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19 traits of a cold person (and 6 effective ways to deal with them)

Whether it’s someone at work, an old friend, or even your romantic partner, a cold person is never easy to deal with.

Even the “best” cold-hearted person can be a major headache, and learning how to live with them is something you have to do if you don’t want to cut them out of your life.

But how can you be sure that a difficult person you’re dealing with is really “cold”?

In this article I’ll discuss the 19 most telling traits of a cold person, helping you understand life from their point of view, and what exactly makes them so cold.

1) They Don’t Ask About You

One of the first things you’ll notice about a cold person is that they don’t really seem interested in you.

Everything they know about you is made up of stuff you told them willingly, without any of the usual social promptings.

When you stop talking about yourself, they stop knowing more about who you are.

It doesn’t matter if you’re just an acquaintance, a childhood friend, or their romantic partner — they won’t ask you about you.

They won’t ask about your day, your work, or even your sickly mother in the hospital.

And it’s not always because they don’t care; even if they do care, it might just be because the thought to ask you about your day never crossed their mind.

Cold people don’t have the same naturally instinctive social cues that other people do, and every socially-positive action they do is something that needs to be forced.

2) They Don’t Have Any Good Relationships

A good way to tell if a person is cold-hearted is to look at their past and see their track record when it comes to previous relationships, whether with friends, family, or ex-partners.

For many of us, relationships come naturally, but that doesn’t mean they’re always easy.

Relationships take work, and that’s often work that cold people don’t want to do.

We all understand the value and importance of having good relationships in our lives, and so we understand why we need to put effort into maintaining these relationships and keeping them alive.

When it comes to cold-hearted people, relationships that start to take too much effort to maintain get dropped, no matter how strong that bond may have been.

Obvious signs of this are when a person doesn’t seem to have any old friends, or they describe all their ex-partners as crazy or psycho.

3) Sex Never Feels Like Anything More Than Sex

Being in a relationship with a cold person is never easy.

Even if they sincerely love you (and you know they do), they won’t show the usual cues that we associate with love, and one major cue is through sex.

When you sleep with someone you love and who loves you back, it’s more than just the physical act of sex.

It’s emotional and thoughtful at the deepest level of connection.

It’s the pure difference between having sex and making love, and it’s a kind of moment you can only feel with someone you really feel bonded with.

But sex with a cold person will very rarely ever feel more than physical activity, no matter how great or wild that sex may be.

It will always feel like there’s something missing, whether because of something they do (or don’t do) or just the way it feels.

Maybe they don’t like cuddling and giggling with you afterwards, or maybe their actions just seem so routine.

4) They Like To Be In Control

Interacting with people usually means keeping everyone happy; no one wakes up in the morning thinking to themselves, “I want to make everyone around me miserable!”

And when we find ourselves in situations where we have to be in charge of other people, that can be stressful or challenging, because we’re always asking ourselves things like, “Is everyone okay with what we’re doing?” or “Is everyone happy right now?”

But cold people don’t have that issue.

They thrive when they’re in total control of situations because they don’t think of the wants, needs, and emotions of those around them.

They see other people as tools and nothing more, allowing them to be the kind of ruthless leader that gets things done, no matter the cost.

This can lead to efficient and effective organizations or relationships, filled with people who feel that they’ve sacrificed their happiness and emotional stability for a single person.

5) They Don’t Know How To Empathize With Others

Think about the last time you cried during a movie. Or the last time a book or a song made you hold your breath, just because of how much it emotionally moved you.

We come with this innate ability to feel for those around us, even if it’s just a fictional story or a piece of music.

This is known as empathy, or the act of putting ourselves in the shoes of another person to feel their pain and understand them.

Cold people have varying levels when it comes to their lack of empathy, with some having slightly less empathy than everyone else, and others having absolutely no empathy at all.

And this can be a frightening thing; empathy keeps us grounded, keeps us connected to one another with invisible lines we won’t cross because we don’t want to hurt those around us.

But without the ability to feel the pain of other people, it can be easier to inflict that pain because we simply don’t care about it.

6) They Are Manipulative and Destructive

We all have impulses that we ignore because acting out on them would mean we have to face the consequences of what we’ve done.

Sometimes we just want to shout at a friend or family member who did something wrong to us; other times we wish we could just end a relationship right then and there without worrying about the social aftershocks.

For cold people, weighing the consequences of immoral actions isn’t so much of an issue.

As they don’t see the value in other people (and their relationships with other people), they don’t see the problem with hurting or manipulating those around them.

This can lead to instances where they may try to recruit you to do immoral things, trying to convince you it’s not a big deal.

This also leads to situations where they often ruin relationships, sacrificing long-term relationships and bonds for short-term gains.

Because why should they try to protect the sanctity of their bonds when they don’t care about them in the first place?

7) They Are Independent

While there are several downsides to being a naturally cold-hearted person, it doesn’t always make a person bad.

One positive trait of being cold is natural independence that most other people may not have.

Whereas other children grow up relying on the friendships they build with those around them, cold people grow up learning how to keep themselves happy and satisfied.

They find an individual strength within them, because they spend their time learning how to navigate the world and all its challenges without asking others for help.

This gives them a sense of independence and natural competence, allowing them to survive and even thrive without the usual social bonds that other people need.

This can make it difficult to be in a relationship with them, because you as a partner will forever be wondering: how can I make them need me?

The truth is simply, they don’t need you, and the relationship needs to be built on something more than just basic need.

8) They Don’t Trust Others

It’s natural for a cold person to end up having an inherent distrust for other people.

They see the worst in those around them, believing that other people are as naturally un-empathetic and self-centered as they may be, and they find it difficult imagining people who don’t think the way they do.

This is one of the reasons that cold people don’t have many close friendships or romantic relationships, because it takes a lot of patience to get through their cold, tough exterior.

And it works as a snowball effect — the less human interaction they experience, the more difficult it becomes to trust people, which leads to even less human interaction.

This is why cold people need to actively work towards bonding with others, while for other people this may be a natural thing.

9) They Think Other People Are Just Sensitive

We all see the world differently.

We have different standards, different moral codes, different lines that we choose to cross or not cross.

As cold people lack the empathy that comes naturally to most people, they don’t have the same level of sensitivity towards the needs and feelings of those around them.

They can’t feel the pain and problems of other people, so instead of trying to imagine what other people may be feeling, they instead try to imagine what they would be feeling if they were experiencing the same things.

And if they don’t think it’s a problem, then they won’t understand why it’s a problem for anyone else.

This leads to cold people thinking that everyone else has just become a sensitive baby.

They don’t understand how to process emotions and sensibilities that aren’t natural to them, and coupled with their inherent distrust for those around them, they think other people are just overreacting or being overly sensitive when they say that they’re hurt or in pain.

10) They Never Apologize

Cold-hearted people rarely apologize for anything.

Whether they hurt your feelings or committed a faux pas, there’s just no hearing “I’m sorry” or “My bad” from their mouths.

Their aversion to apologies isn’t always premeditated: sometimes cold-hearted people don’t understand how and when they’ve hurt others.

With their inability to connect with other people, it’s quite difficult for them to perceive how they could be offending or hurting those around them.

Most times, you have to tell them they’re doing something wrong before they realize it themselves.

On the other hand, some cold people simply don’t care.

Even after they’ve been called out for doing something insensitive, they’ll continue to trudge on and pretend it never happened in the first place.

The complete lack of empathy and lofty ego are perfect combinations for a cold, unapologetic person.

11) They Prefer to Talk Through Text or Email Than Talking In Person Or On The Phone

Emotionally distant people will do everything in their power to avoid any sort of intimacy, even if it’s as small as talking in person.

They’ll avoid situations where they have to be emotionally vulnerable in even the slightest sense.

Texts and emails are definitely more withdrawn modes of communication and don’t require as much effort as getting on a call or meeting someone in person.

If you have a cold friend, you’ll notice they constantly reschedule face-to-face interactions and prefer to talk on chat.

Even going on a call is out of the question for them.

Just the idea of spending time with someone, being put on the spot, and being more “open” is enough to send them running for the hills.

And it’s not a personal thing either: they just prefer having their physical and mental bubble to themselves.

12) They’re Selfish and Self-Centered

Cold hearted individuals don’t have an easy time talking to other people, much less seeing life from someone else’s shoes.

This translates into a more self-centered predisposition towards relationships.

Talking to them is difficult because they always tend to fall back to “me, me, me”. They are neither curious nor interested in the slightest bit in other people.

Sometimes this translates into more aggressive behavior. Self-centered people can easily become selfish and competitive, which may coincidentally drive an antagonistic response.

At the very core of their personality, cold-hearted people simply don’t care about things outside their bubble, which causes them to refer more to how they feel VS how others may be feeling.

13) They Don’t Like Being Comforted

It’s easy to mistake their independence for arrogance when in reality, most cold people just prefer not to share their feelings.

And it’s not because they don’t trust their friends and family; they just prefer keeping things to themselves.

It can be frustrating to try and connect with a cold person because they don’t even want to let you in. You obviously know when they’re sad, anxious, or tired, but they never seem to ask for any help.

Every single time you reach out, they just end up acting more aloof around you.

It’s not really personal. Cold people have an extreme sense of independence.

They prefer not to worry others over their problems and would rather spend their time alone looking for solutions.

The best way to comfort a cold person is to let them know you’re open to chat wherever they want. They’ll probably never take you up on the offer but it’s the thought that counts.

14) They Hate Having To Explain How They Feel

Sometimes their aloof, uncaring, and potentially selfish personality puts them in awkward situations where they have to explain their intentions to prove that they’re not so bad after all.

Opening up, being vulnerable, and talking about emotions is not really an area where cold people shine.

Most would rather hide their emotions in a chest, to be buried in a deep, dark cave, never to be retrieved again.

People who grew up emotionally distant can sometimes feel like talking about emotions is pointless.

They’d much rather find solutions to problems and look at situations objectively. You’re just wasting your time coaxing them out because they’re hell-bent on keeping that door shut.

They spare no time thinking about how circumstances affect them; they want to get straight to the solution, at whatever cost.

Explaining their thoughts to other people ends up feeling like an incredible burden because emotions are pretty straightforward in their heads.

Talking about emotions often feels like a social burden more than a necessity. As a result, they may come across a little uncooperative.

15) They Don’t Care What Other People Think About Them

There’s both a good side and bad side to being indifferent towards what other people think about you. O

n the upside, this lends cold people a kind of confidence others don’t usually have.

This is because they’re not constantly looking over their shoulders wondering what everyone else is thinking, allowing them to potentially achieve more in life and focus on things they want to do.

Cold people are certainly not people-pleasers; they’re more interested in getting their way and serving their needs.

On the other hand, this could also lead to some psychotic tendencies. Emotionally distant individuals with a lack of empathy tend to be callous, rude, and arrogant.

The worst part is they may not even know it or own up to it because of how little they care.

They live in their own bubble and are convinced that all they need in the world is themselves and no one else.

16) They Have A Lot Of Secrets

Do you ever get the feeling that you just don’t know a person as much as they know about you?

Cold people could either be very open about themselves and egocentric or be absolutely mysterious about who they are.

You can be good friends with a cold person and spend years never really knowing anything personal about them.

Even as you try to chip off that icy exterior, you just end up with more and more layers to work on.

You bait them with stories and attempts to get closer but you really end up revealing more about yourself more than they do.

17) They Don’t Care About Your Time

You’re always showing up “early” and constantly making up excuses on their behalf. They don’t seem to have any problems making you wait 30 minutes for a “quick lunch”.

Being emotionally distant can manifest in other social situations.

As we mentioned, being cold can generally extend to having little to no empathy.

This makes it difficult for emotionally unavailable people to see how their actions might be affecting others, including tardiness, for example.

The result?

You’re constantly waiting on them and feeling bad about yourself, all the while they may not have the slightest idea of what they’re doing.

18) They Feel Distant

Cold people just feel… distant, both physically and emotionally. They give off the “there but not really there” vibe.

You could be talking about something completely important and you’ll notice them drift away during the conversation.

Even if they were paying attention, you can see in their eyes that they’re not really connecting with what you’re saying.

Connecting with the emotionally unavailable can feel helpless sometimes because they have a tendency to revert into their bubble rather than poke their heads out of it.

The more you coax them, the more they just retreat into the safe space they’ve created for themselves.

It’s not easy dating one either.

Even though you have intimate moments, you just feel like there’s a big chunk of this person you’ll just never unlock. You’ll never truly feel connected.

Sometimes it feels like you’re talking to a persona than an actual person.

19) They Don’t Want To Have A Family

At the end of the day, people who are emotionally unavailable just want to be alone. They can have friends and family but they would always choose solitude at the end of the day.

As such, you’ll rarely find cold people dreaming of having a family and raising kids.

Those two things require vulnerability and emotional commitment — two things most cold people aren’t willing to sacrifice.

To them, having lifelong companions may feel more like a societal pressure than something they innately want and long for.

How to deal with a cold person: 4 quick-fire tips

So now you’ve established that you’re dealing with a cold person, the question is:

How can you learn to deal with them effectively?

It’s not exactly easy to answer. After all, to deal with them you’re going to have to communicate with them.

And communicating with a cold person is never fun (at least in the initial stages).

So here are some quickfire tips to help you communicate with a cold person:

1) Understand the person

First, it’s important to realize that many cold and distant people act that way because of the way they were brought up.

For example, they may have been pushed away by their parents when they were younger, and the hurt from that experience causes them to protect themselves emotionally.

More often than not, it takes a long life of suffering, pain, and just plain unluckiness to turn into a cold person.

Perhaps they were recently cheated on when they thought they were just getting serious in their relationship.

Whatever, or whoever it is, they’re only acting cold because they’re trying to protect themselves.

After all, they don’t want to meet another asshole who takes advantage of them and treats them like sh*t.

2) Give it time

When it comes to an emotionally cold person, the worst thing you can do is get in their face and demand that they talk to you.

The truth is:

A cold person is cold because they don’t trust others. If you pester them and speak to them when they don’t want to be spoken to, then they’re going to become even colder.

I’ve seen this play out time and time again.

Demanding that they pay attention to you simply means they won’t respect you and they’ll find you annoying.

Instead, you’ll need to take a slower approach.

What does this mean?

It means that building trust and rapport with a cold person takes time.

If you’re dealing with a cold co-worker, start by having 30-second conversations (one question) then a week later move up to one minute (2 questions), and so on.

Eventually, they’ll begin to trust you, and once they trust you, they’ll begin to open up to you.

3) Be yourself

If you try to act like someone else to impress the cold person that you’re dealing with, then it’s only going to make the situation worse.

You might think that you’re behaving in a way that they’ll respond to, but if you’re behaving in an inauthentic manner, then alarm bells will start ringing in the cold person’s mind.

After all, one of the main reasons people act cold is to avoid getting close to manipulators and people who will take them for granted.

If you’re behaving inauthentically, then you’re behaving exactly like a person that they’re trying to avoid.

So relax, be yourself.

The more you be your true self around them, the more likely they’ll be able to relax and eventually trust you enough to open up to you.

4) Most of all, avoid being pushy

When it comes to an emotionally cold person, the chances are that the more you push the colder they will become.

Pushing them to share their feelings, or to open up about their life, will cause them to back away and trust you less.

A cold person is acting cold for a reason. And that reason usually comes down to trust.

Do you really think they will suddenly trust you if you start acting pushy?

You need to address the trust issue first.

Build rapport. Get to know them. And most importantly, don’t judge them. Just let them be themselves and embrace them for who they are.

Then you can start asking questions once they feel more comfortable.

If you find that the cold person you’re dealing with simply won’t open up to you no matter how much you try, then you’re going to have to search for other answers.

Think about ways you can build rapport.

What interests do they have?

Get them talking about something they’re passionate about. Once they open up in a small way, you can move to more sensitive topics as time goes on.

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Lachlan Brown

Written by Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 6 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.

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