…And definitely not in the way you hope!
verb: to make (someone or something) different; alter or modify
noun: the act or instance of making or becoming different
tactic: what a narcissist does to keep their victim in a state of confusion and dependency
Okay, maybe that last one isn’t exactly in the dictionary. But it should be as anyone who has loved a narcissist knows.
We are fooled right from the start.
The narcissist enters your life on a tidal wave, sweeping you up for the ride. They tell you everything you want to hear, they check off every box you have for the perfect mate, and they convince you that you’ve finally found The One.
Sure, there are some red flags here and there that keep popping up about the one you’ve fallen hard and fast for, but why pay attention to those when you’ve obviously won the Soul Mate Lottery? You’re not about to give that windfall back, amirite?!
But then, once you’re hooked, once you’re addicted and under the narcissist’s influence, you start to notice a change. Where they used to tell you how great you are, now they point out your faults. Where they used to give, now they take. Where you used to feel loved and appreciated and safe, now you feel insecure, undesirable, and uncertain.
Where did the person you fell in love with go?
Days, months, and years pass as you search for the one you first met. You see glimpses every now and then, which gives you hope. You project your hope onto them and figure they’ll soon see the error of their ways, along with the pain they’re putting you in, and change.
Alas, they’re already changing right in front of you and have been since you met. It’s just not the kind of change you were hoping for.
They change to mirror you
Remember in the beginning? Remember how you had everything in common? They saw the world as you did, shared the same dreams and goals…it was like looking in a mirror.
The real reason for this change: A narcissist reflects who you are back to you so that they will gain your trust and love quickly, before their mask slips, with the intent to then exploit all your wonderful qualities — such as empathy, forgiveness, and kindness — later down the line.
They change their behavior in public
Nothing answers the question, “Do narcissists know what they’re doing?” better than a narcissist’s own behavior depending on the room they’re in. They will be a completely different person behind closed doors than out in public. They will be completely different with one person than they are with another.
The real reason for this change: Think of a narcissist like a vampire whose sole motivation is to find the next neck to sink their teeth into. The people they’ve already bled dry (the ones behind closed doors) are already onto them and have little blood left to give. For those still unaware, however, a narcissist uses their gift of guise to conceal who they really are.
They change what they say
You know the drill. The narcissist tells you 2+2=4 and you’re like, Yes I agree! Then they try and convince you the answer is actually 5 and you’re like, Wait no it’s not…is it? And you begin to question your sanity until you’re convinced the answer is actually 5 when the narcissist is all, Of course it’s 4 and I never said otherwise. Then when they see the confused look on your face they add, You’re crazy.
The real reason for this change: Narcissists rely on gaslighting to separate you from your intuition. They make you question reality and keep you in a constant state of confusion so that you’ll not only be easier to control, but they’ll have an easier time getting away with their abuse.
They change what they promised you
It’s called future faking. Narcissists string you along by promising all the things you’re dreaming of that one day you’d like to happen. This bonds you to the narcissist and gives them control.
The real reason for this change: Narcissists promise you all sorts of beautiful and wonderful and romantic things that will take place in the future so they can get what they want from you in the present.
They change their partners/supply
Ever notice how easy it is for a narcissist to move on after you’re no longer with them, while you take months, even years, to recover from what happened to you? No matter how many decades you’ve spent with them or the children you share or the life you built together, a narcissist will replace you in the blink of an eye, sometimes even prepping their new supply before you have both feet out the door.
The reason for this change: Narcissists have an empathy deficiency. This makes it easy to switch you out with someone who hasn’t seen the person behind the mask. All that a narcissist cares about, just like a vampire, is that next juicy vein.
They change history
Again with the gaslighting. I never said that, a narcissist tells you when you know in your heart of hearts that they did indeed say that. They’ll deflect blame, call you crazy or too sensitive or say things like Babe, I’m starting to worry about you so that you believe you’re the one with the problem.
The reason for this change: In order to avoid any responsibility for their abuse, narcissists gaslight you by rewriting history so that you doubt your own reality and surrender to theirs. After all, if they can convince you that you don’t know who you are, then they can convince you to believe them when they tell you.
They change for the worse
In my own experience and in all the years I’ve been coaching and doing research on the topic of narcissism and narcissistic abuse, I have never even once heard of a narcissist changing for the better. I have never heard nor seen a case where a narcissist has repented and seen the error of their ways and made the changes necessary to improve their relationships.
The reason for this change: Why would a narcissist change for the better? They are not motivated by the feelings of other people. They don’t care who they hurt. And the truly despicable thing about narcissists is that they get off on your pain. Plus, if you’re staying with them and putting up with their abuse, they know they can get away with it.
So the next time a narcissist promises, “I swear I’ll change!” you will not only know they are telling the truth.
But now you’ll know what kind of change that will be.
Change the way you look at things and the things you look at will change.
— Wayne Dyer