Being an empath means being caring, open, altruistic, and loving to other people. Having the ability to feel another person’s pain gives you a softer perspective on life, because you cannot ignore the struggles and difficulties of those around you.
For the most part, being an empath is an extremely admirable trait. This is why some people feign empathy, even if they are the ultimate empathy.
Instead of truly seeing the value in being empathetic, these people want to pretend to have empathy for the benefits that surround them. So how can you tell when someone is feigning empathy? Here are 10 signs of false empathy:
1) They have very shallow emotions
Perhaps one of the clearest red flags of someone who is only faking their empathy is how often they seem to switch moods, meaning they have shallow emotions.
A person who has little empathy is a person who is also out of touch with their own emotions, which means they have a weak emotional foundation.
This leads to someone changing moods like crazy. One minute they’re the happiest person in the room, and the next they’re having an existential crisis.
It is difficult to maintain a friendship or a relationship with such a person, because the slightest misstep in your day can shake your whole world.
But this also means that they are not comfortable being vulnerable, which means that their default emotion, the emotion they pretend to have when they have nothing to do, is intense happiness.
They fake happiness even when there’s no point in being happy, because they use their smiles as a shield to cover up what they really feel (until they can’t do it anymore).
2) They feign empathy for their own benefit
One of the more subtle signs of an individual feigning empathy is the tendency to use empathy to bait certain statements out of a person, statements that are then misrepresented and used against them.
This usually comes from people who not only feign empathy, but are also toxic in other aspects of their personality.
For example, if you’re going through some personal struggles, a fake empath might reach out to you and act as a shoulder to cry on.
In your vulnerability, you’ll be more than happy to spill the tea to anyone who’s willing to listen, which means you’ll tell them everything.
But in a few days, you will soon realise that this person has used your story as their own opportunity to gossip.
Instead of talking to you to help you feel better, they talked to you just so they could share something with all of your mutual friends, putting them in the spotlight.
3) “They listen”, but only to win arguments
In situations like these, a person feigning empathy may actively listen to everything you say, showing concern and attention at appropriate times.
But they’re not really giving you a chance to vent or share for their benefit, because instead of allowing you to process your emotions, they’ll return your words in a way that reflects their own agenda.
Essentially, they act like a shoulder to cry on just so you open up and possibly say the wrong thing, then use your own words against you.
Because what easier way to catch a person than with their own words?
4) They always try to diagnose you
This will be familiar to anyone who’s been around a fake empath before: one of their favourite hobbies is diagnosing other people.
In other words, they love to pretend that they can understand the secret feelings of everyone around them and will not accept any other interpretation.
This can be extremely frustrating for those who regularly deal with people who feign empathy, because they use their “empathy” to put words in your mouth, closing arguments and arguments before you’ve even said your piece.
They tell you what you really feel, they tell you what you’re really saying, and if you try to disagree with them, they act like you’re just not in touch with your emotions enough to understand what they can see clearly.
Eventually, it feels like talking to a brick wall, because they have already made all of their decisions about you on your behalf.
5) They are impulsive with their decisions
Empathy helps people regulate their own emotions.
The ability to read other people gives us the ability to read ourselves, which means that the more empathic a person is, the more likely they are to also understand their own state of mind, which includes their wants, needs, and goals.
A clear sign of someone who struggles with empathy is someone who is incredibly impulsive with their decisions.
One day they may dream of being a writer with a dedicated schedule and routine to create a life with the stability to write novel after novel, and the next day they may want to sell all their possessions and travel the world.
Having a lack of your own emotional awareness leads to this impulsiveness, because you don’t really understand yourself and the differences between your long-term desires and moods and your sudden bursts of desires and moods.
6) Your care is extremely short-lived
People who feign empathy do not always do so for directly malicious purposes.
Some people just like to feel good about themselves, and what easier way to make yourself feel good about yourself than by convincing yourself and others that you are an empathic angel who cares deeply about pain and struggle?
But a clear and obvious sign that a person is only pretending to be empathetic? His care is extremely brief, but in terms of time and effort.
Instead of really caring about something, they’re the kind of person who posts an impassioned speech on a topic one day and then never says anything about it again.
This type of short-lived empathy is rampant in the age of social media and is commonly seen in the form of “slacktivism.”
This is where we satiate our needs to care about something with minimal engagement on social media.
7) They have intense but short relationships
An important quality to maintain a strong, healthy and lasting relationship is empathy, if not from both partners, then at least one.
Being empathic with your partner is essential to quickly resolve problems or disputes, problems that mostly arise from two people who love each other and are not exactly on the same page.
Because at the end of the day, no royal couple wants to fight; fighting is just an intensified misunderstanding.
But a person who is simply feigning empathy is someone who can’t really understand their partner’s feelings, that is, no matter how good they are at faking it.
They can’t stick it out long enough to maintain a happy, lasting, long-term relationship.
They can have intense bursts of incredible relationships, because they are so good at mimicking positive emotions, but they can’t survive the tough times.
8) They hold on to negative memories and emotions, nothing positive
Truly empathic people understand the importance of acknowledging the full spectrum of emotions, from the negativity of anger and depression to the positivity of love and emotion.
Empathy is not about “getting” a person’s true feelings; it is simply about understanding how a person feels here and now, and using that understanding to feel their current needs.
But people who feign empathy only see empathy as a tool for themselves against other people, not as a way to understand others.
Fake empaths try to “trap” you, as if they’re revealing emotions you’re trying to keep secret. So they love to focus on their negative memories and experiences with you, reading only the negativity and completely ignoring and even forgetting the positivity.
Because there is nothing dramatic or exciting about positive emotions; they can’t use any of that against you.
9) They cannot accept a “no”
The worst thing you can do with someone who feigns empathy? Tell them they are wrong.
A false empath is someone who sees their ability to read other people as some kind of superpower, as if it makes them superior to others because they can understand what people are feeling before those people know it.
But if you tell them that they are wrong, that they are making the wrong assumption about you or someone else, they will explode at you.
They will insist that you just don’t understand because you haven’t taken the time to learn about yourself, and you shouldn’t argue with someone who is so attuned to their ability to read emotions.
They have completely convinced themselves that they cannot be wrong, even if everyone tells them otherwise.
10) They love to tell people that they are empaths
It’s no secret that being an empath is an admirable trait.
Empathetic people tend to be more compassionate, caring, altruistic, and open to the world, willing to be vulnerable in ways other people avoid.
But truly empathic people will never brag about it, because they don’t wear their empathy like a badge of honor.
It’s just a part of who they are, like their height or personal preferences.
This is why it is always very unusual when someone starts sharing how “empathetic” they are, talking about their inherent and natural ability to read other people.
So whenever someone talks about their empathy, they are probably not really an empath at all. Empathy is not something to brag about, and only people who actually have it understand why.