People Who Don’t Show Empathy Usually Have These 18 Traits

Written By Jill Taylor

The world would be a better place if everyone had a little more empathy. But sadly, in reality, some people show much less empathy than we’d like. Here are 18 traits of people who don’t show empathy.

Difficulty Recognizing Others’ Feelings

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People who don’t show empathy often have a difficult time recognizing or understanding the feelings of others. As stated by IdeaPod, most empathetic people are able to pick up on physical signs of emotion, such as variations in body language, expressions, or tone of voice. If you’re talking to someone who seems blissfully unaware of your emotional cues, they may have a hard time being empathetic.

Tendency to Criticize or Judge

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People who feel less empathy for others are naturally less concerned with how their comments or actions may affect someone. According to Psych Central, as a result, they’re more likely to criticize or judge those around them without attempting to understand their situations or emotions.

Lack of Patience or Tolerance

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Because unempathetic people don’t fully grasp the emotional reality of those around them, they’re frequently impatient with others. This can be especially true when people are emotional around them, as they may perceive them to be irrational or overreacting.

Avoidance of Emotional Intimacy

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Those with a lack of empathy are usually significantly less interested in deeply and emotionally connecting with the people in their lives, even if they’re close friends or family members. These individuals often struggle with vulnerability, which they can perceive as a weakness.

Preference for Logic Over Feelings

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Unempathetic people commonly fail to see the value in feelings or the expression of emotion. Instead, they have a tendency to prioritize facts, logic, and rationality. While this can help them remain practical and decisive, it can also be emotionally damaging to themselves and those around them.

Discomfort with Expressing Affection

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Expressing affection for a close one always has an emotional component, so it comes as no surprise that this can be difficult for people who have little empathy. They may also feel awkward and unsure of how to react when others show affection for them.

Competitive or Dominant Behavior

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Competitive and excessively domineering people often lack empathy for others. There may be a sense that they’re willing to step on others to get to the top, no matter how much harm they cause in the process. They may also be more interested in the power dynamics involved in a relationship than the emotional components.

Difficulty Apologizing or Admitting Fault

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As noted by Happier Human, sometimes a lack of empathy comes with difficulty admitting fault or apologizing for their mistakes. Unempathetic individuals are less likely to feel guilty about hurting the feelings of others, as they may perceive them as overreacting or being irrational.


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Because people who don’t show empathy don’t have a good grasp on the feelings of those around them, they’re more likely to prioritize their own needs and desires. As such, they may end up saying or doing things that will benefit themselves but harm others.

Resistance to Change or Personal Growth

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Unempathetic people often value emotions and self-reflection less highly than others. Because of this, they often fail to see the purpose of changing or growing. This may look like resistance to feedback or suggestions, especially those aimed at increasing their emotional intelligence.

Preferring Solitude to Social Interaction

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Those who don’t have empathy for others commonly choose to spend more time alone than others. This can be for various reasons, but it’s often because they find social situations draining because of the amount of emotional connection and discussion involved.

Skepticism Toward Others’ Motives

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Because they don’t understand the emotional world of others, people who lack empathy may be overly skeptical of the emotional motives of others. For example, they may act suspiciously toward someone expressing kindness or affection, thinking that they must have an ulterior motive.

Emotional Withdrawal in Relationships

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At times when emotional connection or support is required, unempathetic individuals are likely to shut down and pull away. This is simply because they don’t have the emotional resources necessary to give others what they need in many of these situations.

Viewing Vulnerability as Weakness

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As we mentioned earlier, people who don’t have empathy for others often mistake vulnerability for weakness and failure. Because of this, they’re likely to avoid showing their vulnerable side to others and may judge those who choose to do so.

Minimal Interest in Others’ Lives

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People with a lack of empathy commonly show little to no interest in the experiences of those around them, especially when it comes to their emotional experiences. They may have a tendency to dominate conversations with stories about themselves and fail to actively listen to others.

Dismissive of Emotional Topics

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When emotional topics do arise, unempathetic people are likely to immediately change the subject or dismiss the subject as unimportant. This is sometimes because they feel uncomfortable with emotional matters or simply don’t see the value in discussing them.

Rigid in Opinions and Beliefs

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People who lack empathy struggle with understanding things from the perspectives of others. As a result, they’re often rigid in their beliefs and opinions, which can also lead them to appear overly dismissive of others and their feelings.

Impatience with Emotional Processing

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When someone gets emotional around an unempathetic individual, they’re likely to get impatient and want them to “pull themselves together” as quickly as possible. This is usually because they don’t understand the importance of emotional processing and expression.