I found this article extremely helpful and insightful so I'm going to continue to comment on some of the content here.
There seems to be in all of us a disposition not to acknowledge how much we need others. Similarly, we all seem to have some fundamental discomfort admitting to mistakes and failures.....For the purpose of this essay, the aspects of the grandiose self that we wish to emphasize includes its being without need and without sin. A transaction will be considered as essentially narcissistic insofar as its main goal seems to be the shoring up of a sinless, needless self-concept. There follow some examples of everyday behavior suggesting the unconscious operation of a grandiose self-representation, followed by a discussion of everyday-life pathology around apologizing and thanking.The premise of this essay is laid out above. I am very pleased that someone took the time and effort to analyze the effect in everyday life, as experienced by the victims, of the narcissistic need to preserve the illusion of perfection and sinlessness and how this renders the narcissist incapable of expressing true remorse or true gratitude. The various ways the narcissist denies these important transactions that lubricate social life are described well in the essay. I have experienced almost every aspect they describe. The same is probably true for you. I recommend you read the essay for yourself.
In a loving relationship perceived as temporarily damaged by one party's hunger or aggression, the (actual or fantasied) injuring party ordinarily seeks to restore the loving tone of the relationship. In adults, the usual vehicle is the apology.
How many times have you beat yourself up for not feeling like you can forgive the narcissist? Well, you can stop accusing yourself and realize that you've been denied true remorse and reparation from the narcissist which is why you feel so empty and distanced after receiving some version of an apology that was anything but an apology. What follows are some descriptions of various ways a narcissist appears to apologize while actually denying you an apology. It is sleight of hand. You've been duped to some extent. Your head tells you that you received an apology and therefore everything should be set right now, but your heart feels alienated and unmoved. Something was missing and somewhere you sense that. Hopefully, this article can explain why that is.
What intrigues us about the reparation process when a narcissistic defense is operating is that what is repaired is not the damage to the relationship, but the subject's illusion of perfection.
The first method of avoiding an apology is described as "undoing". Rather than come out and admit what they said or did was wrong, the narcissist will attempt to undo the wrong by doing something for you. Take you out to dinner, buy you something, sex, fill in the blank. If you are on the receiving end of the "undoing", you may still feel upset and hurt and may reject the advance. Or you may acquiesce by accepting the gift or action and conceal your feelings. You will still feel lonely and distanced because no true remorse was expressed. There is a cumulative effect of repeated "undoing" on a relationship that will ultimately result in alienation.
Never confuse "undoing" for a real apology. The act of "undoing" is how the narcissist avoids admitting to any imperfection on their part while they try to usher back in an atmosphere of reconciliation by getting you to drop your complaint. They are trying to buy you off. If you accept their "gift" in whatever form it takes, they will assume that all is well again. Meanwhile, you feel like crap.
Next post we'll look at the methods of "appealing to good intentions" and "explaining" as two more ways you can be denied a real apology.