This is Why Narcissists Are Experts in Faking Empathy!

When you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, you probably experience some highs. Sometimes, they seem in tune with your needs, and you’re captivated by their alluring charm.

You might even convince yourself that they are kind and caring and that the bad behaviors they show aren’t representative of who they are. 

If you’re dealing with a narcissist, it’s helpful to understand that any expression of empathy is only an act. Don’t let the narcissist fool you into thinking they are genuinely caring. 

Narcissists must learn to fake empathy. Otherwise, they’d never get what they want from you.

Narcissism and Empathy

When you’re dealing with a narcissistic person, they may meet the diagnostic criteria for narcissistic personality disorder. This is a legitimate mental health condition that influences the way a person thinks, feels, and behaves.

When people have this disorder, or at least show traits of it, they’re unlikely to be capable of true empathy. Lack of empathy is one of the diagnostic criteria for narcissism. Because of their lack of empathy, narcissists have a difficult time identifying with the needs and feelings of others.

At their core, narcissists believe that vulnerability is a sign of weakness. They don’t care about others’ emotions and will put up a tough exterior to make it look like they’re emotionally unaffected by others.

How the Narcissist Fakes Empathy

To make up for their lack of emotional empathy, narcissists must put on a show for you. They must appear as if they are kind, caring, and capable of relating to you emotionally.

If narcissists didn’t learn to fake empathy, people wouldn’t want to interact with them. So, they use the tactics below to appear as if they care deeply about others. 


Narcissists study other people to learn what makes them tick. They will learn about your strengths, weaknesses, preferences, and values. 

Then, they mirror your traits to make it seem as if they are similar to you. They may claim to like all the same things you like, or they may claim to have experienced the same childhood traumas you endured.

This makes it seem like the narcissist truly understands you. By mirroring you, the narcissist creates the illusion of having the ability to empathize with you.

Through mirroring, the narcissist seems empathetic, and thus, they will earn your trust. This puts you in the perfect position to become a victim of the narcissist’s exploitation. 

Selective Empathy 

Narcissists don’t genuinely feel empathy from within, but they learn to fake it by observing other people. On a cognitive level, they understand that they should have some compassion for those suffering.

So, they learn to feign displays of empathy. They might tell you that they understand how hard it is when you’ve lost a loved one. Or, they may express an understanding of the stress you’re experiencing at work.

Unfortunately, all of this is fake, and the narcissist does it because it serves a purpose. By pretending to care about your struggles, the narcissist can get what they want from you.

You’ll notice that narcissists only show empathetic traits when they have something to gain from them. They might comfort you when you’re down, but only because they want to ask for a favor. 

In this way, the narcissist’s empathy is entirely selective. They put on a show when they need something from you, but not because they care. 


Because narcissists don’t inherently feel for others, they have to learn empathy from observing other people. Over time, they memorize the types of things that other people say when they are showing genuine empathy.

When the narcissist needs something from you or wants to gain your trust, they will show superficial displays of empathy. This means spitting out scripted responses based upon how they know they are supposed to act in a certain situation.

There is nothing genuine about their scripted responses. They are simply regurgitating things they have heard others say. 

Seeing Through the Fake Empathy 

Falling for the narcissist’s empathy will only leave you wounded and full of regret. If you fall for their tricks, you will think they are trustworthy and kind. You’ll give them your heart, only to be let down when they continually mistreat you.

Fortunately, the strategies below can help you see through the fake empathy. 

Look for Patterns

Genuinely altruistic people will consistently present as kind, caring, and helpful. They will show empathy even when they have nothing to gain from it. 

On the other hand, you will notice that the narcissist is only empathetic when they stand to gain something from it. For example, they might show extreme kindness toward you, right before they ask for a major favor. 

The narcissist wants to be seen as a good guy, so you might also notice they tend to show empathy when it brings them positive public recognition. Some may even participate in philanthropic pursuits to appear generous and selfless. 

Analyze the Big Picture

When you take a look at the narcissist’s other behaviors, it will be easier to see that their empathy is a facade. Perhaps they are occasionally empathetic when there is something in it for them. However, this is only part of the story. 

Rather than focusing only on the times when they are kind, consider the entirety of their character. What other traits do they have?

A narcissist who is faking empathy will show some pretty obvious malevolent traits. This includes coming across as extremely haughty, making a point to flaunt their superiority, and requiring excessive admiration and praise. 

When you consider the big picture, you’ll find that empathy doesn’t really fit with the narcissist’s other characteristics. You may even notice that there are times when they are quite the opposite of empathetic. 

Trust Your Gut 

After observing a narcissist who is faking empathy, you might feel that something just isn’t quite right. Listen to your intuition when this happens.

If something seems off, it probably is. You might get the feeling that the narcissist can’t be trusted, or that they are trying to pull one over on you.

Pay close attention if your gut tells you something is wrong. Then, you can assess the narcissist’s other behaviors to confirm your suspicions. 

The Importance of Proceeding with Caution

A narcissist may fool you into thinking they are capable of true empathy, but they aren’t. When you fall for their tactics to fake empathy, you’ll likely put your trust in them, and you may even commit to a long-term relationship. 

Over time, as the narcissist’s dark behaviors come to light, you will begin to question everything you once believed. You thought the narcissist was genuine and kind, but over time, their cruelty will come to light. 

Listen to your gut and assess the narcissist for who they are overall. That way, you won’t fall victim to their facade of empathy. Don’t let occasional displays of kindness trick you into believing the narcissist is capable of truly caring about you. 

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