people in my life, not even my mother. I need to stop hoping for validation. I guess I leave this long comment here because I don’t often come across pastors who get this dynamic and I have gotten the “if Jesus could die on the cross you can suck it up and deal with your mother” churchy response. I would love to understand how to feel love again and not this loss of hope and motivation I currently feel. I trust god is there, but I don’t feel it anymore.

    • Annette

      Dear ML, unfortunately the Church does not have a heart for abuse victims but very much so for narcissists, who are able to maintain a perfect facade. Therefore your mother fits right in. The Church doesn’t speak for Jesus, who said: “What you did to the least of my brethren you did to me.” “The least of my brethren”–that includes the scapegoats! Jesus wants to console you, but do not expect anything from the Church. They are likely to side with your mother.

    • Penny

      Dear RL:
      I have been where you are: thots of suicide, scapegoated, gaslighted, humiliated, denigrated, Marginalized, minimized, slandered, demoralized, blamed, shamed, dumped on, guilt-tripped, usurped, lied about, beaten, pounded, abused & assassinated.
      I’ve been there: I wrote about it here on this blog.
      I nearly took my own life b/c I felt so trapped that there was NO conceivable way out.
      I went to a “prayer garden” and cried my guts out for over 2 hours. I was scared that I was seriously considering taking my own life to escape this pain. I thot about what highway bridge or freeway overpass I could drive off at 2 am to end my life without hurting anyone else. It was unbearable & overwhelming & engulfing.
      I could not get ANYONE to understand the depth of the wounds & the pain I was feeling.
      This is what I hear from you. It is real. I hear it. I feel it. I see it. I remember it.
      So PLEASE, please hear me: IT IS NOT YOU!!!
      This is NOT God’s best for you, but rather it is the enemy masquerading as your own mother, hell-bent to destroy you.
      But it is not God.
      It is not of God.
      Please hear me: this is a mighty spiritual battle for your heart & soul, & Jesus wants YOU.
      He does.
      But His voice is being drowned out by those who want to control you….and if they can’t control you, then they want to destroy you.
      THAT is not of God. That is the enemy.
      The prophet Elijah was in despair after he had opposed Baal, and Jezebel taunted him & opposed him and threatened him.
      He ran & hid in a cave & was in despair, & cried out to God that “I alone am left!”
      That is where you are. I know, b/c I was there too. I was spent, exhausted, overwhelmed & scared.
      It was Pastor Dave who helped me understand that Elijah had done what God asked of him, he had done mighty things thru God Almighty…..but it was not his job to fight Jezebel–God appointed Jehu to do that.
      My heart wants to say the same to you: let God fight this battle, you have stood apart & done what He requires of you—let Him now defend you. Get out of His way, let Him battle over you.
      I know that sounds weird & mystical & obtuse….but it is true.
      This is when I went “No Contact”. Period.
      I had nothing left to say, nothing left to do. I had already said & done everything God required of me! My only job was to look at Him & AWAY from those who demanded that I look at them.
      Look at Him, NOT them. Look away. Look at the cross. Look at Jesus.
      Expect NOTHING from those who honor the enemy & oppose the truth.
      Walk away my friend. I wish I could hug you & say you WILL survive this. You WILL prevail.
      But walk away.
      “Why do you seek the living among the dead?”
      Walk away, no regrets.
      I went NC 4 years ago, & never looked back.
      My narc has grovelled, complained, gossiped, postured, cajoled, shamed, blamed, lied, cried & exploited, but I grew a spine of steel, thanks to Jesus, and I never responded to any of it.
      I am free–and you can be too.
      I am praying & lifting you up.
      You can do this.
      We love you here.
      You are safe here.
      Be strong.
      Be true to the truth.
      But your job is done with those who reject the truth.
      I am so sorry for your pain.
      I truly am.
      I was there.
      It is hard.
      It is beyond hard.
      But you are loved by those you have never even met.

  89. Amanda

    My abuser has apologized for certain things; saying I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt you, it was wrong! But would then remind me of the wrong things I’d done! Also, he has recognized some of his narcissistic ways & said I didn’t deserve to be treated that way & would try to change for about a week, then would go back to his old ways! Can narcissistic people change if they want to?!

  90. My abuser would say “I am sorry I was pushed to do that. My head was not thinking right. But you also pushed me to do that. If only you had not done this and that I would not have hurt you. You also have to promise never to anger me again”. Such a fake apology shifting the blame entirely on me, and not at all feeling remorse.

  91. Marta

    I have never heard my narcissistic friend apologize for anything, she was always the one expecting apology. I remember one time, she had been confronted for her BS by our co-worker, and she started crying for like a minute, and then she said to me with the most empty voice “She’s dead to me”. Even after hearing some constrictive criticism from out boss, she would hide in some empty room and cry too, which baffled me. I had a feeling that she was using me, but I had no idea who I was dealing with at this time. She would talk behind someone’s back and then be best buddies with that person cause she wanted something from them. She would give me silent treatment, and although It would made me feel like crap, it was me who would ask her what have I done, apologize multiple times and make a fool of myself over and over again.
    Two weeks ago her silent treatment came from nowhere, I didn’t have the slightest idea what caused it. I again felt horrible, even depressed wondering what would make someone treat me like this. I googled silent treatment looking for some answers what to do and this is how I learned about NPD. I knew she was just waiting for me to come crawling back to her, but not this time, I had enough, This time I did nothing, I didn’t ask, I did’t beg, I didn’t apologize, I acted as if I didn’t notice her silent treatment. Few days passed by, she probably decided she won’t accomplish anything, and she suddenly started acting like nothing happened, being super nice, going down memory lane, messing with my head again. Only this time I don’t want to have anything to do with her, so I’m keeping my distance. Two weeks passed by without any contact (except work related), and then she suddenly sends me a message “Is there something going on with you, do you have any problems, do you hold something against me(bear a grudge)?” (it wasn’t in English and it can’t be translated literally), but I bet you it didn’t sound like an honest concern or apology. It sounded like an attack, like how dare I have a problem with her while everyone loves her. I decided not to confront her (as we still have to work together) and just answered it was the stressful period at work that was reflecting on me, completely ignoring her question about me holding something against her. We exchanged like 4 polite messages and this was it, no contact since then (except work related). Lucky for me, I will probably be switching jobs soon, for reasons not related to her, but I just wonder how will she react.

  92. kimberly

    Divine interception….today like badically everyday for 15 years after the offence and bringing it to his attention 12 hours later he comes up with a human being normal idea behind the cruelness he craps all over my life. Lets see…5pm last night he provokes by making a very uneccesary rude comment about me. I wait till we are alone and i respond…he went from gee you take stuff too personally to going over what he said 5 times and giggled giggled giggled. Stated he thought the flaw he had to reveal was ‘ cute’ then said i was too sensitive. My only reply 15 fing years ive told you how i feel about that you apologize say it wont happen again but it does over and over and over. Now im too sensitive? This morning all of thr sudden he wants to pretend he is the all caring man ‘listen’ i know you have a ton on your plate so lets just concentrate on that. F U!! Lets just be honest here..i dont believe in your way i dont want to live like that period. You should havevstuck with your honest opinion 15 years ago instead of i understand im sorry i wont do it again. Because id have been gone. Wait hault TODAYYYY. He was simply trying to say (remember it was a straight attack on me) that he thinks we should mabey be more mindful so as to make things easier on him. i provide the house i provide the meams and the ideas to make money he gives 0 finacially 0 ideas to make money and we have 2 kids. Wait mind you he said this insult while i was cooking his dinner. His apoligies are meaningless and the justifucation sickening. DO NOT EVER EVER BELIEVE SOMEONE THE SECOND TIME THEY VIOLATE YOU IN THE WORST WAY. RUN RUN RUN. NORMAL PEOPLE DO NOT TORTURE YOU.

  93. Great article, I’ve been mostly no contact with my narcissistic family for 4 years now and periodically I hear from my mom. she made excuses for her toxic parenting style and babbled on about sorry for not being good enough for you (me), when I expressed feeling it blew up from there with me not being the normal one and she owes me nothing I’m an adult, I told her that I as well didn’t owes her anything, which she then said I was mean. It never fails they always make you feel like you’re crazy and then I read an article like this and it highlights what was missing. ❤

  94. Thankful

    Thank you for your article,

    I am three years past my separation from my Narc, and still, struggle with the emotional baggage it has left behind. While in my almost 19 year relationship I suspected that there was something wrong but never realised it was as severe as it was until after I got out. The only reason I finally got free was that he confessed to 8 years of same-sex adultery, which only adds an entirely new layer of messed up to my situation. For years I struggled with the level of disconnect I and my children endured from my husband, and when I would feel strong enough or something would happen where I just could not take any more, I would confront him. I admit this was not always done well. Done well or not it was always met with the same responses. Like “I don’t mean to upset you, it is just how you take it”, or “you seem to be struggling at the moment, do you need to go and talk to someone? ” or the most infuriating was the dead-eye stare that conveyed he did not care. These would all be followed by him walking away like somehow he was superior to whatever it was I was trying to resolve, often without saying a word. If I questioned why he was not answering my questions or did not have anything to say he would respond with, “I need time to think about what it is you have said and formulate a response”. At first, I just thought he was trying to be considerate and not create a bigger issue by saying something dumb. But the longer this cycle went on, and the more I desired to change the better I got at confronting him and realised that his responses were just more of his avoidant behaviour. But because it took years to finally get to freedom, my character took a hit. After separation, my Narc used my past emotional responses to justify not only his actions during our marriage but every action since. He showed no remorse and hid behind church leadership who chose to keep him at the expense of myself and our children and I am ok with that on a cognitive level as they are also Narc in nature and gaining freedom was and additional exercise in psychological warfare. The thing that amazes me is how many others have endured similar if not identical experiences at the whim of a Narc. So I am grateful to articles such as this one to help gain normalisation for what I have been, and are still going through and to realise that this is not the character of a man of Christ.

    I wish all the very best

  95. Stephens

    The one profound thing that srands out to me….he NEVER ONE TIME EVER just apologized. He never came to me and said hey i did something or said something that was wrong i apologize. I was blindsided constantly. I went to oregon recently and had my and my kids things at an apartment. Then a storage that had my household things in it. He brought home a stray dog like i need another thing to be vresponsible for. bit my mid in the thumb…we are on day 6 of hospitilization and one surgery later for infection. Anyway my kids thumb was swollen and pusy and he wantrd his dad to help him because it hurt. He yells at him and says i dont kniw what you want me to do your mother packed up everything and lost it all you have nothing and walked away.he didnt tell me our son did. His explanation. I just wanted him to know you werent perfrect. He should have his knee caps shot off. Douchebag

  96. Ev

    What about “I’m sorry I did not meet your expectations”?

  97. Hephzibah

    Apologies are seldom heard from my N. About the best it gets is an occasional “I’m sorry you feel that way.” The “next best” are demands that I forgive him – which at least admits the possibility that he might bear some responsibility/blame – but more likely just means that he can see that I am obviously holding something against him even though it wasn’t his fault, so the way to get around that is just to have me forgive him, which means (to him) that the offense has to be forgotten and never mentioned again. Voilà! But the usual is not an apology or a demand that I forgive, but (of course) an EXCUSE (blameshifting)! The most frequent excuse is “Well, you didn’t tell me not to!” (And by “tell me not to” he means VERY SPECIFICALLY. Unless I have very recently asked him NOT to to do that exact thing that he just did, or NOT to say the very words he just said, he holds that the excuse is valid.) He knows that no one can ever dream up exactly what he is going to do next. So there is his ready-made excuse which precludes any need for apology from him, since it is all my fault anyway and therefore it’s I who owe HIM an apology for holding against him something that I hadn’t even told him not to do. Poor him! He’s once again the victim of my unreasonable expectations.

    • Ha, classic.

      It took me a long time to realize that if I did not preface my every word with “please don’t share this with anyone,” absolutely anything I said would get spread around. And if I did preface with that phrase, then word would spread how secretive I am. I finally learned to simply not share anything with that person, which was one of the first signs of how this friendship is no friendship at all.

  98. asilzer1

    I feel like I’m right in the middle of a battle right now. I started counselling around this time last year regarding my relationship with my mom. About the second or third session my counsellor told me he suspected mom was NPD. We had a HUGE family blow up on Canadian thanksgiving back in October. I wasn’t even there for most of it but was dragged in because my sisters told mom things I had told them in confidence. It was ugly! Long story short I confirmed what I had told my sisters and tried my best to be truthful about things I was scared to talk to her about such as that my husband and I are thinking of moving across country in the next year, and that we were moving in a different direction spiritually as a family… still Christian…. just not any well known denomination. She said some really hurtful things to me about this and my husband. She also accused me of talking badly about her to my foster sister and asked me to tell my foster sister that I was being judgemental and not giving my mom the benefit of the doubt. When I refused to do what she wanted she became very angry and said even more hurtful things. I decided to write a letter stating some boundaries in regards to matters of faith, her lack of respect for my husband and myself, as well as her insisting on my clearing her name, etc.
    This was the initial text I got when she read my letter: I just read your letter. I am to emotionally and physically spent because of D and S to even respond. You have totally misunderstood me my reactions to you and things I have said and as the saying goes made ” a mountain out of a mole hill” you have interpreted disappointment as anger. I have gone through so much emotional turmoil regarding D that I am reduced to numbness and I have nothing more to say to you at this point. If you choose not to come and spend time with us that isn’t what we want but I am at this point not putting any effort in to it because I am used up.

    I didn’t respond. The next day she texted to ask if I was ok. I said yes, that I loved her but was busy with my sons as it was bed time.

    This past week I texted her a picture of the boys and commented about it. All I got was “that’s good”.

    Honestly, I don’t even know what to do or say anymore. Then yesterday and today I got the following:
    I just reread your letter this evening thinking I would write you a response however I can see that whatever I said wouldn’t make a difference in our situation as you don’t seem to understand me or my intentions. I guess I don’t express myself very well. All I can say is that I am sorry that I am not the mother that you have needed me to be. I have felt like I haven’t measured up for sometime now and your letter confirmed what I have felt. It comes rather as a shock because when I looked around me at other mothers I felt I wasn’t doing to bad . It seems however that I have been wrong. I will try in the future not to express my opinion as it seems I am most likely to say the wrong thing.
    It is your choice when and if you want to come for a visit. You are welcome but I expect our way of relating will be strained now. So I suppose shorter visits are wise now.
    I am sorry that I have hurt you in the past and made Christopher uncomfortable None of that was my intention.
    Writing letters take to long. That is why I choose to text. Talking on the phone wouldn’t be a wise choice.
    I just reread what I wrote last night. I love you April always have and always will. I am just very disappointed in myself that I haven’t been the mother you needed.

    I have no clue what to do…. I keep praying for direction and I’m getting nothing…. I keep praying that I don’t sin against my mom in trying to deal with this and I hear nothing…. so right now I’m doing nothing and feeling miserable as a result. Is there anyone there who can help me/ any advise? I’m not hearing to go no contact but to eventually keep things low contact.

  99. Tiredofthis

    I can definitely relate although I’m so conflicted if my mother is a really good narcissist and I have trouble seeing it by her masking behind her “chistian holiness” or if she’s just normal idk. I brought up some issues that happened a few years back recently as an example along with another recent example of what she does/how she acts that hurts me &how i feel like im lying to her about wanting to go over there every week to see my parents with my son, and she immediately took it as finger pointing, told me how dare I bring up past issues and dump them on her I might as well have called her a B & that I need to truly seek christ & forgive in my heart “these people” (which she means herself and probably thinks I feel this way about my siblings that don’t talk to me ). She said no wonder why I’m being haunted by this, once I truly forgive and have peace than I’ll stop being so critical because I can’t change who she is as a person. She’s always been super preachy to me which rubs me the wrong way because I feel at times her words are hypocrisy. When I try to stand up for myself or talk about it or our relationship she goes to the have I ever told you how to raise your child, or what to do in your marriage, etc ( sees like she asks questions to redirect me she outright hasn’t said so she knows the answer I will.say is no) I don’t know what to do anymore.

  100. Dave

    Here is an apology I got: “I’m sorry you didn’t feel from me what you had hoped to. I cannot control how you feel.”

  101. after sending malicious smear campaigns, threats. lies, stealing, cheating and, narc sent me these kind of ”apologies” ;

    ”sorry if if i did something unintentionally to offend you” if you don’t forgive you will not be forgiven”

    even the ”apology” itself is just further abuse and manipulation…

    when i ignored him he then got some other people to stalk me and then a relative to tell me that he has ”health problems” i told that that i was not a doctor that he needs to see a doctor but that his malicious behaviour could be behind it and i went no contact. my whole life i’ve been hearing how the Ns are dying from some some imaginary health problem and giving them empathy giving them money and time to receive abuse in return and they are still around and doing very well…

  102. CJ

    Oh boy! Do you guys know my narc ex??? Really, he was physically abusive to me and I called 911. He immediately called a friend and said “hey, you gotta get over here right now…I’m being framed!” He didn’t come to see how he had hurt me, how bad my injuries were…..NO….he called his friend and said “I’m being framed!” Then 4 days later, when I came to get my belongings out of his house, he saw all the bruises. He asked me “how did you get those?” When I told him HE CAUSED THEM…he cried, but while crying he said “we’re BOTH broken”!!! A few days later he said “you know I was thinking about your bruises, and maybe you have them because you’re anemic!” WHAT????? AMEMIC???? I’m not anemic by the way! He could never own up to what he did. I sent him pictures of the bruises by the way, evidence from the police report. He went no-contact ever since! Nice huh?!

    • Cecilia K

      Wow, CJ, even though I know what Narcs are like, I’m still shocked (and yet, a little not) every time I read stories like this. It’s unbelievable, their utter denial, and yet, I believe your (now) ex knew he was responsible for your bruises; he just wanted to make you doubt what you Knew to be true, and to make a desperate attempt to not get in trouble. How devious and cunning to tell his friend he was being framed, to try to discredit you before you had the opportunity to share what happened with anyone (well, besides the 911 operator). How despicable and evil! I’m glad you got out!

  103. Katie

    I agree with almost everything you said; however, I don’t think it is narcissistic to want forgiveness. I don’t think a narcissist wants that–it’s a normal thing to want. I think you need to keep trying to get forgiveness if you mean your apology, by continuing to strive to be better and kinder. I also think that saying you didn’t mean to hurt someone or explaining why you said the hurtful thing is not a narcissistic thing to do. Sometimes we hurt people unintentionally and only another narcissist would get mad at you for explaining what you meant while apologizing. Personally, as the recipient of an apology, I would like to know what was intended when I am offended. Great article! I’ve heard those apologies you listed. I just wanted to offer an alternative explanation for when apologies with explanations can also be remorseful.

    • Cecilia K

      “…saying you didn’t mean to hurt someone or explaining why you said the hurtful thing is not a narcissistic thing to do.”

      Katie, Thank you for this comment!!! I have been wanting to respond for several days now, but I don’t have a lot of time to interact here, not nearly as much as I used to. But I just wanted to say that it is so nice to hear someone say this!!

      I pretty much always tried to explain my offenses, with my (now) ex-nbf (and I guess maybe I do it with others, too, but I don’t seem to offend anyone else in my life nearly as much as I did my ex, so it’s hard to say). I think I would try to explain, because I always felt misunderstood; I don’t know for sure. It just felt like the natural thing to do; yet, he would always get so mad when I would do it. One time, I remember, he interrupted me and said, “IS THIS YOUR IDEA OF AN APOLOGY?!?!?” He always shamed me for it; yet, the few times when he would actually apologize for something, I remember there Were times when he would explain his offense while apologizing. Sometimes, I didn’t call him on it, but I remember at least one time, I did, and surprisingly, I think he actually said he was wrong to do it. Not that I really think it’s wrong, necessarily, to try to explain why you did something or that you didn’t mean to do it, or whatever, but his double standard just made me mad, so I appreciated that he agreed that he violated his own rule.

      But anyway, I totally get what you mean. Sometimes, I do appreciate when someone explains their actions, and with my ex, at least, like I said, I always felt the need to explain myself, because I felt like he misunderstood what I meant. And actually, I recall one instance with the man I dated before my last bf, when he got mad at me for something, but when I explained why I did what made him mad, he realized he had misinterpreted the offense, and he softened… So it Can help smooth things over to explain the situation.

  104. Anewanon

    ““How would you feel if someone had done that to you?”

    Is exactly how Nathan got King David to see the error of his ways and repent. 🙂

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