The Coldest Comfort


It is a well-recognised trait of ours that we do not feel empathy. We know how to show empathy. You and others have exhibited this on many occasions so we understand the facial expression to adopt, the tilt of the head, the appropriate body language such as a hand on the arm or an arm around the shoulders. We have listened most carefully so we understand the phrases to trot out,

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“Is there anything I can do to help; it must feel terrible.”

“I understand where you are coming from, believe me and just tell me how I can help you.”

“I know how you feel.”

“I would feel upset too if this had happened to me.”

I have watched people like you in action as they exhibit their empathic nature and I have scoured the internet as well to gather a few choice phrases there also. Put all of this together and our kind is able to exhibit a convincing display of empathy which will fool almost everyone. You will see this false empathy exhibited during seduction when we want to show you how we are a kind, caring and sympathetic person so you will feel drawn to us even more. We know the correct recipients of this false empathy as well, the sick, the elderly, the stray cat, the homeless, the earthquake victim, the child with the distended stomach because he has not eaten for days, the earnest looking villagers crowded around a newly sunk well and so on. Yes, I know all of those who need some empathic reactions and I will provide them in front of you so you are all the more attracted to me. So that I fit in.

It is, of course, all for show. I do not feel it. Not at all. Not one iota, speck or scintilla of empathy. Show me a report of some tragedy and my eyes will glide across the text as I register what has happened. Inside I feel nothing. There is no response. I do not feel sorry for the people involved in the aftermath of the hurricane. I do not imagine what it must be like for them and how they must feel. Certainly I am intelligent enough to know how they must feel but I do not put myself in their shoes. I do not imagine what it must be like for them. There is no pulling at my heart strings, a feeling of upset, despondency or even anger at the injustice they may have suffered. Of course as you seek my response from alerting me to this latest disaster I will form a furrowed brow, shake my head and issue some suitable words to make you think that I care. That is of course if I want your positive reaction whereby you look on approvingly at my supposed compassion. If I no longer seek positive fuel from you then I will use it as an opportunity to provoke you.

“And?” is usually a good starting point for drawing a reaction from an empathic individual to something terrible.

“What do you mean and? These people are homeless and injured. They live on a small island and have no power and no clean water.”

“What do you expect me to do about it? They shouldn’t live there then.”

“What? Do you really mean that?”

“Yes. Their choice. They have to deal with it.”

This will invariably provoke a stunned silence or protestations. You may follow me as I walk away asking me how can I not feel for these people. You may express anger or outrage and naturally this is what I want you to do. The fact is I feel nothing. If I see a charity appeal on television I am unmoved. I have nothing in common with the people who are requesting help. I cannot identify with how they must feel in any way. It is a total disconnection.

The situation is different with those who I interact with and especially those who are an intimate partner when I am devaluing you. If you are ill and wanting some support and those three dreaded words “tender loving care” I do not feel nothing. I feel an overwhelming sense of disgust and revulsion. How have I come to couple with someone so pathetic and weak? Why did I agree to live with someone who is sneezing, coughing and rasping? They are trying to infect me aren’t they? Trying to bring me down to their level. I know what their plan is and I will not be duped. I see no reason why I should waste my time and energy dealing with somebody like this. It is a drain on my resources and there is little or no fuel to be had. Moreover, the sense of disgust drives me to get away from you. I cannot stand to see such weakness, such illness and such infirmity. I must escape it and thus I will disappear, sometimes with an excuse and often without in order to avoid this horrific scene.

When you are upset, perhaps over a bad day at work or an argument with a friend and you tearfully explain what is troubling you, expect to be met with a shrug. What do you expect me to do about it? It is your problem, not mine. Sort it out yourself. If you persist pleading with me to listen and to help you then I become irritated at your commandeering my time in this manner. Do you not realise I have much to do myself? I cannot forgo my own machinations and fuel gathering to play agony aunt to your whinging and whining. Your pathetic concerns annoy me and you will can expect me to berate you in order to further your misery so I at least draw some negative fuel from your upset. That way the situation is not one which will be completely written off. If your upset is even greater following the loss of your job or a bereavement, we will show no regard for your feelings and indeed exploit your misery during our devaluation. We will take this opportunity when you are vulnerable to extract further fuel. That is what matters to us. We feel the need for fuel. We do not feel any compassion or warmth towards you and indeed your selfishness in concentrating on yourself when you should be attending to us infuriates us. We will suggest that you never bothered much with that family member when they were alive so why are you now getting upset when they have passed away? You cry about your sacking and we suggest that you deserved it because you were not working hard enough. We will extract that negative fuel from your tears, your hurt, your frustration and your anger and once that has been obtained we will leave you to it. We have got what we want and there are other things, notably other people we can better spend our time with, rather than remaining with you and being subjected to your self-centred pity. We know you find such an approach heartless and abhorrent but there is no hope for anything else. We do not feel compassion or sympathy. There is no need for us to fake it because we can draw negative fuel, we do not need to make you like us or admire us and provide positive fuel. This is how we have been created. This is the cold comfort that you will always receive from us whenever you have a moment of need, upset or anguish. Deal with it.


54 thoughts on “The Coldest Comfort”

  1. HG ensnaring a narcissist would be so hilarious. It made me laugh so much! It would be a complete competition of who is in control! The house would get destroyed and its either crazy sex or no sex at all. Lol. Oh gosh! No fuel ! How could you get fuel? Oh wait, unless is all negative! What a caotic situation! If you could clarify and explain how a relationship like that could work! Unless a higher gets involved with a lower narc? Uhm!

  2. These are the exact events, plus an affair in the middle the drew me to look into what was going on as his reactions were far from expected. I lost 2 of my grandparents within 6 months. Not only did he not console me but he gave the exact response that I hadn’t seen them in so long anyways so why did I care so much. He forbid me from going to both funerals as well. First because I was pregnant then because our daughter was too young. Then an affair. Then last year I lost my job and his responses were “so what, just get another job” and then “they probably let you go for taking to much time off for the kids”. I always handle the kids apts, sicknesses, vets apts, etc because he says I’m the mom and its my duty.

    Once again HG you’ve gotten it right. Exactly as it happened word for word.

  3. HG I just do not believe you!! I think you have far more emotions than you lead us to believe . That is what I believe

  4. This is so true. Fake cold shallow empathy. My ex used to give me the lizard stare when I talked of my difficult days or troubles of others. I know you do not feel these things like us, HG, and oddly enough, it saddens me that you don’t. It also saddens me that you do not know the depths of the heart and have to fake it to make it. It’s like never experiencing color or coffee or chocolate or Mozzart. 💔

  5. ‘Deal with it’…man have I heard that a million times. It’s really strange because on one hand I understand the point of nothing you can do about it so why bother letting it bring you down. But not feeling compassion or sympathy for another is hard to grasp. When I think back through the relationship with the ex-N, I see all of this in him. there was no empathy. When I lost my job, his comment to me was a borrowed Kelly Clarkson song quote (which happened to be playing at the time-go figure) ‘it only makes you stronger’.

      1. This blog site is very interesting and informative. Have you ever gotten together with another Narcissist? Just curious if Narcissists attract each other or if such a pairing would be disastrous.

        1. I have had interactions with other narcissists Intrepid but I have not ensnared one as my primary source. I will be writing more about what happens when narcissists interact with one another, either in the sense of primary source and also in the role of supplementary sources.

  6. I see myself in this one. I do not feel the pain of other people. I can do the motions and the faces and the body language but I walk away and feel nothing. Most times I just listen. I honestly do not feel it. I have in the past but I realized how it affected my health so this behavior went right out of the window. I only feel for myself most times. Yes, it is all about me.
    I will, on the other hand, ache for an animal and perhaps a child. I have a very hard time watching/knowing abuse to something that can not understand what is going on. (Animal or child)
    I am not sure if this is normal for a empath. I only feel in selective, minimal situations. Animal abuse kills my inner most part of myself, I feel this the deepest.
    I think I teeter between the two worlds.
    HG You know the song from Jungle Book that King Louie sang to Mowgli? Disney version, “I Wanna Be Like You”, and yes, I dance like this! 😉
    You are man’s red fire. Mr. HG Tudor.

  7. I would make the tittle polar comfort and anybody who gives all these answers does not have a heart but an icecube of dry ice very dry one.. I suppose this is from the generic perspectives of Ns and not exclusively yours right HG?

  8. What will you expect when something happens to you that is beyond your control? It will happen. Neither you nor anyone else deservers it.

    When I vent, I don’t expect anyone else to fix it. They are incapable of fixing my issues. Incapable.

      1. I’m sorry to hear that HG, I understand how you feel. I would do the same thing. Thank you for the post.

    1. I feel the same about my stuff too. I always have to stay in control. There have been times I just want to say F it and go to the rubber room for a bit. But never have I been able to do this. Who will run the show? Not my monkeys. Control Control.

      1. OH at times I break things but never have I been able to destroy everything to my satisfaction or beat the hell out of someone to the point of satisfaction

    1. I have some emotions Jennifer but far fewer than you and therefore I exist as a consequence of the extraction of the multiplicity of emotions that you have.

        1. I have some as I have pointed our previously. Hatred, rage, envy, frustration, power, jealousy, antipathy, annoyance, irritation are some of those which I possess.

          1. HG, please list your positive emotions too. I know you have well developed anger (from irritation to rage), bitterness, jealousy, pride, envy….and you also seem to show a level of contentment, amusement….others?

          2. HG, haVe you seen a comprehensive emotion wheel? I suspect you feel many other emotions as well, just not specific emotions in full range. For example, all basic emotions we evolved as humans to survive (fear, anger, sadness, surprise, disgust, and joy/love). Fear evolved to survive attacks from things more powerful than us (ie tigers), anger to attack those that block our goals (ie for food, land, procreation), sadness to quickly communicate loss, etc, etc…so, I imagine you are fearful of vulnerability being shown, correct? Disgust in horrific crimes in humanity? Contentment (dimmed joy) in accomplishment? Sadness/regret in the loss of Amanda?

            It sounds like you have fully developed anger and versions of it, though the others may be restricted in rsnge of inner experience?

            Interested in knowing your inner emotional terrain.

          3. Hi Indy, no I haven’t but what you describe sounds a little like something which Dr E mentioned in one of our sessions which was to do by a categorisation by somebody called Parrot.
            It is correct to suggest that I am fearful of vulnerability being shown. Outside of this environment I would never admit to that because to do so is showing vulnerability in itself, but yes, I fear vulnerability but am fortunate enough to be equipped with a range of mechanisms to prevent me from being vulnerable. I would agree that anger and rage have been well developed and others will be restricted as I have made mention of. You make an interesting point about inner emotional terrain and I shall write some thoughts about this in an article, thank you.

          4. Thank you, HG, for being willing to share you inner deep process with us here and teach us about your experiences. I’m really looking forward to reading more about your inner terrain….got visuals of what remind me of an ulternate universe, like the Veil of Shadows.

  9. When you show compassion and concern on the blog to one of your readers are you saying that it is not real? Or is it different for you when dealing with the blog? Or perhaps it just sounds like compassion to us because that is what we would feel?

    1. I do not exhibit compassion or concern. I state the facts. I answer the questions. It may appear like compassion FM because one is able to give the appearance of it and yes, as you wrote, it is likely that you are wanting to imprint your own responses onto the situation.

  10. Yes you do know How to show empathy when it suits you . but not actually feel it . my ex stopped showing it a long time ago . He knew he was wasting his energy pretending to me he cared or had any sympathy or empathy . Example… I remember when we hired bikes for the day to cycle the great orme in Landudno Wales . I hit the kerb an went over the bike handle bars an hit my head on the ground i was wearing no head protection …I suffered a brain haemorrhage 4 years ago so that was dangerous! Anyway cars where stopping an people showing concern but he showed nothing!!! whilst I lay bleeding on the ground with a hole in my leg . He moved the traffic along shouting “shes ok it’s just a graze” …ha ha the fucking idiot! At funerals he would pretend to be sad an show sympathy around others , my family etc…but when we would get home he would question why I was upset an accuse me ov cheating with the person who had died . Obviously before he died!! Ha ha they are complete and utter nut jobs . Deeply disturbing

  11. I remember being involved with Calais refugees charities. Trying to help people there. Specially kids. Giving a refugee a temporary accommodation in our house…crying my eyes out each time I found out someone hasn’t made it in the lorry or through the Mediterranean sea… I remember not sleeping for months…. it’s hurtful doing helpinh but not being able to end their or others suffering. .. dare to say sometimes I wished I was not feeling at all….. Thank You G. For Your time here.

Vent Your Spleen!

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