19 Signs A Narcissist Will Never Change Their Ways

19 Signs A Narcissist Will Never Change Their Ways

Hoping the narcissist in your life will finally change is totally understandable, but the harsh truth is that people with deep-seated narcissism rarely do. They might get better at hiding their worst behaviors for a little while, but genuinely putting a stop to their toxic behavior is unlikely. Here are some of the clear signs that show you it’s time to stop expecting a transformation and start focusing on your own well-being.

1. Grandiosity Is Their Middle Name.

Narcissists think they’re the best and everyone else is beneath them. They dream about being incredibly famous or powerful, even if they don’t have any real talent. They crave non-stop praise and attention. Because of this massive ego, they can’t ever admit they might need to work on themselves.

2. It’s Always Someone Else’s Fault.

Nothing is ever a narcissist’s fault. When things go wrong, they’ll always find someone else to blame. Shifting the blame protects their fragile ego– they don’t have to take a hard look at themselves or admit they screwed up. Why bother changing if they believe they’re perfect and everyone else is the problem?

3. Rules Are For Other People.

They feel entitled to special treatment and believe rules don’t apply to them. They’ll cut in line, manipulate to get their way, and always put their needs above other people’s. This sense of superiority prevents them from seeing how their behavior hurts everyone around them and why it might need to change.

4. Empathy is a Foreign Concept to Them.

Narcissists don’t really understand empathy. To them, your feelings are either irrelevant or something to be used against you. Your tears might make them feel powerful, your happiness might make them jealous. They don’t care how they hurt you, because they’re unable to truly put themselves in someone else’s shoes. Without that ability to empathize, they’ll always put their own needs first, no matter the cost.

5. They’re Master Manipulators.

They expertly weave guilt, gaslighting, and charm to control everyone around them. They play the victim or hero to get what they want, without a shred of remorse. Their ability to manipulate confirms their belief in their own superiority, disincentivizing any real self-reflection.

6. Conversations Are a One-Way Street.

two businessmen at work

Talking to a narcissist is exhausting! They always make everything about themselves. Pay attention – they’re not really listening to you, they’re looking for information they can use to their advantage. True change would mean actually caring about someone other than themselves, which is pretty much the opposite of how their brains are wired.

7. Criticizing Them is Like Setting Off an Atomic Bomb.

Narcissists can’t handle criticism, even if it’s constructive and kindly delivered. The tiniest hint that they’re not perfect makes them fly off the handle or go completely cold. They need everyone to constantly tell them how amazing they are. This makes it impossible for them to learn from their mistakes and grow as a person.

8. They Love the Thrill of Chaos.

Manufacturing drama, pitting people against each other – it fuels their sense of power. They thrive on conflict while feigning innocence, watching from the sidelines as they pull everyone else’s strings. For a narcissist, the world is their stage; why would they give up that kind of control?

9. Their Apologies Are Hollow Weapons.

Don’t fall for a narcissist’s apology. It’s not about actually being sorry, it’s about getting what they want. They’ll say whatever they need to to smooth things over, then go right back to their old tricks. True change would require admitting they’re wrong, and their massive ego just won’t allow that.

10. They Weaponize Your Insecurities.

Narcissists are experts at finding your weak spots and poking at them. Worried about being alone? They’ll withhold affection to keep you under their thumb. Insecure about something? They’ll find ways to chip away at your confidence even more. This calculated cruelty shows they care more about feeling superior than actually supporting the people in their lives.

11. They Crave Validation, Not Connection.

Narcissists like to surround themselves with people who make them feel good about themselves. They don’t want real friends, they want adoring fans. Genuine connection means showing your true self, flaws and all, and they won’t do that. People are just tools for the narcissist, a way to get that constant stream of admiration they crave.

12. Emotional Blackmail Is Their Forte.

Threats, silent treatments, playing the victim…they’ll use any tactic to get their way. Their entire focus is on controlling your behavior to meet their needs rather than building a healthy, reciprocal relationship. There’s no room for compromise when their sense of power and control is at stake.

13. Boundaries Are the Enemy.

Narcissists hate boundaries because they need to feel in control. When you stand up for yourself and say “no,” expect pushback. They’ll get angry, try to manipulate you, or make you feel bad for having needs. The thing is, healthy boundaries aren’t about them, they’re about you respecting yourself. Unfortunately, a narcissist is always going to see that as a threat.

14. They Rewrite the Past.

Distorting reality is their way of sidestepping accountability. They’ll deny what they said, twist blame onto you, and gaslight you into doubting your own memories. This maintains the illusion of their perfection and keeps you off-balance. Undermining your trust in your own perceptions is a way to maintain control.

15. Deep Down, They Hate Themselves.

Underneath the bravado is a fragile core fueled by shame and inadequacy. While this doesn’t excuse their behavior, it explains why change is so threatening – they lack the emotional strength for true introspection. Addressing their inner turmoil is simply too terrifying, so they project their insecurities onto those around them.

16. They Drain Your Shine.

Being close to a narcissist can leave you feeling depleted and doubting yourself. They chip away at your confidence, making you question your own worth. You might feel like a shell of your former self around them. Diminishing others temporarily inflates their fragile sense of self.

17. They Poison Themselves With Their Jealousy.

Narcissists can’t stand it when other people do well. A friend’s promotion or good news will make them seethe with jealousy. They might try to downplay someone’s accomplishments, or even sabotage them to feel better about themselves. Instead of being happy for others, they need to be the best at everything. They can’t handle the idea that anyone might be smarter, funnier, or more successful than them.

18. They Exploit Kindness for Weakness.

Compassion, forgiveness, the benefit of the doubt – they see these as ways to control you. Genuine kindness is foreign to them, making them incapable of reciprocating it. They interpret your good intentions as vulnerabilities they can exploit. Sadly, they lack the ability to recognize kindness as a strength.

19. Change Is Only For Show.

If they “change,” it’s often a superficial act to recapture someone they’ve lost control over. True transformation requires a level of humility and self-awareness they simply don’t possess. Remember, real change is enduring, not just convenient. Don’t get fooled by a performance of remorse designed to hook you back in.

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Piper Ryan is a NYC-based writer and matchmaker who works to bring millennials who are sick of dating apps and the bar scene together in an organic and efficient way. To date, she's paired up more than 120 couples, many of whom have gone on to get married. Her work has been highlighted in The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Cut, and many more.

In addition to runnnig her own business, Piper is passionate about charity work, advocating for vulnerable women and children in her local area and across the country. She is currently working on her first book, a non-fiction collection of stories focusing on female empowerment.