Can a narcissist commit?
That’s the dream, right?
That despite everything you’ve read – and the narcissist in your life meeting all the criteria of having no empathy and a personality disorder – you will, somehow, be the exception to the rule. That the narcissist will miraculously change and commit to you for the rest of your life, vowing to make up for all the pain and sorrow they’ve caused you.
You can almost taste the sweet victory of it all…out of the millions of people who suffer appallingly at the hands of a narcissist, you will be the one who unlocks the secret to a fulfilling and joyous ever after with the narcissist in your life. You will be the Chosen One who finds a way to fundamentally change the narcissist into being a goodhearted individual who has The Divine Epiphany and commits to you until death do you part.
Too bad it’s all a fairytale, though. We’ve all seen the scammy articles and advertisements claiming that you can find a way to make things work with the narcissist you love. There are a gazillion different variations, all of them promising you easy methods, all of them stoking your hope of a better life, all of them a little too preposterous for you to believe in, even though you really, REALLY want to believe.
But you’re not a fool. You know they’re not telling you the truth. It can’t be as easy as they make it sound.
And you’re right. I’ve been guiding people out of toxic relationships for years now, and while it’s certainly nice to believe you can fundamentally change a narcissist, there’s also a lot these people aren’t telling you.
Not because it’s a secret, but because most people don’t actually want the truth. They want to believe it’s easy, doable, straightforward.
If anything, though, it’s the opposite, and that brings us to the question:
What makes a Narcissist finally commit?
In regards to getting engaged, moving in together, getting married, meeting the parents, having a baby together, or any of the social status symbols we typically consider “commitment”, narcissists do these things quite frequently.
It doesn’t, however, mean they are committed.
Narcissists may enter into these traditional institutions, but only because someone has passed the litmus test for being good supply. This means different things to different narcissists, but generally speaking, it means they’ve found someone who will tolerate their disorder.
Or, if their mask hasn’t entirely slipped yet, they might temporarily commit to someone who will provide them a “home base”, if you will. A place to go to when they need to implement a few good Silent Treatments to their other supply sources or perhaps want to take a year or two off from work.
Alternatively, they put on the appearance of having committed to someone to reduce damage control after an especially horrific discard of a former partner in order to maintain their image of being “normal”, while having others believe their former target is unstable.
This is why we see them leave a relationship and quickly get engaged to or move in with someone else. Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean there is anything better about the new target. Again, it’s simply image maintenance (and a one-two punch at making you feel undeserving).
In the same vein, you can test the narcissist’s true commitment to you by suggesting you have a chronic or terminal disease, such as cancer. This will bust all misconceptions that the narcissist has committed to you.
One of the most heartbreaking stories I hear from clients and followers is how their narcissistic partner discarded them at the worst possible time. This might include the loss of a job, failing an important exam, following the victim’s diagnosis of a life-threatening illness, or the death of someone close to them (which sometimes includes a child).
Other times, the narcissist plans a devastating discard during what should be a joyous occasion, such as their anniversary, right before a long-planned vacation, or even when the victim finds out they’re expecting a baby…with the narcissist!
This is the depth of the narcissist’s capacity to commit.
Breaking the Illusion That the Narcissist Can (or Will) Commit
Commitment from a narcissist can be likened to a cost/benefit situation. As long as you are giving them something they consider to be valuable, they will pretend to be committed to you, or at least pretend that they want to be committed to you, if not for (fill-in-the-blank).
In the latter situation, they prattle on about how they can finally commit to you once they completely break things off with the ex or take care of that job situation overseas. All these things are part of the illusion, of course, but the narcissist will use these crumbs to keep you striving for the yellow-brick road.
You may find yourself taking care of all the responsibilities and doing the work of two people to pave the way for your future with the narcissist, all while they’re off recycling old supply or living the life of a single person. All unbeknownst to you, unfortunately.
Once the value of your relationship dips in the red (remember, cost/benefit) or a more desirable situation presents itself, you will be treated like a laborious afterthought.
What You Need to Know
In a non-toxic relationship, the bonds of love and devotion generally evolve and deepen over time. You begin to feel more comfortable in your own skin and free to be yourself.
With a narcissist, they put on a grandiose show of being totally committed to you in the beginning, but as time goes on, you feel you have to work harder and harder to keep their affections. Suddenly, the very things they once loved about you are now the bane of their existence.
This pattern never ends …not for anyone.
So, if you’re looking for commitment via social status symbols, it’s important to burn into your mind that even if the narcissist commits to you by getting engaged or married to you, it will not cause them to stop behaving like a narcissist. Empathy, devotion, reciprocation, and true commitment are things you’ll never get from them.
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