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Can Narcissists Change?

One thing I’ve  been asked repeatedly is can a narcissist ever change?  I believe they can, if only briefly, contrary to popular belief, & I’ll tell you why.

Narcissists are the ultimate in selfish.  Everything comes back to them & getting their precious narcissistic supply.   If it will benefit a narcissist, if it will make her look good or gain her that supply, she definitely can change.

If you don’t believe me, then watch a narcissist in action.  When she is around someone she doesn’t care to impress, such as her spouse or child, they will be treated like dirt.  But, let someone “special” enter the room & she changes her entire demeanor.  I  remember  a couple of times in my late teens, my mother & I were home alone & she was screaming at me, telling me what a terrible person I was.  Then, the phone rang.  Once she answered it, she was a nice, normal person.  The person on the other end never would’ve suspected that the moment before she answered, she was a raging lunatic.  My mother in-law was much the same way.  If we were alone, she would insult everything about me, my furbabies & my family, even tell me how disappointed she was my husband married me instead of someone else.   When someone came back into the room though, sweet as pie.  In fact, after telling me that she was disappointed he married me, the next time I saw her, she introduced me to her sister as “my beautiful daughter in-law.”

My mother also changed several times in the last couple of years.  There have been times we got along just fine.  She didn’t play the usual head games or verbally tear me apart.  I don’t know why they started or ended, but they were nice while they lasted.  The first time it happened, it lasted for several months.  I thought maybe things were finally going to be normal between us.  Suddenly, she went right back to her narcissistic ways.

I don’t know if a narcissist can ever change permanently, but I do know this much.  For a narcissist to change, even for a moment, the change has to benefit the narcissist in some way.  That is the only thing that will make a narcissist change.  If you hope that she will change because she doesn’t want to hurt you any longer, then you will be disappointed.

I also learned something else.  When my mother changes for the better, I have come to accept that those times don’t usually last long.  I pray they will, but prepare myself for them ending quickly.  Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, as the saying goes.  I’ve found it to be a good idea to determine to enjoy them for however long they last.  If it’s an hour or a month, I don’t want to waste the time dreading the change back.  I try to stay in the moment & enjoy the good times as much as possible.  And, by knowing it’ll probably end soon, when it does end, I’m not devastated.  I strongly advise you to think this same way, Dear Reader, if you have to deal with a similar situation with your narcissistic mother.  It’s much healthier for you to do than getting your hopes up that this time, it’s really going to be different, then having them destroyed.

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Narcissism