Another From Search Terms: Does a Narcissist Know They Treat People Badly?

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.



16 thoughts on “Another From Search Terms: Does a Narcissist Know They Treat People Badly?

  1. The answer is YES. 100% yes. Whether they are aware of the underlying issues of their childhood trauma doesn’t even matter at this point. Ditto whether or not they even have a clue what NPD, D&D, etc…mean.

    I say yes because my ex-N could turn the nastiness on or off, like a switch, when it suited her. She could go from charming, to “slice & dice” rage in seconds- then doorbell rings, back to “hostess with the mostest” for company, they leave, and instantly back to a shrieking harpy zooming in for the kill…If they can turn the nastiness off in public, then they know that their behaviour is unacceptable.

  2. There’s the rub, Tracy. The nastiness isn’t REALLY directed at you. When an N turns on the charm to keep up appearances, they are doing it only for as long as they can sustain it. Sometimes they can’t sustain it very long. When the nasties come out, they are projecting on you all the horror they know is in themselves (but won’t let out of the place where they’ve locked it).

    I think that belief and knowledge are two different things. I think they know, deep down that they ARE treating others badly. I think they believe they aren’t and what they believe is way more important to them than what they know. What they know could cause their true selves to be set free to grow and develop, and they’ve been taught from an early age that their true selves just aren’t acceptable, and so, between the age of six and seven, they locked that self away because to allow it out meant very bad things would happen to them.

    When your ex devalued you, she was devaluing herself. You are her mirror, remember? It doesn’t make a hill of beans of difference, though, because that zooming harpy BELIEVES she is aiming to kill YOU emotionally. That’s different from what she knows. Make sense?

    It’s like someone who KNOWS the sky is blue but chooses to believe it’s green. Truth, with regard to something an N believes is meaningless. You could record her rages, play them back for her and she’d deny it was her. She’d find some way to believe that you magically caused her voice to be on the tape and if you locked the tape in a safe where she couldn’t get to it, she’d set about concocting a lie that she’d repeat to herself over and over and over until she believed it. Then, she’d do damage control and tell everyone about this “tape” you made; she’d become the victim and everyone would be on her side the minute you pulled out the tape to attempt to prove to them what she really is.

    None of it makes sense, does it? It’s all so contradictory. It’s all so twisted and sick. I’m so glad you’re not in that situation any longer. :::: shudder :::::

  3. I do get what you’re saying with regards to knowing & believing. I was only referring to the fact that they do know their bad behaviour/actions towards their current victim would not fly in front of other people- and yes, because they know that they would lose the “respect” (supply) of those people if they ever witnessed it.

    Funny you mention recordings- as that is precisely what I did. Originally, I did it as evidence to myself that it was really happening (at one point, she had me doubting if my memory was going wonky), later I thought it would be useful in counseling when she would inevitably deny she did this regularly (& most times inebriated- which she also denied & told everyone was my issue). Ironically, those recordings were eventually heard by social workers and immigration which led to our residency grant…I remembered a site I read once that said if you are ever going to go face to face with an N, you had better have irrefutable proof, and it stuck with me, thank God…

    • Unfortunately, with an N there is no such thing as irrefutable proof. Even when confronted with evidence of their behavior they are so skilled at manipulation that they will immediately divert focus from the evidence to the motivations of the individual presenting the evidence and then start devaluing them by creating a believable, but false, construct of paranoia on the part of the one with evidence. Thus, they have smoothly deflected attention from their own actions and squarely placed their partner’s emotional stability in question.

      Gaslighting. I’m guessing you’re very familiar with this tactic.

    • Plenty of people will join in with the narcissist and even dote on them, so happy are they to be a pet, and it gives them the opportunity to bask in the narcissist’s imagined power displays, provides the pet with the opportunity to join in the abuse! In narcissistic families, the parents can encourage the spouse and siblings to use one child as a scapegoat and as the family punching bag, those siblings then grow up to enjoy being a pet of a narcissist in group settings, and they want to relive the role of finding a scapegoat so that they can project their refuse onto! Many people relive their family experience over and over again, scapegoats become scapegoated in groups, family bullies bully in groups…

  4. Oh, you bet I’m familiar with gas-lighting…this is one of the bits I found & pasted into my “diary” as I worked to get a handle on everything that was happening:

    “Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse that is used by narcissists that is deeply insidious and difficult to pinpoint. It works by instilling confusion. If you are being gaslighted you’ll lose trust in your senses, identity and common environment.

    The narcissist will tell you:

    * What you are feeling and thinking;
    * An interaction that you believed was decent with another person actually had agendas connected to it;
    * Your body language appears suggestive to other people;
    * A friend or family member has made certain references about you;
    * You were seen in a certain place acting inappropriately;
    * You said or did something (you weren’t aware of) when tired, distracted, unaware, intoxicated or asleep;
    * Certain information was discovered about you;
    * Certain people (you thought were loyal) are now agreeing about your faults;
    * The incident (created by the narcissist) was your fault, or merely a perception based on your paranoia or unstable emotions;
    * An excuse for the incidence based on a ‘story’ that extracts guilt from you, whereby you feel awful for making the ‘judgement’ you did;
    * Other people perceive you as bossy, controlling, manipulative, uncaring, incapable etc. (defective in some way).”


    Where my recordings of so many of her rages was never done to be used, legally, at the time I recorded them -(as I assumed they would be inadmissible anyway without consent)- they were very damning/damaging to her. There would be no doubt that it was all her on them- and no matter what she might have come up with to explain it all- it never would have worked. There was just too much in them for her to “fix” so I would look the perpetrator & she the victim. As it turned out, I never did get the chance to bring them out in counseling because she simply stopped going & wanted me to undergo a psychiatric exam, lol. “Yeah, well I wish I had gotten my head examined before I got involved with you- a little too late now?”, is what I told her- She doesn’t even know I have them, to this day. As I know the danger of people like her now, I have kept all of the legal papers & such in a box, just in case anything ever comes up in future. Better safe, than sorry?

    • LOL! Yep, I’m very familiar with those bullet items, too. My N used most of them in every single interaction with me. He couldn’t tell me how “other” people saw me, or say I was “seen” acting inappropriately or that a family member or friend had made references about me because he hadn’t introduced me to any of his friends and he’s not close with his family. I did meet his teenage son, who immediately liked me, and who, I’m certain, has been told what a horrible person I am.

      Gaslighting is so insidious and so cleverly managed by Ns that the victims don’t realize it’s happening until it’s too late. I was told what I was feeling and thinking, that every bit of my behavior had an agenda attached to it, that my body language was suggestive to other people (even though he had no method of ascertaining this), that I said and did things that I wasn’t aware of, that he’d “discovered things” about me that “didn’t bear mentioning” because they would just make me “feel badly” – that was at the very end. And the entire situation, when I dumped him, was turned against me. He ignored my email (because by this time he wouldn’t call me) dumping him, and proceeded to tell me how everything that went wrong was my fault, that I had faulty perceptions, that I’d mis-read him, that he attempted to rectify my misunderstandings (he never did) and finally, so he could feel like he was doing the dumping, that he “didn’t have romantic feelings toward me at this time. I should have left it at that, but I was in the knee-jerk phase and replied with “what, you don’t have them now, but you think you’ll have them at some future time?”

      My N, after perpetrating all this damage, sent me an email telling me that I was going to agree to one thing, and one thing only, he told me how I was going to agree to it, how I would feel about it and the implied threat was “or else.” Well, I didn’t do as he commanded, because 2 days after he commanded me to do this thing, which was to take a “three week break” to “calm” MY “anger” he shows up on my front porch, uninvited, and unannounced and threw a tote bag of stuff across my porch. Scared all hell out of me. I called the police because when I checked the tote bag, it did not contain all my items, thus leading me to believe he was saving some for a later excursion to my home. They told me there was nothing they could do right now but that I needed to email him immediately telling him that he was not to come on my property for any reason without first calling and TALKING to me – not leaving a message, not emailing me. I was to make it clear that he was unwelcome here unless he had spoken to me and had my permission.

      He used this as his excuse to send a final volley across my bow that said I didn’t do what he commanded, so “No means no, so I gotta go!.” Translation: “I’m taking my toys AND the sandbox, you flaming bitch and I’m not ever going to play with you again because you didn’t obey me.” Snort.

      Good riddance, bad rubbish and all that.

      I wrestle with the fact that I’m now so fearful of my own ability (or inability) to assess a GOOD man (because I raved to my family and friends about this guy) that I not only don’t date, I avoid men like the plague. My handsome, stable, wonderfully nice and incredibly understanding neighbor is moving today. He asked me out a month ago and I declined. He knew my situation and I know he was extremely circumspect about how he asked me out BECAUSE of my situation. I told him I wasn’t ready and didn’t know if I’d ever be ready.

      I have deliberately made myself as unattractive as I possibly can when I know he’s home, as we share the enclosed front porch. I scrape my hair back in a tight ponytail, put my glasses on, don’t wear makeup, put on ratty jeans and a rattier sweatshirt if I know he’s going to be on the porch and I need to be out there at the same time. Fear. I’m afraid of men right now. I’m told that at 50, I look about 35 or, at the most, 40, and just recently found out that this guy thinks I’m “cute” in what I’ve attempted to pull off as ratty and unkempt. So much for THAT trick.

      As I type this, I hear him vacuuming his now-empty apartment. I have his number and he gave me his new address. He’s a great guy, but I don’t trust myself. My instincts say I’d be safe and he’s not like the N, but the N caused way too much emotional damage. I can’t fathom allowing another man even CLOSE to my emotional self now. Sad, isn’t it? I hope I’ll get past it, but if I don’t, I’m prepared to live alone the rest of my life. I’m okay being alone. I like it, most of the time. There are times when I do want male companionship, but I can’t handle the hassle of a full-on relationship. Neither can I handle casual sex and while I can be just friends with a man, I find that they have difficulty doing the same with me.

      Maybe in a coupla years, huh?

    • One lunatic tried to tease apart every sentence that came out of my mouth. If I appeared happy about the sunshine, she would have requested that I explain why I enjoy the sunshine, then she would have behaved as if she had to know why I answered the way I did, and then she would want me to explain and explain and explain as if she thought herself an eraser and intended on wearing away at my identity.

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  8. Saying a fly-by “hey” ~~~> to MC. Hope all is well there & things for you are better. Replying the blog , to forgive me if I missed a direct, “no, I’m effing not okay, ok????”, post.

  9. “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.” I hear a version of the above statement from my 4 siblings. “That’s just the way Mom is, you need to call her to make this better” At no point has my Mother taken an ounce of responsibility. But expecting this would be the same as expecting to get grape juice from an orange.

    • David, I know you know those are simply efforts to deflect personal responsibility. I have a sibling who does the same thing. No effort to look inward to assess behaviors. Everyone is simply supposed to accept him because that’s just the way he is.

      If an individual continues with hurtful behavior after being told they have been hurtful, and uses the excuse that it’s just the way they are, I simply reply “sucks to be you!” and walk away. I can’t change them, regardless how much I wish I could. My sibling has no idea what I mean when I reply that way, and he never will. I spent years trying to help him understand. Exercise in futility. He doesn’t want to understand. Understanding means too much work, and confronting the behaviors. No narcissist can or will do that. Remember, narcissists are SPECIAL people. They’re bigger, better, stronger, faster. They are like a glum, made from clay and mud, that eventually cracks and shows their ugliness. They can’t see it, because they have no vision. They have no awareness of what people feel, because they can’t feel. They are empty inside. Joyless and devoid of compassion, empathy, sympathy and all the emotions that make humans HUMAN. They are excellent at pretending to feel, but only for short periods. All that said, woe to the individual who confronts them, thus showing them a mirror they don’t want to look in. Thus begins the deflection and devaluation. In many cases they won’t discard, because they need the supply, so they simply gaslight and deflect responsibility until their victim begins questioning themselves. Then they step into the breach, all kind and solicitous, with a grandiose and condescending sense of self importance and proceed to expound upon how right they were. If only you had listened to them, if you hadn’t said something critical, you wouldn’t be feeling self doubt or confused by their behavior.

      It’s a vicious cycle of abuse. You sound like you have a good idea of what to expect, and that’s half the battle. Just be careful and don’t ever allow an N to see that they’ve hurt you. They will exploit it until you are so stressed and frustrated that you act from emotion, thus, in their estimation, proving that YOU are the crazy, unstable and incompetent one.

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