Sympathy is something that’s truly appreciated when we go through difficult times. It reminds us that we’re not alone. But how can we tell if this sympathy is real?
Have you been betrayed by a friend or a partner in a relationship? And when I mean betrayed, I’m talking about the assumption that you have support during the misfortunes of life, but it’s all a ruse.
Yeah, I’ve been through this, and it’s one of the most heartbreaking feelings in the world. Just when you think someone loves and cares for you and will be there through hard times, they reveal their true personality. It’s about fake sympathy and how some people enjoy your pain.
There’s a German word for this.
Schadenfreude – Feeling pleasure from the pain or misfortune of others.
And this word cannot be cleanly translated back into English, from what I’ve gathered. It’s a unique frame of mind, a devious state of being – dare I say, sociopathic?
Is someone showing fake sympathy while enjoying your pain?
Could it be that the guy you thought was your best friend is the biggest fan of your sadness? Is that girl you bonded with at the store secretly waiting for you to fail for her enjoyment?
Well, some signs point toward mock sympathizers. Here are a few ways to tell if you’re in the company of the wrong people.
1. The misfortune club
Certain people listen to your success and suddenly grow quiet. If you speak with them face to face, you’ll notice a drop in their smile when you share any good news about yourself.
However, if you tell them about something bad that happened to you, their demeanor grows brighter. It’s almost as if the negativity is a much more fulfilling vibe than any good news could ever be.
First off, they’re secretly glad you’re having problems. Second, they are part of something I like to call the “misfortune club”.
The reason I describe this characteristic in this manner is that whenever you have any kind of problem, they’ll always try to “one-up” your bad luck with their worse luck.
So, if you have it bad, well, they have an unbearable life. But don’t be fooled into thinking they’re sympathetic to your issues. They couldn’t care less.
2. Overly friendly at first
People who are fake about most anything, including the fact that they care, will be super nice when you first meet them. They will tell you anything you want to hear. There are so many people like this, and it’s incredibly hard to distinguish the real from the fake.
But pay attention to all the extremely friendly things they do for you or things they say to you. It seems like they care so much. When in truth, they’re only burrowing under your skin like a toxic worm.
3. They’re showoffs
Have you ever been fooled by that person who just “wanted to help people”? Yep, that is also a fake sympathizer who secretly delights in the pain of others. They talk about helping people all the time, but it’s strange how the ones they help are somehow well-known, out in public, or online.
They talk about helping others when they post on social media too. This is s huge red flag that you’re dealing with someone who has fake sympathy.
And here’s a test: Ask them to do something where it’s impossible to be recognized by others and they will find an excuse for not being able to help.
4. They sound like a greeting card
People who pretend to care about the feelings of others often sound like those cliché greeting cards or uplifting quotes you see online. You can also find quotes like that in self-help books and other similar reading material.
Fakers pick up these sayings and use them in normal conversation in an attempt to prove they care. They offer these little statements with a smile, hoping they’ve become the hero in the eyes of onlookers. Meanwhile, they’re waiting patiently for more bad things to happen to you. It’s creepy, isn’t it?
5. Can’t keep eye contact
Friends, lovers, family members, etc. can hold eye contact when they care about you. When things go wrong and you need support and comfort, they look you straight in the eye and remind you that you’re not alone.
But people who pretend to be sympathetic cannot hold eye contact for long at all. They usually start looking around and changing the subject when you suffer.
This is because deep down inside, they don’t care about it, and there’s a part of them that is secretly relieved that you’re not doing well. They get to play fake hero again. Pay attention to those who can never quite look you in the eyes, and definitely cannot hold that eye contact.
6. They thrive on drama
If something is going on, they either know about it or they hang on your every word when you tell them the news. You can see their eyes light up when you tell them about something bad that happened. They will try to hide this reaction, but if you pay attention, you can catch it.
Here’s a test: Start telling them about things you hear and notice how that fake person will spread the drama around like gossip. They want people to think they care about what happened when in truth, they want to be the announcer for attention.
7. They gaslight
Gaslighting is when someone attempts to make you feel like you’re crazy or try to convince you of actions you did not take. Whew! That was a mouthful.
But anyway, people who pretend to be sympathetic will do little manipulative things to make you look bad and make them look good. This is how they simultaneously enjoy your misfortune while looking like your savior. It’s just insidious!
8. They are materialistic
People who pretend to care about you will shower you with gifts. This is especially true for holidays and when misfortune strikes in your life. If you’re not wise to this tactic, you will feel incredibly loved. When in truth, this is also a show.
The faker is simply showing just how generous s/he can be when you’re going through some of the hardest times of your life. Notice when a boyfriend or family member goes overboard with gifts. It’s a huge hint that they are not emotionally healthy.
Don’t be fooled by fake sympathy
Maybe there are many fake people out there, but there are still some genuine folks that do care about your feelings. This is who you should always gravitate toward when times get tough.
Don’t be fooled by the overly attentive, showy, and super friendly demeanor of new people in your life. Be aware that these things could signal a sympathetic façade. And trust me, you don’t want to be hurt even more.
Go through this list and compare it with people you know. Don’t be quick to judge but do keep a guard up and pay attention. The fake sympathizers will show themselves for who they are eventually.
Be blessed and take care of yourself.
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