8 things narcissistic people are literally incapable of doing, according to psychology

If you’ve ever had a relationship with someone who is narcissistic, you’ve likely seen firsthand that there are just some things they seem unable to do.

A relationship with a narcissist can often be a confusing, frustrating, and emotionally draining experience. You may notice them being overly self-centered, lacking empathy, or struggling to form genuine connections.

Narcissism is not a choice, but a recognized personality disorder. Like any mental health condition, it affects people differently and presents its own unique challenges.

Understanding these challenges and knowing more about the disorder can make a big difference. This article will dig into the things that, according to psychology, narcissistic people are literally incapable of doing.

1) Acknowledging others’ feelings

One thing that narcissistic individuals are often incapable of doing, according to psychology, is acknowledging and empathizing with others’ feelings.

In a relationship, you might notice that a narcissist seems to be completely dismissive of your emotions. You may share your feelings, concerns, or worries, only to have them brushed aside or disregarded entirely. Narcissists tend to focus on their own emotions and needs, often at the expense of those around them.

This lack of empathy isn’t a personal choice, but a characteristic of narcissism itself. The narcissist’s inability to acknowledge others’ feelings often leaves their partners feeling unheard and unimportant.

By understanding this limitation, you can better navigate these relationships and set boundaries where needed. It’s crucial to maintain your own emotional health and not allow the narcissist’s lack of empathy to invalidate your feelings.

2) Recognizing their own flaws

Narcissistic individuals often struggle to recognize and acknowledge their own flaws or mistakes. This might seem surprising given their self-focused nature, but it’s actually a common trait associated with narcissism.

The inflated sense of self-importance that characterizes narcissism often leads to an inability to see their own shortcomings. They tend to maintain an image of perfection and superiority, which doesn’t allow room for acknowledging mistakes or personal growth.

This can be challenging in a relationship, as it can hinder effective communication and conflict resolution. It may also result in the narcissist placing blame on others for their own actions or behaviors.

Being aware of this aspect of narcissism can help in managing expectations and fostering healthier interactions. Remember that everyone makes mistakes, and it’s okay to hold a narcissist accountable for theirs.

3) Offering genuine apologies

Apologies can be tricky for narcissistic individuals. It’s not that they don’t say “I’m sorry,” but rather that their apologies often lack sincerity and accountability.

Narcissists are known for their grandiose sense of self and entitlement, which makes it difficult for them to genuinely apologize. In their mind, they haven’t done anything wrong, so there’s nothing to apologize for.

In fact, research has shown that narcissists are unwilling to apologize because they don’t experience very much empathy or guilt. So even when they do apologize, their apologies may seem insincere or manipulative.

This doesn’t mean you should dismiss their apologies entirely, but it’s important to recognize the potential lack of sincerity behind them. It’s also important to remember that a genuine apology should be accompanied by change in behavior.

4) Seeking help for themselves

It can be quite challenging for narcissistic individuals to seek help or support. This isn’t due to a lack of resources or opportunities, but rather their own perception of themselves.

Narcissists often have a strong belief in their own capabilities and superiority, which can make it difficult for them to admit they might need help. They may feel that seeking support is a sign of weakness or an admission of failure.

Yet, everyone needs help at times, and seeking it is a sign of strength and self-awareness rather than weakness. If you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, it’s important to remember this and offer your support when possible. Encouraging them to seek professional help when needed can also be beneficial.

However, it’s crucial to remember to take care of your own emotional health as well. Supporting someone with narcissism can be draining, so ensure you’re also reaching out for the help and support you need.

5) Letting go of grudges

We’ve all had moments where we’ve held onto a grudge a little too long, but for narcissistic individuals, letting go of grudges can be especially challenging. They tend to remember every slight or perceived insult, often bringing up these past grievances in unrelated arguments.

This might be due to their deep need for admiration and respect. Any perceived attack on their self-esteem can result in long-held grudges, making it difficult to move forward in a relationship.

While it’s perfectly normal to feel hurt and upset when someone wrongs you, holding onto grudges can have a negative impact on your relationships and personal well-being.

If you’re dealing with a narcissist who holds grudges, it’s important to communicate openly about the issue and seek resolution. But remember, it’s also okay to protect your emotional health by setting boundaries if needed.

6) Sharing the spotlight

Narcissistic individuals often find it challenging to share the spotlight. They typically crave attention and admiration, which can make it difficult for them to step aside and let others shine.

I remember a friend who loved being the center of attention at all social gatherings.

Whenever someone else started getting attention, he would quickly find a way to steer the conversation back to himself or his achievements. It didn’t matter if it was someone else’s birthday or promotion celebration; he always found a way to make it about him.

This can be quite draining for those around them, as it can feel like their accomplishments or experiences are being overshadowed.

If you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, know that your achievements are valid and worthy of recognition too. It’s important to celebrate your successes and not let anyone dim your shine.

7) Prioritizing others

Let’s face it, narcissists have a hard time prioritizing others. They are often so focused on their own needs and desires that they struggle to put anyone else first, even in situations where it’s necessary or expected.

This trait can lead to one-sided relationships where you feel like you’re constantly giving and they’re constantly taking. This isn’t healthy or sustainable.

If you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, it’s important to set boundaries and ensure your needs are being met too. You deserve to be prioritized and treated with respect. Stand firm in your worth and don’t settle for less. Remember, it’s not selfish to look out for yourself.

8) Changing for others

If there’s one thing to remember when dealing with a narcissist, it’s this: they typically won’t change for anyone but themselves. Even with awareness of their narcissistic tendencies, making a change is difficult because it challenges their self-perception.

Change is possible, but it requires willingness on their part and often professional help. It’s important to understand that you cannot force or persuade someone to change if they don’t see the need for it themselves.

If you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, it can be crucial to protect your own well-being. Maintain your boundaries, ensure your needs are being met, and remember: you can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.


Understanding the complexities of narcissism can be a challenging journey, but it’s one that can potentially bring about greater clarity and compassion in your relationships.

This article aimed to shed light on some of the things narcissistic individuals struggle with, but remember, every journey is unique. Your experiences may differ, and that’s okay.

Navigating relationships with narcissistic individuals requires patience, understanding, and self-care. It’s not always easy, but know that you’re not alone.

Remember to take care of yourself. Your feelings matter. Your needs are important.

Here’s to building healthier relationships and prioritizing your well-being!

Lucas Graham

Lucas Graham, based in Auckland, writes about the psychology behind everyday decisions and life choices. His perspective is grounded in the belief that understanding oneself is the key to better decision-making. Lucas’s articles are a mix of personal anecdotes and observations, offering readers relatable and down-to-earth advice.

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