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20 Signs of Lack of Empathy that Show They Don’t Care What You Think

Ever feel like the person you’re talking to is distant? It might not have anything to do with you. Rather, they might be showing signs of lack of empathy.

characteristics of people who lack empathy

If you think everyone has empathy, you might want to rethink that. There are several people who completely missed out on the lesson of signs of lack of empathy and how to put themselves in other people’s shoes.

Empathy is one of the most essential traits you can have and without it, you lack the capacity to basically connect with anyone else.

Instead of listening or supporting you when you need someone, they suck the energy right out of you. They refuse to listen and the worse part is that they might even make it all about them. They do absolutely everything except put themselves in your shoes. 

Empathy is an extremely powerful force. It allows us to understand how people around us feel and think. When you have empathy, it allows you to connect with how others are thinking or feeling.

Most importantly, it allows you to show that you care. People who lack empathy, on the other hand, will exhaust the life out of you, which is why they can be toxic to be around. 

[Read: Why empathy is so important for a successful relationship]

How to tell the signs of lack of empathy

Some people just get you. You can tell them anything and they understand what you feel and how you think. Those are pretty special friendships. Hold on to them because they’re not easy to find

On the contrary, there are also those people who just don’t seem to understand you, no matter how hard you try. You do your part in opening up and it’s like you’re talking to a rock. Instead of relating to you or seeing things from your perspective, they ramble on about something that only makes you feel worse about yourself.

All they do is talk about themselves without any regard to the feelings of those around them. Right this second, a friend or two probably crossed your mind – those people are the definition of those who lack empathy towards you.

You’re probably thinking that maybe they’re not empathetic, maybe they’re just having a rough day or they don’t feel like talking. A lack of empathy – apathy as we call it – doesn’t have anything to do with any of these factors. Even on an extremely good day, it’s obvious that they’re incapable of thinking of anyone other than themselves.

In this feature, we’ll be listing down the concrete signs of lack of empathy. This way, you’ll have the awareness on which people to avoid before they even have the chance to suck the life out of you. 

[Read: Selfish friends – Why they take so much and give nothing in return]

1. You feel something is off

Your gut instinct proves to be beneficial whenever something’s wrong – and in this instance, whenever you talk to them, it’s always telling you to stay away. It’s as if your instinct already knows their lack of empathy. When you try and talk to them about things going on in your life, you don’t get the response you were looking for.

This is an obvious reflection of their lack of empathy. Whether you’re sharing good or bad news, you don’t get any empathetic response from them. [Read: How to recognize the emotionally unstable people in your life]

2. They get into many arguments

Since they’re unable to connect with others, you can expect them to piss a lot of people off unintentionally. Empathy allows you to process different emotions and perspectives. But without it, you feel entitled to just one perspective – your own.

To put it simply, they don’t know how to read people’s feelings, and they don’t bother figuring it out. [Read: Understanding how people use emotional manipulation]

3. They don’t understand emotions

The only emotion that matters is their own, which implies that everyone else’s emotions are irrelevant. While they’re aware of everyone’s emotional nature, they don’t understand how it works.

In an extreme case, they may cheat on their partner, but they don’t understand why their partner would be angry or hurt by their actions. For someone who lacks empathy, emotions exhaust them. 

4. They think people are too sensitive 

Whenever you even attempt to open up to them, they might perceive you as dramatic, sensitive, or weak. Since they don’t understand your emotions, they think expressing them equates to weakness. They tell disrespectful jokes and don’t understand how they can hurt others.

This isn’t because of their ego – it’s primarily because they don’t understand the effect their words emotionally have on others. And if you try explaining this to them, they just tell you you’re being way too sensitive! [Read: How to quickly spot narcissistic traits in a relationship]

5. They’re self-absorbed

One of the adjectives best described to those who lack empathy is being self-absorbed as they are incapable of caring about anyone other than themselves.

Simply put, your issues and problems mean nothing to them. Their narcissism is the primary root of why you feel so disconnected from them and it’s one of the concrete signs of lack of empathy. [Read: How to deal with a narcissist in the best way you possibly can]

6. They’re insecure 

This is somewhat ironic, you would never think someone who lacks empathy would be insecure, but it’s true. People who don’t understand basic emotions are usually very insecure.

Their lack of processing and reading emotions is tied to their self-worth, especially because they can’t connect with others. Their insecurities and doubts come deeply from their apathy. [Read: The 20 signs of insecurity people can’t hide]

7. They have trouble keeping friends

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. You make friends because you connect with others and you find that vibe. With people who lack empathy, it’s practically impossible to stay friends with them or have a healthy friendship that lasts a few years – not unless you force yourself to stay.

Even then, you’re just putting yourself through a lot of unnecessary torture just to be friends with an apathetic person. 

8. They’re judgmental

Since they don’t care about the feelings of others, it’s only natural they’re first to criticize and judge you. They will point fingers and judge you, given that it’s easier for them, than trying to understand you.

If they perceive you as different from them, they’ll judge you harshly and they won’t hold back from revealing their thoughts to your face with their snide and hurtful comments. This is one of the signs of lack of empathy that’s very easy to take personally. [Read: 25 signs of a mean friend who just doesn’t care about you at all]

9. They refuse to accept your point of view

People without empathy see other perspectives as inferior to their own. They will defend their opinion until death, even if they’re wrong. In their eyes, only one opinion matters and that’s their own.

Whatever you have to say, they simply don’t care as they always believe they’re right. As we said, it’s similar to conversing with a rock. 

10. It’s never their fault

Since they don’t have the empathy and emotional intelligence to be accountable for their mistakes, they won’t apologize or even admit their wrongdoings. You can expect that they’ll always point the finger at you in pointing blame.

There’s always someone or something who did something to them. They’re basically incapable of accountability and responsibility because they can’t understand anyone else’s emotions. [Read: 15 signs you have shitty friends and need to get new ones]

11. They’re selfish

If they’re self-absorbed, then you already know they must be selfish. They only look out for themselves and this kind of selfishness is what pushes people away from them. It’s also one of the traits that make them so toxic and exhausting to be around.

After all, why would you stick around someone who only looks out for themselves? Their selfishness shouldn’t even come as a shock to you at this point. [Read: How to stop selfish people in their tracks – before they hurt you]

12. They can’t handle emotional situations

When you place someone without empathy in an emotional situation, they’ll do everything to deflect or avoid that situation completely.

Since they can’t process emotions, it makes them extremely uncomfortable to be in one. They wouldn’t know what to do in that situation – it’s completely uncharted territory for them. 

13. They have outbursts

It’s so ironic for apathetic people to have outbursts, we know, but it does happen. They feel confused by their own emotions and they don’t know the first thing about processing them.

Should they cry, should they accept fault, should they blame someone else, should they scream? They wouldn’t know where to begin, especially when confronted with overwhelming emotions or their own faults. When it comes to people who lack empathy, their outbursts are usually uncontrollable and unexplainable. [Read: What to do if someone you know doesn’t have empathy]

14. They can’t handle relationships

Obviously, if they can’t manage something as regular as friendships, then this applies to more intimate connections like a relationship as well.

They wouldn’t even know the first sign of someone being upset, which makes them incapable of handling any type of needs from their partner. People who lack empathy would end up pushing others away unintentionally with their inability to understand emotions and it’s one of the common signs of lack of empathy. [Read: 7 reasons why empathy is important in a relationship]

15. They can’t be happy for others

If they can’t be selfless for even just a fraction of their time, then they can’t be happy for others as well. If you talk about that big promotion you got, they’ll likely end up dismissing it entirely and use any chance to talk about themselves.

In fact, they may even feel threatened by your joy and accomplishment and invalidate your success completely. 

16. They’re toxic to be around

No matter how hard you try, you always end up exhausted and drained because of them. After all, who wouldn’t be drained when you’re dealing with someone self-absorbed and narcissistic in every way?

Even if you do try to understand their point of view and try to relate with them, connections are still a two-way street. And they don’t make the same effort. [Read: Am I toxic? How to tell if you’re the toxic one & not everyone else]

17. They bring out the worst in you

The definition of toxic people is someone who brings out the worst parts of you, without even trying.

People with a lack of empathy tend to bring you down, focus on your insecurities, and criticize you since they don’t understand emotions. They might even say a disrespectful joke or two, without comprehending why this offends you. 

18. They can’t read between the lines

Any average person would be able to know when someone is deeply upset or frustrated, even without verbal assurance.

People with a lack of empathy don’t have this skill. This is why they can’t be intimate with any individual since they can’t tell if someone is upset and they just can’t decipher whatever emotion someone else is feeling. 

19. They’re indifferent

Understanding emotions aren’t part of their nature so if they feel joy, excitement, anxiety, worry, or even sadness, it won’t be obvious in their facial expressions or even body language.

They deal with their emotions the best way they can, which is through avoidance and deflection. Unless they learn how to understand how emotions work, they won’t know how to show their emotions to others. [Read: How to be more empathetic and forge emotional connections]

20. They often end up alone

Nobody wants to be around someone who drains their energy and emotional capabilities entirely, so they’re often alone because people don’t want to stick around them once they get to know them. Solitude and isolation are both common themes in their life, even though they don’t intentionally mean to push people away.

They may make a lot of new friends and draw people in with their “cool and careless” attitude, but the minute people see an unempathetic person’s true colors, they’d start to give them a wide berth.

So, how do you deal with someone with signs of lack of empathy?

While this seems like a frustrating scenario, it takes a lot of patience and willpower to deal with someone who lacks empathy. Refrain from looking for an apathetic person’s best potential, and realize that they’ll never change – not unless they want to.

In order to avoid getting the life sucked out of you every time you’re with them, the best thing you can do is to stay away from them if it’s something you can control. 

[Read: How to instantly tell if someone doesn’t have empathy and what you need to do ASAP]

Are you surrounded by those who exhibit signs of lack of empathy? Don’t worry – you’re not alone in this. All you need is to acknowledge the signs and start keeping your distance. Unless you enjoy being walked over and hurt by their harsh words all the time!

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