But I Can Change?


“But I can change.”

A phrase so often said by some of our kind. You will, more likely than not, have heard this sentence at some point during your entanglement with us. Usually it is uttered as part of a Preventative Hoover when the narcissist sees that there is a considerable risk that you are going to depart the Formal Relationship and in so doing threaten the provision of fuel from the chief source. It also makes an appearance as part of the Initial Grand Hoover to draw you back in, should you have managed to take those first steps towards escape. You will hear it in Benign Follow-Up Hoovers although following the effluxion of time you are more likely to hear the cousin, namely, “But I have changed.” Occasionally it appears within the devaluation phase, following an unpleasant episode as part of the further manipulation to keep you bound to the narcissist and providing fuel. Accordingly, its use will occur at different parts of the narcissistic dynamic.

To some, the sentence contains the magical words that the empath is waiting to hear. The empath’s inherent desire to fix, to heal and to repair longs for that acknowledgement by the narcissist that they can alter their behaviour, make new and fresh choices, learn from the mistakes and choose a better path. The declaration of a willingness to change is welcomed by certain empaths and they selflessly accept this statement, believing that all people have some good within, that it is a case of recognising this and applying a different approach.

To others, the words are welcomed but with caution. Perhaps the devaluing behaviour has been so deep and savage that the recipient is wary, fearful of their hopes being raised too soon. Their inherent desire to see change, for the good of both people in the relationship wants to agree, to grab this offer with both hands and see to its implementation, but dare they hope that it can be done? Indeed they can, for in that moment, as the cool, hard logic of caution makes its presence felt, it becomes overrun by the soaring emotional thinking that cries out – “He has realised. He knows he has done wrong. He wants to make amends. He wants to change.” The emotional thinking brings forth those twin sisters of pressure – Hope and Guilt. The empath, chained to the concept of hope, sincerely wishes that  the person that they love will change and become a better person. Guilt also weighs in, whispering, “What if it is genuine, what if he can change and you do not give him a chance, what a bad person you will be for doing that?” The emotional thinking will win out.

Rarely will this protestation of being able to change go unheeded. Rarely will the opportunity not be given to the narcissist who states that this can be done. It is only the informed, those who can apply their cool, hard logic and resist the rising tide of emotional thinking who can repel the allure of those enticing words. For everyone else, they are drawn into allowing the narcissist a further opportunity to keep they, the victim, in place.

Yet, who is it of our brethren who issues this plea? What is meant by it and can it really happen?

You will rarely hear it from the Lesser Narcissist. He sees no reason to change. He or she does as they want. If he smashed up the house or physically attacked you, well it was your fault that it happened and once the ignited fury has abated, the best you will get is that the reset button is pressed and nothing is said about the previous behaviour. The statement of change might be issued if the Lesser faces a fuel crisis and in absolute desperation it is blurted out in order to prevent the cessation of his primary supply but come the morning after, the intention will have evaporated and any suggestion of change will be rejected. The crisis has been averted, the wound healed and fury abated and the entitled Lesser is not going to make those changes, not when of course it was your fault ll along.

If reminded of his intention, he will brush it to one side, telling you he will look into it, that he is busy with something else at the moment but you can talk later, that he has to go to work, that he has someone to see and you will be left dangling. He will not return to the discussion about making a change or seeking help and fearing a further explosive episode you do not press further and there the matter is left.

You will rarely hear it from the Greater Narcissist. He sees no reason to change either. Oh, we know what we do but that is borne out of necessity and it is what must be done. Our needs, superior to yours, require this behaviour and if you cannot accept it, well we can easily find someone else who will, because, after all, we are the prize, the champion and the ultimate, so it is your loss. The Greater will not issue this plea as a Preventative Hoover or such like to stop you leaving. True, he will not want his primary source to escape. This is a matter of fuel provision but often more of pride and superiority. After all, the extensive fuel matrices of the Greater school ( see The Fuel Matrix – Part Three ) means that even if the primary source had the audacity to escape he has plenty of other sources to turn to in the meanwhile. He will however not want to suffer the wounding of this primary source escaping and will want to stop it, but he will use charm and threat to achieve this, not the plea that he will change. It is beneath him.

The only time you might hear these words uttered by the Greater Narcissist is purely because he sees the opportunity for more Machiavellian behaviours through manipulating his victim by engendering false hope. He will see the opportunity to increase his trade craft through agreeing to engage in therapy. He will see it not as a chance to change, but rather an opportunity to learn more about himself (and why not, since he is such a fascinating creature), understand more about his ways and indeed take on the challenge of therapists and the like. If he agrees to changing his behaviour and enlisting external advice and assistance he will also lay down terms and conditions for this occurring in order to further his own agenda. You will however never hear the Greater Narcissist use the phrase “But I can change” as part of some desperate plea.

Accordingly, this leaves us with the school which uses this manipulation often, far more often than the other schools and that is of course the Mid Range Narcissist.  The Mid Ranger uses this manipulation for the following reasons:-

  1. He sees him or herself as a good person. Their perspective means they genuinely regard themselves as decent people and therefore since they are decent, they will, well, do the decent thing and look at making a change;
  2. They regard themselves as giving and they are prepared to make that sacrifice if it means saving the relationship;
  3. They consider themselves to be something of a tortured soul, they have “their demons”, there is something eating away at them and they wish to address it;
  4. They need to be saved and you are the person who can save them. They lack the pig-headed arrogance of the Lesser or the sneering superiority of the Greater.

What is behind those driving factors?

  1. The narcissistic perspective. They consider themselves the one who does good and it is other people who cause the problems, but because they are SO good they will prove that by addressing the issues which have been raised. This is not because they actually believe there is something wrong with them in terms of culpability but rather it is actually an opportunity for them to show the world that they are good and it is other people who are the problem.
  2. This is the victim perspective coming to the fore. The world is a horrible place and no matter how much they try to help others, the world keeps trying to bring them down but that doesn’t matter because guess what? They will rise above it and they will be the one who takes one for the team, who makes the sacrifice and does so for the greater good.
  3. This is the victim perspective once again. They do not see that they are disordered. They do not recognise that they manipulate. They are incapable of doing so because they have no insight or awareness. They do however regard this whole concept of being a ‘tortured soul’ as a magnificent device for drawing fuel. Sympathy, concern and compassion all come flowing. This is not an acknowledgement that there is anything wrong with the Mid Ranger but rather he blames ‘the demon’ (whatever that might be) because blame-shifting is a key defence mechanism and blaming you, the neighbours, the weather or an intangible concept will all work for him.
  4. This is the victim perspective once more but also all part of the sympathy grab for attention. The Mid Ranger wishes to draw pity and compassion but then also be revered, for he is the fallen hero who has been saved and is then able to rise once more, in the magical thinking that plays out in his mind.

The Middle Mid Ranger and Upper Mid Ranger have sufficient cognitive function to realise that their behaviour causes a problem. This is where many victims (understandably) are fooled into thinking that the narcissist is actually showing insight (indeed this often causes them to either think that the narcissist is not a narcissist, or that he is but he can actually change) . The MMR or UMR may acknowledge that his actions cause hurt and problems, however, he or she will never accept ownership of the hurt and problems. For instance, they might say,

“I know that when I disappear for a few days you are worried sick, BUT I need space because you are always pestering me.”

“I understand that you are hurt when I say certain things BUT I am under pressure at work at the moment and you aren’t helping when you question me about why I am home late.”

They can see the consequence but they will not own the consequence. They are configured not to do so.

As is always the case, the uninformed victim accepts the third party explanation as the cause of the errant behaviour or self-flagellates and the victim blames him or herself. So the cause of the problem is regarded as pressure at work or the pestering of the victim.

The Mid Ranger will state he can change and moreover he will also act on the declaration which again sows the seeds of false hope and ensures the victim remains in situ and providing fuel. This is just a further part of the manipulation.

The Mid-Ranger may become more attentive, does not dole out silent treatments, removes the manipulations and stops sulking for a few weeks. This is a Respite Period and he has implemented this because when you said you would not leave, you became painted white again because you did what he wanted. You succumbed to his control and your gracious behaviour provided fuel. The golden period returns and this is what powers his altered ways. It is not because there is any recognition that he must change because it hurts you. The alteration is because you have done what he wanted, thus his split thinking makes you ‘white’ once more and this is what keeps the devaluation at bay, but only for a while.

Naturally, the unwitting victim, having seen changes effected (but not knowing the real reason behind them) is conned into thinking that these changes can happen again and therefore when the plea “But I can change” is made at a later time, the victim is swamped by hope because it happened before (thus it can surely happen again) and thus the cycle continues.

If you return to the Formal Relationship through an Initial Grand Hoover or a Benign Follow-Up Hoover you are painted white once more and the golden period returns, creating the illusion of changed behaviours. Until it tarnishes in due course.

The insidious manipulative manner of the Mid Ranger means that these changes come in many forms. He will alter his actions at home. He will cease the affair shelving the IPSS as your Respite Period Golden Period draws him back to you. He will help out, he will show that inkling of charm once again. He will of course herald his new-found redemption to third parties because this will garner fuel and maintain the facade and of course accords with his complete conviction that he is a good person. This will also provide him with ammunition to hurl at you at the appropriate time, in that he made the changes and if things have faltered it has to be your fault then.

The Mid Ranger will readily attend therapy sessions. This allows him to do several things:-

  1. Show you he is willing and a good person;
  2. He can maintain the facade, “Dawn wanted me to go to therapy and because I love her so much it was the least I could do.” (now tell me how wonderful a husband I am).
  3. He will use the therapy sessions to advance his own agenda. Often the victim will not know what is discussed owing to confidentiality. Therefore the Mid-Ranger, convinced of his own goodness and lack of culpability, will manipulate the therapist  (and will do so convincingly most of the time). Thereafter, the Mid Ranger will tell the victim that actually the therapist said that the victim is the abuser and that the narcissist is the victim. This might be true, an exaggeration of the observations of the unwitting therapist or a lie. Either way, this will leave the victim undermined such is the conviction of the narcissist. Ally that with the fact the victim has seen some changes, their own eroded self-worth and reduced critical thinking and it comes as no surprise that the victim is confused or even believes what the narcissist is saying.
  4. The narcissist can hold it over the victim. “I did as you asked and got some help. They told me there is no issue.” (Now you owe me and I am going to ensure I extract that debt from you repeatedly).

The desire to change is motivated by entirely different reasons than you realise and this desire is not genuine. The change is short-lived, never permanent and any and all behaviours associated with it, no matter how genuine they appear, no matter how earnest the pleading, no matter how many tears are spilled (and the Mid Ranger will turn on the waterworks) it is all part of the manipulation.

They cannot and will not change.

Grasp that understanding so that when you hear “But I can change”, cool,hard logic prevails and you resist the allure of hope. People are inherently optimistic. Empathic people even more so, but the dark side of this hope is vulnerability and our kind and in particular the Mid-Ranger count on that and exploit it.

18 thoughts on “But I Can Change?

  1. Maru says:

    Last night i told him that i was at the end of my hopes, and blocked him again…
    Today he came to my town to ” look for me”, he let me know about it by a voice messagge, he knows that when he does that it upsets me greatly .. then he plays the game of hide and seek to add to the cruelty ..

    I went to find him and I was very angry, he was smirking in my face.. and playing the innocent..
    I am so disgusted..
    and yet i cannot break it up completely… 😢

    He plays that “game” often, he knows that if i know that he is around (he knows how to find me, but yet he doesn’t) i’m always tempted to find him and vent my anger …

    Give me some input about this, please …
    I am sure other women would be interested.
    You could even write an article about it.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      I will respond on the basis that you are the IPPS as you do not state what position you hold in the fuel matrix.

      When you blocked him, he learned of this and this wounded him. This was also a hoover trigger. The Hoover Execution Criteria were met. His hoovering took two forms

      1. He did so through a Direct Physical Hoover in that he came to your town to find him. It is not clear from what you have written but he did not appear to find you. Thus this was an unexecuted hoover.

      2. He also did so through an Electronic Hoover because he telephoned you and left a message. This was an executed and successful hoover (because although he did not get to speak to you in that instant (he left a message) it provoked a fuelled response from you (see below).

      You then, as a consequence of (2) (and maybe (1) also) went to find him. Your anger provided fuel. His smirking was a response to the fuel. His playing the innocent will have been his First Line of Narcissistic Defence.

      You need to implement a no contact regime because you have not done so, so far. You also need to tackle your ET. I recommend you book a GOSO consultation with me.

      1. Maru says:

        Thank you HG

        I don’t think i am his IPPS because
        we do not live together, we have no intimacy for a long time, and yet he keeps me hanged in there by claiming that i am his love and that one day we will be together.

        This is way too painful.

  2. Whitney says:

    I’m watching a youtube video that says Narcissists won’t apologise because it makes them vulnerable. The midrangers have apologised to me a lot 🙁

    The UMR “I am very very sorry :(”
    The LMR “I just wanted to say sorry. I felt bad how it ended”.

    Will they sometimes apologise? (I am not the narc?) Thank you 🌸🌈🌾

    1. HG Tudor says:

      You must be watching an Error Video aka Knows Fuck All About Narcissism i.e. not one of mine!

      A narcissist will do or say whatever is necessary to get what he or she wants and that will include apologising. MRs will do this more than the other schools and of course it is false contrition.

      Remember, if it ain’t HG it’s of no validity! #HGknows

      1. Whitney says:

        Fuck yeah. Thank you HG, you are the BEST.

        I was watching Error Videos because a “recovered codependent” keeps recommending other stuff to watch. She doesn’t believe in the validity of your work because you don’t have a degree. That made me almost stop talking to her because you are my God 🙌 I could write a long essay about why a Psychology degree (which I have), affords not even a smidgen of your knowledge. I didn’t want to undermine her because she is currently doing a course and is proud of it.

        She also keeps telling me I am Codependent and I keep telling her I am a Standard Empath with Codependent traits (HG says). It is getting annoying. She is on a constant pursuit to convince me I am Codependent. She messages me rampantly like a Narcissist would and she needs a lot of attention. She gets pride from helping me and she is very sensitive so I do not want to correct her. If I questioned her like she does to me, she would not be able to handle it. A narcissist questioned her and she almost cried, and I had to step in.

        1. HG Tudor says:

          Thank you.

          I daresay this individual will failed to have read/watched my material to any degree and instead allowed their prejudice re the lack of a psychology degree blind them to the quality of my information and her narrow-minded behaviour coupled with her persistence of labelling you as a codependent when you are not raises suspicions you are dealing with a narcissist. The fact you are concerned about correcting her and her reaction is also a red flag.

          1. Whitney says:

            You are a wonderful saviour. Thank you for your tireless efforts to help Empaths. You are a hero.

          2. HG Tudor says:

            Anti-hero. Thank you nevertheless.

        2. Whitney says:

          Ok HG 🙌👑 if you prefer

  3. Veronique Jones says:

    I believe you can change but fear stops you
    It’s understandable you have been badly abused we all find our own way of copying with abuse a child sees the abusers as strong and nobody wants to feel weak some people end up like your protecting your self from harm and at the same time never feeling whole others end up like me over protective over loving over forgiving we have more pain but also more joy and happiness

    1. HG Tudor says:

      No. Most narcissists, being Lesser or Mid Range, do not know what they are and therefore

      1. They do not know what it actually is that they have to change ; and
      2. Their narcissism will not let that happen. It is akin to a doctor trying to give you an injection to cure a disease and the disease makes you run away/reject the injection.

  4. misstasia says:

    He will never be able to do that to me again. The game has changed.

  5. Fuel FREE from the Shelf says:

    “The Mid Ranger will readily attend therapy sessions”

    OMG Barf. Piano Boy told me a few months ago that he started seeing a therapist because his guilt was consuming him. He says he can compartmentalize his guilt for months and months and then he cannot do it. And it goes back and forth.

    What a load of crap!

    1. Kim e says:

      How are you doing? Hope well. Haven’t seen you and have been thinking about you.

      1. Fuel FREE on the Shelf says:

        Hi Kim E….
        I am hanging in there as best as I can. How about you?

        1. Kim e says:

          Hi FFOTS,
          Same old same old. Still fighting the battle. ET still winning over LT but I know LT is there and one day it is just going to break thru and scream at me STOP THIS CRAZINESS!!!
          Hope you are feeling peace with your NC regiment.
          Take care. I will check in from time to time if that is ok.

          1. Fuel FREE on the Shelf says:

            Hi Kim E,
            That is certainly okay. I do not think my ET will ever be under control. My NC continues to fail but I have accepted that for what it is. I still talk to Piano Boy intermittently. I still want him. But I no longer chase him. He has a “take it or leave it” approach to communicating with me. I am fine with that. It would hurt way more if he was 100% gone.

Vent Your Spleen! (Please see the Rules in Formal Info)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.