In connection with highly self-centered personalities, you often hear variations of the question,
“Can he/she be helped?”
“Can I be helped?”
“Is it futile to imagine he/she can change?”
Here’s the quick, straightforward answer to that not always so simple question: if you can recognize what a jerk you can be; how hurtful and insensitive you can be; if you’re uncomfortable being a jerk when you are; if you know how, and when, you can be an entitled prick, and if you don’t like yourself as that, then there’s a basis to make change.
Conversely, if you can be an entitled prick and don’t recognize it; or recognize it without feeling bad, sad, or shame for the harm you cause, then you’re most likely destined to be a narcissistic fuck till the Grim Reaper ends your run on this wonderful earth.
This, essentially, differentiates malignant narcissists from the rest of us. Malignant narcissists are “malignant” for their inability to recognize, and/or care about, the destructive impact of their narcissism. The rest of us fools fluctuate along the non-malignant narcissistic continuum by virtue of our preference, for the most part, not to be destructive jerks. That is, when we leave others feeling bad, hurt, shamed, neglected or abused, we tend to know it, and feel pretty genuinely shitty about it.
More succinctly, if you recognize and don’t like your “inner asshole,” there’s hope.
It’s never easy concluding that someone you love is a hopeless case. Desperately, you want to believe that the right shrink, the right life event, the right threat, the right incentive, the right intervention will catapult these individuals out of their epic self-centeredness and precipitate their psychological and emotional growth. It’s always tempting to keep believing it can still happen, even in cases where it never will.
So, keep this in mind. Don’t overcomplicate it. When you’ve got a partner who lacks empathy when they hurt you; a partner who tends to flip things back on you, blame you for their insensitivity and neglect; a partner who refuses to seek therapy, individually or jointly, knowing how anxious and scared you’re feeling for the state and viability of the relationship, then you need to consider taking the hard, self-respectful step to end the relationship, unilaterally.
It doesn’t matter that they might treat their friends great; or the dog; or the neighbors; or their mother. What matters is how they treat you. Plenty of abusive individuals treat others great. What matters is you.