The Toxic Attraction Between An Empath And A Narcissist

The Toxic Attraction Between An Empath And A Narcissist

We know that “narcissist” has become a bit of a buzzword recently, and some folks are quick to apply it to an ex-lover or family member or friend. While awareness of this concept is healthy, so is remembering that it is, in a mental health context, a serious condition that shouldn’t be applied to someone you’re mad at because they stole your mirror. ~ Eds. 

 I am an empath. I discovered I was an empath after I got involved in a very deep and highly destructive relationship with a narcissist.

I am writing this article from the perspective of an empath, however, would love to read the view from the opposite side if there are any narcissists that would like to offer their perception on this.

Through writing about the empath personality type I have connected with many other people who class themselves as an empath and time and again I have heard people tell me how they have also attracted relationships with narcissists. There is a link. So, I decided to explore it further.

This is my theory…

From my own experience and studies on the narcissist personality type, there is always one core trait: A narcissist is wounded.

Something, somewhere along the line, usually stemming from childhood causes a person to feel worthless and unvalued and, due to this, they will constantly and very desperately seek validation.

Here comes the empath, the healer. An empath has the ability to sense and absorb other people’s pain and often takes it on as though it were their own. If an empath is not consciously aware of boundaries and does not understand how to protect themselves, they will very easily and very quickly bond with the narcissist in order to try to fix and repair any damage and attempt to eradicate all their pain.

What the empath fails to realise is that the narcissist is a taker. An energy sucker, a vampire so to speak. They will draw the life and soul out of anyone they come into contact with, given the chance. This is so that they can build up their own reserves and, in doing so, they can use the imbalance to their advantage.

This dynamic will confuse and debilitate an empath, as if they do not have a full understanding of their own or other people’s capabilities, they will fail to see that not everyone is like them. An empath will always put themselves into other people’s shoes and experience the feelings, thoughts and emotions of others, while forgetting that other people may have an agenda very different to their own and that not everyone is sincere.

The narcissist’s agenda is one of manipulation, it is imperative they are in a position whereby they can rise above others and be in control. The empath’s agenda is to love, heal and care. There is no balance and it is extremely unlikely there ever will be one. The more love and care an empath offers, the more powerful and in control a narcissist will become.

The more powerful the narcissist becomes, the more likely the empath will retreat into a victim status. Then, there is a very big change—the empath will take on narcissistic traits as they too become wounded and are constantly triggered by the damage being in the company with a narcissist creates. Before long, an extremely vicious circle has begun to swirl.

When a narcissist sees that an empath is wounded they will play on this and the main intention will be to keep the empath down. The lower down an empath becomes, the higher a narcissist will feel. An empath will begin to frantically seek love, validation, confirmation and acceptance from a narcissist and each cry for help as such will affirm to the narcissist what they are desperate to feel inside—worthy. A bitter battle can ensue.

As an empath focuses solely on their pain, trauma and the destruction of their lives, they become self-obsessed and fail to see where the damage is coming from. Instead of looking outwards and seeing what is causing it, the empath will turn everything inward and blame themselves.

An empath at this stage must realise the situation they are in and wake up to it, as anyone who is deeply in pain and has been hurt can then become a narcissist themselves as they turn their focus onto their own pain and look for others to make them feel okay again.

Any attempt to communicate authentically with the narcissist will be futile as they will certainly not be looking to soothe and heal anyone else. Not only this, they are extremely charismatic and manipulative and have a powerful way of turning everything away from themselves and onto others. A narcissist will blame their own pain on an empath, plus they will also make sure the empath feels responsible for the pain they too are suffering.

An empath will know that they are in a destructive relationship by this stage and will feel so insecure, unloved and unworthy and it can be easy to blame all of their destruction onto the narcissist.

However, an empath should not be looking to blame anyone else. An empath has a choice, to remain the victim, a pawn in the narcissists game or to garner all strength they can muster and find a way out.

Emotionally exhausted, lost, depleted and debilitated an empath will struggle to understand what has happened to the once loving, attentive and charismatic person they were attracted to.

However we allow ourselves to be treated is a result of our own choices. If an empath chooses to stay in a relationship with a narcissist and refuses to take responsibility for the dynamic, they are choosing at some level what they believe they are worth on the inside. An empath cannot let their self-worth be determined by a narcissist. It is imperative they trust and believe in themselves enough to recognise that they are not deserving of the words and actions the narcissist delivers and to look for an escape.

In an empath’s eyes, all they searched and looked for was someone to take care of and love and to ultimately fix.” That is where the trouble began and that is the most profound part of this that an empath must realise.

We are not here to fix anyone. We cannot fix anyone. Everyone is responsible for and capable of fixing themselves, but only if they so choose to.

The more an empath can learn about the personality of a narcissist the sooner they will spot one and the less chance they have of developing a relationship with one. If a relationship is already underway, it is never too late to seek help, seek understanding and knowledge and to dig deep into one’s soul and recognise our own strengths and capabilities and do everything we can to build the courage and confidence to see it for what it is and walk away—for good.

The chance of a narcissist changing is highly unlikely, so we shouldn’t stick around waiting for it to happen. If a narcissist wants to change, then great, but it should never happen at the expense of anyone else. They are not consciously aware of their behaviour and the damage it causes and in their game they will sacrifice anyone and anything for their own gain—regardless of what pretty lies and sweet nothings they try to whisper.

An empath is authentic and is desperate to live true to their soul’s purpose and will very likely find the whole relationship a huge lesson, a dodged bullet and painfully awakening.

A narcissist will struggle to have any connection to their authentic self and will likely walk away from the relationship very easily once they realise they have lost their ability to control the empath. The game is no longer pleasurable if they are not having their ego constantly stroked, so they will seek out their next victim.

The ability for these two types to bond is quite simply impossible. The narcissist’s heart is closed, an empath’s is open—it is nothing short of a recipe for a huge disaster, and not a beautiful one.


AuthorAlex Myles

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Written by Alex Myles

Alex Myles is qualified as a Yoga teacher, Reiki Master, Teacher of Tibetan Meditation, Dragon Magic and a Spiritual coach to name just a few. Alex has no intention to teach others on a formal basis for many years to come, instead, she is collecting qualifications along with life?s lessons. One day, when the time is right, Alex will set up a quaint studio, in a quirky crooked building where she will breathe and appreciate the slowness of those days as life is just way too busy right now! Reading and writing has always been one of Alex?s passions. Alex likes to consider herself as a free spirit rather than a commitment-phobe. Trying to live as aligned to a Buddhist lifestyle as is possible in this day and age, she just does not believe in "owning" anything or anyone. Based on the theory that we ?cannot lose someone that was not ours to lose? she flails through life finding joy and magic in the most unexpected places. Mother to a 21 year old daughter and three adorable pups, she appreciates that some of the best moments in life are the 6am forest walks watching the dogs run, play and interact with one another and with nature.


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  1. I to am an empath and have had several narcissistic relationships and thanks to your article I now realize that your right about not being able to fix anyone. I use to get into relationships so that i could fix people and I have learned this simply isn’t possible. Just wanted to say thank you very much for your insight.

  2. An empath myself, and a counselor, I’ve had to let go of a couple of narcissistic friends. Ian made some good points, above, re: the defining characteristics of a narcissist, and I would tend to agree with his observations, although not having met your narcissist, I will give you the benefit of the doubt. It does seem possible that your initial perception of that person as “loving and attentive” could have been projection on your part and/or he was very good at faking it to get what he wanted; otherwise, NOT a narcissist. Be that as it may –

    With narcissists, the key feature is that EVERYTHING IS ABOUT THEM – always! In good times, they are the star of the show and the life of the party. In bad times, they are the poor defenseless victim desperately in need of your help. And God forbid YOU should ever be a star and/or need help, because how dare you take the spotlight away from them?!

    I had a friend who, in public, was the life of the party and fun to be with at karaoke, laughing, dancing, having a ball. She was always the center of attention (good or bad) and often accused of being “a drama queen.” As her friend, I stood up for her against these accusations. But in private, she would call me all hours of the day or night supposedly seeking my “advice,” including medical, which was my field at the time, about the latest drama affecting her and her family. She and her kids were in the ER so often that I said her family ought to get Frequent Flyer Miles or something. But, although she allegedly wanted my “advice,” she always ignored my recommendations, preferring the advice of high school dropout Billy Bob or whomever she happened to be sucking up to at that moment.

    Another friend, who presented as the sweetest, kindest, gentlest lady you would ever want to meet, came to me for counseling and spiritual help. Her estranged husband was a monster who had abused her physically, mentally, emotionally, sexually in all kinds of horrible ways and nobody believed her. The law had sided with him, saying she was crazy. But for some reason she couldn’t let go of him emotionally. I had never met him and couldn’t verify her story but regardless, worked with her on letting go, getting herself free, healing, and following through on the legal process. I even smudged her condo and banished demons which she was sure he’d left there to curse her. Like my other friend, she called at all hours and stayed on the line for hours, suicidal, when I told her I had to work or sleep.

    Then it happened – I had the worst year of my life. My mom had died and my new stepmom was diagnosed w/ terminal cancer. Meanwhile, the trailer I was living in had roof and floor leaks, black mold, a very lively rat infestation, a flood and a fire. It was the rainiest summer on record for our area and my entire property was underwater, and sinkholes were opening up, one just 20 feet from the trailer. I have a preexisting immune dysfunction and my health deteriorated horribly due to the black mold. Also I lost my job. I posted my experience on Facebook and here’s how my narcissistic “friends” responded:

    Friend A, the Life of the Party, said “Quit whining! All this bad stuff is happening to you because God is punishing you for being such a negative person and not having enough faith!” Friend B, the kind, gentle victim, said, “You have brought this on yourself by being negative. I CHOOSE to be happy! and I LOVE the rain!” I prayed for both of them and let them go.

    That’s the thing about relationships with narcissists: You can be there for that person for years, through thick and thin, but when your life takes a turn for the worse and now YOU need support – forget it! Not only will they NOT help you, they will stab you in the back for having the audacity to have any drama in YOUR life that may detract from all the attention being on them.

  3. To the author:

    You have some value to what you have to say about relationships and it’s inner workings but you obviously don’t have a clue what a narcissist is….

    “Emotionally exhausted, lost, depleted and debilitated an empath will struggle to understand what has happened to the once loving, attentive and charismatic person they were attracted to.”

    Loving, attentive and charismatic is not and are never qualities of a narcissist. They are not wounded! They are generally very pig headed and rarely act the victim. They go blindly into life with little to no true care for others. They play life like a game and all the “love” they give is really only to benefit themselves in some way.

    If an empath goes into a relationship with a narcissist. It tends to be seen more as; the empath struggling to get the narcissist’s attention, while the narcissist blindly goes on in life never really being able to understand why the empath feels so clingy.

    I think the type of people you are talking about are empaths just like yourself. But as you said they were hurt in some way and they have stopped reaching out and feeling the emotions of the people around them. People who are looking to fill a void are not shallow! They are running on instinct and anxiety lots and lots of anxiety or depression. It may be so bad that they destroy everyone and everything around them but THEY ARE NOT A F***KING NARCISSIST!! If you were one of these people you would know there was a time before everything went so sour. You would know what the need to take from people in the way you are talking about is because you feel way too much empathy and feelings that you just shut down your inner core until you feel as hollow as whatever destroyed your happiness in the first place.

    I’d really like to hear a reply

  4. So you’re saying that empath could blame everyone who is not as sensitive as him to be a narcissist or sociopath?Because just maybe you’re overreacting and let’s blame everyone who doesn’t answer to your love the way you want to be a bad person…that’s stupid!

    • Martina – you might be a narcissist if . . .
      1) you think someone is overreacting to manipulative behavior
      2) you are projecting your bad behavior onto someone else, as if they are the problem
      3) call the other person names and insist they are wrong in calling out your bad behavior

      I can clearly see why you think this is “stupid”.

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