Why Do Narcissists Cry? The Answer May Surprise You

Narcissists are more likely to make people related to them cry than cry themselves.

When they cry, it’s more like a crocodile’s tears, with ulterior motives and fake concerns.

Crocodiles shed tears when they open their jaws wide. They do it on two occasions – when eating their prey and when keeping their mouth open to let small birds pluck out food matter stuck between their teeth.

These crocodile tears are because their wide-open jaws are pressing against their tear glands.

Do narcissists cry?

Yes, narcissists do cry. They can cry out of regret, remorse, and sadness. However, these emotions are not always rooted in empathy. These are mostly fake tears intended to convey fake empathy for you. Actually, they are not saddened by your suffering but are merely acting.

do narcissists cry, and why

Why do narcissists cry?

Narcissists may cry when they are upset, repentant, or regretful, but these feelings are not always rooted in empathy. Three reasons why narcissists cry because of their “narcissism” are as follows:

  • To retain people who feed their narcissistic supply.
  • To keep a tight grip on their relationships.
  • To project a social reputation for sensitivity.

1. To retain people who feed their narcissistic supply.

Narcissists, particularly those suffering from a narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), are continuously seeking praise.

Because they want to be appreciated, they expect attention and validation from their spouse. This is referred to as a narcissistic supply when provided by the partner.

People close to narcissists would progressively remove themselves from them if they appeared apathetic and cold to others. This will deprive them of their narcissistic supply.

As a result, they rely on you to keep their narcissistic supply going.

To retain you, they must show concern for your feelings. So, they shed fake tears to make you believe they care.

In reality, they are unmoved by your pain.

2. To keep a tight grip on their relationships.

A narcissist’s tears will likely make you trust them more and gladly do what they want you to do.

The narcissist will cry as part of a pity play aimed to gain power over you and feed your sympathetic reaction.

Narcissists are manipulators, and they know how to make you feel high, low, confused, overwhelmed, anxious, stupid, lonely, and lost.

Most of all, they know how to confuse your mental and emotional state.

You may routinely find yourself questioning whether you should feel glad or bad about anything they or you have just done:

“Should I feel sad or good about it?”

In such a confused state, you are more compliant with their suggestions and requests when you see them cry.

Furthermore, they train you to become habituated to their controlling ways, much like dogs who are forced into learned helplessness.

So, they keep you under their firm grip by occasionally shedding tears.

3. To project a social reputation for sensitivity (virtue signaling).

Virtue signaling means behaving in ways that show people they have good character and moral values.

It is also known as moral grandstanding.

Moral Grandstanding is the use of moral talk to seek social status. Moral grandstanding motivation was associated with status-seeking personality traits, as well as greater political and moral conflict in daily life.

Grubbs & Warmke, 2019

Narcissists use virtue signaling to win praise from others.

They’re pretty good at it. They recognize how crucial it is for people to regard them as caring about issues that concern humanity.

As a result, they make a point of expressing concern about social issues (like child labor in poor nations, racial and gender inequality, and a lack of pay parity) while doing little to address them.

Their tears are for feigning concern for the grave concerns of human behavior, and they remain there. They may then return home to watch a comedy film.

They may even voice their tearful outrage over domestic abuse while being perpetrators themselves.

Final Words

Narcissists cry in order to capture your attention and soften your resistance. They will cry when it benefits them the most.

They are usually so excellent at putting on a sobbing performance that you cannot dare declare they are fake tears, even if you know they are.

You are more likely to recall a narcissist’s tears as:

“She lied so brilliantly through her tears that I had to believe her, even though I knew she was faking it.”

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Author Bio: Written and reviewed by Sandip Roy — medical doctor, psychology writer, and happiness researcher. Founder and Chief Editor of The Happiness Blog. Writes on mental well-being, happiness, positive psychology, and philosophy (especially Stoicism).


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