Lack of empathy is a quintessential hallmark of people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. They simply do not care about thoughts and feelings of others, especially if they conflict with their own. Do not expect them to listen, validate, understand, or support you. Here are some typical examples from partners of narcissists:
- He would actually get mad at me if I was sick. I said, “I sat here with you for days when you were depressed and couldn’t get out of bed. And now you can’t even be a little nice to me when I am sick?”
- My partner would hurt my feelings just when things were going well. When I would question him about it, he would make up excuses and tell me I’m wrong for feeling the way I did, and if I didn’t like it there was something wrong with me.
- I could spend an hour detailing how I felt hurt and she would sit there, cold as ice. When it was her turn to speak, she tore down every word that came out of my mouth until I had to apologize for expressing how I felt. I ignored this red flag and made excuses to myself and others.
It is important to understand that narcissists can “fake it” when it benefits their agenda. Beside the need to look “normal” and magnanimous, they also expect to get something back. Partners of narcissists have said:
- He has made adaptations that allow him to “appear” to be thoughtful and concerned about others. Early in our marriage, he would ask me what I would like to do. Then one day it dawned on me that while he asked, we never ended up following my suggestions! When I mentioned this to him, he had a crestfallen appearance and behaved like a child who had been caught doing something wrong.
- I think that faux empathy stems from a number of things. A need to fit in, socially–to appear like a feeling, caring person is certainly one of them. In some cases, it’s probably an acquired social skill, albeit a superficial one. Like learning which utensil to use when dining in polite company. In other cases, it’s a means to getting what you want from people.
- She had “intellectual” empathy: almost as if she knew she should react that way. She didn’t feel it at the soul/being level. She knew the words, but couldn’t hear the emotional music of our relationship.