Our world is plagued with fake people who pretend to be something they aren’t. It’s not unusual to fall for a fake, no matter what they’re pretending to be. Sometimes, we just trust too easily. When you fall for a fake empath’s lies, it could be emotionally or mentally damaging. For your own sake, it’s a good idea to know what to look for when spotting a fake.

Despite how wholesome being an empath is at its root, there are still people who make it into something less than that. Fake empaths are, unfortunately, common. People claim to have this gift for all sorts of reasons. Often, fake empaths are narcissists.

Empaths and narcissists are on opposite ends of the same spectrum. They insist that they are highly sensitive to other people’s emotions and can “just tell how you feel” in order to manipulate you in some way for their own gain.

What Is an Empath?

A real empath is a person who can tune in, or feel, the emotions of others. This extends to animals and even the emotional “vibe” of certain places. Oftentimes, empaths are portrayed as having a psychic ability similar to mind reading.

Fake empaths particularly love the recognition that comes with this theory. While some might believe in the psychic aspects, others lean more towards the idea that empaths are just highly sensitive to emotions and actively try to feel the emotions of others.

Real empaths are born with their abilities and may never know they have such a gift. They may live their entire lives assuming that it’s normal to pick up on everyone’s emotions so easily. With or without their knowledge, empaths use a whole array of tools to understand another person’s emotions. These include body language, tone of voice and even the words a person uses. Fake empaths are unlikely to even notice such subtle changes.

For strongly empathic people, distance has no impact on their abilities. Even live TV, documentaries and reality shows can give emotional impressions to an empath. For this reason, real empaths will often avoid seeing shows that are heavy with emotion.

5 Differences between Fake Empaths and Real Empaths

1. They Want to Diagnose You

Fake empaths want to tell YOU how YOU feel. Instead of simply trying to understand and be in tune with how you feel, as a real empath would do, they want to read you. They want to diagnose your feelings and they want everyone to know about it.

For example, imagine you’re having a hard time and have been a little quieter than usual. A real empath would naturally feel this and would understand why. Be it anxiety or maybe sadness, they’ll feel it too. They probably won’t tell you that they feel your emotions too, they’ll just try to help without making a fuss.

A fake empath will turn it into a guessing game, without a sympathetic approach. They just want you to notice that they’ve “read you”.

2. They Don’t Take “No” Well

If a fake empath comes up with an incorrect assumption of you, which is most likely, they won’t handle being corrected very well. Fake empaths pretend to be this way for attention and to feel like they have a special power that makes them superior, and sometimes even god-like.

Whilst a real empath would be apologetic and uncomfortable if they had been wrong about how you felt, a fake one would be defensive. They’re likely to insist that you’re wrong about your own emotions. After all, they’re the ones with the magical powers, right?

3. They Will Note Your Negative Emotions, Not Positive Ones

Fake empaths want to feel like they’ve caught you out, so they’ll try to reveal emotions you would be keeping secret. If they think you’re angry at someone, they’ll announce that “they can feel it” because they’re empathetic. The same goes for any sadness or discomfort they might think you have.

Real empaths enjoy when others feel positive emotions because they can feel it too. They get to share in the good feelings and they’re happy to tell you they’re experiencing the same emotions. Fake empaths won’t bother with noting your positive emotions, because they’re not as exciting or dramatic enough to get them attention.

4. They Tell Everyone They’re Empaths

There are very few signs that make it clearer that someone is not an empath than them telling everyone that they are. Real empaths don’t need or want the attention and confusion that comes from sharing their abilities. If you reveal that you can feel the emotions of others, you’re likely to be met with questions. Fake empaths love this. They crave the attention.

5. They Blame Emotional Influence

As a real empath, you’re constantly taking in the emotional experiences of the people and places around you. This can be fatiguing and will have some impact on your own mood. Fake empaths will let this be an excuse for their bad moods and bad behavior, while real empaths would never.

Real empaths understand that it is possible to be influenced by the outside world, but they wouldn’t let it become negative or impact the people around them. If emotions get too strong, they would rather take themselves away for a while than hurt their family or friends.

Fake empaths will become angry and even rude and snappy, then blame it on the influence of others instead of taking responsibility for lashing out.

Fake Empaths Can Be Dangerous

Fake empaths are particularly dangerous people because of their assumed control over your emotions. In order to protect yourself from these people, it’s important to know the differences between things a fake empath and a real one. If someone in your life shows signs of being fake, it’s best to stay away.


  1. https://www.psychologytoday.com

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This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. Lesley

    A well done and much needed article. Another angle they can do is brag about being an Empath (or psychic or a mind reader) and behave that way to others but fail or pretend not to pick up on your obvious hurt feelings as a way to undermine you.

    1. Logan

      for the third one, even as an empath I am guilty of that, albeit not on purpose. It’s just easier to read negative emotions than positive ones, and its often times harder to “see”/”feel” happiness because the negative emotions stick out and grab your attention more, and often times I cant even find any happiness in people because its soo rare these daays, especially in 2020.

  2. Gregg Elliot Robinson

    I’m wondering about the connection between empathy and intro/extroversion. I never really thought of myself as being an empath, but I do avoid emotionally charged situations or entertainment as I just find them too upsetting, even if they’e entirely fictional. I’m also an introvert, because I find being with other people is unusually exhausting, though I could never say why. Now it occurs to me that this is largely due to the emotional beating that even a casual encounter involves…

  3. Fred Carpenter

    Not necessarily true. Your logic is similar to “If you say you’re a genius, it means you’re not a genius” (regardless of your IQ). I hear these sort of beliefs all the time from those who have been brainwashed by others and don’t realize they’ve been brainwashed. I avoid any sort of “New Age” spirituality like the plague.

  4. Emy

    This is just ….so crazy. I have never even heard of the term empath until today. After reading an article explaining the meaning I’m just like…..This explains who I am. And then after reading THIS article is described to the T the types of things my ex gf does.
    She was born with a face that will let her get her way. Also, she does alot of nice and seemingly caring things while appearing to be so fuckin genuine and sincere. Now she never claimed to be anything, so I can’t call her a fake. I just always attributed her behavior as a result of the abuse and unfortunate things that ha happened to her throughout her life. Like she was goin to make sure that she was In charge, and what she said was right because she could maintain control of every situation and leave zero chances of gettin hurt So maybe someone can become a fake empath without knowing or meaning to do so.

    1. Jessica

      Or she’s an empath who never learned to understand her gift and now she’s always playing defense.

  5. Scott G.

    hmmm… it seems everyone is a self-proclaimed empath in astrology groups… though I wouldn’t say all fake empaths are necessarily narcissists. just people looking for some self-validation, perhaps? it does get frustrating with these people, though, particularly in how they often split the world between two sides, their team and the other, as though we aren’t all different yet also so very similar. sure, in retrospect they might admit to their gross over generalization, and who doesn’t often overly generalize here and there for whatever affect they’re looking for out of people?

  6. Jessica

    I feel like a lot of these things that you are saying are unique to fake empaths were what I experienced at the beginning of my journey, before I understood my own gifts. I was excited to finally understand why I was always so sensitive. I told everyone about my empathy and tried to “diagnose” people’s emotions just because I was testing the waters and learning about my gift. When I first learned of it, I would use it as an excuse, because for years I was exhausted and drained from social interactions and I finally understood why, but still hadn’t learned how to prevent it and recharge, so I’d blame it on my empathy. Now, I know better and I’ve reigned it in, but those early days were not me being a fake empath, but new to understanding what it all meant.

  7. Kelly

    Jessica I appreciate your opinion on this topic. I do want to share my experience. I am a 33 year old woman and watched a YouTube video last week about empaths and I bawled because he described my life to a T. People open up to me. They feel comfortable talking to me and have told me this. I have always been drawn to the person who’s sitting alone or looks down and out. I enjoy making people smile or laugh. That gives me joy. Even strangers. It makes some people upset/ uncomfortable when you call them out on the feelings you are reading in them and sometimes they don’t like it. I do know that my mood is directly effected by the people around me more than it should be and that is frustrating when I can’t cheer up soneone I love I feel like a failure and it’s unhealthy. I have gotten angry from frustration and It’s not the other person’s fault and they are entitled to their bad moods. I have learned to be better at getting alone time and giving space. I try to build people up and encourage them. Find solutions to there problems. Neglecting my own. I am learning but I know that my intentions are always good but not without error. Fakes may simply be misunderstanding on both parties. There are evil people out here but if someone is picking up on your feelings and want to help i believe them.

  8. Whitney

    This article is waaay too black and white and constricting. As an extremely traumatized empath myself, I have had to overcome learned behaviors that the article says only “fake” empaths display. Empath children with emotionally neglectful or narcissistic parents are conditioned to behave in most of the ways you describe. There is much more grey matter to this issue than the cut and dry “this is real empath vs fake empath behavior”. I’m pointing this out because it’s dangerous to lable and box people’s behavior without considering background.

  9. Jess

    Thankyou Whitney, Kelly and Jessica. Im 36 and have only just found my tribe as I call it. Much the same as you guys, the feeling of finding this bought tears to my ears. it also bought intense flash backs of all my behaviors (esp neg) in the past (as in up to that day) and like a detective on a bad crime show I had my eureka moment.
    I am as genuine as they come, i even get psyc images sometimes. but years of not knowing, feeling alone and having to create my own defense tactics have left some “fake” behavior’s. I dont even think there are fakes per say, everyone can feel it. Its much like Karate, for example, the training level of black belts and white belts.

  10. Jess

    Not to mention, much like all taboo subjects in human history, the only way to make this the norm so many more children and teenagers dont go ignored and left like many of us as adults, is to talk about it. I had no idea there were so many out there. Not a clue.
    Thats hard to do without saying the words ” I am an empath”

  11. Jamie

    I know 2-3 people that consider themselves empath’s, but as I got to know them more, I was surprised by how they seemed to be anything but. I eventually witnessed selfishness, immaturity and a lack of empathy. They hurt people, justify their actions and refuse to apologize, which I find ironic.

    1. Rose

      Empathy is not the same as compassion and kind – heartedness. Being Empathetic means to feel what others feel, literally to telepathically tune into the Aura and energies of another. These people often mistake the negative feelings they bare to be their own. When in fact they are just a sponge. I bet a lot of people are wrongly diagnosed with mental health conditions because of this. I do believe that Empathy and Compassion, even though they are seperate soul powers, belong together to function correctly. One without the other seems to lead to pride and selfishness. Even compassionate people can be selfish, if they desire the happiness being compassionate gives them, which comes from helping others less fortunate than themselves. And not everyone is empathetic if they were, then suicides would not exist. You often hear of relatives and friends of those who commited suicide who had no idea that the deceased was depressed, because the real feelings were hidden by fake smiles. Empathetic people feel and see beyond the surface.

  12. Rose

    I am receptive to the energies of people, animals, plants, objects and spaces. It is not something to brag about, especially when it brings much suffering. Even certain items in my house i have had to get rid of because they bring heavy energy to a room, which for me is unbearable. We are surrounded by energies. They are contained in all living beings, in the air, the soil and water and everything we touch. When someone goes into a rage of anger, those negative energies stay on the item they were touching at the time, or space they were in and it also works for positive ones too. And those close to you whom are not so receptive believe that you are just overly-sensitive or even mentally ill. Either way it is understood as something negative because of human ignorance. What one does not experience himself , he believes to not exist . Perhaps, these fake empaths have empathy, but they lack compassion. Two twins which belong together, otherwise either one will go astray with pride and be misused. People can even be compassionate in a selfish way. For example, there are people who like to help and do things to ease the pain and suffering for others because it brings them inner happiness. To be empathetic means to experience what another is experiencing, literally. The general meaning of the word is not correct, because we cannot say we feel anothers pain or joy if we are not telepathically tuning into the Aura and energies of another being. We have to be conscious of this change of energy, to realise that it is actually a telepathic spiritual process taking place. And to be conscious of what is happening we have to acknowledge the existence of life beyond the physical. We live in a time of materialism, so even words which have a spiritual meaning are dragged down to the physical and totally distorted in their meaning. I can know how someone is feeling when they enter a room, before they even speak because their energy hits you right into the soul. I can also sense before an arguement is about to take place..a certain negative feeling which then intensifies before fading away when the argument is over. Its all energy and its all about gradually learning to tap into it and work with it.

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