Yes and no. How’s that for a contradiction?
A narcissist believes they are good. They have conditioned themselves to believe that they are ALL good and have no character flaws. They believe anyone who questions their “goodness” is bad. They believe, from conditioning, that those who are “bad” must be punished.
So, do they know they treat people badly? I’d say, that deep down, in that place where they have their emotionally arrested selves hidden, they know. This will never come to light. Not an inkling of it will be allowed out of the locked drawer where the Narcissist keeps everything he sees as a poor reflection of himself.
If a Narcissist apologizes to you for treating you badly, you’d better read the fine print, which isn’t immediately visible because it is contained between the lines. Mine did it thus: (bold and italics are mine)
“I apologize if I hurt your feelings, but you know this is how I am and if you take it personally, that’s your fault. If I do it again, tell me and I’ll apologize, but know that it’s just how I am and that I will do it again.”
See what he’s done? First he declines to admit that he actually DID hurt my feelings. He states “if.” This is typical of an NPD. They’re not going to admit to hurting anyone’s feelings, so they use a qualifier that absolves them of blame and places all blame on you. What this man said to me in that first sentence is this: “I’m not apologizing for anything. The entire issue is immaterial.”
Next, he absolves himself of accountability for his actions by stating “you know this is how I am.” Because I “knew” this was how he was, I was then simply supposed to accept it, smile, and shrug it off by telling myself: “oh, that’s just how he is. He didn’t mean anything by it.” I’m not supposed to feel anything but loving acceptance of his little quirks and because (since he’s already told me this in his apology) he’s accepted “how” he is, then something’s wrong with me that I don’t accept it. I’m supposed to actually support and encourage his unacceptable behavior, because after all, HE accepts it and encourages it within himself because he sees nothing wrong with it.
After that he tells me it’s MY FAULT my feelings got hurt and it’s my fault because I found “how he is” unacceptable.” THIS little bit of information will be stored away for future use against me. A Narcissist won’t tolerate anyone finding anything about them unacceptable.
Let me tell you, this piece of it came out about a month later in a long-winded nasty diatribe where he tells me how horrible I am, how undesirable I am as a partner, and that he doesn’t have “romantic feelings” toward me because I’ve “evinced dissatisfaction” with him. Poor boy. Oh dear. See – this is classic NPD.
What I didn’t know at the time is this:
1. He’s NPD
2. NPDs don’t HAVE romantic feelings.
3. I wasn’t in a relationship.
4. All the stuff I saw in him that I thought was so wonderful was simply him reflecting MYSELF back to me. He stole my compassion, empathy and any trait he thought was good and could be used to make himself look good and he reflected it back to me.
5. At the point where his hyper-sensitive, as-seen-on-TV, get-it-now-for-the-low-low-price-of-$19.99-but-wait-if-you-order-in-the-next-10-minutes-you’ll-get a-second-one-free Little Orphan Annie Imaginary Criticism Decoder Ring scrambled my communications he pulled out every bit of information his LOAICDR had given him, and using the companion LOAICDR Translation Tool for Narcissists, the free gift that came with the rings if you ordered within the next ten minutes he decoded a message that said “My feelings are hurt” to mean “You are a bad person, you’re stupid, worthless, and will never amount to anything.” You see, the LOAICDR is extremely sensitive and the companion Translation Tool for Narcissists has only one translation for anything that’s perceived as criticism. That translation is compatible with all the emotional abuse heaped on the Narcissist prior to age 6.
6. The Translation Tool for Narcissists does provide instructions for keeping this from happening again, which is to immediately spin the situation, deny accountability and project blame for any and all hurt on the victim. It then tells the Narcissist to react with vicious devaluation of the victim before the victim has time to sort through all the Narcissist-speak. It instructs the Narcissist to stomp the victim into submission and do it HARD and if that doesn’t work, to simply throw the victim in the trash and go get a new one. But I digress. Let’s get back to the deconstruction of my N’s “apology.”
Then he says: “If I do it again” meaning that there’s doubt he did it in the first place. He says to tell him “if” he does it again and he’ll apologize, and then qualifies that with the justification (completely rational to him) that it’s just “how” he is, and then he goes on to tell me he WILL do it again.
It’s classic Narcissist gaslighting. It’s classic Narcissist-speak for: “You’re crazy, I’m not. You’re bad, I’m good. You’re worthless, I’m omnipotent.”
Anyone besides me see an issue with this “apology?” I hope so.
A Narcissist will defend his or her right to treat you badly, and they will do it using a rationale that is only logical to them. When a non NPD hears the narcissist explaining WHY he or she did what they did, it will ALWAYS come out as an action they could not control because you MADE them do it. You won’t have time to process it because it will be followed up with more vitriol. Remember this: Every horrible thing a Narcissist does or says to you is a projection of what he KNOWS to be true about himself. It has nothing to do with you, it is not true about you, and the Narcissist has to convince you that it IS true about you, particularly if you are their only source of supply at the time. They are desperate to stomp you into a submissive little mirror.
A Narcissist does not own his or her actions. If they did, there would be no narcissists.
If you are being treated badly by a Narcissist, the odds are very good that you’re to blame. Didn’t you know that? (read sarcasm, please).
If you are being treated badly by a Narcissist (not IF – WHEN) it is because you did not reflect appropriately to them.
When you are being devalued by a Narcissist it is NOT your fault. It is simply because the Narcissist does not view you as anything other than an object with an expiration date.
If you stay with a Narcissist, beyond the point where you realize what’s going on, you will continue to be treated badly, and then it really WILL be your fault, because you made a choice to stay.
If you stay with a Narcissist thinking you can fix them, you are DELUDED. Get help NOW.
If you stay with a Narcissist because after you had a deep, heart-felt conversation with them, and things got better, you’d better be prepared for an emotional nuclear warhead to plow through you.
Narcissists don’t HAVE “deep, heart-felt conversations.” They let YOU talk, and they make assenting noises if they’re at the point where they realize they’re about to lose their current supply and they don’t have any other supply lined up.
So – clear as mud? A Narcissist is a walking contradiction.