Spotting Selfishness: 24 Telltale Signs That Someone Lacks Empathy

Selfishness is undoubtedly an unpleasant character trait that we often encounter. However, there are fortunate indications or warning signs that can help us identify individuals who are likely to prioritize themselves in every situation. A recent online served wondered, “What is a telltale sign that someone is a selfish person?” We compiled the top 24 responses.

They Don’t Share, But Happily Take

They Don_t Share, But Happily Take
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“They bring nothing to the potluck but are first in line, or the only thing they brought was Tupperware containers to take food home!”

“This type of person may be someone you want to avoid. Who knows what you’d discover later on if you decided to befriend them? They could be someone who ends up taking advantage of your kindness.”

Constant Complaining

Constant Complaining
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“I have a complainer friend. Lately, I have just been letting her talk with dry responses. I only talk if she asks me a question. Well, the hangouts got silent superfast. She is no longer ‘satisfied’ sharing the details of her life with me. Win!”

“I once had a friend who would just complain all the time. I asked her if we could talk more positively, and she said she didn’t want to talk anymore. We are no longer friends.”

Over-dramatic

Over-dramatic
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“Every bad thing you do to them is drama-worthy. Bad things they do to you are details that should be moved on from, and why can’t you just do that? You’re so dramatic!”

“He got into arguments with people over text, screenshot the entire thing, and sent it to me with, “Look how bad this person is being to me?” I could always see the exact point he’d upset them. I never pointed it out to him, or else I would’ve been sucked into the drama too.”

Bragging

Bragging
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“If someone is constantly interrupting to brag about themselves, it’s generally a precursor to stop associating with them. I’ve met too many of them; they are more often than not happy to throw you under the bus whenever the opportunity arises.”

“These people will never be there for you when you need them. They don’t even show enough interest to listen to a whole story without butting in.”

Emotional One-upmanship

Emotional One-upmanship
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“When anything that happens to them is the worst thing in the world and whatever happens to you is not that bad and a waste of time talking about or dealing with.”

“A friend was feeling sad because it was coming up to the anniversary of her sister’s murder. Another friend responded that she also needed support because her boyfriend, who had been visiting for the weekend, had gone home. We both cut her off after that.”

No Regrets

No Regrets
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“Selfish people feel zero remorse for how they’ve hurt others.”

“Let’s not forget how they make you apologize for how you made them feel – when you want to talk about things they did to you.”

Narcissistic

Narcissistic
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“Doesn’t ever think they’re wrong. They can’t shoulder any bit of responsibility.”

“Not all selfish people are narcissists, but all narcissists are selfish people.”

Being Socially Unaware

Being Socially Unaware
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“Their behavior doesn’t have to be overtly blaming you. It can manifest as a sense of aloofness or unawareness. It can feel like they’re just constantly unaware of their role in things. And then will refuse to acknowledge any role in things. They may also flip it back on you if you show them their faults and say you’re making them feel bad.”

“I lost someone because I couldn’t see how selfish I was being. I was so unaware that the majority of what happened was a direct result of my inability to not argue.”

Selective Memory

Selective Memory
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“They don’t remember the times people helped them, but remember clearly all the times they have helped others.”

“It’s easier to remember when you can count the times on your fingers.”

No Reciprocation

No Reciprocation
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“They gladly take any favors you do for them, but when asked if they could reciprocate once, they get defensive/aggressive and act like you’re the selfish one.”

“It doesn’t make you a bad person to expect reciprocation in a relationship. They are ‘give and take,’ and that makes them healthy. It’s not entitlement to expect kindness if you give kindness. If you’re the only one giving, you’re being taken advantage of.”

Only Talking About Themselves

Only Talking About Themselves
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“I know many people that will just not shut up about their day for an entire phone call and then just hang up when you start talking about yours.”

“And then interrupt when you’re talking so they can talk about themselves some more.”

“I know someone who does this in a group. Constantly talking over someone about the same story over and over again, just to be relevant. I am exhausted by the time I leave.”

Making Someone Else’s Suffering Their Problem

Making Someone Else_s Suffering Their Problem
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“Every bad thing that happens to another person is actually their personal problem; I’m really upset because my friend’s family member is dying.”

“My mother-in-law is seriously ill in hospital, and her family has made it all about them and how hard it is to support her. If you are snapping at your extremely sick elderly mother for inconveniencing you and making you feel anxious, you’ve got a problem.”

Good At Steering A Conversation

Good At Steering A Conversation
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“They have that superpower to lead everything back to themselves. Even when you’re actually talking about your own life or a specific problem of yours, they somehow make it that you start talking about them instead without even changing the topic.”

“Not only did he manage to minimize my problem, he somehow managed to pivot the conversation toward his new workout routine and diet.”

Insensitive

Insensitive
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“They want to dig up your dead dog to use the skull for taxidermy purposes and are insistent on doing it despite your objections.”

“They are unable to see beyond their own needs and feelings and aren’t capable of recognizing when they’re impacting the people around them in negative ways.”

Never Apologizing

Never Apologizing
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“It takes a little longer to figure this out, but if after a few dozen hours of interactions you’ve never heard sorry, you probably never will. I waited years once. Never again.”

“Agreed! This is also a sign of emotional immaturity. My husband was like this when we were first married. He HAS grown up and does now apologize sometimes.”

No Conversation Skills

No Conversation Skills
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“Conversations don’t feel like conversations. They are monologues about what they want, their thoughts, their life, their priorities, etc. When you are able to slip a word in, your words are used as transitions in their dialogue. No matter how you format your words, they all just add to the plot of their story.”

“I see you’ve met my manager and know him well.”

They’re Annoyed When You Accept Things

They_re Annoyed When You Accept Things
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“I had a friend who loved to offer stuff (unsolicited). She 100% expected everyone to politely decline. I’m a “yes” person – anything you offer to me, I will happily accept. The look on her face was always priceless. She never followed, but she never stopped offering stuff. And I never stopped accepting. It was kind of hilarious.”

“If I’m polite enough to offer, you should be polite enough to decline!”

Always The Victim

Always The Victim
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“When they always play the victim card. 99% of the time, they only place themselves in the victim’s seat by ignoring all the effort other people have made, only focusing on what they are forcing themselves to go through.”

“No matter what, they are always suffering and suffering worse than you. This makes it impossible to confide in them; they will never see who you are or what you need.”

Not Returning Shopping Carts

Not Returning Shopping Carts
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“Cliche answer, but I find it pretty accurate. It is such a small thing, but it does tell you if a person thinks small things like that matter.”

“This is my favorite armchair measure of a good person. There is absolutely no benefit to you as the trolley returner, but there is a loss to others if you don’t. There’s also no immediate human association like with how you treat a server or retail employee.”

Rudeness To Waitstaff

Rudeness To Waitstaff
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“Waitstaff typically can’t bite back when someone’s being unpleasant. Seeing how someone behaves when there’s almost zero possibility of them being held accountable for said behavior is a pretty good window into their psyche.”

“Or if their situational awareness is severely lacking and they don’t seem to have a problem when other people do it.”

Devices On Loud

Devices On Loud
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“For me, it’s people who listen to loud videos in public. Especially in quiet places.”

“There is a guy that hangs out in my favorite bar. Doesn’t talk, but he sits for hours watching videos on his phone with the volume on. It’s the most obnoxious thing ever. The bartenders finally told him to turn the volume off or stop watching. He was 100% oblivious to the fact that no one else in the place wanted to hear that.”

Greediness

Greediness
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“My ex was insanely selfish. Her dad gave her a 20k-a-month allowance. She had zero need for cash. All bills are paid. I saw her steal 3 dollars from a friend who passed out. She’d steal from Walmart. She had a pile of cash in her bedroom. When I tipped a delivery driver 10 dollars for waiting, she went ballistic.”

“I agree, but she also sounds like she has a pathological problem as well.”

Shamelessness

Shamelessness
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“My workmate put up a sign on the fridge after her drink was taken. A guy asked her why and after she explained, he casually said, “Oh yeah, that’s because someone took mine.” Not only did he admit it, but his justification was that someone did it to him!”

“Someone treated me poorly, so I need to perpetuate that to somehow ‘justify’ it being done to me. If you don’t have the same hardship, then somehow it’s not fair.”

Their Children Owe Them Everything

Their Children Owe Them Everything
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“People who have kids on purpose, and then act like their kids owe them (well above and beyond basic kindness and human respect) for the rest of their lives.”

“It doesn’t help when some religions teach people that they HAVE to bring children into this world. My mother thinks she did me a favor by making me.”

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