Can a Narcissist Change?

by Ryan Hart | Updated on October 6, 2023 | Post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Are you in a relationship with a narcissist? Do you wonder if they can ever change? The answer is not a simple one.

The narcissistic personality disorder affects a person’s ability to empathize with others and see things from their perspective. This can make it challenging for them to change their behavior, as they may not see anything wrong with it.

However, a narcissist can change. It takes a lot of work and dedication, but with the right mindset and support, a narcissist can learn to be more empathetic and considerate of others.

The first step is for them to acknowledge that they have a problem and be willing to work on it. The use of therapy can be helpful in this process, as it can help a narcissist understand the root of their behavior and learn new coping mechanisms.

What is Narcissism?

People with narcissistic tendencies often have an inflated sense of their abilities and achievements and may feel entitled to special treatment or privileges.

While many people have some degree of narcissistic tendencies, narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a mental disorder that is characterized by a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, a lack of empathy, and a need for admiration.

People with NPD may have difficulty forming close relationships and may be prone to anger and aggression when their sense of superiority is challenged.

Some common signs of narcissistic personality disorder include:

  • A inflated sense of self-importance
  • A fascination with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
  • A belief that their existence is unique and can only be understood by other special or high-status people
  • A need for excessive admiration
  • A sense of entitlement
  • A lack of empathy for others
  • A tendency to exploit others for their own gain
  • A tendency to envy others or believe that others envy them

It is important to note that not all people with narcissistic tendencies have NPD, and not all people with NPD exhibit all of these signs.

How Do Narcissists Behave

When it comes to narcissists, their behavior can be quite complex. They often crave attention, control and manipulate those around them to get what they want. They also tend to gaslight others, making them question their own sanity and perception of reality.

Crave Attention

Narcissists often have an insatiable need for attention. They may go to great lengths to ensure they are the center of attention, whether it be through boasting, exaggerating their accomplishments, or even creating drama. They may also become angry or upset when they feel they are not receiving the attention they believe they deserve.

Control and Manipulation

Narcissists often feel a need to control those around them. They may use manipulation tactics to get others to do what they want. This can include guilt-tripping, emotional blackmail, or even threats. They may also try to isolate their victims from their friends and family to gain more control over them.

Gaslighting

Gaslighting is a tactic used by narcissists to make their victims question their own perception of reality. They may deny things they say or do, blame others for their behavior, or even make up stories to make themselves look better. This can leave their victims confused, frustrated, and even doubting their sanity.

Signs a Narcissist Can Change

If you’re wondering whether a narcissist can change, the answer is yes, but it depends on various factors. Here are some sub-sections that can help you understand the possibility of change in narcissists:

Therapy

Therapy can be effective for narcissists to change, but it requires their willingness to seek help. Narcissists seeking therapy can learn to recognize their problematic behaviors and attitudes, develop empathy, and improve their relationships. However, therapy can be challenging for narcissists who struggle to acknowledge their flaws and take responsibility for their actions.

Motivation

The best way to change a narcissist is to motivate them to change. Narcissists who are motivated to change can work on their behavior and attitudes and develop empathy, which can lead to healthier relationships. However, motivating a narcissist to change can be challenging, as they tend to resist criticism and feedback.

Apologies

Narcissists can apologize, but their apologies may not be genuine. Narcissists may apologize to manipulate others, avoid consequences, or maintain their image. However, some narcissists can learn to apologize genuinely, which can be a sign of their willingness to change.

Making Amends

Making amends is an essential step for narcissists who want to change. Narcissists can make amends by acknowledging their harmful behavior, taking responsibility for their actions, and making efforts to repair the damage they caused. Making amends can help narcissists develop empathy, repair relationships, and build trust with others.

Overcoming Narcissism

If you’re a narcissist, you may wonder if changing your behavior is possible. The good news is that it is possible to overcome narcissism with effort and dedication. Here are some ways to get started:

Empathy

One of the key traits of narcissism is a lack of empathy for others. To overcome narcissism, you’ll need to work on developing your empathy. This means learning to understand and appreciate other people’s perspectives and feelings.

One way to do this is to practice active listening. When someone is speaking to you, try to focus on what they’re saying and how they’re feeling. Avoid interrupting or dismissing their concerns.

Trust Building

Another key aspect of overcoming narcissism is building trust with others. This can be difficult if you’ve been known to manipulate or take advantage of people in the past.

To build trust, you’ll need to be honest and transparent in your interactions with others. This means admitting when you’re wrong, apologizing when necessary, and following through on your commitments.

Feedback

Getting feedback from others is also important when it comes to overcoming narcissism. This means being open to criticism and taking it in stride.

When someone gives you feedback, try to listen to what they’re saying without becoming defensive. Ask for specific examples of how you can improve, and then work on making those changes.

Self-Reflection

Finally, self-reflection is key to overcoming narcissism. This means taking the time to reflect on your own behavior and motivations. Ask yourself why you feel the need to be the center of attention or why you have trouble empathizing with others.

Challenges in Changing Narcissistic Behavior

Changing narcissistic behavior is a difficult process requiring much effort and commitment. It is not easy to change deeply ingrained behavior patterns, especially those associated with personality disorders like narcissism.

In this section, we will discuss some of the challenges that people with narcissistic tendencies may face when trying to change their behavior.

Fear of Failure

One of the biggest challenges in changing narcissistic behavior is the fear of failure. People with narcissistic tendencies often have an inflated sense of self-importance and believe that they are superior to others.

As a result, they may be unwilling to admit that they need to change or seek help because they see it as a sign of weakness. This fear of failure can be a major obstacle to making progress in therapy or changing their behavior.

Rejection

Another challenge that people with narcissistic tendencies may face when trying to change their behavior is the fear of rejection. People with narcissistic tendencies often have a strong need for admiration and validation from others.

They may fear that if they change their behavior, they will lose the admiration and validation they have come to rely on. This fear of rejection can make it difficult for them to take the necessary steps to change their behavior.

Narcissism

Finally, narcissism itself can be a major obstacle to changing narcissistic behavior.

People with narcissistic tendencies may struggle to see their behavior as problematic because they believe they are always right and others are to blame for any problems. This can make it difficult for them to take responsibility for their behavior or to see the need for change.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it possible for a narcissist to change their behavior?

Yes, it is possible for a narcissist to change their behavior, but it takes a lot of effort and willingness on their part. Narcissism is a personality disorder; like any other personality disorder, it is deeply ingrained in a person’s psyche.

However, with the right type of therapy and support, a narcissist can learn to manage their behavior and become more empathetic towards others.

Can a narcissist change without therapy?

A narcissist can change without therapy, but it is rare. The disorder of narcissistic personality requires professional help to manage. Without therapy, narcissists are unlikely to recognize their behavior as problematic and make meaningful changes.

Can a narcissist change if they want to?

Yes, a narcissist can change if they want to, but it takes a lot of hard work and dedication. A narcissist needs to recognize that their behavior is problematic and be willing to make changes. They also need to be open to feedback and willing to listen to others.

Can love motivate a narcissist to change?

Love alone is unlikely to motivate a narcissist to change. Narcissists have a difficult time empathizing with others, and they often prioritize their own needs above all else. While love and support from others can be helpful, a narcissist needs to be willing to put in the work to change their behavior.

Is it common for narcissists to change as they get older?

It is possible for narcissists to change as they get older, but it is not common. As people age, they often become more set in their ways, and personality disorders become more difficult to manage. However, some narcissists may become more self-aware as they age and be more willing to seek help.

Can medication help a narcissist change their behavior?

Medication alone is unlikely to help a narcissist change their behavior. Narcissism is a personality disorder, and medication is typically used to manage symptoms of other mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety.

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About the Author:
Ryan Hart

Ryan Hart is a certified relationship coach and writer. His mission is to help make connections between people better, stronger, more meaningful, and longer lasting using technology.

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