Cold 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.

28 thoughts on “Cold Comfort

  1. Morgana says:

    Tappan Zee thank you so much for taking the time to read my story and comment on it. I will arrange to consult with HG, it’s just taking me some time to actually make the step. I can’t really explain it any better than that…

  2. Noname says:

    This article describes my Patrinarc, first husband and cousin absolutely accurately. They’ve never been “there” for anyone.

    But my Grandpatrinarc and second husband are different. They’ve always cared about their “property” no matter what.

    1. Tappan Zee says:

      Morgana— regular ppl really aren’t equipped to help. or they say and do the wrong stuff. or we hear what we want to. it really must be from within. my personal experience is showing that i am shedding friends and finding me. not by choice as much as necessity. for USA help i called DV hotline. (absolutely thought i didnt need it – wrong!) it was GINORMOUSLY helpful. esp when i was in a FOG and afraid for my life. though of course i had to wrap my head around the “abuse” and yes it was that bad part. they said power and control. it wasn’t love. and my jaw dropped…

      shortly after escape nc/goso and while in shelter i discovered HG. jumped aboard his ship and have been sailing since. sometimes rocky. others calm. long story short. people won’t get it. HG writes about it, we see and live it. it’s messy, they give shitty advice, clearly they don’t get it (the dynamic) and that make the whole shit storm worse.

      truly the DV hotline saved my life. told me how to plan, where to go, how and that leaving IS the most dangerous time for victims. they take it seriously and so did i. every single step of my escape plan was necessary and i would have never known or thought so relying on regular people (nothing against them.) muster up help. the wheel has been invented. ask how one rolls it. hope that helps. staaaaaaaay! heeeeere!

      1. Tappan Zee says:

        DV = physical, emotional, sexual


        Offer to them (MAYBE) They may reject, be pissed or smear you. Call them (DV) first and go online. See what they say. BUT: Take care of YOU. I re-read all the facets. I would think oxygen mask on you. They have to find their own way. HG or others here may have more insight into that younger age. You can’t fix or change others. That is why we are here. Don’t go up in flames to put out the fire.

  3. Morgana says:

    Hello H.G. I chanced upon your website a couple of weeks ago and after having read a couple of the more recent entries, I decided to start reading at the beginning. I have also bought 5 of your books and have began reading. I find your work very illuminating, so I’m grateful for having stumbled on it. I cannot decide to which category my narc belongs. It seems like he has characteristics from all of them. I ended our relationship after catching him in his lies and unmasking some of his behaviour. Then Since August 11th, I have implemented NC.

    There are a lot of things I have questions about, but there is something which is very troubling and for which I’m not sure what course of action I should take. My narc is still married, has been for 22 years, though supposedly he was in the process of starting divorce proceedings and leaving home to find an apartment for both of us to live together. He also has 3 daughters. Twins who are now 13 and an older daughter who is 18. He gets on horribly with his eldest and is usually talked disparagingly about her. He says he adores the twins, one of them especially. I have seen, heard and been told by him certain things that have led me to believe that there is some form of sexual abuse/molestation perpetrated by him towards one of the twins if not both. I’m 99.9% sure of this because of the field I studied and worked in and because I was the recipient of such “affection” from my NPD father. I have also talked about my suspicions to a psychologist who concurs. I didn’t put all the pieces together until the day after I broke it off with him. When I did, I was horrified and when he tried to get in touch with me in the days that followed our break up, I did drop hints about what I had realized. Nothing direct or accusatory. Just played around with words like he used to, and made him wonder.

    I am really struggling with what I should do. Your input would be highly appreciated. Thank you so much for your time.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Hello Morgana, welcome on board. Thank you for reading my work. I can explain to you the steps you can take to address the situation. The most effective way for me to this is through a consultation and I invite you to arrange one with me.

      1. Tappan Zee says:

        Cold Comfort. The only other time I ever heard that was in So. So you think you can tell. Heaven from Hell. Blue skies from Pain. THE ALL TIME BEST PF SONG. I reflect now on why I have loved it for decades. It describes so well the narc | empath dynamic. Which I must have intuitively “known” w/o knowing. And felt with out words for it..

      2. Morgana says:

        HG I cannot tell you how surprised (albeit pleasantly) and immensely relieved I was to see both how swiftly my comment was posted and also how promptly you replied. I am again truly grateful. I will take your advice and arrange a consultation with you ASAP. Wishing you a great week!

        1. HG Tudor says:

          You are welcome Morgana and I appreciate your gratitude.

    2. Tappan Zee says:

      Morgana—the shame is theirs. not yours. you are right to fear it being thrust on you though. bc it will be. that is what they do. trust your instinct and intuition. speaking the truth of another (esp in this all too familiar dynamic) does not make you the bad guy. doing that will or can be revictimizing. still. do it. (consult w/hg) you were given the gift of insight. use your abuse to fine tune your frequency not to tune out another’s. also, the private consult is something i have gained tremendous aid from. really. worth it. and then some. happy aug 11th by the way. your independence day. it is only the beginning!

      1. Morgana says:

        Tappan Zee thank you for your supportive message. It was very helpful. I’m so torn about what to do and most people tell me I shouldn’t get involved; but then who will speak up for these girls? I remember very vividly that I longed for someone to come and help, take me away, rescue me… But no one came … Every time I somehow found the courage to approach someone for help, I was made to regret it, which served only to isolate me even more. I feel I cannot ignore what I discovered and suspect. I doubt that any of the other women that he has ensnared with his lies, or, indeed, anyone that has had the misfortune of having had any contact with this man, realize the extent of his pathology or even that he is sick. Some do realize he is a liar and not to be trusted, but have no idea of how dangerous he is. With that being said, I am also very worried about not being believed and having the whole thing turned against me. Thank you for your wishes on my Independence Day…

  4. Joy says:

    Yep and thats what i just lived with…

  5. WhereIsGod says:

    So incredibally on point. Also I’d like to add that when a narcissist fakes compassion and empathy …. you can smell the fakeness. There is something so disingenuous about it. Especially when you realize what you are dealing with.

    1. HG Tudor says:

      Useful that you are able to scent the fairness WIG, many are unable to do so, so you have a useful ability there.

    2. M. says:

      WherelsGod, I could sense the fakeness too, even before I knew he was a narcissist. I just looked at his eyes, there was nothing there-although he was acting hard, bc he really wanted ro seem like a compassionate, good guy. And I could sense the fakeness when I knew, of course, but there was a period that I needed his “comfort”, even if it was fake. And I took it. Generally speaking, though, when I wanted something from him, even if it was a simple piece of information, he disappeared, so I learned never to ask.

      1. robins359 says:

        They will NEVER be there for you.

      2. Windstorm2 says:

        That made me laugh! I’ve currently got a midranger who refuses to reply if I ask him anything. Whenever he emails me, I make sure to ask him a question in each of my replies. 😄

        I’m currently running an experiment to see how long it will be before he either gives up trying to “train” me or decides my fuel isn’t worth it. Currently I’ve been trying to send a lot of positive fuel in each email (before the question). If there’s no change by Christmas, I’ll probably try fuel-free with a question and see if that alters the dynamic.

        Something inside me just rebels at any attempt to train me! I’m a good study and I learn quickly, but I balk at being trained.

  6. kimmichaud1 says:

    I’d rather let trump grab my p***y than call him

    1. kimmichaud1 says:

      That comment belonged on a different post I’d love to be your nurse when your old and feeble

  7. Windstorm2 says:

    Reading this one this time makes me wonder, HG. How distasteful and obnoxious is it for you to have to deal with all of us?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      I assume you mean my readers WS2, if so, it is not distasteful and obnoxious since it is a different dynamic.

      1. Windstorm2 says:

        That’s nice to know, HG. As a general rule I do hate to be obnoxious. And I do highly value the way you allow all opinions and discussions here, even when they are critical of yourself. It is a blessing for me to be able to participate daily in this community. Thank you.

        1. HG Tudor says:

          You are most welcome WS2.

  8. StillRecovering says:

    How does your kind feel when something traumatic happens to YOU? Like the death of a relative? Do you feel any sort of upset? I can imagine this would be a great opportunity to draw fuel from others as they comfort you, but what do you feel?

    1. HG Tudor says:

      There is no upset or sadness. There may be the ignition of fury because that person’s death pulls the spotlight from us. There will be irritation, disappointment and even annoyance at losing a useful appliance. As you identify the situation will be used to our advantage to draw fuel.

  9. JW says:

    I heard, deal with it many times .

  10. Kimi says:

    Brutal, but so revealing! Another great article HG! Thank you!

    1. HG Tudor says:

      You are welcome.

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