Are you the type of person who tries to see the good in people? Are you the type of person who wants to believe that you can be the one to change a person? If this sounds like you, then you are among the many of us who believed a lie. The truth of the matter is that you can’t change anyone. If you are with someone who doesn’t truly commit to your relationship or that you fully can’t trust to be faithful to you, then you are only fooling yourself if you really think this person will change.
I hate to sound cynical but I lived it for 20 years and I know what I’m talking about. It is very rare for a person to change who they really are. They have spent their entire lives justifying their actions based on a painful experience that shaped who they are and they have convinced themselves that it’s okay to act in their own best interests. It’s a survival mechanism. It’s self-preservation.
People who treat others badly don’t have the same conscious and emotional awareness that someone who lives their lives with compassion for others. They justify their selfish behavior, because bad things were done to them. They don’t think of another person’s feelings when they act on an impulse or hold them at arm’s length because they don’t have the capacity to be any different. It’s the ultimate form of narcissism.
Ask yourself if you are typically attracted to people who have a false sense of confidence. Do they display behaviors that come across braggadocios or only wanting to talk about themselves and showing little interest in talking about you? When in a conversation with this person, do they often interrupt the conversation with relating something you said back to them and never have the capacity to bring the conversation back to you? Is this sounding familiar? Do they often make statements about themselves being a great person or have grandiose stories of things they’ve done to paint a picture of being bigger than what they really are? If that sounds like the person you’re dating or have dated, then chances are you are dating a narcissist or he happens to be the current President of the United States.
When I was on my power dating kick, I was amazed by how many men I went out with that only wanted to talk about themselves and never asked anything about me or my life. Some of them never asked about what I did for a living, or about my family or my viewpoints…it was all about them. Now, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are a narcissist, but I was acutely aware that all they wanted to do is brag and try to impress me. Little did they know that my biggest turn off is arrogance and being self-absorbed.
This type of behavior can be one of two issues—one, they suffer from deep-seated insecurity or they are a full blown narcissist. How can you tell the difference? Well, according to an article in Psychology Today,” the distinction between self-esteem and narcissism is that self-esteem represents an attitude built on accomplishments we’ve mastered, values we’ve adhered to and care we’ve shown towards others. Narcissism, conversely, is often based on a fear of failure or weakness, a focus on one’s self, an unhealthy drive to be seen as the best and deep-seated insecurity and underlying feeling of inadequacy.”
Thankfully, I have been able to grow and mature over the years and realized that the best thing to do is stay away from men with low self-esteem or narcissistic traits. These men don’t have the capability of being a good partner and they will NEVER change. Believe me, I tried! I had a light-bulb moment after my divorce that made me realize that you can’t change a person who can’t take responsibility for their own actions or justifies their behavior because of something they’ve perceived as being done to them. I will never believe that I can help heal a lost soul, because inevitably they will end up hurting you.
If you still hold on to the belief that somehow you can change them, you’re either (1) an enabler, (2) a doormat or (3) a narcissist yourself. You can only change yourself. You can only learn from past mistakes and want to change your own behavior or you will continue to be in the same dysfunctional relationships you have always been drawn to. If you want more for yourself the second or third time around then you have to start being more self-reflective and recognize your tendencies to be attracted to people like that you know aren’t good people, due to your own lack of self-esteem.
Sometimes we want to believe we can change someone, because deep down we don’t believe we deserve any better. We accept the status quo and feel that we can’t find someone that will treat us with respect and honesty because we have been conditioned by the dysfunction in our past relationships.
You can break these patterns. You can change. The first step is awareness and the second step is being intolerant of a person’s inability to value you. If they can’t treat you with respect and take you out and get to know who you are as a person before they automatically objectify you as sexual object, then that’s the first sign that they are the same asshole you’ve dated in the past.
Do yourself a favor and take a good hard look at your past lovers and ask yourself if you turned a blinds eye to what was obviously a one-sided love affair. Did they care more about themselves than they did about you? Did they have the capacity to give themselves fully to you in the relationship or did you always feel like they took you for granted? If the answer to these fundamental questions is ‘yes’ than you now should take some time to re-evaluate your attraction to these types of people. I know I have. I finally woke up and said, “To hell with trying to fix these broken dudes.” I’m not trying to be Mother Teresa saving the world…I’m done with all that! This time around, I will find someone that isn’t the poster child for “Narcisi’s Anonymous”, no matter how long it takes.