The 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
19 thoughts on “The Cold Comfort”
Very interesting! So, i have inverted narcissism. Instead of feeling empathy when others share something (say a colleague tells me they have a hurt foot), I get irritated they are complaining and wasting my time because everyone deals with that sort of thing
The difference between what you wrote on your blog and how I experience what I think is empathy, is that I can occasionally feel it. This is only when I think someone is in danger, and only felt when seen first-hand. I’m always shocked when this happens, that I actually felt it. An example would be, if I see a person on crutches lose their balance and almost fall on the stairs. I get a horrible feeling in my stomach, and am relieved when they catch themself. Then I feel empathetic toward them. Whereas if I just saw a person on the sidewalk using crutches (no danger involved), I don’t feel empathy
I’ve recently found this site just a few days ago and I’m in awe by how accurate this all is.
I was involved in on and off affair (we were both married, I’m not proud of this. My husband and I had been on rocky ground for quite some time prior to the affair but that doesn’t excuse it) with a man I now realise was a narcissist for 17 months.
I realised after it ended that my affair partner had displayed signs of narcissist behaviour, but only by reading this do I realise how truly textbook he really was.
-Complete lack of sympathy if I was ill or in emotional distress, even when my son nearly died.
-He broke it off with me when I did something he didn’t like. Complete no contact. It has been 2 years and he has treated me as though I’m dead the entire time.
-He used people for his own gain to further himself climbing up the corporate ladder, and then discarded them without a second glance, always quoting “there’s no sentiment in business.”
-He always used to say to me “I feel nothing.” I never really believed him. Now I see he actually meant it.
-He was, and as far as I can tell via social media still is, surrounded by a sea of adoring followers who praise him publicly regularly and who do his bidding.
And so on and so forth.
He broke my heart completely. I was devastated when it ended, and couldn’t understand how he cared so little that he could just cut me off so completely, whereas I would have walked over hot coals for him.
I understand now. I was nothing to him but fuel, and by doing something he strongly didn’t want me to, my fuel was no longer worth his effort.
I understand, I understand it all, but as I’m not a narcissist myself I feel the pain of the loss very deeply. It has been 2 years since his last contact with me, and I still miss him terribly. When we weren’t together, we used to speak to each other via messages from first wake up until bedtime, so the sudden lack of his presence in my life felt as though the death of a loved one had occurred. I suffered through the same grieving process as a mourner, and in truth I feel as though I’m still grieving.
I wish I could rid myself of this cursed feeling, because missing someone for 2 years who I know full well does not miss me in return is not only humiliating it’s also frustrating.
Not that a narcissist would have the slightest notion of what any of these emotions feel like at all, of course.
I wonder if you, HG, are thriving on the fuel from the admiration of people reading your articles and books and leaving comments, or whether this is purely a monetary venture for you.
Either way it doesn’t really matter. You write and speak most eloquently, and your articles are fascinating.
Welcome POT. See the about section to answer your question.
Thank you, I’ve just read it.
You say in the About section that you’ve had the treatment forced upon you.
From reading one of your earlier articles though, you state that narcissists do not believe any treatment would work on them. Were you correct in this assumption? Has it not altered your desire for fuel in your daily life at all? Are you still unable to feel emotion?
I, too, like to write. That is at least one thing very different personality types can have genuinely in common it would seem.
You are welcome.
1. It has not worked.
2. It has not altered my need and desire for fuel.
3. I feel some emotions, not all.
Except narcissists do protect their peeps and do react quickly and angrily to defend them over the smallest suggestions. It’s not empathy, but maybe a version of sympathy for them.
More like protecting their fuel source kel.
Very good point FM1T!
I agree FMT, fuel and control lol
Like they react in a similar manner we would if we’d jusr witnessed someone damage our property because that’s how they regard us.
Yet they try and destroy their own property?
Senseless dicks lol well from our perspective but not theirs.
If I tried to remain anonymous and had much at stake if discovered, I would be anxious that my identity might be revealed. If your identity was undeniably revealed by some who had been hurt by you but were able to remain anonymous, how would you react? How would you handle something like this that an empath might find very difficult. What emotions might it evoke you? Just trying to think of something beyond your control that might cause you to feel pain or regret.
I do not feel in the way that you do, you are imposing your worldview onto me and it is not applicable.
These writings are better than any suspense novel. I just cannot stop reading the awfulness of it all from my safe haven.
HG. I got this thru email from WordPress. there is part of the article and then it says click here to read the rest.
New post on https://narcsite.com
The Cold Comfort
by HG Tudor
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 […]
Read more of this post
This has started happening on my side too 😠
Joanne …do you mean you have started to loose your empathy or are you referring to the post ? Mine changed too. I have to go up to the right hand corner and select visit to see and read the full article . 😁😩
I was commenting on WP/narcsite new interface.
I was not commenting on the story but the fact that wordpress is working differently today
Mine is different Kim e. I have to now go on followed sites and then go to the top of the page which reads manage. I wish they would just leave things alone! If it’s not broke don’t fix it!
I was commenting on the same 🙂