Have you ever been around someone who is seemingly kind but then suddenly turns into a totally different person? Narcissists are known for their selfish behavior and lack of empathy toward others. They are not typically people with whom you would associate kind behavior. They are happy to receive kind treatment and eager to take advantage of it, but can narcissists ever be kind?
While it may seem like an impossible feat, the truth is that there are some situations in which narcissists can show kindness. It’s often for selfish reasons, however, so their nice behavior is not altruistic. It’s self-serving. In fact, usually, a kind narcissist is someone to be careful with.
My narcissistic mother was rarely kind, but when she was, it was like finally getting a full drink of water after walking through the scorching desert with nothing to drink. That’s something many narcissists are able to do rather well. They dole out kindness in small amounts to get you to want more. Let’s explore when and why narcissists might be kind.
Can Narcissists Be Kind from Time to Time?
Narcissists can be kind on occasion, but it’s important to remember that their motivations for doing so are often self-centered, as the video below shows. They may act kindly in order to gain admiration or approval from those around them or to manipulate others into doing something they want.
The kindness shown by narcissists is often superficial and used as a tool for manipulation rather than genuine concern for others. That being said, some narcissists may be capable of true kindness and compassion.
For example, a narcissist may do good deeds out of a genuine desire to help someone else without expecting anything in return. In these cases, the motivation is typically not rooted in selfishness or manipulation but instead comes from a place of sincere care and concern for another person’s well-being.
Why are Narcissists Kind?
Narcissists can be kind, but it’s important to remember that their motivations for doing so are often self-centered. There may be an agenda to their kindness, and it can be difficult to know the difference.
In relationships with narcissists, people first experience a stage known as idealization, and it’s in this stage that the narcissist can seem very kind. In fact, they can be so kind that many nice people in a romantic relationship with a narcissist have expressed that they thought they had found their soulmate.
When they later find themselves in a toxic relationship, they feel so disappointed and shocked. They often remain in what becomes an abusive relationship for much longer than they otherwise would.
Why does the narcissist do this, and what are some other reasons why someone with narcissistic personality disorder would seem so kind? Here are several common reasons.
They Need Narcissistic Supply
Narcissists may exhibit kindness in order to gain admiration or approval from those around them. A narcissist can seem like a very charming person in order to get the adulation they need to support their fragile ego.
Mental health professionals know what lies beneath the common narcissist traits of bragging and seeking attention is a buried true self that they are protecting from exposure. In its place, the narcissist created a false self-image and infused it with delusions of grandeur related to their superiority and perfection.
But the narcissist’s mental health condition involves a damaged identity mechanism that can’t support those grandiose ideas. They need other people to supply them with adoration to feel good about themselves.
They Use Kindness to Manipulate
Because narcissists need that supply to survive, they often use kindness to manipulate others into doing something they want. It’s a way of getting what they want out of a situation, such as gaining control or even money.
If they are kind to you, you are much more likely to do what they want you to do. A true narcissist, however, is unable to focus on what you need or want or care about. Their kindness is just a way to manipulate you.
Because narcissists lack empathy, they can’t understand how their actions affect you. Their sense of entitlement also makes them believe they have a right to do anything they need to do to get what they want.
They Use Kindness to Form a Trauma Bond
A trauma bond is when you become accustomed to the cycle of abuse that occurs in narcissistic relationships. They let you see brief glimpses of that wonderful, kind person you fell in love with or remember meeting at first, and you keep hoping you can get back to that person.
You often ignore the narcissistic abuse they heap on you because you believe that kind person is in there somewhere and you can help bring them out again. Unfortunately, the toxic narcissist is only using kindness as a lure to keep you in the relationship.
Do Different Types of Narcissists Use Kindness Differently?
There are many different subtypes of narcissists, but many of these are not recognized by experts. Let’s look at the four different kinds of narcissists that most experts agree exist and how they use kindness.
Grandiose or overt narcissists are characterized by an inflated sense of their own importance, a need for admiration from others, and a lack of understanding of the feelings and needs of other people. They often display self-centeredness and arrogance in their behavior.
This is the person you typically think about when someone uses the term narcissist. They really use kindness sparingly to manipulate or create trauma bonds.
Vulnerable or covert narcissists tend to be more introverted than grandiose types. While they also have an excessive need for admiration, they have low self-esteem and commonly feel inadequate compared to others.
The narcissist behaviors associated with this kind of narcissist often do include kindness and even devotion to charity. But they are often doing that so that people will give them the adoration they so desperately need. Check out this video on how to spot a female covert narcissist.
Closet narcissists are generally more hidden in nature as they may not outwardly display narcissistic traits but instead internalize them. They are often hypersensitive to criticism and may respond with anger when their true selves are revealed.
They may use kindness in the same way a vulnerable narcissist does, but they quickly withdraw their kind behaviors when they feel slighted.
Special People Narcissists
Special people narcissists are those who believe they have exclusive relationships with certain people—usually family members—and expect unconditional admiration from them at all times. This type of narcissist is often controlling in relationships and can be manipulative when trying to get something out of someone else.
These narcissists use kindness to create a trauma bond and keep an individual tied to them for as long as they can.
Other Factors Affecting Narcissistic Kindness
Other factors can also influence how a narcissist behaves, including the environment they are in and the people they are interacting with. For instance, a grandiose narcissist may be more likely to display kind behavior when surrounded by people who will appreciate it and reinforce it through compliments or positive reinforcement.
Similarly, a covert narcissist may be more inclined to express their kindness when they feel safe and secure among trusted friends or family members who understand them on a deeper level. That’s why it’s important to consider the context associated with a narcissist’s kindness.
While all narcissists have the potential to act kindly toward others at times, some types tend to do so more frequently than others. It is important to keep in mind that even if someone appears nice on the surface, they could still have ulterior motives behind their actions – it is always best to remain mindful of any hidden agendas before forming relationships with anyone displaying narcissistic traits.
Narcissists don’t typically truly care about the needs of other people, and it’s much more likely their kindness comes with an agenda. It’s also important to remember that while a narcissist can change, you can’t change them. Don’t expect that you can make them kinder or more like that person you first met. The truth is that person never existed.
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