Why Do Narcissists Cry at Movies?

By Kim Saeed | Narcissism

Mar 28
~ photo by Shutterstock

This is a popular search term with inquiring minds Googling the phrase about 357k times.  It’s also a common search that leads people to my site.  They want to know why the Narcissist cries at movies because it’s so out of character with what they know about their oft-cruel partner.

It goes something like this:

You’re sitting in the theater beside your Narcissist.  At the climax of the story line, two star-crossed lovers become separated when a mudslide rips through the hotel where they’re vacationing in Brazil.  You hear a small whimper and look over to see the Narcissist crying.  He or she might even grab your hand for effect.  You almost expect them to turn to you and say, “Just kidding…fooled ya!”, but their eyes remain glassy with welling tears.  You’re so busy analyzing this unexpected behavior that you find it hard to concentrate on the rest of the movie.  Memories of their abuse become blurry, and you begin to question your perception, believing that perhaps you exaggerated things when they called you a “trashy loser”.  After all, everyone loses their cool sometimes, right?

Before you start repressing painful memories in an effort to give them the benefit of the doubt, it’s important to understand the common reasons for this.

Scenario One – Abuse Amnesia

The Narcissist is running out of tricks to gain clemency for their crimes and they sense the end of the line.  Therefore, they call upon the powers of abuse amnesia, hoping you will be overcome by their obvious display of having a heart.  Besides, if you didn’t forgive them, what kind of person would that make you?  How could you possibly turn a cold shoulder when they are in such apparent emotional pain?

Don’t let this charade fool you.  The Narcissist is appealing to your forgiving nature, where we often forget about our own troubles and try to comfort them instead.  You feel a false bond between the two of you, and you magically forget everything they’ve ever done up to that point.  Until later that night, of course, when they start complaining about paying for the popcorn and how you owe them one.

Scenario Two – Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitively, you know the Narcissist doesn’t have feelings of empathy or compassion, yet deep in your heart you want it to be true.  You still love them, so you hold onto the empty hope that perhaps they are turning a new leaf.  You think, “If they are crying at a sad movie, they must have a heart in there somewhere.”  You ponder that maybe you were too hard on them when you said you’d be leaving after you caught them cheating.  Perhaps you did something to incite their wandering eye.  You DO need to lose eight pounds, after all.  You resolve to go easier on them and sweep their indiscretions under the rug, imagining a fresh start since they finally showed their “emotional” side.

Think about it.  Did they show any emotion when it was possible you might have to undergo an operation that would render you unable to have children?  Did they cry that time you had a cancer scare?  Did they get all weepy when you almost had a miscarriage in your third trimester from the emotional trauma they inflicted upon you?  Probably not.

When it comes to dealing with the Narcissist, you must use your own logic, not theirs.  Have they shown even once that they cared about your feelings?  What did they do the times you cried in front of them?  I doubt it was anywhere near what you considered doing when you witnessed them sobbing at the sight of lost love on the big screen.  I’d venture to guess you were ridiculed and possibly abandoned for a day or two.

Cognitive dissonance is what torments us when we think about leaving the relationship.  We don’t want to accept what we already know to be true.  Cognitive Dissonance is simply the scientific term for Love is Blind which was coined around the 1400s.  In fact, modern-day research has shown that feelings of love inhibit the areas of the brain that control critical thought.  Put that into your toolbox.

~ Sympathy for the Devil – The Rolling Stones

Scenario Three – Faux Empathy and the Mask

Ever notice how the Narcissist only cries at movies (or other intimate settings where people are close together like restaurants and bars)?  Remember the philosophical question, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”  The Narcissist is that tree falling, only this time it’s in the movie theater in front of an audience.  Perhaps they spotted an old coworker two seats over.  Therefore, “Timberrrrrr!” is in order.

~ photo by Jason Bergsieker


Scenario Four – Tears of Fear and Possible Loss

You know how a four-year old cries at the prospect of not getting ice cream because they broke a rule?  In the same way, Narcissists often cry when boundaries are placed on their conduct or when their façade is at risk of exposure.  It just so happens that the movie theater is a great place to express these frustrations under the guise of “caring”.  When analyzed, most N-targets have found that the Narcissist usually gets tearful at movies following an episode where he or she found themselves in danger of being alone, such as when their supply threatens to leave.  Does that fit your situation?

Almost all humans cry.  We cry because we’ve been hurt; because someone we love has been hurt or passed away; we cry when we’re afraid; when we’re depressed.  We cry at happy and sad movies because we are capable of empathy.  The Narcissist, however, only cries as a method of manipulation or when the world as they know it is about to end.  In short, they only cry for themselves.

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