Narcissists almost never offer a real apology. Sure, they may say the words, “I’m sorry” sometimes, but the words are often followed up by words &/or actions that prove this apology isn’t genuine. Sometimes however, they can be quite convincing that this time, the apology is real. This post is to help you spot the signs of a fake narcissistic apology.
The fake apologies are most likely to flow freely after ending a relationship with a narcissist. They may even say the right things like, “I’ve changed”, “I know I did some bad things,” or even, “I’ll get therapy”. The words can be very believable. Naturally, you will want to believe them too. No one wants to accept that there are people out there capable of the cruelty that narcissists commit on a daily basis.
The problem with such apologies is if you give the narcissist a bit of time after the first apology, some cracks will start to show. Instead of, “I’ve changed,” they may say things like, “I’ve changed but I need you to do some changing too.” They also may add a “but” to their apology. “I’m sorry I did that to you, but you really made me angry!” Suddenly their willingness to go to therapy either turns into a willingness to go to couples therapy rather than individual, or they claim they never said they would go to therapy in the first place.
At this point, many victims are sucked in by the first, more sincere sounding apology. They make excuses for the narcissist’s sudden changes. They blame themselves for making the narcissist do the terrible things they did or even their lack of patience & understanding with the narcissist. They also think maybe the narcissist is right, & they never promised they would go to therapy.
If the victim continues with this train of thought, resuming the relationship with the narcissist is very likely. In the beginning the victim will be glad they did this, because everything will be good. The narcissist won’t be so cruel, but instead will be kind, understanding, even gentle. This “honeymoon” period lulls victims into a false sense of security. They believe the narcissist has really changed this time. They believe the narcissist meant what they said, & the relationship is going to be ok.
Little by little though, the narcissist begins to resume his or her old ways. It probably will start out as subtle criticisms or attempts at control or manipulation. These won’t happen as often as they once did, which makes it easy for a victim to brush them off.
As time passes, however, the narcissist gradually returns to his or her old ways, & most likely adds some new tricks to the repertoire. The victim ends up shocked one day when reality sets in, & they see that the narcissist never changed at all.
This scenario almost always happens, no matter the nature of the relationship with a narcissist. You mostly hear about it in the context of romantic relationships, but it also happens with friendships or parent/child relationships.
Don’t let this happen to you!! If you have ended a relationship with a narcissist, refrain from having any contact with that person at all. If you must, keep your contact minimal while showing no emotions. If you can have someone act as a mediator between you both, all the better.
Any contact you do have with the narcissist gives him or her the chance to “apologize” & attempt to lure you back. Don’t fall for it! If he or she doesn’t accept responsibility for the behavior & ask how to make things right, or if he or she demands you believe or trust them, those are signs the apology isn’t sincere. If you resume the relationship at this point, you’ll be as miserable if not more miserable than you were before. Don’t let that happen. Walk away & take care of yourself.