In order to deliver an honest apology, one must have a certain amount of self-awareness and empathy. In addition, one must feel secure enough with themselves to look within and become aware of one’s wrongdoings and shortcomings. These are traits that Narcissists simply do not have.
Because of their lack of self-esteem and personal value, Narcissists must trick themselves into thinking that they are perfect. If they are exposed as anything but perfect, their fragile sense of self will crack. So, you typically won’t see a Narcissist apologize.
But if they do, you must be clear on the fact that they don’t mean it and never will. Although capable of physically delivering an apology, Narcissists are incapable of backing those apologies with honest meaning. And so, most narcissists do not apologize at all and if they do, it is simply for selfish reasons.
The “Honest” Apology
If a Narcissist does apologize, it is solely for self-seeking reasons and almost always used as a method of manipulation.
If you receive what seems like an honest apology from a narcissist, they are most likely portraying guilt and a willingness to change solely for the purpose of appeasing you. More often than not, they are apologizing because they want to get you back under their purview of control. They will say what they need to say to continue getting narcissistic supply from you. Remember the love bombing stage? They are great at telling you what you want to hear but not so great at actually meaning it.
A narcissist might apologize to ensure their upward trajectory at work, because it is the socially acceptable thing to do, or because they want to get you back after the discard phase. All of these reasons have one thing in common: they are used in order to maintain the Narcissistic supply that they need for emotional survival.
The faux-pology is one of the Narcissist’s favorite methods of manipulation. When a narcissist uses the faux-pology, you’ll know it. It will probably create an incredible sense of frustration for you as they never feel like real apologies. The faux-pology usually sounds something like this:
“I’m sorry you feel that way” or “I’m sorry you took it that way.” This faux-pology isn’t an apology at all. Some narcissists might not even try to hide it’s fake pretense and will say something as obviously devaluing as “I understand that you wanted an apology, so I’m sorry.” It’s best to ignore this and move on. Do not believe that this apology is real nor react in a way that might escalate the situation- giving them the supply that they are looking for.
The Victim Apology
Narcissists might apologize in order to manipulate the recipient into feeling sorry for them.
“I’m sorry. I guess I’m just a horrible person. Everything about me is awful.” Although you might actually feel bad for them, it is important to know that this is not a true apology. Playing the victim is their way of deflecting the situation at hand all while devaluing you. This “apology” is used to manage your relationship in addition to their appearance. Although it’s easier said than done, it’s important to not allow yourself to get tricked by this method of manipulation!
Narcissists will often promise you change. They will do this when they feel insecure in their relationship with you and are afraid that you will leave, or have already left. They will use this last effort in order to get more supply from you. You have probably never seen a narcissist change their behaviors in the past, so why believe them now? If you do believe them, you will again be disappointed by the reality that Narcissists do not change.