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Stop Making Excuses for the Narcissist

I am a specialist in Cluster B personality disorders who has worked with people with disabilities and mental illnesses for over 10 years.


Too many times, people find themselves rationalizing, justifying or excusing the behavior of narcissists. Not only does this minimize the severity of the behavior, it gives them an excuse, and they already have plenty of those.

Dealing with narcissists is very difficult. They are hard to deal with, hard to communicate with and hard to understand. Because of this, a rational person's mind struggles to come up with reasons for why they act the way they do. It's what drives so many people to look it up on the internet or to watch videos like this one. Unfortunately, the explanation is one that many people still have trouble with. Their own basic decency and humanity prevents them from really internalizing the truth, and so the mind creates rationalizations, or excuses, for the behavior.

"He doesn't really mean that. He's just upset," or "She doesn't understand how she's hurting other people." "He has a mental illness. She's had a hard life." He's tired. She's anxious. They're stressed out. It's a full moon. On and on. All of these things may be true. The narcissist may even have other issues on top of these things, especially those with personality disorders and it's still not an excuse to abuse people. Life is not fair. We all have our fair share of rotten things that happen, or days that we are really stressed out. That's just the way it is. None of these things are an excuse for the systematic abuse and attempted destruction of other people.

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You see, the narcissist always has an excuse. There is always a reason they are upset, always a reason they are not to blame for their actions, always a reason they couldn't control themselves. It's a crock, to put it bluntly. It's a lie. Put a policeman in the room and see how fast their behavior comes correct. The truth is, they behave the way they do because they are choosing to, and making excuses for them reinforces that choice over and over again. Every time they get away with it, it just entrenches the behavior deeper. Why should they stop if it works? They won't.

This is one of the biggest reasons narcissists don't change. They don't need to. The way they behave works for them in its own way. If it stops working, you may see a change in their behavior, but more than likely they will change their environment and try to find one where their behavior does work and does get them what they want. These people are very slow to change. They will generally only do so if forced to because their previous behavior no longer gets them what they want, and even then, they usually just swap one toxic, abusive behavior for another because the goal is still the same. They really don't care about how their behavior is affecting others. They will only change it if they need to. And if they are given excuses for their behavior, they will never need to. They have something to blame it on instead of taking responsibility for it.

For example, a narcissistic person who physically abuses their spouse may go to jail for that. If that happens, they may stop that behavior because they don't want to go to jail anymore. However, they will still be a narcissist. Their goals will still be the same. They will still be an abuser. It just won't be physical abuse anymore. And of course, many of them would simply leave that relationship and find another person to have a relationship with rather than change their behavior. Narcissists, like all people, do what works for them and what makes them feel good. They are unlikely to give up behavior that accomplishes these things, regardless of how it affects others or even themselves. They are all about instant gratification and short-term goals. For many narcissists, today is the only day that ever was and all that matters is getting what they can out of it. They generally don't worry about tomorrow and the only thing that matters from yesterday is whatever they believe was done to them.

The more excuses people make for them (or repeat for them, or believe from them), the more it reinforces their behavior. They know right from wrong. They can control their behavior when they need to. They don't get an excuse for their behavior because there is no excuse for their behavior. They know it's wrong. They just don't care. How they feel or what they want is more important, and it always will be. There should be a very hard line drawn here, using boundaries and consequences. A person having a disorder or some other problem is never an excuse for putting up with abuse. Period. It's a shame they have that problem and hopefully they learn to control themselves, but until they admit that their behavior is the result of choices they are making, the chances of that are pretty slim and giving them free reign to abuse people is not going to help that happen.

Loved ones need to remember that it is not their responsibility to fix these people and that you will help the situation more by not excusing their behavior and by forcing them to take responsibility for it by refusing to put up with it. They will never learn it's not acceptable to you if you don't show them it's unacceptable to you. Telling them is not enough. And if they never learn anyway, then that's their problem. At least it won't affect you anymore.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

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