Is someone important in your life a narcissist? If so, you probably wrestle with questions about the future of your relationship. You have begun to recognize a certain level of toxicity that never seems to go away. You wonder if there is hope.  And you wonder “Can a narcissist change ?”  “Is a narcissist even capable of changing? “Many are not.

You may be in the position of waiting for a narcissist to change. If so, you first need to know what kind of narcissist they are. Narcissism is a trait and it lies on a spectrum of severity. At the far end of the spectrum is Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). The full blown personality disorder is fairly common. Researchers at the National Institute of Health estimate that the lifetime prevalence for the disorder is approximately  6.2 %. In the clinical populations it’s estimated that up to 16% of mental health patient qualify for the diagnosis.

There are several types of narcissists. But when most people think of it, they envision what is called the “grandiose” narcissist. The grandiose narcissist is someone who fulfills the general perception of narcissists. They are entitled. They overestimate their abilities and popularity. They tend towards aggression and hostility. Also, they are often in positions of leadership.

As a rule, narcissists don’t change much.  Think about it like this, if you really think you are superior, what incentive do you have to change? Why would you listen to another point of view? Why would you value feedback?

So if this sounds like someone you know, should you have any hope at all?

3 Ongoing Signs That a Narcissist is Unlikely to Change

1. It Starts Out So Perfectly

Frequently, a narcissist will be on their best behavior when you first meet them. Once you are hooked, you will start to notice a change. They’re less attentive, giving, and forgiving. If you hold them accountable for anything they do or say, the response will be hostile or dismissive. When pushed too far, you may be exposed to what’s referred to as narcissistic rage.

2. No Lessons Learned

They screw up. You point it out. You request accountability and change. But, in no time, they screw up in a similar way. You’ll feel like you’re stuck in some twisted version of Groundhog Day. The more you pressure them to learn and change, the more likely it is that you’ll see the characteristics described in the next sign below.

3. Never Wrong

Even when you have undeniable proof, they cannot admit to being wrong. Instead, they gaslight and deflect blame. You’ll be called “over-sensitive” and “dramatic.” If an apology is ever offered, it’s often something like “I’m sorry if you got offended.”

Can A Narcissist Change? 2 Significant Signs That Suggest a Change is Possible

1. Self-Reflection

Consider it an important breakthrough if the narcissist in your life starts to embrace nuance. Everyone has good and bad things about themselves. For a narcissist to see this and admit it is huge. You may also notice them:

  • Wondering why they behave as they do
  • Reading or watching videos about narcissism
  • Giving compliments to others
  • Seeing other people as equals
  • Apologizing when they make mistakes
  • Eschewing black-and-white thinking

As touched on above, don’t get excited if this happens too early in the relationship. Optimism is warranted, however, when a narcissist engages in self-reflection in reaction to the response of others.

2. Empathy

Many people with narcissism, contrary to popular belief, can feel and express empathy. They can pftem also develop more empathy. A narcissist has trouble giving credit to others. They won’t consider how someone else feels or how they see the world. If you discern a shift in this, it is cause for hope. Are they expressing for others? Are they showing affection? This could be something powerful for them to build on in therapy.

All of This is Enough to Rock Your Foundations

Your head is always spinning when you’re around a narcissist. They often relate in ways that keep you off-balance. You may start doubting yourself and losing your own self-esteem. Before long, this toxic pattern can sap your energy and physical well-being. It’s not just the person with narcissism who needs support and help. If you have a narcissist in your life, it’s a wise move to speak with a therapist.

Your therapy sessions can offer you solace and perspective. Working closely with your therapist, you can restore your emotional balance. You can strengthen your self esteem and your boundaries. Together, you can also workshop ways to decide if a narcissist is capable of change. To access this valuable tool, read more about trauma therapy and reach out for a consultation soon.