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The Narcissist Apologizes (Bazinga!)

“We apologize for anything we might have done…”

This vague, open-ended apology left on my voicemail during the narcissist’s hoovering/discard cycle puzzled me. If I were to apologize for something, I’d try to dredge up something real. Something I actually did or said wrong that might’ve caused pain. Are these subjectless apologies from narcissists actually true apologies, I wondered.

Can / do narcissists actually apologize, for real, ever? I posed this question on my Facebook Timeline.

Do narcissists usually give open apologies,
never mentioning WHAT they’re apologizing for (if anything)?

One hundred and twenty-six answers later, I figured I might be on to something. 😉 Here’s what my friends said, shared by permission.

Facebook Says…

APOLOGIES?!?! I’m confused…what is that???

Yes, but only if it benefits them in some way! Like a love bomb or others watching!

Usually, it’s “I’m sorry you were hurt by the things, but you know, I’m not really responsible for how you choose to react.”

I found an apology of any sort was always a last resort, and yep, depersonalized apologies rule, usually with an attempt to spin it so the person being apologized to is somehow at fault.

Only to make themselves appear the bigger person. They are never genuine, it’s all for show and effect

If they apologize at all you can be sure it is not sincere, or it is of momentary sincerity because they’re at the moment feeling sorry for themselves and feel like being nice. That moment will leave quickly with a new mood arriving soon, namely anger. At you. And you will be punished. Again.

My favorite: “I’m sorry YOU FEEL that way”.

I only got vague apologies from NM (narcissist mom) when she was hoovering… Sometimes I would get the ever-popular-with-Narcs-apology of “I am sorry you got your feelings hurt” or “I am sorry I did (A, B, C, D) but you were being ( W XYZ).” Never an apology from their acceptance of their fault. It is always an apology that somehow makes us feel like we are to blame. That is not a real apology. 

I have NEVER know my ex-husband to apologize without saying “BUT” and then blaming me for what he did. I’ve run into a few other narcissistic friends and family and it was the same or no apology at all… and when I addressed the issue, they deflected it and made me feel I was stupid and insignificant.

Mine NEVER really said sorry …It was “well you didn’t really know what I was doing!?” Wow!

Apologizing is a way to disarm you, breach your boundary against abuse, get you to resume giving them [narcissistic] supply.

An apology from a narc is very similar to promises of millions of dollars that I get from [foreign] princes via email.

Dad’s Apology

Wracking my brains, I can’t recall many instances when the quintessential narcissists of my acquaintances apologized, really apologized.

One instance springs to mind. In fact, I’ll never forget it. Sadly shaking his head, my father said something like this:

“I should’ve taken your spiritual education in hand myself.
I left it to others and they screwed up.”

I was so shocked that he’d apologized, I complimented him for having that humility, that inner strength. Years later I realized, it wasn’t a true apology nor humility. He’d just shifted the blame to everybody else simultaneously elevating himself by implying he could have done it so much better. A very narcissistic apology indeed!

The Recipe for an Apology

Narcissists rarely or never genuinely apologize because the ingredients for a true apology are beyond their grasp.

To apologize, you must have empathy. The ability to put yourself in the damaged party’s shoes and imagine what your emotions would have been, if you were in their position. Narcissists can’t or won’t do this exercise.

To apologize, you must have humility. The ability to humble yourself, yet have enough self-esteem to not be destroyed by humbling yourself.

And you must have a firm moral code to realize that yes, you did indeed do wrong.

Although a narcissist may have a moral code, empathy and humility are entirely beyond them. So they slip, they slide, they shilly, they shally, they side-step and use blame, shame, invalidation, gaslighting and every other trick-in-the-book to not actually apologize!

This psychological dance merely confirms they do indeed have a moral code they know they broke. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t blame, shame, invalidate and gaslight so energetically.

Don’t wait for a true apology from a narcissist. You’ll never get one. You’ll be waiting for a lifetime and die disappointed.

It’s not worth it.

The Narcissist Apologizes (Bazinga!)

Lenora Thompson

Lenora Thompson is a syndicated Huffington Post freelance writer and food blogger. Her readers call her the "Edward Snowden" and "Wikileaks" of narcissism because of her no-holds-barred-take-no-prisoners approach to writing about narcissism. “Narcissism Meets Normalcy” is the real-life, ongoing story of her healing journey from being held “hostage” by a multi-generational, cult-like narcissistic family. It's gritty and real, bloody and bruised, humorous and sarcastic. Lenora Thompson considers herself a “whistleblower,” shining a spotlight on narcissistic abuse so others can also claim their freedom and experience healing. To learn more about Lenora, her husband Michael's heroic battle with Pulmonary Alveolar Proteinosis and to read her writings about food, please visit Thank you!

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APA Reference
Thompson, L. (2018). The Narcissist Apologizes (Bazinga!). Psych Central. Retrieved on April 2, 2020, from


Last updated: 13 May 2018
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