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Is apologising to someone with NPD a bad idea?

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Is apologising to someone with NPD a bad idea?

Postby ID010471 » Tue Apr 07, 2020 7:07 pm

Or rather, is apologising to someone with NPD necessarily a bad idea?

I am taking tentative steps towards repairing a 'friendship' with someone who shows the traits and behaviours of NPD. I haven't jumped the gun in deciding on the viewpoint - the more I read and watched, the more ridiculous it seemed to not conclude NPD was the fair term for how she is.

I had very little idea two years ago when things were going wrong and I blamed myself and apologised when in retrospect I shouldn't have. I succumbed to manipulation and gaslighting, and I was silent when this woman dealt in narcissistic and otherwise obnoxious gestures. I went through the thing, that seemed at one time just something I'd hit upon, of wondering if she had high-functioning autism. I've since seen a few videos talking of NPD and ASD being confused. (I've read many articles and some decent books too on the subject - a lot of it is rubbish and too geared up to 'turning and running', right though that very often may be.) I couldn't consider her to be just an awful person. I still believe a small number of details about her that seem in part to explain the reason for her difference, to do with childhood. I mean, if those were lies too ten she is a psychopath, and I don't believe that. Enough was said at times to show the possibility of growth.

I've written a letter that tries in about two-fifths of its content to gently express what I feel I've learned. Some if not many wouldn't try this. I'm partly thinking our lockdown situations might make people see our current cocoons as places of not just self-protection but change. People seem to get that in some ways. In my letter I've 'unilaterally' apologised for not understanding what was behind her behaviours. I've included a reserved but articulate apology and my reasoning is that it softens what I'm putting to her, the accusation aspect of saying she has NPD, and more importantly perhaps because it is a different kind of apology to giving in to manipulation. I think. I've said alongside the apology that people do sometimes get undeserved power from being apologised to, and that they can misuse it. This is part of tentative boundary-laying.

This letter I've written from scratch five times in the last nine months. I've deleted all previous versions. 'Fail; fail better.' I'm thinking I will post it tomorrow. I had left a gift for her last week, a film that I believe shows I've been listening to her.

I once thought I was in love with this person. I have love for her but I am satisfied with the platonic basis of it now and genuinely would not even want to risk exposing myself to more given what I now know.

It could go wrong, even messily. I will give up if so - I do need to feel I've done my best for this person, who is in her mid-40s, and who I can see continuing to wreck everything for herself for twenty years if her habits keep her alive that long. I am a quiet person who showed her patience and willingness to share time and to help her with an academic matter and some practical, techy stuff. I never 'used' that, as if I was bargaining. I gave willingly and only later made any kind of muted comments about her apparent ingratitude and the one-sidedness of things, once she'd blown up and made a load of quite feral, self-contradictory, self-deceiving statements.

The fifth version of the letter I'm otherwise sure of now, but I don't know whether to excise the apology or find another way of saying that I regret being at sea before, without causing antagonism through the conspicuousness of the nearness of what I'd say to an apology.

I do believe I knew someone twenty-five years ago who is very similar to this more recent friend. The way the matter has gouged into my life has probably been why I'm so heavily invested in trying something for this woman, being twenty-five years older and wiser at least after a fashion.

What do people think? Thanks for any feedback. I hope that people here can see that I'm investing a compassionate approach, and I strongly believe in that, at least for now. I admire anyone who's accepted they have NPD or that NPD literature is a working model of understanding and who is tackling this, if it can be done.
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Re: Is apologising to someone with NPD a bad idea?

Postby SelfSerf » Tue Apr 14, 2020 9:50 am

Short answer: Yes

By only reading the title and glancing at the post.

pwNPD tend to take advantage of kindness, even if they necessary see you as a good person and their saviour in some regard. They just aren´t capable of corresponding with like, at least it isn´t first nature and will feel ´wrong to them". Apologizing will show that you are willing to make yourself subservient in this relationship. Remember that a pwNPD doesn´t view helping them as necessary you, but it is a form of relationship where she will feel "less than" because she needed help and either feels indebted to you (and deep down resents it) and in the worst case, feels like they´ve duped you so they could use you as help.

If it´s a question of boundaries that have been violated, it is a bad idea. By apologizing you are moving the boundaries even closer toward her court. Taking the higher road might seem to you like a noble thing but if she is really narcissistically disordered, it is a show of hands how far she is allowed to push you.

So if you are actually looking for raising the bar in the relations between you two, you might try to rationally (as opposed to emotionally, we tend not to don´t speak that monkey language, rather refuse even if we understand) set boundaries as to what is acceptable to you. Keep in mind though that for a narcissist, making the first move to make amends is damn near impossible. Their pride doesn´t allow that.
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Re: Is apologising to someone with NPD a bad idea?

Postby Akuma » Tue Apr 14, 2020 10:54 am

Its not, why should it? But what youre doing isnt apologizing. Youve obsessed for months about writing that person some letter, which implies that you care way more about the effect it will have on some imagined relationship, than about making that person feel better or to right a wrong you yourself have done. In addition on some level what you are trying to do is devaluing her, because you are basically saying "you poor thing, I didnt understand that you just have an illnes [I just googled]" - which doesnt seem empathetic but condescending - especially in light of your obsession with that person, which doesnt exactly make it look like a selfless act of love, as you seem to try convincing yourself that it is, but about you having finally found some explanation on why you werent treated the way you wanted.
Also this belongs into SOFF.
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Re: Is apologising to someone with NPD a bad idea?

Postby ID010471 » Tue Apr 14, 2020 6:29 pm

Thank you both.

I posted the letter with the apology removed, first ensuring with a couple of edits that this did not go in the direction of creating any harshness.

I appreciate both replies, despite the disagreement.

I'm not a young man, am not inclined to take even well-written journalism at face value let alone glib and faddish internet content like many of the articles and sketchy ebooks available, and have been digesting what I have read on NPD and watched for quite some time now. Part of my letter refers to this, how I find a lot of the material, particularly the YouTube videos and comments under them, mean-spirited and short-sighted. I've said in the letter that all too often the people writing are so affected by what they've experienced with someone with NPD (or with a convincingly high proportion of its traits) that their conclusion or the phase they're at only sees abuse and malice. In many cases, especially where there is violence, that is functional of course and you can hardly blame them. I do believe that it is healthier, even if retreating, to arrive at a compassionate view of the person with NPD. Yes there is a perceivable 'selfishness' involved in this but that's just one element. I don't now take what happened quite so personally, mentally, though I am still weighed down with what I experienced - am depressed, to some extent, and with damage done to my capacity for trust. I'm having the self-respect to own my own condition and to view with self-awareness what of that condition arose from or was contributed to by this experience with my former friend. But if that was all I wanted, I could just think these things and not communicate. To me that is negligent and solipsistic. I chose instead to spend time trying to hone rhetoric to express something my friend might at some point click with. I also hoped that with the lockdown situation she might have more quiet time to become receptive, that she might be taking stock better with her avenues of narcissistic supply - which are glaringly obvious as such - lessened.

Akuma, do you believe that it is only selfishness behind my motivations? If I say that I had hoped to at least try to plant a seed, for this woman's potential benefit, do you not believe that at all? I can appreciate that you might see patronage in this, and I appreciate that it could be perceived as 'devaluation' for me to attribute what happened to my friend's NPD. It may well be that that is how my friend responded in her mind, which would be a great shame. Isn't it also possible though, that the idea of devaluation comes from the set of responses someone with NPD has evolved? That this is dissembling? I am pretty good at criticising myself, sometimes accurately, with the benefit of forcing evolution, but also neurotically. Sometimes when rejected I'm at sea as to the reason, sometimes it's not truly an insult but reasonable defeat of an unnecessary infatuation and sometimes there's a neurotic component, even if that isn't the whole explanation. I do appreciate that as far as a romantic relationship goes there are things wrong with me or that are problematic that she could fairly cite or that she will have had in mind. But, more relevant the purpose of the letter, what hurt in a more lasting way, and what remains, are those experiences that occurred once we had still pursued a platonic relationship, which I wanted and which she says she did, that are echoed in the material on NPD, too often and too resoundingly to ignore. I would not risk looking merely like a psychobabble addict without deliberation. Once we were meeting as supposed friends, there was still a diabolical amount of obliviousness, rudeness (to waiters, taxi drivers and myself) that for some time I just did not understand, or refused to see for what it was well enough to question myself about it.

I think this woman and I are fairly unlikely to talk again or possibly at most that she may shout at me or at least remark passing in the street that I'm wrong or to say words to the effect of "No, it is you, not me!" If my letter fails I accept that. I hope that I'm not the first to say at least some of what I did and that there will be others, that at a later date she may have a clear enough mind, or that enough has gone wrong as a result of the traits, that she becomes open to thinking about it.

Akuma, is it possible that you identify with this woman and that therefore your response is like hers may have been, perhaps tellingly? Is there not something you can consider in this? That your view of how I've seen this is a defence that you could benefit from deconstructing? I feel this is possible, but I am at the listening stage, I've listened to you and am happy to listen more. Your tag refers to NPD in a way that suggests you accept the diagnosis - but do you still experience conflict between what led you to that and the discomfort and criticism of it?

I mean no offence by asking about this here, and I understanding the strong moderation norms here are necessary and wise in the circumstances. I'm hoping that it's appreciated that I've posted here conscientiously and knowing that this sub-forum is used by people with NPD, or who suspect they may have it or are exploring the possibility as well as people who are interested, hopefully compassionately. I've used forums for 23 years and only very briefly did anything as daft as trolling or venting when I was young. I'm a quiet bloke, I don't listen to aggressive music and I've never acted maliciously towards anyone outside of that brief stupid bit of online folly in the late 1990s.

Best wishes, and I'm happy to listen further.
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Re: Is apologising to someone with NPD a bad idea?

Postby Akuma » Wed Apr 15, 2020 2:49 am

ID010471 wrote:Thank you both.

I can appreciate that you might see patronage in this, and I appreciate that it could be perceived as 'devaluation' for me to attribute what happened to my friend's NPD. It may well be that that is how my friend responded in her mind, which would be a great shame. Isn't it also possible though, that the idea of devaluation comes from the set of responses someone with NPD has evolved? That this is dissembling? I am pretty good at criticising myself, sometimes accurately, with the benefit of forcing evolution, but also neurotically. Sometimes when rejected I'm at sea as to the reason, sometimes it's not truly an insult but reasonable defeat of an unnecessary infatuation and sometimes there's a neurotic component, even if that isn't the whole explanation. I do appreciate that as far as a romantic relationship goes there are things wrong with me or that are problematic that she could fairly cite or that she will have had in mind. But, more relevant the purpose of the letter, what hurt in a more lasting way, and what remains, are those experiences that occurred once we had still pursued a platonic relationship, which I wanted and which she says she did, that are echoed in the material on NPD, too often and too resoundingly to ignore. I would not risk looking merely like a psychobabble addict without deliberation. Once we were meeting as supposed friends, there was still a diabolical amount of obliviousness, rudeness (to waiters, taxi drivers and myself) that for some time I just did not understand, or refused to see for what it was well enough to question myself about it.


I was actually a bit surprised by the onesidedness of my perception, too and a bit scared of your reaction to it, which is weird but normal for me if I "disagree" with people on the forum. For me this also indicates though that - as cliché as this is lol - you reminded me of my caregivers. Especially my mom has had a habit of being very convinced she is interested in me, and has - now that I aborted contact with my family - started writing letters and emails in which she is pathologizing and infantilizing me, but in the tonal content of "I am there for you"... which for her probably makes her feel better after such projection. I see this in your post.
In addition to that such reaction is almost a bit automatic, as after many years of the forum, the usual suspect coming [erroneously] to the NPD forum asking for assistance with relationships is not necessarily of high insight and good mental health and to be frank a waste of time.

Akuma, do you believe that it is only selfishness behind my motivations? If I say that I had hoped to at least try to plant a seed, for this woman's potential benefit, do you not believe that at all?


I dont think I have such positive perception of humans, no. I have an aquaintance for example who is a typical externalizer. Its always the other peoples fault. Ive been for 20 (sic) years trying basically every method in every book to get him to do that less. And I mean hes very extreme about this. Hes a diabetic, too. So situations arise where he goes in under-sugar-mode and I tell him he should maybe test his sugar and eat something and he will wonder if he should call an ambulance for me because I am "having problems", refusing to eat somethign until he can barely walk etc.
But I've also realized that all this helpfulness from my part is also an inability to accept him; or more specifically a deep wish for someone to be clsoe to me perhaps who "fits much better" with an additional fear of lookin for someone who might actually fit better. Not saying this might be your motivation, too, just putting this on the table as an option. Also because in my experience really, trying to "help" people can be not only motivated by stuff we fail to realize for a long time, but also completely useless.

Akuma, is it possible that you identify with this woman and that therefore your response is like hers may have been, perhaps tellingly? Is there not something you can consider in this? That your view of how I've seen this is a defence that you could benefit from deconstructing? I feel this is possible, but I am at the listening stage, I've listened to you and am happy to listen more. Your tag refers to NPD in a way that suggests you accept the diagnosis - but do you still experience conflict between what led you to that and the discomfort and criticism of it?


Guess I answered this one already. Its both I identify with both parts of you and that woman. And I guess you thought this necessary and a good thing to do. I still dont share that opinion though.
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Re: Is apologising to someone with NPD a bad idea?

Postby ID010471 » Wed Apr 15, 2020 2:23 pm

Thanks. I am glad I haven't made things worse by continuing and I do regard these exchanges as some kind of success. I have some upset at the idea that my friend may have reacted in the way you suggest, though I'd anticipated the possibility - this is no criticism of you of course but a case of facing facts or strong possibilities.

By chance I had found myself in another online exchange yesterday that fed into this. This woman has probably had a lot of male attention though this is not as a result of anything purely superficial. I think things have gone awry in relationships a lot whether it's down to the men's behaviour or hers or a likely fatal mix. We chatted briefly and regularly for two years before any meet-up - she is a waitress (downsized from a more academically informed career) and on Facebook when I intermittently had an account. (I do need to make her not quite recogniseable here, just in case.) I think she probably expected the worst of my intentions, and that prior experience attuned her for that. I haven't been able to defeat that. In the time I've known her she has been around brutish men including someone who threatened a disabled neighbour of mine. I think this is a case of her fearing less the 'devil she knows' than what she imagines must be lurking behind my quiet attentiveness.

I have been near to cutting ties with my own families for various very legitimate reasons. I don't know where you are but in my country there have been policies in the last decade that have messed things up very impractically and dangerously for many people and my parents voted for this while seeing the condition those policies had left me in. They seem to have achieved a slight understanding of this all too late and I've seen signs of something like guilt or a wish to make amends. It's a very odd thing having been treated violently or with verbal abuse as a child, to develop a mental health situation and then hear unguarded expressions of approval of these policies and politicians, whether it's malice, passive-aggressivity or extreme naivety. I can't quite say stupidity. I have a very specific conception of what love is and have seldom seen anything like it in others but I do feel that this couple in there mid-to-late 70s have some kind of not overly shallow feeling for me. They can forget having me as deep in the family as my siblings ever again and it's possible a new experience could wreck things for good. I would think you know best what is working for you but I suppose I'd also hope that you can stay open to accepting signs of concern even if it is a clumsy mess peppered with their unresolved issues. I don't know you but I honestly had an amount of tear brimming in my eyes reading your second response and I do personally believe we as a species can have a capacity that is an irreducible fraternal feeling that is awareness of others, of others' stories, and though agnostic I have experienced something fair to call boundlessness that feeds this true awareness of others that seems on the face of it to be just a name and some words.

(Are your parents overbearing, moralising types or just crassly insensitive and oblivious? In the latter case, though I suppose my parents have gone from the former to the latter with age, the latter seems something towards which it's easier to bear and tamp down the exasperation.)

So, based on that, best wishes to you. If there are developments that might be of mutual interest in discussion I will post again here but will continue to read the forum in the meantime.

I emphasise also to SelfSerf if they're reading that I read both replies attentively, finding - I suppose because there was less concordance and some resultant anxiety - more immediate questions to bounce off of Akuma's comments at that point. Certainly the last two sentences of your post remain in my mind.

Thanks.
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Re: Is apologising to someone with NPD a bad idea?

Postby quietgirl2538 » Fri Apr 17, 2020 10:48 am

Is apologising to someone with NPD a bad idea?


From my own experience, my honest flat out reply is, yep it's a bad idea.

Verbal abuse can cloud how you see yourself and how you perceive how others treat you, regardless of having NPD or not. I personally think that if writing that letter makes you feel better, then by all means send it, but if you second guess yourself, then wait. Be strong of self, meaning remain firm in your feelings and be sure of your intentions and just be plain honest. There is nothing to lose, imo. Only much to gain. Self respect.

I don't apologize to anyone who mistreats me. I stay the ###$ away from them. I wish you the absolute best.
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Re: Is apologising to someone with NPD a bad idea?

Postby Gomba13 » Sat Aug 29, 2020 7:09 pm

I am likely on the spectrum, so I apologize in advance if my answer is straight up—whether you are narcissistic or not. :wink:

I believe the question you are asking is in itself a fallacy. Apologizing is the expression of regret over one’s own actions, meant to let someone know you didn’t mean to cause them hurt or prejudice. As such, it should not be based on who the other person is or how you feel about the other person—it should be based on whether you sincerely believe you have done something you regret doing that might have caused the other person hurt or prejudice. It should be based on your conscience.

It sounds to me rather like your real question is whether it is okay to try to manipulate the person to get the relationship to go where you want it to—just because you believe that person to be a narcissist. That actually sounds like something a narcissist would do...

The answer is no. It is not okay to manipulate a person in order for your relationship with them to go where you want it to, independent of whether they are a narcissist or not. When a relationship gets to the point where you feel the urge to manipulate, it’s time to question the existence of that relationship. If that person actually is a narcissist, that doesn’t make it any more fair game. Saying they deserve it because they are narcissistic is also a fallacy. Narcissists don’t choose to be that way, and they are mostly not even aware of the damage they do because they can’t see themselves for who they are. Saying that a narcissist deserves to be manipulated back is like saying that a handicapped person, an amputee or a person with a chronic disease deserves to be treated worse than the rest of us. Narcissists are people too, and trust me, they suffer more than enough, precisely what their narcissistic ways are meant to be the painkiller for.

If you send her that letter, there are two likely outcomes: it will have absolutely no effect and she will only laugh at it, or you will have declared war on a narcissist, and you really should know better than that.

You can’t win with a narcissist. Sounds like it’s time to let go for good.
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