This was one of the most helpful parts of the article to me. Gaining insight into how real his ‘intentions’ are vs. reality.
Bolding below is mine.
“People who are engaged in defending their internal grandiosity may become adept at giving ostensible apologies that really amount to self-justifications. Narcissistically driven people do not seem to understand that saying one is sorry represents an expression of empathy with the injured party irrespective of whether the hurt was intentional or avoidable. The woman who is kept waiting and worrying when her husband is late coming home will feel immediately forgiving if he expresses genuine sorrow that she has suffered on his account. In narcissistically defensive states, however, people seem to go by the general rule that such expressions of sympathy and regret are called for only if they were “at fault” in some way. Thus, the tardy husband meets his wife’s anxious greeting with, “It wasn’t my fault; there was a traffic jam,” communicating not remorse but resentment of her distress and rejection of its validity.”
This is my life with him. It’s so helpful to me to understand this.
More from the article, and bolding is mine:
“The organizing, overriding issue for people with narcissistic preoccupations is the preservation of their internal sense of self-cohesiveness or self-approval, not the quality of their relations with other people. As a result, when they feel their imperfections have been exposed, the pressing question for them is the repair of their inner self-concept, not the mending of the feelings of those in their external world (cf. Stolorow’s [1979b] definitions of narcissism). They are consequently likely, in a state of defensiveness about exposed faults, to protest that they meant to do the right thing, as if the purity of their inner state is the pertinent issue – to others as well as to themselves.”
This rings true here over and over and… This is why when he says “I meant to...” or “That’s not what I meant...” or expresses how he supposedly feels vs. his actual behaviors/words, his feelings seem to be his gauge for assessing accountability on his part.
” the rectification of an error is an admission that an error has in fact occurred. … If one displaces the issue to the area of intention, an error has not occurred, since one’s intentions were faultless.”
And this is apparently why actual ‘amends’ or ‘change’ doesn’t seem to matter as much as what he intended or meant or expressed at any point.
Really interesting in a very sad way. I can see this when ‘he gets upset that I’m upset that he upset me’. He’s offended that I took offense at his offending me. He’s so sincerely upset, so sincerely offended, that it confuses my sensibilities. This is why when my truth radar has automatically been scanning the interaction, and I could sense that he authentically feels like a victim. This used to automatically send me on an inner frantic search as to what I’d done to cause this.
Now I can see it happening in the moment, and I can know what’s really going on, but no amount of truth seems to make it past his self-perception that he’s ultimately the victim somehow. It doesn’t matter that I’m okay with him having faults, weaknesses, and making mistakes, as long as he owns them and works on them, because I have faults, weaknesses, and make mistakes too. All that doesn’t matter. It matters to him not what he actually does or doesn’t do, or does or doesn’t say, but what he meant or intended.
This explains why he can be cruel and cold to me, but still be perceived by himself (and most of the world) as a really nice guy. Most others don’t get his cruel and cold facets directed at them. They get the absentminded professor, the teflon screw-ups that somehow weren’t really his fault since he didn’t ‘mean’ them, and the charming, funny guy that couldn’t possibly want to hurt someone. Because that disarranges the senses somehow. But did he? Did he mean to hurt? Is he really that disconnected from the aggressive part of the passive aggressive? The longer that I’ve lived with him, the more I’m inclined to think that he is aware of how he’s hurting me (or whoever). Again to paraphrase Dr. George Simon, He sees, but he doesn’t agree. He’s aware, but he doesn’t care.
As long as he can think of himself as a nice, hard working, good guy with good intentions, then I’m just an unreasonable and unappreciative person that he can push against defensively.