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15 alarming signs he will never change (and what you need to do next)

You’ve been together for some time and you’ve known that he has his issues. Nobody’s perfect, after all. But as time went on, you’ve been finding his issues more and more difficult to deal with and you start to wonder if he’ll ever change.

In this article, I will show you 15 alarming signs that he’ll never change, and then tell you what you can do about it.

1) He shuts down conversations

Let’s say that he drinks a lot and you, worried about his health, decide to bring up his drinking problem. He might give you a shrug, accuse you of being controlling, or ignore you entirely.

Either way, his goal of not talking about his drinking problem is achieved. This behavior is called stonewalling.

Of course, he doesn’t necessarily have to be a drunkard. His issues might lie elsewhere, or it might even be that he has more than just one problem under his belt, but if he continuously shuts down the conversation every time then you have a problem.

What to do:

  • Consider how you’re approaching the topic. Are you pushing too much on him at once? Your tone matters a lot. Instead of saying “I can’t believe I’m with an alcoholic!”, say something like “Honey, can we talk about your drinking please?”
  • If the topic is important enough, don’t let his attempts at shutting you down stop you from trying to talk about it. Keep trying. It’s a problem that really needs to be solved.

 2) He says “Take me as I am or leave”

In his mind, he’s a good enough partner and you’re the one who has impossible standards of what a relationship should be like.

Or he might acknowledge that there’s something wrong with him but he just can’t be bothered to deal with it because to him, if you love him, you should accept him for who he is 100%.

“Take it or leave it”, he will always say.

As far as he’s concerned, if someone has to change, it’s going to be you.

If that sounds like arrogance, that’s because it is.

If you have issues with how he just plays video games all day while you’re paying the bills, or that he smokes a pack of cigarettes a day when he said he would quit, or just about any real issue you have with him, he will use the “love me unconditionally” card.

It will make you feel guilty because we’ve been taught to love unconditionally.

What to do:

  • Don’t get fooled. Romantic relationships are conditional. He is not your kid. He has an obligation to make sure that you’re both happy in your relationship.
  • Don’t feel guilty for wanting your needs met.

3) He’s set in his ways

Tell him that he raises his voice too much over the smallest things, and he’d throw it back and say that it’s just how he is. He might be angry as he says those words, or he might snark at you like there’s no tomorrow, but it’s clear that he simply doesn’t see it as an issue and therefore, isn’t willing to change.

Sadly, there’s very little you can actually do to change someone who refuses to acknowledge an issue. And the older he is, the less likely he is going to change his ways.

What to do:

  • Remind yourself that just because that’s just “how he is” doesn’t mean you’ll have to let it slide.
  • If it’s something that truly matters—like him being abusive, or openly flirting with other girls—then decide if it’s a dealbreaker for you and not, and tell him. Be very firm. If he still does them despite your warning, you know what to do.

4) He plays the blame game

Try to point his issues out, and he’ll point his finger at someone else and either say that they’re the reason for his problems, or they’re doing something just as bad so he’s okay. Sometimes, that ‘someone’ might be you.

You’d hear him say things like “Yeah I know I have issues spending money, but before you lecture me on that, look at yourself! You spent twice as much money as I did taking your friends to Hawaii!”

Or he might say something like “I can’t help but yell at you. Why the hell won’t I yell at you when you’re obviously not doing things right?”

What to do:

  • If he says something along the lines of “you have your problems too!”, then take the time to remind both of you that the fact that you have your own issues doesn’t justify him indulging in his own.
  • Instead, work on a compromise. Talk about the issues both of you have about the other, and then work on them. He does something about his issues, and you do something about yours. Hold his hands while you have this talk.
  • If he’s putting the blame on you, tell him that he’s doing just that and remind yourself (and him) that you’re not responsible for the things he consciously made the decision to do.

5) He’s always a victim of circumstance

One damning sign that he’ll never change is that every time you press him about something that he’s said or done, he’ll always have an excuse on hand. Somehow, magically, things are never his fault and he’s more than willing to throw people under the bus just to excuse himself.

Was he late for the wedding? Oh, the bus he was on was too slow and got stuck in traffic. Did he get caught kissing another woman for the third time this month? Bah, those women were the ones to try kissing him—he tried to tell them no!

He might even blame all his flaws on his childhood.

We all make mistakes, and excuses can be valid. But if he has an excuse for every single thing, he’s either someone who thinks he can never do wrong or someone who just doesn’t want to take responsibility. And those kinds of people never learn.

What to do:

  • You should set boundaries and be more secure of yourself, Otherwise, he’ll ruin your self-confidence, your ability to judge character, and make you distrust yourself.
  • There’s very little you can do about someone who stubbornly and consistently refuses to admit fault. Therapy might help but if he believes he has no flaws, it will be challenging to convince him to go.
  • This is the hardest one to fix. Communicate to him what you need and wait for him to make some changes. Be careful not to wait too long, though. You don’t want to waste any more of your precious time.

6) He keeps moving the goalposts and pushing your boundaries

Corner him in an argument, and he tries to make the topic about something else entirely. He might even have you arguing in circles and make you contradict yourself so that he can shut you up with one big “gotcha!” moment.

There’s just no winning with him! Worse, you’ll figure that out only after having argued with him for hours… even days!

One moment he’d be saying that you’re not doing enough for him and that’s why he’s always out drinking, and then when you prove that you’ve done as much as you could for him with what time you have free, he’d be saying that you’re not doing enough to free your schedule for his sake.

And then he’d actually try to make sure he gets what he wants by force. He might start showing up at your workplace, or insert himself into outings between you and your friends.

What to do:

  • Don’t play his game. Remind yourself exactly what your discussion is about, and bring it back to that when you feel that he’s making your talk drift off of it.
  • Remind him again and again about your boundaries and let him know that he is never ever allowed to push them. Make sure you let him know the consequences if he ever does.

7) He lashes out and gets defensive

A sign that he’s never going to change is that when you point his errors out, he’ll get absolutely mad at you. This can be because he simply can’t comprehend that he’s at fault, but on the other hand he can also acknowledge that he has issues and get mad when it’s pointed out.

He’d shout at you. He’d frown, grit his teeth, and say “I know, I know, shut up already.”

This can sometimes happen if he’s especially aware of his issues but doesn’t know how to deal with it. It can also happen if you press him about it while he’s still heated, like telling him that he basically sent all your savings up in flames after he accidentally dumped your wallet into the fireplace.

It’s often a defensive reaction borne from a sense of helplessness or a severely bruised ego. Maybe he has tried to be better before and failed catastrophically.

What to do:

  • You would be best served by going to a therapist. You might be touching on something that’s painful for him to face, and has been avoiding for the longest time.
  • Avoid letting his anger get to you. Stay calm, let him cool off, and then try approaching the topic again when he’s more level-headed.

8) His apologies don’t feel sincere

When he says sorry, it feels like he’s saying it just to make you happy. It’s like he’s just rolling his eyes, shrugging, and going “yeah, yeah, I’m sorry… happy now?!”

Or, he might sound incredibly convincing with the way he says sorry. You might think that it’s a genuine, heartfelt apology… but he doesn’t actually do anything to justify the apology.

To illustrate this, let’s say he broke the neighbor’s window while he was absolutely hammered, and the moment he got sober he’s out apologizing, saying that he was simply drunk. He got drunk again the very next day, and was throwing stones at windows once more.

Both of these indicate that he lacks the desire or motivation to improve… and that the relationship lacks integrity.

What to do:

  • Ask for action, not words. He has to actually prove himself at this point.
  • Take note of the times he commits the same mistakes and lay it out to him in a very calm manner. Make him realize his patterns.

9) Deep down you know he doesn’t care about how you feel

He has shown over and over again that he doesn’t care about how you feel. He doesn’t care if the things he’s doing is hurting you, and he doesn’t bother doing anything special to cheer you up if you’re sad.

You can cry in front of him, and it’s almost like he’s a rock from how he refuses to be moved at all by your emotions.

You’re never going to see him change for your sake if he doesn’t even care about how you feel.

What to do:

  • If you’ve felt this way for some time now, you should tell him about it and if nothing changes, it’s probably time to move on.
  • Don’t take this as a challenge! Don’t make it your life goal to let this man fall in love with you.
  • Ask yourself why you’re staying with this man when you feel that he doesn’t care about you. You may have issues you need to resolve for you to have a healthy relationship.

10) He’s only interested in himself

When he talks, you would notice just how often he uses the words “I”, “me,” and “mine.” There’s very little in the way of “you” or “us” in the things he says.

When he wants to talk, it’s always about the things he likes, or the things he wants to do, or the things you can do for him. In other words, he’s self-absorbed.

And people like these never change unless it suits them, or unless something forces them to. And, if they’re ever forced to change, they’ll spend every waking moment fighting back.

What to do:

  • Relationships are a two-way street. A one-sided relationship won’t ever lead to anything good. You won’t ever be his girlfriend or wife—you’ll be his prize, his fan.
  • You should point it out and tell him about it. Gauge how he reacts.
  • Talk to a therapist or counsellor over it, though it’s incredibly likely that you’ll have to break up with him in the end anyways.

11) He’s dismissive unless it affects him

Empathetic people often care about others at their own expense. They’d sacrifice their comforts and reputation just to help other people live better lives. And he’s the very opposite of that!

He couldn’t care less about what happens to others unless it actually affects him.

He might even be one of those people mocking or slandering those people who care about others, especially if he has something to lose.

But of course, if something affects him, he’s going to raise his voice in outrage and demand that you take his side. He has double standards.

What to do:

  • Explain how your dismissiveness is making you feel, and try to ask him how he’d feel if you were doing things that made him feel the same way.
  • Ask if he’s listening to what you’re saying.
  • Try to ask if he has any suggestions, if there’s anything he’s willing to do for your sake.

12) He doesn’t honor his promises

Be careful of a man who doesn’t honor his promises. He will lead you for a long time.

He’d promise to drive you to your best friend’s wedding, but instead, he sleeps all day and you end up having to hail a taxi just to get to the venue in time. He’d promise to buy you a gift on your next birthday, but two years passed and still nada.

And it’s not just once or twice that he fails to live up to promises he’s made. Just about every promise that has left his lips has left unfulfilled and it’s a special occasion if he ever manages to live up to even a single one.

What to do:

  • He’s proven that he can’t be trusted. Break up with him if you can’t tolerate this behavior.
  • Think: If he can’t be trusted with small promises, how can you trust him with big ones like children and money?

13) He says that it’s not that serious (and you need to chill out)

You call him out on something, and he retorts by saying that it’s honestly not that big of a deal. That you should just chill out and let him be. Classic gaslighting.

Yes, sometimes there is a need for people to just chill out. However, you should be careful if he pulls this trick a bit too often.

If it ever feels like he’s using “chill out!” as a way to get his way, you need to call him out on it. The fact remains that, to you, it IS serious and if he truly cares, he’ll at least go through the effort to try to see it from your point of view and try to compromise.

What to do:

  • Put some distance between you and him, cool down, and then think about whether it really is that serious, or if it isn’t.
  • Try to figure out if he’s gaslighting you. You might need a third party to assess your situation, preferably someone neutral like a therapist or people who don’t know either of you. Describe the situation as accurately as you can, while hiding the identities of the people involved.

14) He doubles down when you call him out

An especially alarming sign is if he doubles down on whatever it is you’re calling out. If you tell him that he has an issue with how much alcohol he drinks, he’ll buy twice as much alcohol as usual out of spite. If you tell him you think he’s too nosy with your business, then he snoops around your things twice as much.

The reason why this is especially alarming is that not only is he showing that he doesn’t think his problem is an issue in the first place, he’s also being actively spiteful and trying to hurt you for daring to call him out on it.

There’s friendly teasing, and then there’s actively destructive temper tantrums.

He’s basically challenging you and telling you “You can’t order me around!”

What to do:

  • Tell him that you don’t like what he’s doing. Avoid stooping down to his level and being childish yourself. That only makes things worse, and validates his actions.

15) The psychologist said so

Psychologists can seem almost like wizards, sometimes. They can help him figure out the reasons behind his issues, and how he can deal with them. Sometimes, however, even they will have to throw the towel in and tell you that you just can’t ‘fix’ his issue, or that it’ll be close to impossible.

He might have been severely traumatized as a child, or he might not be neurotypical. These two are things that will make it close to impossible to change him, and there are more. And unless the psychologist says so, you probably shouldn’t, else you’ll end up scarring him even more.

What to do:

  • Communicate with a psychologist over how you can better understand and tolerate his issues.
  • Figure out how to handle whatever issues his traumas or neurodivergence might bring, preferably while consulting a psychologist.
  • Be understanding towards him. If it’s out of his hands, then there’s very little he can do about it.
  • Don’t ever use his traumas or neurodivergence as a weapon to make sure you get your way with him.

Conclusion

It’s hard to deal with someone who refuses to, or is simply incapable of change.

When all is said and done, however, it’s worth keeping in mind that all relationships are a game of compromise. In a situation such as this, it’s a compromise between how much of his habits you are willing to tolerate, and how willing he is to change for your sake.

Sometimes, you will have to cut your losses and end the friendship, relationship, or marriage. At other times, it’s worth it to keep things going despite your differences.

Whether it’s one or the other is up to you to decide.

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Written by Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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