What I have learned.

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I had some computer problems tonight (am still having them–this computer is running very slow), so that’s why I haven’t posted anything. I am finally getting to do that.

Some of us may think a narcissist can change. Some of us may think that deep down, they can’t possibly be such bad people. We make excuses for them: they’re rough around the edges, need someone to care about them, they’re really a big softy under that hard exterior, they’re defensive and nasty to us because they’ve been hurt too often.

Not everyone who is rough acting or cranky is a narcissist. There are people who throw up defense mechanisms or act grumpy or snap at you for no reason, but you’ll be able to tell they aren’t narcissists because they won’t be trying to gaslight you, triangulate against you, tell you lies, project their own character flaws onto you, blame you for things that you didn’t do, or act sadistic to try to hurt you. They will have a conscience; they can feel empathy; they can apologize when they’ve been wrong and mean it. They may be depressed or anxious which causes them to act out. They may have something on their mind or be angry with someone. It could even be cultural–kids who had to grow up in rough neighborhoods may act a bit hard-edged even as adults, but that doesn’t make them narcissists or bad people.

A good way to tell if someone who is lashing out at you is not a narcissist is to wait until they are calmed down, and then calmly ask them why they attacked you. If they apologize or talk about their feelings with you, most likely they aren’t a narcissist (but be careful, because a narcissist who thinks they might be losing their supply could be love-bombing you).

If they ignore you, change the subject, or most tellingly, tell you you’re the one with the problem and they’ve done nothing wrong, most likely you’re dealing with a narcissist. Once you know that, expect nothing from them, because you will always be disappointed.

If you know someone is a narcissist, never give them the benefit of the doubt.
They aren’t nice people.
They aren’t going to change.
You cannot help them.
You cannot reason with them.
You cannot get them to “see your side” of things.
They cannot be pleased.
They don’t care about your feelings, only their own.
You are wasting your time on them.

Being nice to them or pandering to them not only won’t work; it will make them treat you worse. They may respect you if you play their own games right back or stand up to them, but they are never going to like you, because they don’t like anyone, least of all themselves.

I like to think the best about people. I’m a natural born sucker. I always give people the benefit of the doubt.
Until today, I thought there was hope for some of them. But I learned a hard lesson.
There is hope for none of them.
They may not want to be narcissists, but they are, and nothing they or you or anyone can do will ever make them change. The only thing that makes sense is to stay the hell away from them or avoid them as much as possible.

They are poison. They live in a hell they created for themselves and they will take you with them if you give them half a chance.
Don’t.

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16 thoughts on “What I have learned.

  1. Two problems:
    Some people have anger management issues, making it difficult to tell when they’re effectively calmed.
    Some people have such social/personal issues that they can shut down/disconnect, where it can seem like they’re ignoring you.
    None of what a narc does should end one’s faith in humanity; being dead on humanity is part of what makes someone s narc.

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    • These are good points you are making, and I agree about some people having anger issues that make it hard for them to calm them down. You might have to wait longer to confront them. Some people do shut down too. But I think most people will eventually open up to you if you give them a chance and aren’t attacking them, just discussing their behavior reasonably.

      Don’t get me wrong though–I haven’t given up on humanity, but narcs can’t change. I don’t agree they’re not human though–they are, but they’ve made a choice and they can’t escape from it. Only God himself could help them. Nothing we do can. It’s guaranteed to result in nothing but frustration.

      Fortunately they’re a tiny minority (4%), although for those of us who seem to attract them (or be attracted to them), sometimes it seems like the percentage is much higher. Victims also tend to mislabel anyone who shows a red flag, but all of us show red flags at different times. You have to look for a pattern or several red flags.

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    • Good point. And some disorders can be confused with NPD or misdiagnosed as NPD–Borderline personality disorder (BPD) and autism/Aspergers are commonly misdiagnosed as NPD. I think I read somewhere OCD can be also

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    • Narcissism runs on a spectrum,like autism. At the top are psychopaths/sociopaths–then malignant narcissists who can also be psychopathic….then garden variety narcs who may not be that bad…then something I call “benign”narcissists who are barely narcissists at all — they might even be able to change. But there’s no hope at all for malignants and psychopaths. Even people who aren’t on the spectrum can have N traits, most of us do, and in moderation, a little narcissism is a good thing. It helps us survive.

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  2. “If they ignore you, change the subject, or most tellingly, tell you you’re the one with the problem and they’ve done nothing wrong, most likely you’re dealing with a narcissist.” I’ve experienced that. I may also have experienced “love bombing”.

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  3. I have met these grouchy types that aren’t narcs. I used to work with this woman that I can tell you that was as tough as can be. She was my supervisor. She was mean and could get the men very scared. In fact she had everyone scared. Except me. I was the litmus paper for narcissists, and she had every opportunity to abuse me and she treated me kindly. She would bring me food when everyone else would ignore me when lunch orders were made. She wore a mask to keep everyone afraid. But I knew the truth.

    Even my husband, tough guy, the boss at work, can make everyone scared. But he is sweet and kind to me, and never tramples on vulnerability.

    I think I like these types of people the best. No nonsense, and they keep the narcs in line.

    I also think it is best not to hope for a narcissist to change. I spent 20 years with my ex hoping for him to change. He is still the same to this day. Hoping for someone to change keeps us in an abusive situation. Spend life living, not just hoping.

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  4. It is one thing knowing all of this and another accepting that narcs just cannot change. I thought I was finally done with mine after weeks of no-contact but he managed to get back in again. Two days ago, I spent an hour on the phone explaining how I felt and trying to get him to admit to what he’s done wrong. Like I haven’t tried this before! Shouldn’t I know by now that there is no point trying to get them to understand somebody else’s point of view? Of course I know, and yet I tried. He said, “Yes I suppose, I guess you’re right” and so on but I know perfectly well he was only indulging me because we haven’t been in contact for weeks and he misses me – he didn’t actually mean any of it. And if I needed further proof of that, he said near the end of the phone chat: “I’ve missed you, I mean it, I’ve really missed you…..minus the crazy.” There you go, here’s the narc I know so well, STILL saying that everything that went wrong is all my fault because I am a crazy unstable woman. WHEN will I learn?

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    • “I’ve missed you, I mean it, I’ve really missed you…..minus the crazy.”

      Classic gaslighting. They can sound nice and apologetic, and then hit you with a whammy like this. A narc will always give themselves away. You just have to be looking for it/aware of the signs.

      Their behavior is truly crazymaking.

      There’s also something called “cold empathy.” Narcissists can have cold empathy, which means they KNOW how you feel, but they just don’t care. Warm empathy has the element of caring. Narcs don’t have that.

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  5. I agree with what annj49 said, narcissism can run on a spectrum. In some cases people may seem beyond reach, while in other cases there is still some hope for them.

    The problem is, for those who there is still hope – you cannot help them. Or more precisely, an external persons attempts to “help” them is really only enabling behavior. It’s hard to see someone you love, and know that what they are doing is destructive not only to them but also to those around them. But the only time someone will change is when they bottom out, and start to take ownership of their own issues. When we try to help, that will never happen.

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    • Enabling a narcissist is common and human nature for a lot of us (women in particular, especially those raised by narcs) — but it will do anything but help them.
      The best way to help a narcissist is to deny them narcissistic supply. There’s possibly a VERY small chance a narcissist can become self-aware enough to seek counseling if they have lost everything– maybe after a divorce, incarceration, losing a fortune, death or loss of a main source of narcissistic supply could all lead a narcissist to want to change.
      A therapist has to be careful not to give any supply, which means a correct diagnosis is necessary.
      But from there, the only narcissist I can think of who actually was cured of NPD was a man named Tony Brown– he was using something called Attitudinal Healing (not the same as behavior modification like CBT, but an actual cure) and started a forum for other people with NPD who want to be cured. I’m not sure how valid all this is,but here is the forum:
      http://bb.bbboy.net/healnpd
      Tony Brown died shortly after he was cured (I think it was 2008). It looks like his forum is still very active, which is interesting.

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