What are the most common signs someone lacks empathy?

This article will show you what are the most common signs someone lacks empathy, and how you can deal with this type of person in your life.

What are the most common signs someone lacks empathy? 

If you think someone in your life lacks empathy, these are the telltale signs that will let you know for sure.

They are overly critical of everyone around them 

When someone lacks empathy they will likely be overly critical. That is because they will be unable to put themselves in the other person’s shoes and think about why the person has decided to act in a specific manner. Instead, they will just go on criticizing others. 

Because of this pattern, the person that lacks empathy will likely only find faults in other people, and will never be able to empathize with them for their shortcomings.

They have a hard time dealing with their emotions 

People who lack empathy will likely have trouble dealing with their emotions, are often more susceptible to outbursts, and may have a harder time dealing with frustration for example. 

That is because when a person lacks empathy, it is likely that they will not have a well-developed emotional intelligence, which makes it difficult for them to regulate their responses to things.

This may not only show on outbursts, the person with a lack of empathy can also make inappropriate comments, or be insensitive to whatever the people around them are going through.

They are unable to read other people’s body language

With empathy comes the ability to be attentive to what other people are feeling, but also with other people manifesting in their body language. In the same way, they are unable to understand what people are saying, not picking up on those can make them more susceptible to saying things, or behaving in ways that will seem hurtful to others.

They will never admit they are wrongdoings and apologize 

Lacking empathy can often lead the person to believe they are always right. They can’t conceive the idea that what they have just said is wrong, or may even be harmful to the other person. They will stand their ground, and hardly ever apologize for what they have said.

This behavior will often harm the relationship, and it can lead people to have a lot of arguments.

Why do some people lack empathy?

You should know that each person will have empathy on their level, and show it in their particular way, being rare to have people that have no empathy at all. When that is the case, the person likely has a disorder like a narcissistic personality disorder or antisocial personality.

But when talking about the level of empathy people will display, that is usually related to the circumstances the person is in, and with which person they are talking. It can also be related to the person’s previous experiences, so if someone has opened themselves up to others, and had a negative experience, for example, it may have had an impact on how they will empathize with others in the future.

Empathy is also something that people will learn, and be born with. So if someone has had a different learning process with empathy, they may show differently than what you would have shown. But knowing it is related to learning is what will allow people to always be developing themselves in that if they wish to.

How can I deal with someone that lacks empathy? 

If you realized the person in your life lacks empathy, here is what you can do to deal with them.

Don’t take what they say personally 

If you are dealing with someone that lacks empathy, and they have said something hurtful to you, the first thing you need to keep in mind is that it is not personal. This person cannot say something empathetic, so they won’t be able to recognize they hurt you. Don’t take it to yourself, since what they are saying doesn’t define you.

Don’t discuss matters with them when you are too emotional 

People that lack empathy can’t understand emotions too well, so if you need to discuss a matter with them, it is best if you do it more rationally, in a moment in which you are not overwhelmed by your emotions. 

It might be only through this type of conversation that the two of you will be able to build an understanding. Otherwise, you are just setting yourself for disappointment.

Learn what you can expect from them 

This is a key thing in any relationship, even more so when you are dealing with someone that lacks empathy. Knowing what you can expect from them, and what you can’t help you navigate this relationship better, and ease your frustration with this person.

Work on yourself

The person that lacks empathy can often harshly say things, and it may be easier to take it as something that defines you. But you should try to not do that, and don’t blink your self-esteem to others. What people say about each situation is likely a reflection of their view on it, and not on who you are.

Keep a safe distance 

If you feel that the person that is lacking empathy is constantly being hurtful, it may be time to consider setting some space, and time to regroup from this relationship. Don’t be ashamed to ask for that, and allow yourself to set boundaries in this relationship.

Invest in healthy relationships 

Having one relationship in which you need to set boundaries, and keep some distance doesn’t mean you need to do that with everyone. Isolating yourself is not the goal, the goal is to have safe, and healthy relationships with people that are caring, and supportive of you. 

Opening yourself up to this, and nurturing these types of relationships will mostly show you how it is possible to have a healthy, and supportive relationship

Know that not everyone is like that

When you deal with someone that lacks empathy, you may begin to assume that everyone would be like that. It is important that you set people apart for who they are, and allow yourself to be vulnerable with people that deserve your vulnerability. Just make sure you select who these people are.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): What are the most common signs someone lacks empathy? 

What are the types of empathy? 

There are three types of empathy, it can be cognitive empathy, emotional empathy, and compassion. The first one is related to knowing how the other person feels, or what they may be thinking. 

It shows you know what the other is feeling, but having only cognitive empathy may not be very helpful in connecting with others since it doesn’t allow you to feel what the other is saying. This can happen more often with emotional empathy. 

That form of empathy causes you to feel in the same way the other person feels. This can get to the point that you can feel the person’s physical pain when they are in pain. But it is not only physical pain, when you have emotional empathy you can also feel the other person’s feelings.

Feeling compassion is what allows us to not only feel what the other person is feeling but to also take some action towards helping them out. It is often the balance between emotional and cognitive empathy that will make us feel with the person, take action, but not feel overwhelmed with it all.

What is a dark empath? 

The dark empath is the name given to the person that can understand what others are feeling, but that are unable to feel them. Because they don’t get emotionally involved in the situation, it is common for the dark empath to use what others are feeling negative.

In that, they can begin to make jokes or be sarcastic about what other people are going through. They can also become extremely manipulative to control others, since they are aware of how they feel, and can even use manipulation techniques such as gaslight to do that.

How does an empath deal with conflict? 

Dealing with a conflict is never an easy situation. But being an empath can make you feel the conflict even more intensely. You can feel your heartbeat quickly become faster, and it may be difficult for you to get a handle on your emotions.

You may feel that your emotions and the emotions of the person you are in conflict with are all mixed up inside you, and it may be difficult to separate one from the other. So taking some time to understand what emotions are yours can help you deal with the conflict.

For that, you should try to visualize yourself as a clear person, and try to understand what are your feelings about this conflict. Once you have dealt with the situation, making another visualization of seeing the troubles being blown away by the wind can also help. and little by little work towards creating your boundaries.

How can I develop empathy? 

There are some ways to help you develop empathy. First of all, being curious about what others are feeling, or what is going on around you, implies that you should often expose yourself to being out of your comfort zone so you can experience what it means to not be so comfortable, but also to see what other people are feeling.

It may also be important to listen to what people are saying about how you can improve, and try to put yourself in other people’s shoes. Working through difficult conversations is also an important way to work on your empathy.

Reading a lot can also expose you to many different realities, and if you feel it is possible, you should try to join a shared cause with someone. This will allow you to deal with different views on matters.

What is empathy fatigue?

Empathy fatigue is what happens when the person feels worn down by feeling empathy, or even because they have been dealing with a stressful situation for a prolonged period. This can make it harder for the person to care for situations.

It ultimately can make the person isolate themselves, feel numb, and like they have no energy left to care for others. It can also make them constantly think about suffering, have headaches, have trouble focusing, and sleeping, along with self-medicating. It can also be extremely detrimental to their relationships.


This article focused on showing you the main signs that someone lacks empathy. It also showed you how you can deal with people like that in your life. 

If you have any questions or comments about this article, feel free to write them in the section below.