Can a narcissist ever really change and be in a real relationship with someone?

Given the narcissist has developed an unhealthy strategy to deal with problems they encountered in their childhood environment, you have to manage your expectations regarding your relationship with them. The truth is that in every relationship, you’re adjusting your expectations as you learn what your loved one or coworker can and cannot bring. A relationship with a narcissist is no different; you just have to learn what they are and are not capable of providing to you in the context of your relationship. Let’s look at a few things you should consider:

Narcissists Lack Empathy

This is the number one thing you have to remember to adjust your expectations appropriately. The narcissist can’t understand how their actions or words are hurting because they simply cannot put themselves in your place. You know the adage, “walk a mile in my shoes before you judge me?” Narcissists can’t do that.

Their inability to empathize means they might not even notice that you are hurt or upset by what they have done. Even if they do, however, they probably won’t care. Instead of comforting or reassuring you, they’re likely to blame or even shame you.

This means they will hurt your feelings repeatedly, and you need to be prepared for that. It will be up to you to soothe yourself and take care of your emotional needs. You won’t get it from the narcissist.

Narcissists Can’t See You Realistically

Narcissists lack what is called “whole object relations.” That means they can’t see there is both good and bad in everyone. Everyone has some good qualities and everyone has some bad, but the narcissist cannot accept that both can exist inside the same person. This is the result of how their parents couldn’t see them realistically – they either overly praised or perpetually blamed and shamed them. Neither strategy is realistic.

Because narcissists lack whole object relations, they swing back and forth between two extreme views of both themselves and other people. They are either perfect, omnipotent, special, entitled, and completely good or they are unworthy, defective, and all bad. That means they simply can’t see you in a realistic, stable way. Because of this, they will be quick to vacillate between the two extreme views they can have of you depending on what’s happening in the moment.

This means that the happiness the two of you may feel in your relationship is temporary and fragile because it changes from moment to moment. This can be very frustrating for you because the narcissist in your life is incapable of seeing that you might make mistakes but are, overall, a good person.

Narcissists Lack Object Constancy

As a result of lacking whole object relations, narcissists lack what is called “object constancy.” This means as soon as you do something that upsets them, all the good in your relationship prior to that moment goes right out the window. You might have a long, positive history with them, but that’s gone as soon as you do something they dislike. This can be very frustrating for you because one minute they love you, and the next they seem to hate you. This makes sense because if they can’t see that you have both good and bad qualities, then they can’t hold the good parts of your relationship in their memory while simultaneously confronting something they don’t like. It’s black or white with them; there are no grey areas.

If you’re going to continue your relationship with a narcissist, you have to prepare yourself for these facts. Their inability to see you realistically and lack of empathy means that even the most minor slight can trigger a sudden rage, and nothing you’ve done in the past will help alleviate that reality. Their rage can be very shocking to someone with a healthy mental attitude. So, what is realistic in your relationship with them? Let’s examine some possibilities.

If you also encountered a narcissist, then I recommend that you read the book «What Narcissists Never Tell You» and if you can’t cope on your own, I invite you to my consultation-acquaintance at the price of a cup of coffee!

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Certified Psychotherapist, Relationship coach and Author. Ukrainian

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Elena Miro

Certified Psychotherapist, Relationship coach and Author. Ukrainian