I get numerous emails every week asking this exact question.
So many people ask – How can I be sure?
I want you to be very clear on what I am about to state. It’s actually not important whether someone is NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) or whether they aren’t, or are displaying enough narcissistic traits to make your life painful or unbearable. What is important is that you are aligned with and living the life that you wish to live, and creating that truth by holding powerfully to that truth – no matter how hard that may be to do…
Most people have some narcissistic traits and it is normal to have exhibited narcissistic behaviour at some point in their life. However the is a big difference between normal people who are capable of taking responsibility and being accountable for their behaviour and those with NPD who are unable of this.
I am aware that this person at some point seemed like the love of your life and the temptation is to try and help this person change their narcissistic behaviour and recover. The problem is that some people take the N’s word immediately only to be set up for another soul destroying experience.
In this article I am going to show you how you can use the most powerful tool in your arsenal – boundaries to find out if this person is capable of taking responsibility and being accountable for their actions without risking another experience that could cost you your soul, mental well-being and even life.
There is nothing worse than being set upon maliciously by someone you believed you could trust, someone you love, and someone you thought loved you and had your best interests at heart.
It is a highly traumatic experience…
Do you want to have that happen to you again at the hands of this person?
Clearly – NO!
I promise you it is true that individuals who have displayed narcissistic behaviour, have had their near death experience (wake up call), sought out consistent and powerful therapy and addressed their inner toxic issues causing their narcissistic behaviour, and changed their life enough to become healthy, supportive and loving partners – and even spectacular ones.
It’s not the norm, but it can happen – if this person has the resources and is not NPD.
There is a huge difference between a person who has acted badly, takes full responsibility, does everything in their power to heal, and another who stays stuck in non-accountability, projection and poor behaviour.
The truth of the matter is, if this person does have the resources to heal and re-create themselves as a stable partner with integrity for you – a lot of this shift has to be created by you.
But it won’t be as a result of you ‘fixing’ this person.
It will actually be as a result of you ‘fixing yourself’…
Therefore, don’t wait around, research articles and obsess about whether or not your narcissistic partner is or isn’t capable of healing and amending their ways.
Instead live your truth powerfully.
THEN you will find out…
A little further in this article I’m going to explain how you can do that…
Before I do that, I would like to share my opinion regarding the people who truly I feel there is little or no hope for..
Which Narcissistic People Are Extremely Unlikely To Heal
- Pathological liars
- Serial sex addicts
- Those resistant to having any therapy, or who denounce therapy after one or only a few visits, or who use therapy as a ‘trick’ to make you assume they are changing, or use joint therapy experiences without accountability to devalue you as the partner (you’re the defective crazy person)
- Physical abusers
- Those which display a distinct lack of empathy
- Individuals who display regular criminal, sociopathic or psychopathic behaviour
If your narcissistic partner or ex-partner fits into any of these categories, I believe the chances are incredibly slim of reform, and I would suggest moving on and keep moving on. This is just my opinion based on what I have observed over the years. If you believe otherwise that is fine.
What Traits Will a Genuine Person Display When Healing Their Narcissistic Behaviour?
- Hitting rock bottom as a result of ‘loss’ – generally this loss will be you
- Full and ongoing ownership and accountability of what they have done, the issues they have, the damage created and total remorse for their narcissistic actions
- Ongoing and committed therapy that he or she is doing as an integral part of their personal journey, as a ‘have to’ and a ‘want to’ do.
- Repairing any damage they have inflicted to the best of their ability – including financial damage
- Full focus on caring about you and wanting to support you and help you feel safe in the relationship rebuild
- Granting consistency and full disclosure of their life, and the actions match the words
- Ability to grant you the time and space to heal and connect at your pace
- Not displaying entitlements, jealousy or revenge concerning any relationship opportunities you may have pursued in your time apart – instead accepting it’s because of their behaviour that you were in that position
- Willing to talk to anyone else in your life that doubts them, has been damaged, or has fear for your well-being, whilst conducting themself in full humility and accountability in order to help support you
- Loving you enough to want you to be happy with or without them in your life (not making it about them)
- Asking you to lay boundaries such as financial or relationship contracts to prove commitment and to help you feel safe (if applicable).
What you are reading above may be outlandish or even seem incredible to you. I promise you there are individuals who have treated their partners abusively who have risen from their narcissistic actions to become the men and women I am describing above.
And quite frankly their partners after losing trust and having the hearts smashed should know that it is only with these types of actions that you can be safe to trust this person again. Also nothing less than full accountability, real boundaries and compliance with these boundaries is going to ensure the narcissistic behaviour does not happen again.
And you should never engage again unless you do receive this level of authentic sincerity.
These traits (all of them are necessary), are the only way you will know that your partner is in fact not NPD.
Narcissistic Supply or Genuine Remorse and Rebuild?
We all know narcissists often don’t like letting go. We all know they can say exactly what we want to hear, cry, plead and promise the world.
Narcissist’s love ‘hoovering’ (sucking you back in to the relationship in order to get narcissistic supply), if fact it is one of their most practiced and perfected games. The intent behind the “I love you, I can’t live without you’ is not the accountability to transform into a loving, safe, healthy partner – the intent is to get you back into the narcissistic malicious web. In such cases it is nothing to do with ‘love’, it is all about feeding the narcissist’s insatiable ego.
You see it is an enormous insult to a narcissist for a previous partner to move on and create a life without them….
Six Steps to Finding Out If This Person is Capable of Accountability and Remorse
1. DON’T take this person on their word immediately
Tell him or her “I still love you” (if that’s how you feel), but state firmly “I can’t trust you, and I would never consider this relationship again unless I could.”
Now you have thrown down the challenge. If this person genuinely loves you and wants to make amends, they have to prove they can be trusted.
2. DON’T grant this person a chance until they ‘crack’ and hit ‘rock bottom’
Anyone who is acting narcissistically is playing out lack of accountability and is projecting their stuff on to you. Narcissistic behaviours are created from fear and ego, and egos are powerful. They need to crack open with pain in order to be addressed and healed, otherwise the show of ‘love’ and ‘remorse’ will only be a band-aid that will not hold.
3. DON’T accept any suspected narcissist who is not committed to ongoing therapy and personal development
Decent people (which can include people with unhealed parts who have acted badly) accepting their behaviour is defective, and that their life is not working for themself and others, want to fix their issues. Without being held accountable by therapists and working diligently on their unhealed parts with full disclosure to you regarding their therapy and prognosis, this person is not serious about healing and not committed to granting you safety and trust.
4. TEST the accountability and remorse
People who have hurt you are never safe unless they can provide genuine accountability and remorse. Those who can’t are absolute repeat offenders waiting to happen – guaranteed. If you can’t express your hurt and pain of what happened to you to this person without them staying in full support and empathy – you are not experiencing the real deal.
Projections, blame throwing and excuses are not acceptable – even if spasmodic. They either accept what they did was wrong and hurtful, or they don’t! There is no middle ground on this one.
5. KNOW the difference between it being ‘about you’ or being ‘about them’
If you have been abused it is time to be ‘entitled’. You are learning that in order to create your reality of deserving truth, integrity, love and support you have to be it and live it. Watch the suspected narcissist at his or her version of rebuild. Believe me it’s crucial to observe this very closely after being abused if considering taking this person back.
Is this person consistently caring about you? Do they state things like “I know I may have lost you through my actions, and I have to accept that” and “If you feel that you will be happier moving on rather than trying with us again – I promise I want more than anything for you to be happy, as much as it hurts” and “I don’t blame you for dating that guy, I know it was because of my actions that you did that” and “If you have any unresolved pain or problems please talk to me. I want you to talk it out and feel safe”?
Or, do you very soon notice that as soon as you don’t comply and give the narcissist what he or she wants that the demands, aggression, projections, blame throwing ‘poor me’ and guilt trips start again.
6. TRUST how it feels.
As soon as you notice the narcissistic traits again, pull away go back to no contact and hold your powerful personal boundaries.
Remember – Narcissistic abuse is not your reality…
The Million Dollar Question
Now I hope you realise the question really isn’t “Is he or she really NPD?” the questions really is: “Is this person going to really step up and become a healthy, safe partner?”
The truth is you will never know the answer to that question until it does or doesn’t happen. If you don’t see this happening – your answer is “No”. If it hasn’t and isn’t happening right here / right now – then the answer is “No” unless it ever does happen, and then the answer may change.
In the meantime you are living your life in truth and alignment… Seek out people and a life that is in alignment to truth, integrity, love and support and accept NO LESS.
We can’t create that reality any other way.
Certainly you never will create a healthy, safe love reality by accepting someone in your life who is abusing you without them performing the above necessary criteria.
If your situation is not about the possibility of getting back together with a narcissist, but more about presently being with a narcissist who you wish could change – leave him or her, set the parameters and find out of this person is real, if the love is real, or whether it was a NPD relationship.
Be very, very clear you deserve nothing less than real love and truth and hence why the boundaries I have described are crucial, absolute and completely necessary.
People who reunite with narcissists without establishing and sticking to boundaries , always run a large risk of stepping back into even worse abuse that they originally walked away from…
This is another one of those life and death – make or break deals …totally.
Know that if you do accept abusers in your life without them proving their integrity and safety you are abusing yourself.