How Hijackals Confuse You Through Cognitive Empathy

Yet, it feels real, and you SO want it to be real. There’s where the manipulation and confusion sets in. In this episode, I let you in on the secret that, much as you want it to be real, it isn’t. (Did I mention that?) You need to see that clearly to keep from being hurt further!


  • What cognitive empathy is
  • How cognitive empathy is different from emotional empathy
  • Why cognitive empathy is unsatisfying…and unsettling when you actually see it for what it is
  • How Hijackals use cognitive empathy to make you feel safer for a bit and why they do it
  • Why it’s important to recognize the differences between cognitive empathy and the emotional empathy you are wanting but won’t arrive


Empathy is defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary this way:

the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.”

Wow! That would be great, however, that’s not what you get when you’re in a relationship with a Hijackal–a narcissistic, anti-social, or borderline personality. They are emotional empathy deficient but usually rely on cognitive empathy. That’s a darker kind of empathy that is constructed in the mind, but doesn’t much touch the heart.

Hijackals use cognitive empathy as a tool to love-bomb you, to encourage you to be vulnerable with them. Then, what do they do with those vulnerabilities? They turn them on you later like stored ammunition, or they use the information to benefit themselves in other ways. Nasty!

Are you being used and confused by a Hijackal demonstrating cognitive empathy? I’m here to help.

Let’s talk soon.

stay updated

Get every episode of Save Your Sanity by email, when it’s published.

Join like-minded folks who know what you're going through.

No matter where you are on the journey – from recognizing to recovering from a toxic relationship – we have a safe place for you to learn, ask and share.

Live Zoom group calls, online discussions, ebooks, videos and more. Just $47/m. Start anytime. Cancel anytime.