Random Tears – Do Narcissists Cry?
| Do Narcissists Cry? | September 2015 |
As a recovering codependent, it seems, I’m inclined to be a rescuer. I’m empathetic and when I sense someone else’s suffering, I feel compelled to intervene with whatever resources I have at my disposal. No doubt, that makes a tasty snack for a narcissist who tends to feel like a victim entitled to compensation.
I enjoyed helping people, but with Tina it was a devotion. I never minded helping her with any of her minor troubles, or even the big ones. As connected as I perceived us to be, helping her felt pretty much the same as helping myself, only more urgent.
Not everything I did was to meet physical needs. It wasn’t always about money or possessions. In fact, most of the rescuing I attempted with Tina had to do with her unstable moods. Those were situations where I knew I couldn’t necessarily “fix” anything, but I could lend a sympathetic ear. Listening was one of the skills Tina most valued in me, or so she said.
Next to listening, was reassurance. Convincing Tina that things were going to be OK and that she was OK was generally what was called for. She needed external validation. That’s the essence of “narcissistic supply.” Sometimes, when she was upset about some conflict with another person, I might have felt she could have been in the wrong, but it was my job to be on her team and put as positive a spin on it as I could.
It was more difficult when random tears would appear and Tina had no explanation to offer for her sometimes sudden sadness.
It was one of those days. We’d been carrying on pleasantly in the Buffalo penthouse as we so often did when the waterworks turned suddenly on.
Sitting side by side on the futon, we were casually conversing. I don’t recall the subject except that it was innocuous. Tina was coloring some kind of intricate drawing when, unheralded, a sadness shook her body with sobs. Tears streamed down her face.
“Oh, no,” I said, “Sweetie, what’s wrong?” I put my hand on her shoulder briefly, then thought to get her a box of tissues, which she accepted gratefully and began dabbing her eyes. “What’s the matter?” I reiterated.
She shook her head and took some time before trying to answer.
“I don’t know,” she eventually said.
It wasn’t the first or last time I’d encountered this enigma. In the past, I’d tried jogging her subconscious to see if we could bring the unseen reasons for her sadness to the surface, but that had rarely worked. Sometimes, she’d offer an explanation after some time had passed, so I figured that was the best thing, to give her the space to work it out, but let her know I was ready to listen, whatever it was.
Then, I set out to cheer her up by reminding her how much I loved her and reassuring her that I’d do anything for her. Whatever I could do, all she need do is ask.
One of the ways a covert or vulnerable narcissist gets the special attention his or her ego needs is by playing the victim. It definitely always worked to make me sit up and take notice, ready to spring into action. Tears brought compassion and comforting gestures. Once the crying would stop, I was primed to acquiesce to any request Tina might make.
If she wanted to go out to the bar, I’d take her out. Choice of dinners? Her decision. If she needed beads or wire to make some earrings, I was eagerly up for Walmart trip #4,407. Then, she’d put her smile back on and the world was made right.
Tears without a reason might have been a lazy manipulation tactic. Maybe she wasn’t aware the theatrics weren’t really necessary. Maybe she just liked to keep in practice, but, I’d do these things anyway. There’s a chance that sometimes her tears were coming from a genuine sense of grief and she just couldn’t or wouldn’t share the reasons with me, but I know Tina was quite aware how crying activated my rescuing instincts
Do Narcissists cry? Yes.
I know some people think that narcissists are devoid of emotions and thus only ever shed tears of the crocodile variety, but I’m certain that’s not true. Probably all narcissists, but particularly, the covert or vulnerable variety do have feelings that can be hurt and they might even cry. What they lack is instinctive empathy for other people’s feelings and as a consequence, they tend to overlook or dismiss them. After all, no one else’s feelings could ever be as deep or meaningful as the narcissist’s own.
Narcissists are generally skilled manipulators, with feigned emotions among their favorite tools, but sometimes their tears come from genuine sorrow. A vexing thing about dealing with people who lie compulsively is that it can be very difficult to tell when they’re being sincere. But, that’s probably by design.
Related reading: Narcissists who Cry: The Other Side of the Ego