Narcissists are the most superficial bunch of people you can imagine. Everything about them is a charade, right down to their apologies.
On the rare occasion they do apologize, there isn’t one sincere thing about it. Maybe they say the right words, but I can assure you, there is nothing sincere about apologies coming from a narcissist.
If you’re wondering how you can be sure whether or not the narcissist in your life truly means their apology, I am going to list some differences below between a sincere apology & a narcissistic apology.
- Sincere apologies always include accepting responsibility for the wrong that was done & don’t shift blame. Narcissists may say they are sorry for what they did, but then they make an excuse for it. “I’m sorry I said that, but I wouldn’t have said it if you wouldn’t have done….” Or, they may even deny doing what they did entirely, making you feel like you’re crazy.
- If the behavior doesn’t change, the apology isn’t sincere. People who truly are sorry for hurting another person do their best never to repeat that behavior. Insincere apologies may sound sincere sometimes, but the fact the offending person’s behavior didn’t change is a big clue that they didn’t mean their apology.
- Insincere apologies are passive/aggressive. “I’m sorry you feel that way.” “I’m sorry you think what I did was wrong.” While the words “I’m sorry” are being said, it’s clear the person saying such things doesn’t believe they have done something wrong. The person is angry about being called out on their behavior, & will apologize just to shut you up.
- Insincere apologies are vague, rather than specific. Rather than saying, “I’m sorry I cheated on you,” a narcissist may say, “I know I’ve made some mistakes in our marriage.”
- Sometimes apologies can be used to hurt you. My mother once told me she realized she made a lot of mistakes while raising me. I thought maybe she realized what she did to me & wanted to apologize for it. She sounded so sincere. Instead, she continued by saying “Obviously I made mistakes. Just look at how you turned out.” She guaranteed I would pay attention by sounding sincere & by what she said. Once she had my full attention, she dropped that cruel bomb on me.
- Sincere apologies acknowledge the pain that was caused, while insincere ones ignore it. Using the cheating spouse example again, a sincere apology would be something like, “I’m sorry I cheated on you. I know doing that has devastated you. I’m so sorry..it was wrong & it’ll never happen again, I promise.” Narcissists lack empathy, so your pain that they caused is one of two things- not even a blip on their radar because they didn’t think of you in the slightest, or your pain is something they enjoyed causing you.
- A narcissist expects you to accept their apology once they say it, then drop the topic forever. Narcissists don’t want to discuss what happened. In their minds, saying they’re sorry (no matter how insincerely it’s said) once is good enough. They said that, so you should be over it & never bring it up again.
- Narcissists love to make the victim feel that they should forgive & forget. If you’re a Christian, have been wronged or abused by a narcissist & they apologize to you, chances are very good the narcissist will make you feel like you’re a terrible example of your faith if you don’t forgive & forget what was done to you. This apology can make you feel as bad or worse than the original offense.
- Some narcissists apologize for something they think you’re upset about in order to placate you. My father has done this. After my mother in-law passed away in 2016, my parents & I had a huge argument. My father later apologized to me for asking if my husband & I were still together during that argument. (He kept trying to deflect me off the topic). Granted, it wasn’t a good thing to ask, but it also wasn’t the reason I was so angry with him. I told him that & explained exactly why I was angry. He looked at me like a deer in the headlights. Clearly, he couldn’t understand why I’d be upset that he & my mother wanted to “pay their respects” to someone who had been so cruel & abusive to me. Also, it was obvious he thought that all should be fine- he apologized. Never mind the fact what he apologized for wasn’t the thing he should have apologized for.
Dear Reader, please keep these actions in mind when you must deal with a narcissist. Remembering them will help you not to buy their insincere apology. You don’t need that aggravation! If you fall for their apology, they’ll see you as someone they can manipulate & do so more & more. Who needs that?! You don’t! And, you deserve to be treated better than that.