I have heard so many people say that narcissists never change. While this is often true, I disagree with it in some situations.
Narcissists absolutely can change, but only if they see the need. After an argument, they are usually very nice to their victims to win their trust back, including promises of better behavior. They also may stop their abuse, even mid-rage, if someone whose opinion they care about enters the room. Obviously, they possess the ability to change. The problem is they rarely want to change for long, because being abusive gets them what they want.
Narcissists also change as they age. If a narcissist would terrify victims by screaming & hitting when he was 35, he can’t be intimidating like that anymore at 75. This means that he will have to find new ways to abuse. There are also some covert narcissists who become overt narcissists due to age or brain diseases like Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Also, I am a firm believer in Matthew 19:26 in which Jesus says, “With God, all things are possible.” This tells me that a narcissist could change, & become a non-narcissist, with God’s help. Likely? Not really, because although all things are possible with God, people still have a free will, He won’t infringe upon that & narcissists are quite content with their behavior since it benefits them.
How can a person tell if a narcissist is sincere & genuinely changing for the better? There are some signs you can look for.
Does the narcissist back up words with actions? If someone promises, “That will never happen again!”, yet it does happen again, that tells you this person has no real desire to change.
Is the narcissist’s apology genuine? Does he or she apologize as often as necessary? A genuine apology is more than simply saying, “I’m sorry.” A genuine apology includes the person accepting responsibility for what they did & putting effort into making things right. It also should be said however often the victim needs to hear it. It should NOT include excuses, blaming you or someone else, or the word “but” immediately after “I’m sorry.” It also should NOT be passive/aggressive, such as, “I’m sorry for whatever you think I did,” “I’m sorry if I did anything that upset you,” or, “I’m sorry you feel that way.”
Does the narcissist pressure you to take him or her back, or resume the relationship as it once was? Anyone who truly has changed their abusive ways will understand that it takes time to earn a person’s trust back once it has been broken. They will be willing to wait as long as it takes while doing whatever it takes to repair the damage to the relationship.
Is the narcissist mirroring you? Does he or she suddenly agree with everything you say or has he or she developed a sudden interest in things that matter to you? That is mirroring. In other words, this person is trying to act like you so you will feel comfortable enough with him or her to resume the relationship.
If the narcissist is behaving in a way that shows you this person has changed, what happens when he or she slips into old habits? No one is perfect. It’s only natural to make mistakes when trying to change, no matter how much we may want to change. How does he or she handle those times? Does this person apologize immediately & change the behavior? Or, does this person make excuses, blame you or show in some other way that he or she is accepting no responsibility for what he or she did?
Is the narcissist willing to discuss problems reasonably? Typical narcissistic behavior when someone confronts them involve temper tantrums, guilt trips, denial &/or gaslighting. Proof of change would be that he or she will listen to you without acting in such a way.
Dear Reader, I hope you consider these points if the narcissist in your life says they have changed. They can be fantastic actors, capable of convincing people of pretty much anything they wish.
Also please remember that although with God all things are possible & narcissists can change for the better, it is highly unlikely. Pray for it. Hope for it. At the same time, never forget that it isn’t terribly probable. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, as the saying goes.