Virtually everyone likes people who could be described as warm hearted, those who are known as kind, caring, nurturing, loving, engaging, and encouraging.  

When you focus on the narcissistic people in your world, warm hearted is not near the top of the list of traits you would use to describe them.  Instead, narcissists are known as cold hearted, especially when called upon to maneuver through differences, difficulties, or problems.  Driven by entitlement, selfishness, condescension, exploitation, and the like, narcissists have chosen to tune out the need to prioritize warm traits.  In their minds, you are a nuisance.  Perhaps in moments of neediness they may pretend to care, but overall, their actions show how they are so invested in Self that your needs barely register.

Some of the most common signs of a narcissist’s cold-heartedness include:

  • Being emotionally insensitive
  • Calling you out for being too sensitive
  • Being unphased when you struggle
  • Creating the potential for you to struggle in the first place
  • Being easily condescending and mean-spirited when angry
  • Having an unwillingness to apologize
  • Being unreliable in general, especially when your emotional needs are involved
  • Easily engaging in manipulative, exploitive behaviors
  • Having a lack of loyalty toward you, to the point of betraying you if it furthers their cause.

Ultimately, narcissists are soul-crushers.  To them, you are just a loser whose needs do not merit attention or concern.  Harshness is built into their mannerisms.  They offer no apology for treating you with disdain.

It is essential to understand that when narcissists act with such calloused attitudes, they are pulling you into their own deep, unresolved pain, usually subconsciously. Their coldness is a cover for profound fear stemming from a longstanding inability to trust.  Narcissists see the world as a battleground due to a deep history of feeling rejected and excluded.  They have a very low view of personal vulnerability and they have given up on love.

When narcissists respond to you cold-heartedly, know that they are struggling with anger that goes way beyond their relationship with you. 

Deep down they resent others for not giving them the regard they wish for, but because they have not addressed that anger constructively, they displace their unresolved emotion onto you.  Pessimism has infected them and they presume the world (including you) owes them more than can be offered.

You see, healthy people may also have a history of unresolved needs, but instead of becoming cold, they accept that brokenness is part of the human condition.  They understand that healing comes when we make efforts to assist one another in times of need.  Knowing that life has pain, they choose to lean into traits like goodness, empathy, and conscientiousness.  They recognize that mean options are available, but having experienced their fair share of meanness, they opt for decency instead.

It’s sad, pitiable, when narcissists choose to respond to their own history of pain with a cold-hearted manner of life.  But when you witness such a pattern, remember that they have chosen to respond to you with the very traits they disliked in others.  Rightly, you might feel sorry for their profound pessimism, but you can determine that it makes no sense to join them in perpetuating such dysfunction.  

Simply put, someone (you) needs to be a difference maker, gladly acknowledging that there are better alternatives.  You can choose instead to be a beacon of light, knowing that care and love are much better ways to proceed.

~Les Carter, Ph.D.

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