Anyway, briefly (because I don’t have time to be all philosophical or even remotely intelligent), Wildflame enlightened me further. There are not two states (asshole, nice guy) or responding to others. There are, apparently, five.
Soft empath, cares about everyone, makes others’ problems his own and intends to change the world for people. Has trouble enforcing any kind of boundaries, and is generally a pushover.
Hard empath, who cares, but will enforce boundaries. Exempli gratia, "I care about you and your problems, but if you’ve slept with three guys in the past month, I’m not going to compliment your stupidity by wasting my time on it."
Soft apathetic… Well I think the gist of it is that a soft apathetic is a fallacy, masking insecurities with insults, witty repartee and general snappiness.
Hard apathetic, or arsehole if you prefer. Is a jerk to everyone and lets them know it so they’re not surprised when it hits them. Has trouble developing intimate relationships and tends to be a sheep, following the pack leader.
The fifth is neutral, and focuses on adaptability. He can be a soft empath when his girlfriend is crying in his arms and a hard apathetic when someone insults her. Ideally, neutrality is probably the most useful (because as we learned in economics, adaptability increases efficiency, id est you click with more people) but the problem is that Neutrals tend to get bored with anyone who isn’t a fellow neutral. Or so Wildflame tells me.
While that’s all fine and dandy, I’m still stuck somewhere in between assholedom and the desire to be a "soft empath". Identity crisis, anyone? I seem to change daily. Talking to different people will either anger or please me. Looks like I can’t just fit into one category snugly, but neither can I adapt to a situation as opposed to a person. What I mean is that I’m either a jerk to someone, or a nice guy. This will not change, no matter what the circumstance. I hope this phase passes soon, because as a friend of mine astutely pointed out, when I’m tired of pushing everyone away, there’ll be no one left to take me back.