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If you are in a relationship with a narcissist or have left one, you may wonder:  “Why won’t a narcissist apologize for all the pain they caused me?”

Most people apologize when they have hurt someone, but a narcissist isn’t ‘most people’. There are numerous realities and reasons why a narcissist won’t apologize and why getting closure from a narcissist is highly unlikely.

What is Narcissism?

In a nutshell, narcissism is a personality trait or disorder where a person has a grandiose sense of self-importance, a heightened need for attention and admiration, and a lack of empathy toward other people.

why wont a narcissist apologize?
Photo by Sander Sammy

Does this description sound familiar?

A narcissist also feels entitled and expects others to meet their needs and wants. This is a major issue considering domestic violence because the abused partner often equates meeting the abusive partner’s needs and desires with safety. 

When in reality this only feeds the narcissist’s selfishness and ego. Therefore the cycle of abuse continues.

Common Traits of a Narcissist

In order to understand why a narcissist won’t apologize, you need to understand the type of person you are dealing with.

Here are some common traits of a narcissist:

  • Grandiosity
  • Need for admiration
  • Lack of empathy
  • Arrogance
  • Sense of entitlement
  • Exploits others
  • Doesn’t take responsibility
  • Envious of others
  • Difficulty with interpersonal relationships

A narcissist may have all these traits or a handful of them. Whether your partner or ex, has all these traits or a few, the impacts of their behaviour can be harmful to you and your well-being. 

The Impacts of Narcissistic Behaviour

When I look at the list of traits above (go ahead and take another look!) I can conclude that such a person is very selfish and egocentric. They put themselves first before anyone else no matter how it affects others. Definitely not someone I want to have in my life!

Most narcissists are emotionally and psychologically abusive.

Emotional and psychological abuse are relatively the same thing, however the emotional impacts of abuse may make you FEEL upset, scared, nervous etc.

Whereas the psychological impacts of abuse impacts your mind and mental well being (think of depression, anxiety, phobias etc). To learn more about the different types of abuse click here.

Emotional abuse includes belittling and degrading you both in private and/or public, intimidation, manipulation, gaslighting, threatening to leave or abandon you, using gestures or actions to attack your self-esteem and self-worth, and coercion.

Gaslighting is a covert form of emotional abuse where the abuser manipulates you to the point where you feel crazy and question your sanity and/or reality. Gaslighting keeps you in constant doubt of yourself. As a result, you don’t have the mental space to realize that you are being played.

Since a narcissist’s world is all about them, they will tear you down emotionally in order to lift themselves up. Narcissists are more fragile than they portray.

Narcissists are more fragile than they portray.

Psychological abuse can have negative impacts on a person’s mental health. Here are some examples of psychological abuse:

  • Verbal abuse
  • Gaslighting
  • Intimidation
  • Isolation
  • Control

I hope you can see that emotional and psychological abuse are interconnected. 

Experiencing narcissistic abuse results in your inner world crumbling down, leaving you feeling like a shell of the person you once were.

Why Won’t a Narcissist Apologize?

Simply put, a narcissist won’t apologize because of how they see themselves and their relation to other people. 

A narcissist generally has a ‘big head’, and numerous insecurities. 

They lack empathy and self-awareness. Self-awareness is the ability to know and understand your own thoughts, feelings and behaviours. It is also the ability to recognize your own emotions, beliefs, strengths, weaknesses and values and how they IMPACT others. 

Therefore if a narcissist is not in tune with their inner world, they definitely are not in tune with how they are affecting you or others around them. This makes it easier to understand why they are not empathetic people.

I doubt my ex even knew when he had hurt me or how his actions were so harmful. So, why would he apologize?

Narcissists and Fear

Narcissists have a fear of losing control. 

Abusive people abuse others because they are hurting themselves. They are afraid of being vulnerable and want to maintain control of EVERYTHING. 

We all have some degree of fear when it comes to being vulnerable, but we don’t all abuse.

To admit when we are wrong, and then apologize, is a vulnerable act. Vulnerability leaves a portion of our heart exposed. A narcissist sees this situation as a chance to lose control, to look less ‘put together’ and less superior. So they will avoid being vulnerable!

We all have some degree of fear when it comes to being vulnerable, but we don’t all abuse.

Plus they would need to take responsibility!

Looking back at the traits of a narcissist, we know that receiving an apology is unlikely. I have been abused by 2 narcissists in my life, and neither of them apologized.

Think about why you want an apology from them. What if you never get one? How will you move forward?

Why We Want an Apology

When someone who has hurt us apologizes, we feel seen, and understood and we assume they are sorry for their actions. So naturally when someone abuses and/or traumatizes us we long for an apology.

An apology would give you some closure and help you move forward and heal. Right?

why won't a narcissist apologize?

In a perfect world, yes, this would be ideal. 

However getting closure from a narcissist, just like receiving an apology from them, is also pretty slim. I know your heart wants them to acknowledge what they did to you. As well as admit that they damaged your soul and it was NOT ok, to say the least.

I need to acknowledge that as a survivor of domestic violence, an apology from an abuser would give hope that he was changing. At least that’s what I believed years ago. 

Does that belief resonate with you? 

Do you want an apology from him because it would seem he was changing for the better?

Be honest with yourself. 

What would an apology really do for your heart?

What will you do if you never get one?

How to Move Forward Without an Apology

At the end of the day, I hope you get that apology. 

But as I mentioned before, be prepared for it never to come. 

So how can you move forward when a narcissist won’t apologize and getting closure from a narcissist seems unlikely?

First and foremost you need to realize and accept that you are asking for something from someone who probably can’t give it to you. (We discussed this previously!)

Second, in His word, God says to not pursue revenge towards someone who has hurt you, but rather leave vengeance up to Him. Romans 12:17-19 says:

Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back, says the Lord.”

God knows your pain

God knows what that person did to you. 

He knows how deep your wounds are, and how angry you are. 

It will take time, but learn to let go and fight the fleshly urge to hurt the one who hurt you. It’s normal to feel emotions. Pray through it and remember you are human. 

Third, forgive them. Walk in forgiveness daily even if you’re still upset, hurt, or sad. 

I struggle with forgiveness when the wounds are deep. Currently, I am praying for God to work on my heart toward someone and not hold a grudge. It’s difficult, but remember forgiveness is not for the other person but rather for your own freedom. 

A narcissist has already taken more from you than they should have. Don’t let them take anything more from your life. 

Lastly, don’t waste your time and energy trying to convince others that you were abused. You don’t need their approval to have closure (even though it would be nice!) because you know what happened and so does God. Leave it at that, and move on.

It’s All Easier Said Than Done

Nothing I have suggested is easy to do. 

Forgiveness can feel impossible. Moving forward may seem unlikely. Fretting over and trying to figure out why a narcissist won’t apologize won’t help your healing process. 

My friend, God is your healer. You technically don’t need anything from anyone even though your humanity doesn’t agree with this. 

You can heal from abuse and you can be whole again.

Share this article with other survivors, family and friends to help raise awareness of domestic violence and educate the church (links at the top of the page).

We are stronger together.

He is faithful,

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