24. They Don’t Empathize
Empathy, or the ability to put yourself into someone else’s shoes, is an essential human social skill that allows us to understand or at least commiserate with someone else’s position or feelings. People who show no empathy are often characterized as sociopaths. While that is a rather extreme overreaction, people who choose not to empathize are toxic and likely to end up hurting your feelings intentionally or at least accidentally. If you find yourself explaining to someone why they should care about another person, that is a massive red flag warning of future toxic behavior.
Some forms of neurodivergence, like autism, can make empathy harder to understand and practice, but that is drastically different from refusing to empathize or refusing to try. If you meet someone who struggles to understand others’ emotions due to neurodivergence, that is not toxic and something you can help with. However, if someone adamantly refuses to consider another person’s perspective or dismisses calls for empathy outright, that is concerning. The heart is often a quality that will lead us to change our views on an issue, be it political or personal, as we consider someone else’s reality. A lack of willingness to do that consideration can be very toxic.