According to merriam-webster.com, repent means:
1: to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one’s life
2 a : to feel regret or contrition
b : to change one’s mind
Narcissists are incapable of true repentance. It’s very obvious to anyone who has been in any type of relationship with a narcissist for even a short length of time that their behavior looks nothing like the definitions of repentance. They don’t turn from sin or dedicate themselves to change. They don’t feel regret or contrition. They don’t change their minds either unless doing so can somehow benefit them.
If you expect such things from a narcissist, you need to know they will never happen. They may put on a good show of repentance sometimes, but only if doing so benefits them. If a victim wants to end the relationship, for example, they may promise change & appear to have regrets, but the problem is these things are only for show. And, this show won’t last forever. It only lasts until the narcissist realizes the victim is back in the relationship to stay.
While narcissists are perfectly capable of change, the fact is they rarely want to, & when they do, they do only because it will be advantageous to them. They only pretend to change when someone ends a relationship with them because they want that person back in their life, & to resume the dysfunctional relationship as it was. Causing someone pain & suffering truly isn’t enough motivation for a narcissist to truly change. The suffering of others is totally irrelevant to them.
When dealing with narcissists, they seem to think they are above such things as true repentence. So long as they say they are sorry, all should be forgiven & forgotten, & the relationship should return to its normal, abusive & dysfunctional state. They believe that the fact they don’t really mean that they’re sorry shouldn’t matter to their victims. The fact that the narcissist is unable to feel remorse for the pain they caused also shouldn’t matter, & neither should their unwillingness to truly repent. In their minds, it’s simply the victims’ job to forgive, forget & tolerate the narcissist’s abuse indefinitely.
The problem though is that this is utterly unhealthy. Not only for the narcissist who engages in such incredibly dysfunctional thinking, but in particular for their victims.
There is a saying.. “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over & over while expecting different results.” How true is that? It makes perfect sense! If a narcissist apologizes to you for something, then you forgive & forget, soon you can count on the narcissist doing that same behavior to you again. He or she had no consequences for the bad behavior. Then you forgive & forget again, & the cycle continues.
If you are expecting the narcissist in your life to one day to have an epiphany, realize just how terrible their behavior is, & truly repent, give up on that idea. Yes, it’s difficult. Yes, it’s painful. However, it’s much easier than continuing to live life waiting on something that is not going to happen & be continually disappointed. Instead, live your life without that expectation. Maybe it will happen one day. With God, all things are truly possible. If it does, rejoice & be grateful! But, if it doesn’t, you won’t be devastated if it never does because you had a reasonable expectation that it wouldn’t happen.