What the Narcissist Really Thinks When Help Is Needed





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.

45 thoughts on “What the Narcissist Really Thinks When Help Is Needed

  1. Mercy says:

    The Hoover is happening now. An email of apologies. I’m not ready for this.

    1. K says:

      Ok, a hoover in the fifth sphere of influence (email). If you don’t mind sharing, what did he write? Just ignore if you would rather not share.

      1. Mercy says:

        K, he starts off saying he wants to explain some things. Says he cares about me and that he never intentionally fucked me over. He said the other girls (he listed 8 of them by name) had nothing to do with me. 

        “Nothing I did with those chicks had anything to do with anything you were doing or weren’t doing”

        “I’m not expecting you to come running back. I don’t hate you. I’m not even mad at you. This entire situation is dumb”

        Then he goes on trying to get pity saying no other girls tried to get to know him. They were only around because of his name. He talks about his IPPS and how horrible shes been to him. He talks about her as if ive always known about her. Actually, he talks about all these girls as if he never made promises to me about being exclusive. Like I should feel sorry for him because of the way they treated him.  

        He acts like because he’s not mad at me everything should be ok now. 

        His last words “I’ve been unfair with you and I apologize”. It was a very long email and If he would have left out everything he said before that last sentence he might have had me. 

        1. K says:

          Thank you Mercy! I really appreciate it.

          He is a typical midranger because he starts out defending his reputation and justifying his behaviour.

          Says he cares about me and that he never intentionally fucked me over. (midrangers really think they are decent). He said the other girls (he listed 8 of them by name) had nothing to do with me. (triangulation x 8, compartmentalization).

          “Nothing I did with those chicks had anything to do with anything you were doing or weren’t doing” (midrangers rely heavily on compartmentalization by re-writing history/justifying the action).

          “I’m not expecting you to come running back. I don’t hate you. I’m not even mad at you. This entire situation is dumb” (He doesn’t deny that the FR went to hell but he blame-shifts it all onto you AND onto the situation with this sentence: This entire situation is dumb, which is a false mea culpa).

          Actually, he talks about all these girls as if he never made promises to me about being exclusive. Like I should feel sorry for him because of the way they treated him. (triangulation, future fake, pity play, smearing, his IPPS abused him/he is the victim, projection: Woe is he!)

          He acts like because he’s not mad at me everything should be ok now.
          (denial, blame-shifting, projection, invalidation, re-writing history, justifying, triangulation = gasligting)

          His last words “I’ve been unfair with you and I apologize (false contrition).

          Mercy, all in all, he did a great job of continuing to abuse you throughout his email apology. Thank God he wrote in NarcSpeak because now we know he is looking for a reaction in order to determine the extent of his control and gather hoover fuel or, potentially, to draw you back into the FR/narcissistic cycle.

          Assert control and ignore him.

          1. Mercy says:

            K, When you said “re-writing history” I said to myself “Thank you K”. I couldn’t put my finger on it but with all of that narc talk I had that overwhelming feeling of invisibility or illusion again. Everything that “was” isn’t because he has re-written the past. Thank you so much for confirming that, it gives me some peace of mind.

            Another thing I noticed. You and NA both said nothing he did was personal. That’s a hard thing to grasp when it’s personal to you. He said this “I’m not going to feel bad about (list the 8 names) Or any of the worthless skanks I hid from you. Why? Because none of them had anything to do with you.” It wasn’t personal to him. He never even thought about me while doing it. Nevermind that I was loyal and faithful to an illusion.

            I haven’t responded and I have no desire to. A few times I’ve wanted to pick up the phone and say “fuck you loser” but I know that’s fuel. I’ve been keeping myself busy (built a wine rack and hung crown molding) and focusing on myself. So far so good!

            Question, as long as I keep silent and don’t respond in any way do you think he will leave me alone for awhile? My thought is that he will fear another rejection so he may stay away for now.

          2. K says:

            You are welcome Mercy
            He invalidated you alright but you will get your validation here from all of us.

            It is very difficult to grasp. We, as empaths, make emotional connections and invest our hearts, minds and souls into our relationships and we think that others do the same (reciprocity) but that is how we think from OUR perspective so, when we are betrayed by people who have different perspectives, we cannot comprehend how they could do such despicable acts or justify them and then walk away as if nothing ever happened. That is anathema to us.

            The narcissistic perspective is very different. His needs are paramount (fuel), yours don’t matter, you are an appliance and your job was to provide the Prime Aims.

            He disregarded your love, faithfulness and loyalty. He promised exclusivity and then cheated. He is not wired for emotional empathy or compassion and he cannot feel the wrongness of his actions so he did what was best for him. Your hurt reactions fueled him and that is all that matters in his world.

            Good job, keep busy and keep reading; don’t respond.

            If you ignore him, he will feel slightly wounded, however, the effect of wounding will fade over time so there is still a chance of future hoovers but, if you maintain NC, then they will continue to diminish and you will always have to remain vigilant.

          3. Mercy says:

            K, you are right. I got a friend request this this morning from his other account. I’ll admit he caught me in a vulnerable moment but I didn’t accept. I’ve just promised myself I won’t make any decisions while I’m emotional. I’ve got alot of important things going on right now. My daughter is moving out of state this summer with by grandbabies. I’m not going to spend my remaining time with them absent because of stress from contact with him. If I go back, I’m a volunteer and my kids deserve better than that.

            I feel good. I feel like it’s my second win. I’ll remain vigilant and keep getting better!

          4. K says:

            Very good! Focus on yourself, your daughter and your grandbabies. Take your time and don’t respond to anything. Let the logic sink in and work its magic and, if you are struggling, just read and post your way through it. That’s what I did and it worked very well. But it does take time.

            No contact + accurate information + time = a recovered individual

            You and the kids deserve better.

          5. NarcAngel says:

            Great analysis.

          6. K says:

            Thank you NarcAngel.

          7. Sophia says:


            I love your translations! They annoy me with their false apologies and pity plays. Such cowardly bastards.

          8. K says:

            Thank you Sophia
            Their pity plays are the worst. Sometimes, I just wanted to say: Grow the fuck up! or Put your Big Girl/Boy pants on an act like an adult.

          9. K says:

            Mercy your ex is a narcissist so of course he uses NarcSpeak so I am changing my statement to:
            Thank God we have the ability to understand NarcSpeak…to draw you back into the FR/narcissistic cycle.

            That’s much better, I think.

          10. Mercy says:

            K, yes! Like I said, if he would have just apologized he might have gotten a reaction. Because of the NarcSpeak and what I’m learning,, I’m able to resist.

            On another note, how many times have you heard that nobody understands? I don’t have friends or family that I talk about this with. You reading his words and your analysis makes me feel like I have a friend in my corner that gets it. Thanks so much.

          11. K says:

            You are welcome Mercy
            Before narcsite, I would have thought his email was just a really crappy apology blaming you for the demise of the relationship. Now, it is a whole different story. Once you learn NarcSpeak, then you know exactly what you are dealing with, the power is in your hands and you are in control.

            No one understands (family/friends and they don’t care to either) and I cannot tell you how many times I have read those words here in the comments. The only place in the world where people truly understand is here on narcsite. I am here for you any time you need me and I get it. You are safe here and things are going to get better for you in time.

          12. foolme1time says:

            K your getting very good at this! 😉

          13. K says:

            Thank you foolme1time
            I am on a roll so I am just gonna go with it.

          14. Joanne says:

            K (& Mercy)
            If I’m understanding this situation correctly, it is Mercy that reserves the right to be mad. Why does the narc then say, “I’m not even mad at you.”
            I’m asking this because this has happened in my situation too. It made no sense for him to announce he wasn’t mad at me when I did nothing wrong.

          15. K says:

            From your perspective you did nothing wrong, however, from his altered perspective, you are the problem and he is the victim in all of this and a decent person, besides. You are the aggressor.

            The narcissist will say, “I’m not even mad at you.” because it serves his purposes to do so (control and superiority: he is never wrong!) and he doesn’t accept fault because it is all your fault, naturally, and this allows him to keep you in situ and confused which provides him negative fuel from your upset and baffled response.

            Control = safety in his world.

            It is part of their Toxic Logic and Contrariwise thinking.


          16. Joanne says:

            Thank you. This is definitely how he thinks. Especially about the part on me being the aggressor. God forbid I should slightly raise my voice or use CAPS in a text to emphasize a point 🙄 It’s unbelievable that their behavior is so predictable and explainable once you know what you’re dealing with.

            I’ll check out the links too!

          17. Joanne says:

            This is unrelated but I’m wondering if you can link me to a “narc 101” type article that HG might’ve written? I’ve recently shared my story with my brother who actually seems open to understanding… but I don’t even know where to start with explaining it all. Thanks so much!

          18. K says:

            There isn’t a single “narc 101” article, however, these articles below explain what motivates the narcissist and his/her perspective very well. You are very fortunate that your brother has understanding and is taking an interest in learning about NPD.

            1. The Prime Aims
            2. Do Narcissists Know What They are Doing? The Midranger
            3. Do Narcissists Know What They are Doing? The lesser
            4. Why Do We Operate From the Same Playbook
            5. Narc Club

            Just type the titles into the search function and they should come up, if not, I can post the links for you.

          19. Joanne says:

            Thank you so much! I have now sent him all of these articles along with “But how could he do this to me?”
            I had a great conversation with my brother. Due to my infidelity, I have been ashamed to share my situation but he was surprisingly understanding and open to learning more. As I was talking to him, I realized how the things I was saying were “too advanced” and just not connecting for him. After all, it has taken me months of education to really wrap my head around what happened to me. After experiencing utter refusal from my best friend to even consider NPD in my situation, it was such a relief to feel his support.

          20. K says:

            You are welcome Joanne
            Empathy is not judgmental and that is a wonderful quality that your brother possesses. I am a dirty empath, too, and I understand why you would be hesitant to share your infidelity with your brother or others.

            When you are far along in your understanding of NPD, it may come across as too complex or difficult for others to grasp so forwarding those articles should prove very helpful to him.

            It is very painful when friends or family don’t listen or support you when you are trying to explain what you have experienced/lived. Your best friend’s utter refusal to even consider NPD is frustrating. Thank God you are here because this is a very supportive environment and everyone on narcsite gets it.

          21. Joanne says:

            Thanks K! He is already reading them and commenting to me his understanding. I know he can’t *fully* get it as he’s not experienced it (thank god), but it’s helpful that he’s trying 🙂

          22. K says:

            You are welcome Joanne
            He may not have been an IPSS/IPPS but he may have been a(n) NISS or NITS and not even be aware of it.

          23. Mercy says:

            Joanne, this is why we receive the title doormat haha. Ever find yourself apologizing for a fight thats his fault? We apologize so we aren’t subject to the dreaded silent treatment. We’ll take the blame just to keep peace. They are always in control. They truly believe that it is our fault. K said he re-writes history. That’s exactly what they do so that they can put blame on us. It makes no sense at all but that doesn’t matter to him. This is why we have a hard time explaining to our friends and family. I remember reading about your friend that couldn’t understand what you were telling her. Imagine your friend reading what my narc wrote. “I’m not even mad at you. This entire situation is dumb”. Anyone that reads that who hasn’t been exposed to what we have would surly thing I did something to make him mad. Well I did, I found out he was lying and cheating. I didn’t function according to his needs.

            It’s mind blowing!

          24. K says:

            It is absolutely mind blowing. Think: Twilight Zone or “tripping” down the Rabbit Hole.

            To help you understand his worldview a little better, from his perspective it makes complete sense, however, from our perspective it is senseless.

            Metaphorically speaking, you, Joanne and I live on one side of a mirror and he lives on the other side and, although we see each other clearly, our worlds are reversed or twisted; a complete one-eighty. He thinks he is the victim and we are the problem/aggressors and, from our perspective, we are the victims and he is the aggressor.

            How’s that for a trip through the FunHouse at the Dark Carnival. All smoke and mirrors.

          25. Mercy says:

            Haha K, I just had a vision of Tom Petty eating the Alice cake while she watches in horror.

            “He thinks he is the victim and we are the problem/aggressors and, from our prospective, we are the victims and he is the aggressor”

            But we are right and they are wrong. Right?

          26. K says:

            Ha ha ha…I like Tom Petty and that video is great. From our perspective we are right.

            And as crazy as this might sound, the dynamic is just as applicable to
            N v N as N v E and I have seen narcissists gaslight other narcissists and the gaslighted individual, although a narcissist, doesn’t like it and is confused by it, too.

          27. Mercy says:

            How fitting the song is “don’t come around here no more”. I like him too. I thought he was creepy as a kid but I appreciate his music more as an adult.

            Ok when I was in the midst of it all I had a front row seat to the way he treated his other sources. I learned alot. There were a lot of other women but there were 2 that we’re subject to worse abuse than me. The last girl I believe was a narcissist as well. I know that I only got his version of things but he gave me alot of information. Screenshots, emails play by play of conversations. Because of what I’ve learned here I was able to sort through what was his BS talk and what was real. The war between those two was epic. It was a train wreck you couldn’t help but watch.

          28. Joanne says:

            Isn’t it amazing that a grown adult can live life creating their own truths and realities?! The fact that he tells you he’s been with 8 other girls then has the audacity to say HE’S not mad! I mean…what?!!! And of course the situation is “dumb” to him because why should he be held accountable for anything?!
            What amazes me most is their ability to just blend in to the point where other people have no idea just how delusional they are. For instance, lots of people think my narc is just an all around great guy while I’m sure many others are put off by his arrogance. But even in that case, I would doubt they have any idea the depths of his dysfunction.

          29. Mercy says:

            Joanne, it was actually more than 8, way more. Those are just the ones he knows bothers me the most.

            I know what you’re saying about other people. The other day while on FB I saw an event that my ex has coming up. It’s going to be a pretty big deal. The comments kinda made me sick. I think to myself “if you only knew”. It use to bother me more but the people that kiss his ass or think he’s a cool guy are nobody to me. They don’t affect my life or happiness and if they knew what we know about the narcissist their opinions would change.

          30. Joanne says:

            More than 8?! 😡 Well, it’s a good thing HE’S not mad at you!! 🙄
            You’re right – the people who worship them mean nothing, really. Instead of being bothered by it I need to remember to see how pathetic he is to need this attention and external validation that he’s some awesome guy.

          31. Mercy says:

            Hahaha Joanne that made me laugh. Yes I’ll sleep better at night knowing hes not mad!

            Agreed about the external validation. They are like grown children. It’s sad really.

          32. K says:

            You are welcome Joanne
            Ha ha ha…using caps and raising your voice is most likely challenge fuel (how dare you text/speak to him like that). Your place is one of submission.

            Once you know what you are dealing with, their behaviour is very predictable and it all starts to make sense.

  2. K says:

    He was very caring, attentive and supportive of his narc sister’s faked illnesses.
    It seems they can show empathy towards their mother or sister but not their partner.

    1. K says:

      What you are seeing is triangulation, facade maintenance and cognitive empathy (false). My MMRN was always catering to his MatriNarc’s health issues. All done to maintain control and provoke a reaction from you (negative) and his sister or mother, too (positive) so he gets double fuel provision.

      4. Triangulation. A favoured manipulation of ours which allows for contrast, the creation of drama, pitting parties against one another and of course two fuel streams. – The Married Target

  3. DEMBunny says:

    My LMR narcoholic yup.
    One time while I was off work for back injury, he gave me my one and only “massage”. Ended up causing a further injury and now I know it was on purpose.
    So glad I never shacked up w him

  4. Sophia says:

    My MMRN (also a nurse) even at his best is cold when he is addressing a complaint. Flat tone. No look of concern. No hug or kind gesture. The best you’ll get is, “there’s probably Advil in that cabinet.” He’s never even been able to fake it to seem empathetic. Other things, yes. Empathy, no.

  5. Butterfly says:

    Yes…I realized that very soon in the relationship so I never asked for empathy to the narc. I’m sure it wouldn’t have last that long if I didn’t have an empathic husband waiting for me at home. No, I didn’g “deal with it” I just took the good part of it! The golden period…and then run away!

    1. Sophia says:


      You’re lucky you saw the red flags, responded appropriately, and got out before you got attached.

    2. Mona says:

      Hallo butterfly,
      I defended you a little bit in the past. But now I think that was wrong. You brag about your relationship with the narc and hurt your husband. You still degrade your waiting husband. Isn`t that not typically narcissistic? At least it is extremely unfair. Where is the difference between your behaviour and the behaviour of a narc? What about your husband? Where is your empathy towards him?

    3. Sophia says:


      By golden period, do you mean you had an affair or that he was love bombing you and you saw through it? I can’t imagine cheating on an empathetic husband. A narcissistic one, yes. I know, two wrongs don’t make a right. Sigh.

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