Do Narcissists Cry? - Are They Genuine Or Crocodile Tears?

Last updated by Katie M.

We hear so much about narcissists, yet so many questions remain unanswered, especially regarding their emotions and the authenticity of them. Shedding tears requires a deep sense of empathy and the ability to feel and understand pain, however, on paper people with this particular personality disorder don’t match up to the criteria necessary to well up. The truth is, narcissists CAN cry, however behind the stream of tears lies ulterior and less genuine motives than in most people. Trust me, I should know, because I used to date one and can assure you that everything they do is self-serving…

Do Narcissists Cry? - Are They Genuine Or Crocodile Tears?

I dated my ex for just over a year and really got a close insight into the workings of his mind and what made him tick. It’s fair to say that a narcissist' mind works differently to most people, and therefore they do not experience feelings in the same way we do. Their overinflated egos often mean they view expressing their emotions as a weakness, and in consequence, they choose to bottle them up in most circumstances.

Narcissists can cry, but not for the same reasons as us - They fake cry

My ex was always completely stoic, even in the face of intense grief and loss. I remember when he lost a close member of his family, it was as if he was empty to the point where he was dead inside. Although the death of his uncle was somewhat expected after a long period of illness, my ex-partner seemed totally unaffected by it and almost robotic, whereas I was totally distraught despite only ever meeting him twice. The need to be in constant control had taken over at that point, and he was completely incapable of even acting like he was impacted by the news. His lack of empathy and willingness to be perceived as anything other than strong meant his relationship with his emotions was very unhealthy in every aspect of his life.

>>> Find out what a narcissist hates

What does it mean if a narcissist cries?

Narcissists have a superior self-image and need to feel admired and important in their daily lives because they simply can’t bear the brutality of reality. They need people to look up to them and to believe that they have got it all together, especially when it comes to their professional life. Although the most traumatic events will never succeed in provoking sympathy from them, when on the other hand their ‘superior image’ is threatened, then they can get emotional. Despite my ex always hating his job, he was absolutely beside himself when he found out he was being let go. The cocktail of shame, rage, and loss of self-worth was too overwhelming for him and provoked a river of tears. Although he wasn’t crying because his financial situation would become difficult, but, rather because he was afraid that people would think less of him and look down at him.

>>> Read up on why crying feels so good

There's only one thing that truly makes them emotional…

Narcissists are obsessed with their appearances and feel a deep need for people to hold them in high esteem. They need to convince people that they live perfect lives where everything always goes to plan. That's right, it’s totally out of the question for them to let the mask slip and for cracks to appear in the facade that they’ve spent so much time creating. Upset woman

Grief, trauma, and loss might not impact them, but the idea of looking bad or weak terrifies them and is virtually the only thing that makes them emotional because it exposes their true reality. 

3 Types of narcissist fake crying

When I dated my ex, I noticed that he used tears to manipulate me on a regular basis, and was able to distinguish between 3 categories.

1) Emotional crying

Here, he’d cry and tell me it was so wonderful with me, that he never thought he’d meet someone like me, it was so great to spend time with me, etc.) At the time, I was completely flattered and touched, although it seemed a little over the top, I didn’t really see any red flags.

2) Jealous tears

As time flew by, he got more and more jealous and decided he was literally going to take over life and control everything in it. Here, he’d demand to see my phone and often spy on me when I was going out. He’d turn on the jealous tears whenever I’d do something he disagreed with, in the hope of making me feel bad.

3) Manipulative fake crying

Finally, towards the end of our relationship, as I was slowly discovering the worst episodes of his life, he played the exact same scene to me three times, three months apart each time: - Yes, it's true, you're right, I'll get better, but you know… this happened to me yesterday, and I’m distraught about it. (With tears rolling down his cheeks). Here, he’d do anything in his power to make himself out as the victim.

What happens when a narcissist sees you cry?

If you get emotional around someone with a narcissistic personality, they will simply be incapable of comforting you because they lack empathyEssentially, their brains work differently to most people’s, which means they are unable to understand why we shed tears. These folks are completely out of touch with their emotions and block them out to the point where they are virtually incapable of recognizing and acknowledging them. When they see someone cry, they’ll likely ignore them and simply continue going about their day without even asking them what’s wrong, or whether they can do something to make them feel better.

Do narcissists feel sadness?

Yes, the life of the typical narcissist is indeed punctuated by recurrent episodes of dysphoria (pervasive sadness and hopelessness), as well as the loss of the ability to feel pleasure, and clinical forms of depression. This picture is further overshadowed by the frequent presence of mood disorders, such as bipolar. Although the distinction between reactive (exogenous) and endogenous depression is obsolete, it is still relevant in the context of narcissism. Narcissists react with depression not only to life crises, but also to fluctuations in narcissistic supply.

The narcissistic personality is disorganized, and its balance is precarious. It regulates its self-esteem by consuming the narcissistic supply from others. Any threat to the uninterrupted flow of said supply compromises their psychological integrity and ability to function. It is perceived by the narcissist as a death threat.

💡 FAQ: Do narcissists cry to manipulate? 💡

Yes, narcissists may cry as a manipulation tactic. They can use tears to elicit sympathy, divert attention from their wrongdoings, or control a situation. This emotional display often serves to garner support or deflect criticism, allowing them to maintain their desired image and avoid accountability. However, these tears may not stem from genuine emotion; instead, they are typically calculated to manipulate others' feelings and responses.

Do narcissists cry when you leave them?

When a narcissistic person is left, their reaction can vary depending on several factors, such as the degree of narcissism, the dynamics of the relationship and the person's ability to manage emotions. Although these folks may show signs of sadness or distress following a break-up, it's important to understand that their emotions may be mainly related to the loss of control, the wounding of their ego or the deprivation of the attention and admiration they seek.

In some cases, they may react with anger, contempt or indifference, seeking to devalue the other person or minimize the importance of the break-up. They may also try to manipulate the situation to regain control or regain lost attention. However, it is possible for some narcissists to experience some sadness or grief when they lose a relationship, although this may be associated with the loss of their source of validation rather than genuine empathy or affection for the other person.

It's important to remember that every individual is unique, and narcissists' emotional reactions may vary. However, in a relationship with a narcissist, it's essential to focus on one's own healing, establish healthy boundaries and seek appropriate emotional support to rebuild oneself and move towards healthier, more fulfilling relationships.

>>> Discover the signs he is hurting after a break up

Do narcissists feel heartbreak?

Narcissistic people can feel emotional pain and heartbreak, just like anyone else. However, the way they deal with and react to this pain may be different from that of people without narcissistic traits. When they are faced with rejection, disappointment in love, or significant loss, they may react in a number of ways, including minimizing or denying their emotions, blaming others, seeking revenge, or withdrawing to protect their weakened self-esteem. They may have difficulty expressing their vulnerability or seeking emotional support in a healthy way. Some of these people may experience deep pain and grief, while others may be more resistant to negative emotions.

Narcissistic people may experience some form of "heartbreak" when a relationship ends, but it's important to note that their emotional experience may differ from that of non-narcissistic individuals. Here are some points to consider:

  • Loss of narcissistic supply: Narcissists need constant admiration, validation, and attention to maintain their fragile self-esteem. When a relationship ends, they lose this narcissistic supply, which can leave them feeling hurt or devalued.

  • Ego damage: For narcissists, their self-image is often based on an idealized vision of themselves. When a relationship breaks down, it can call this ideal image into question and confront them with their own flaws and vulnerabilities. This can lead to feelings of humiliation and emotional pain.

  • Angry and vengeful reactions: When faced with a break-up or rejection, some narcissists may react with anger, frustration, or a desire for revenge against their former partner. They may seek to inflict pain or destroy the other's reputation to make themselves feel better or to protect their own image.

Editor’s opinion: Not being in control is a narcissist’s biggest fear

Our fears torment us and are often at the source of our emotional breakdowns. Yet, when someone close to you who suffers from this personality disorder breaks down and cries, you’d be forgiven if you were to question how genuine they were. We mustn’t forget that narcissists want to be in constant control and will go to any lengths to get people on side, including manipulating situations.

🤗 Understand yourself, accept yourself, be happy... Let’s do it here and now!


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Hi! I enjoyed your article BUT I'm sorry I disagree with you and the narcs crying. They cry for attention AND so you'll feel sorry for them and do EVERYTHING underneath the sun for them...It's ALWAYS about them any freak'n way tears and all.....

Wendy 2 years ago

I agree with Wendy. Lots of narcissists use crying to fake empathy, manipulate people and for attention. I knew a narcissist that cried every single day. She tears up and sniffles. It was always for a mostly for a short period and never wailing crying or shaking. It would be a few tear drops and that’s it. She uses it to get out of trouble, to get people to do what she wants, to be coddled and babied, to seem sensitive and empathetic. You can tell it’s narcissistic tears because of the frequency (daily tears, multiple times a day). Also, the can start and stop crying very quickly. If you cried, they wouldn’t care. You realize they aren’t that kind or sensitive when they pick fights, are super critical, manipulative and cold towards. They love to play with your head and emotions.

Sarah C 2 years ago

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  7. Lay Me DownSam Smith
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  9. Put Your Records OnCorinne Bailey Rae
  10. Summertime SadnessLana Del Rey
  11. Imagine - Remastered 2010John Lennon
  12. Shake It OutFlorence + The Machine
  13. Space Oddity - Love You Til Tuesday versionDavid Bowie
  14. What A Wonderful WorldLouis Armstrong
  15. With Or Without YouU2
  16. HelloAdele
  17. Don't Stop Me NowQueen
  18. Skinny LoveBirdy
  19. WingsBirdy
  20. Californian SoilLondon Grammar

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