This came from someone in our community: “Why would a narcissist agree to go to couples counseling?” I did a bit of research of my own. Here’s what I found.

In general, a narcissist will agree to go to couples counseling when they want to appear committed to the relationship, blame the relationship’s problems on their partner, regain control of the relationship, or validate their version of reality.

In this article, I’ll walk you through each of these reasons to help you understand why a narcissist might agree to go to couples counseling.

1.) To Appear Committed to the Relationship

Narcissists may agree to go to couples counseling as a way to appear committed and caring in the eyes of their partner and others. 

For example, imagine you’ve expressed your concerns and the possibility of ending things due to the relationship’s problems.

In response, the narcissist proposes going to couples counseling.

This proposal isn’t about a genuine desire to resolve the issues.

It’s about keeping up appearances. 

The narcissist wants to show you and anyone else paying attention that they are willing to “work” on the relationship. 

A narcissist agreeing to go to couples counseling.


For narcissists, maintaining a positive public persona is super important because it gives them access to unlimited amounts of narcissistic supply.

When people view them positively, they’re more likely to offer them validation, admiration, and reassurance (a.k.a. narcissistic supply).

So, committing to counseling, even if they have no real intention of changing their behavior, is just one of the many ways they get a steady flow of narcissistic supply.

2.) To Shift Blame and Avoid Responsibility

The second reason a narcissist might go to couples counseling is to control and manipulate the narrative.1

As a general rule, narcissists want to do this because it helps them shift the blame away from themselves and onto their partners. 

For instance, I want you to imagine that you’ve been feeling undervalued and neglected in your relationship with the narcissist. 

You express this in counseling, hoping for empathy and understanding. 

Instead, the narcissist twists the situation, suggesting your needs are unreasonable and the root of the relationship’s problems. 

Doing this allows them to avoid taking responsibility for their actions while painting you in a negative light, all under the guise of participating in therapy.

But wait, won’t the therapist notice this?

Not always.

If you’re working with an inexperienced therapist, they might not see through the manipulative games the narcissist is playing.2

Sadly, when this happens, the counseling sessions become a platform for the narcissist continue to abuse and manipulate you.

3.) To Regain Control Over the Relationship

The third reason a narcissist might agree to participate in couples counseling is to regain control over the relationship.

This is especially true if they feel their partner is slipping away. 

You see, if you begin showing signs of independence, the narcissist might suggest counseling as a strategy to reel you back in. 

Here, the act of agreeing to therapy is a calculated move to show temporary vulnerability or openness to change.

A narcissist being manipulative.

You have to be really careful here because narcissists are amazing at pretending they are serious about making the relationship work. 

For example, they may be a committed partner during the sessions, showing an unusual willingness to listen or to work on the relationship. 

However, this behavior change is often superficial and short-lived, designed to convince you to stay and give the relationship another chance. 

The real aim is to restore the status quo, where the narcissist maintains their influence and control over you and the relationship dynamics.

Related: 3 Reasons Narcissists Are So Controlling

4.) To Validate Their Version of Reality

Unfortunately, it isn’t uncommon for narcissists to use couples counseling as a tool to validate their distorted version of reality.3

For example, suppose you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, and you’re facing constant conflicts due to their lack of empathy. 

After a huge argument, you propose couples counseling, hoping it could help your partner understand the effects of their actions. 

To your surprise, they agree.

During the sessions, however, your partner uses the time as an opportunity to twist the narrative in their favor. 

When discussing the conflicts, they portray themselves as the victim.

Suggesting they’ve been endlessly patient and accommodating while framing you as overly sensitive and hard to please. 

“It’s like no matter what I do, it’s never right. I’m here trying to find out how to be better, but it feels like they’re just impossible to satisfy.” 

This tactic is not about finding mutual ground.

It is about validating their beliefs and decisions, using the therapist’s authority to undermine your concerns and feelings, all while continuing to avoid genuine change.

For more helpful information like this, visit Unfilteredd’s Institute of Healing from Narcissistic Abuse today.

What Should You Take Away from This Article?

Generally speaking, a narcissist will agree to go to couples counseling to:

  • Appear committed to the relationship.
  • Blame the relationship’s problems on their partner.
  • Regain control of the relationship.
  • Validate their version of reality.

Thanks a lot for reading! If you’ve got any thoughts or questions after getting through the article, I’d really appreciate hearing from you in the comments.

And if you want to learn more about narcissistic romantic relationships, check out our newest articles. They’re full of great information about this topic.

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About the Author

Hey, I’m Elijah.

I experienced narcissistic abuse for three years. 

I create these articles to help you understand and validate your experiences.

Thank you for reading, and remember, healing is possible even when it feels impossible.

Unfilteredd has strict sourcing guidelines and only uses high-quality sources to support the facts within our content. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate, actionable, inclusive, and trustworthy by reading our editorial process.

  1. Shahida Arabi. (2019. September, 28). Why Couples Therapy Doesn’t Work For People In Abusive Relationships With Narcissists. Psych Central. ↩︎
  2. Elinor Greenberg. (2019. April, 6). Is Couples’ Therapy Useful When One Partner Is a Narcissist? Psychology Today. ↩︎
  3. Janusz, B., Bergmann, J. R., Matusiak, F., & Peräkylä, A. (2021). Practices of Claiming Control and Independence in Couple Therapy With Narcissism. Frontiers in psychology, 11, 596842. ↩︎

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