NARCISSISTS AND EMPATHS: THE EGO DYNAMIC

There’s a lot of buzz in the media these days about Empaths/Highly Sensitives and Narcissists attracting to one another.  One popular theory is that Narcissists prey on Empaths and Sensitives because of their overly giving nature.  While that is primarily true, there is another reason that goes even deeper, and it has to do with ego.

Narcissists

First, let’s consider the definition of egotistical as it relates to Narcissists in general:

adjective

  1. Excessively conceited or absorbed in oneself; self-centered.
  2. Arrogance, selfishness, greed, a sense of entitlement to whatever one wants.

Too much ego can lead to serious problems with treating people as means to ends: such people (i.e., Narcissists) feel entitled to do whatever it takes to get what he/she wants. This leads to abuses of ends/means reasoning (using other people to fulfill ego’s wants).

It’s no surprise that the criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder (DSM-IV) states that people with the disorder:

  1. have a grandiose sense of self-importance
  2. have a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
  3. are interpersonally exploitative, i.e., taking advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends

Empaths

Empaths do possess an ego to some degree, but don’t operate solelyfrom ego as Narcissists do.  For an Empath, ego is experienced primarily in judging others and feelings of anger/resentment.  These ego-driven emotions are usually incited in the Empath/HSP after witnessing acts of cruelty and hatred, interactions which they consider unfair or one-sided, and similar incidents.

Empaths operate predominately from love, humility, and giving.  They have a natural capacity for healing and teaching others.  However, until they learn how to responsibly use those gifts, they are often taken advantage of…not only by romantic partners, but people in general.

Many Empaths don’t realize what they are, and go through life feeling used and unfulfilled.  The Empath persona encompasses several personality types and traits and can include:

  • INFJ
  • ENFJ
  • Melancholic
  • Introvert
  • Intuitive

(**These are the main types, and listed simply as a matter of reference)

The Magnetic Attraction

The Empath’s soul purpose is to facilitate healing in others.  Unfortunately, they usually ignore their own needs in doing so.  They have a propensity to feel what’s going on outside of them more so than what’s inside.  In general an empath is non-violent, non-aggressive and leans more towards being the peacemaker. Any area filled with disharmony creates distress in an Empath. If they find themselves in the middle of a conflict, they will strive to resolve the situation as quickly as possible, if not avoid it all together. Because of these natural tendencies, the unaware Empath often finds themselves staying in a relationship with a toxic personality for too long.  Further, Empaths often have a track record of developing codependent behaviors in childhood to deal with the overwhelm of unfairness in the world and to please others, which they usually carry into their adult relationships…until a soul crises happens where they are forced into awakening.

Empaths operate from their authentic self, even if they aren’t aware they are an Empath.  Essentially, they associate with the life force, healing, and the urge to create what was not there before, such as when they try to “fix” people or situations, or help others heal and awaken.

Narcissists, on the other hand, don’t have an authentic self.  If they had one as a child, it was stifled by ego as a defense mechanism.  Their ego demands attention to its hurts, traumas and concerns in a way that insists upon separation and control.  This prevents their ability to bond with other people, and explains why their whole concept of reality consists of fulfilling the demands of their ego.  Therefore, they use people without concern for the pain and trauma they cause them.

When the Empath and Narcissist enter into a relationship together, it creates a magnetic, yet vibrationally dysfunctional union because the Empath gives to the point of complete and utter exhaustion.  They will give every last effort to “fix” the Narcissist and the relationship, but it never happens.  The Narcissist cannot assess another’s perspective because their ego won’t allow that, thus there is no motive for the Narcissist to change.  In fact, attempts to “help” the Narcissist and draw attention to their dysfunctional behaviors often make the Narcissist worse because it contradicts the cravings of their ego.

Kim Saeed
Kim Saeed is an internationally respected self-help author and educator specializing in recovery and rebuilding after toxic relationships. She is the founder of Let Me Reach, a life transformation site that teaches people to flourish after narcissistic abuse. She is the author of two Kindle bestsellers, How to Do No Contact Like a Boss! and 10 Essential Survivor Secrets to Liberate Yourself from Narcissistic Abuse. She is also writing an upcoming book, The Way of the Warrior, for Balboa Press, a division of Hay House. ⁣⁣In addition to her own site, Kim also blogs for Psych Central. Her writing has also been featured on Selfgrowth.com, Thought Catalog, The Mind's Journal, MOGUL, and EverythingEHR. She has been a guest expert on several radio shows including Mental Health News Radio, The Overwhelmed Brain, The Inner Revolution, Write of Your Life, and Codependency No More. ⁣⁣In 2016, Kim founded The New Life Academy, which is an online school dedicated to helping survivors of narcissistic abuse to restore and redesign their lives. Kim holds a Bachelor of Arts in Education and has a multidisciplinary background in teaching, organizational development, HR training, and research. Her blog, Let Me Reach with Kim Saeed, has reached 195 countries. Her work has been shared in non-profit women's shelters and has been lauded by therapists and mental health experts. You can find Kim at letmereach.com

50 COMMENTS

  1. I disagree. I feel that I’ve been drawn to narcissists and they to me because we need something from one another. They are seeking healing from deep traumas, and I am seeking to learn to be stronger and truer in my own convictions. Narcissists are described as charismatic people who can influence others easily… By loving someone they can’t influence and manipulate completely, they learn to move around others in healthier ways. By empaths loving narcissists, we learn to be the rock that can endure the endless chasing of life’s waves on our shore. We are drawn together for a cosmic purpose, to moderate each other THROUGH LOVE. I can’t condemn or hate them for their struggle, and I admit it’s difficult to see where they are coming from sometimes, but when you look at the research most people who suffer from NPD were emotionally abused as children. I just try to love the child within, and have learned to strengthen my own boundaries to keep myself safe. Hope this helps those of you who have had unsuccessful experiences with this personality type. <3

  2. narcissists have not enough light of their own..they feed off ours till they get cut off..or change–they are the last to change as the narcissistic thing is built up like a castle moat around the human stuck behind the walls..can’t blast them out until they are ready..to drop the walls, the fakiry and the lies..

  3. I’ve definitely had a spiritual awakening after my recent break up with a narcissist.. it may not have happened had I not crossed his path. very interesting article, thanks for sharing ????

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