real life

"I used to think I was alone in this unusual habit. Then I went online."


As a child, I couldn’t play with any of my stuffed toys without playing with them all. I didn’t want them to feel left out.

Now they sit on the top shelf of my wardrobe – all together – but facing forward and not too squished together, to make sure they’re comfortable.

You see for me, even the most inanimate objects all have feelings.

Whether it’s a discarded soft toy, a pair of shoes I’ve never worn, the last lonely biscuit in a packet or even a single sheet of paper left in the printer, I feel empathy towards them.


Poor lonely cherry bakewell tart. Image: Supplied.

I used to think I was alone in this habit until a chance Facebook encounter.

In her article on Valentine's Day, writer Sali Hughes spoke of her love for her husband "who understands why I can’t throw away a dead pen without a lid to keep it company in the bin."


In the comments, there were even more of us.

"I've found another weirdo

 I wonder if she throws a second bit of pasta down the sink to keep the first bit company if it slips out of the colander?!" wrote Helen.

brittany bare face inline

I am not alone! Image: Supplied.

"If there are any items left when replenishing things, i.e. a few sheets of paper in the printer but it needs more, I'll take them out, put the new paper in, and place the other sheets back on top, because I think they've waited so long to be used, get so close to the top, it's only fair they get their turn," added Matthew.

"I've found my people!!! I crush dropped crisps so there's lots of pieces to keep each other company! And i say sorry to items i change my mind about in the shop before i put them back!" said Rachel.

In further research I found plenty of forum topics and even a dedicated Reddit thread answering and discussing the question that had plagued me for years - Does anyone else feel sympathetic towards inanimate objects?

At least I don't do this... This week on Mamamia Out Loud, Jacqueline Lunn shared the strangest addiction she'd ever heard of with her two co-hosts. Post continues below. 


Even reading some of the stories had me feeling emotional.

However the reason WHY I feel this way wasn't quite so clear cut.

It's a behaviour that many adults (and children) with autism report - feeling sorry for things and getting upset if  an object is seen to be left out, uncared for or simply discarded.

According to some sources, this could be linked to a number of things including personification (a form of Synaesthesia) where a personality or emotion is attributed to an object, OCD or as a result of excess of sensitivity or a projection of feelings that can't be given to a human being devoted to other things.

Other theories range from simply having an overactive imagination to an evolutionary result of times past when most people 'owned' nothing so longed for things around them.

Another raises a point I hadn't even considered - that I am simply projecting my own emotions onto the things around me.

As one contributor on Quora put it, "I’d be so sad to be the last one picked. I’m not feeling for the cupcake. I’m feeling for myself."

With no official "medical diagnosis" or term, for now I'll just comfort myself in that I'm not the only one feeling this way.

Excuse me while I go rescue that last tart.