The question of whether narcissists can change is one that sparks curiosity and debate. Similar is the question of whether or not they can sustain a romantic relationship successfully. The very nature of narcissism, characterized by self-absorption and a lack of empathy, suggests a rigid and unyielding personality. However, delving deeper into the complexities of human psychology reveals that change is indeed possible. In this blog, we will explore a narcissist’s potential for change and how or if we can navigate relationships with them.
The question of whether narcissists can change is a complex one. If they completely identify with their defense mechanism, meaning they are ego syntonic, then change is highly unlikely. Those who can separate their feelings of inadequacy from their defense, being ego dystonic, have a chance, granted they have a desire to. Self-awareness, a willingness to introspect, and a recognition of the impact of their actions on others are crucial catalysts for change. Psychotherapy, particularly approaches like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), can help them gain insight into their behavior, develop empathy, and learn healthier ways of relating to others.
Is it possible to have a romantic relationship with a narcissist? To the extent that they can recognize the dichotomy in them, the answer is yes. Dealing with a narcissist in a romantic relationship is challenging but not impossible. Setting boundaries, practicing assertiveness, and managing your own expectations are key strategies for maintaining your well-being. Remember that engaging in power struggles or attempting to change a narcissist is often counterproductive. Instead, focus on your own personal growth and emotional resilience. Practicing empathy without enabling their behavior can be helpful in fostering a sense of peace in your interactions. Acknowledge their struggles without condoning their harmful actions.
Narcissists are people too, shaped by their life experiences and inner battles. While their behavior can be perplexing and challenging, understanding the complexities behind their actions can foster compassion and promote healthier interactions. Whether they’re on a path to change or deeply entrenched in their patterns, recognizing their humanity is a step toward fostering healthier relationships and personal growth for all parties involved.
Read my article on Demystifying Narcissists.