A Narcissist & an Empath Walk Into a Bar: Understanding the Dynamic of Abuse.

The Elephant Ecosystem

Every time you read, share, comment or heart you help an article improve its Rating—which helps Readers see important issues & writers win $$$ from Elephant. Learn more.

Views 10
Shares 10
Hearts 1.0
Comments 3.1
Editor's Pick 0.0
Total Ecosystem Rating 0.0
8 Do you love this article? Show the author your support by hearting.

Christian C/Flickr

When I met him, I was blown away.

He was a Yale graduate, confident about himself and his ideas, and certain that he was meant to “rule the world”—and that he intended to do it with me.

Up until then, every man I’d dated had been immature, needy, uninspired and uninspiring. This new guy’s intelligence and charisma, and his open admiration for me, felt like coming home.

Unfortunately, all of the qualities I found so compelling were also the classic traits of a narcissist.

Symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

In order for a person to be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) they must meet five or more of the following  symptoms:

  • Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
  • Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
  • Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
  • Requires excessive admiration
  • Has a very strong sense of entitlement, e.g., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
  • Is exploitative of others, e.g., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
  • Lacks empathy, e.g., is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
  • Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
  • Regularly shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

By the time the “honeymoon phase” ended—a heart breakingly brief span of a few months—I was convinced he was my one true love and I would do anything to serve the relationship.

Little did I know, “anything” would include giving him all my money, agreeing to let him have sex with other women, spending what little money we did have on drugs to the point that we were evicted from two apartments and became homeless for over a year, allowing myself to be coerced into becoming a dancer, and then giving him all of that money as well, while he endlessly berated me, shamed me, and blamed me for the pile of sh*t that was our life together.

Now, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, I am not a stupid woman. What on earth could have compelled me to remain in such a situation? I have spent many sleepless nights asking myself that very question.

This was a textbook abusive relationship, but I had no idea what that meant. Even now, after years of study and research, the dynamic—the fact that is plays out so frequently among so many different types of people and with such exactitude—mystifies me.

But I think I finally figured out an important piece.

It is not just the narcissist that drives the paradigm, but the person he carefully selects to assist him. I’m willing to bet in more cases than not, perhaps in every single case, that person must be some degree of empath.

 “An empath is defined as someone with “the ability to read and understand people and be in-tune with or resonate with others, voluntarily or involuntarily of one’s empath capacity.” 

Unlike narcissism, empathy is not considered a pathology, but it certainly is a game changer.

Being a true empath is a complicated gift. Because of the empath’s ability to actually feel the feelings of others, they have a bottomless well of sympathy for everybody’s outlook and opinion—even if those outlooks or opinions are the polar opposite of the empath’s.

This puts “untrained empaths” (people, like the young me, who haven’t developed as strong enough sense of self to have a baseline standard for “good” and “bad” behavior) in a precarious position. They are able to endlessly justify the needs of those they care for, and see it as their duty to do so because no one else is capable of understanding them.

It falls to the empath, then, to both protect and bolster those close to them, even at the expense of their own needs and feelings. Not to do so feels like failure, and the resulting pain that those we care for experience is almost unbearable. In other words, we protect others to protect ourselves.

Combine an empath’s need to protect with a narcissist’s need to be lord and master, and you’ve got a self perpetuating cycle of disaster. Once established, it is almost impossible for an empath to break away, because doing so will cause the narcissist so much pain. The empath prefers to absorb the pain themselves, believing that they, and they alone, have the power to “fix” the narcissist. (Which is, ironically, narcissistic itself.)

So how can empaths protect themselves from being exploited?

Here are some simple suggestions:

1. Remember, we can’t “fix” others.

People will go through tough times and experience painful emotions no matter what we do. We must learn to accept this and allow it without always actively intervening.

2. When we feel ourselves getting “sucked in” to someone else’s drama, we can learn to turn inward.

We can ask ourselves, how do I feel about this? Do I feel that this other person is draining too much of my energy, or is acting in a way that is not philosophically in line with my beliefs (i.e.; unethically)?

If so, take a step back. Observe rather than engage.

3. Spend time quietly alone.

When empaths become overloaded by other people’s emotions, they begin to lose their sense of self. Spending time alone in meditation or reflection can help us hear own own voice without the influences of others.

4. Understand that not everybody is empathic.

This was one of the hardest things for me to realize—I assumed empathy was a standard part of every human being. Once I discovered that is not the case, I could steer clear of those who are unable to feel empathy, knowing that they would likely end up taking advantage of me.

If you, like me, are a card carrying empath, you’ve likely found it is both your greatest blessing and your greatest curse. But just because our innate nature can make us vulnerable to those who don’t necessarily have our best interests at heart, so it can allow us to develop a depth of connection to other caring souls that is unparalleled.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.



Relephant Reads:

6 Relationship Tips for Empaths.

Identifying Emotional Abuse before it Happens.

Bonus: Elephant’s founder Waylon Lewis on introverts, extroverts and empaths:


Relephant Watch: The One Buddhist Red Flag to Look out for:


Author: Erica Leibrandt

Editor: Emily Bartran

Photo: Christian C/Flickr

The Elephant Ecosystem

Every time you read, share, comment or heart you help an article improve its Rating—which helps Readers see important issues & writers win $$$ from Elephant. Learn more.

Views 10
Shares 10
Hearts 1.0
Comments 3.1
Editor's Pick 0.0
Total Ecosystem Rating 0.0
8 Do you love this article? Show the author your support by hearting.

Read The Best Articles of January
You voted with your hearts, comments, views, and shares.

Erica Leibrandt

Erica Leibrandt is a licensed mental health clinician, certified yoga instructor, and mother to six heathens who masquerade as innocent children. If she occasionally finds herself with a fried egg on her plate or dancing until dawn, she asks that you not judge her. Life is short, she knows the chicken that laid the egg, and we can never dance too much. Connect with Erica on Facebook and Twitter. And visit her website.

You must be logged in to post a comment. Create an account.

anonymous Mar 24, 2016 6:47am

Is there any cure for Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

I am with the one for years but I do not think telling him ‘you are with this disorder. Do something about it.’ won’t do anything. Because the disorder works for him conveniently. It just is a problem for people around him. In the end, he will get back to his own shoes and get whatever he deserves but there should be something for him to see himself. I hope I can stop breaking every single bone for him and pretending that I believe his lies and love him blindly. War of bullshit here.

anonymous Mar 12, 2016 12:50am

I am an empath in the truest sense of the word. I feel other people’s emotions and physical ailments as if they were my own. I’ve had relationships with 2 narcissists, both which were highly destructive (could it go any other way?). I disagreed with your article, specifically the part about how the empath thinks they are the only one who can understand and “fix” the narcissist. While that desire to fix and save was definitely present in my heart with those men, I never thought that I was the only one who could be that person for them. I always felt like I needed the connection I felt with them more than they needed it with me. They were both very good at being rejecting, accusatory, twisting my words, and shutting me out. I spent most of my time in those relationships utterly confused about what I had done wrong and how I could fix ME and the relationship. The saving/fixing part with regards to the narcissist is usually only present at the very beginning of the relationship. That’s how they hook us in…by acting vulnerable and playing the victim. We think they value us and admire us so the empath part of us goes to work trying to help them and make their lives better. But the rest of the relationship consists of them pulling the wool over our eyes with their accusations and lies.

anonymous Dec 31, 2015 9:48am

I always thought I was just an HSP and empathetic. (I was raised by a narcissist.) But then one day I ended up in a classroom far from home. It was a blissful setting but I could not stop crying sporadically. I would be just fine one moment, then I would mysteriously start crying like a wave of devastation overcame me. The class was a week long so I had time to work with it. I realized that this would happen when I was around one particular woman. I denied this link. I doubted. I still cried around her uncontrollably. I never spoke to her; I couldn't. Most of the time she was behind me and I would start to cry without consciously knowing she was there (of course I was avoiding proximity to her). Turns out she was in the class to help her recovery process because her college aged daughter was just killed in a car crash 3 weeks before. When I found that out I realized I had my proof, as I had not suffered a similar loss (at least not in this life). I hope this provides an example to doubters and skeptics who have not found their own proof.

anonymous Jul 24, 2015 11:57am

PS. I am an empath and am incredibly sensitive to others feelings. However, other empaths must recognize that although they have a natural tendency to be submissive and attempt to do anything to avoid conflict, you must be aware of individuals with personality disorders because they will suck you dry. That is why I disagree that the dynamic of the relationship is 50/50. The empath looks for reciprocity and certainly doesn’t shy away from being given affection. I believe that the narcissist wears down on the empath so that they are unable to escape the situation. This forces them to continually be the blame of any wrongdoing and almost begin to accept that it is them who is doing something wrong. They then go each day trying to avoid conflict with the narcissist by doing anything to please this person, just hoping that they will one day be satisfied. However, this day will never come. I’m disappointed at those who blame empaths for contributing to the dynamics of the abusive relationship with a narcissist. There is a clear difference between someone who genuinely cares and looks after their partner’s needs versus someone who is dependent on the physical/emotional needs of their partner. Empaths want to give not because they need to in order to feel right, but because they are able to recognize when someone needs help. They are not dependent on this as many of you pointed out, it’s simply the “goodness” of a human being trying to do right in a relationship and often times do hope that their partner is able to recognize and reciprocate these same actions/feelings. I believe that many of you are confusing empaths with someone who has dependent personality disorder. When a person with this pathology is joined with a narcissist/anti-social, I believe it then becomes a 50/50 contribution each way

anonymous Jul 24, 2015 9:09am

Of course the “recovering” narcisist must pick out one detail about the given example and then make it about himself. The fact that the only thing you gathered from that story is that it chose a male narcisist and female empath to illustrate the point indicates you are still in that mindset and have not yet begun “recovering.” Just look, you took an irrelevant point to make this about yourself, and even more, making yourself out to be the victim. It’s an article that’s not “targeting” you or trying to make you feel shameful, but a narcisist would perceive it that way. All in the mean time you are able to put down females and insinuate that they (or any empaths) are just as responsible for the radical behavior of a narcisist. I encourage you to continue to “recover” but unfortunately personality disorders can only be maintained and empathy cannot be taught. One thing you can do is become more mindful. Recognize when you are “scheming” and trying to take advantage of another. Recognize how your actions affect other people by being genuine. Recognize that it is okay to disagree with another and to not let your own immediate emotions make you feel the need to be defensive/berating. Recognize that this world is not yours to give, but yours to share. You’ll become a much happier person when you don’t have to manipulate, blame, or guilt people into “getting ahead or “being right.” When you reciprocate respect and empathy, you’ll begin to find that most people are willing to help you get ahead and you’ll be able to sustain an established friendship/relationship. If you continue to have a life of constant chaos from never finding fault within and never being able to say “I’m sorry,” you will find yourself a lonely old man with a trail of ash from the burnt bridges…

anonymous Jul 22, 2015 10:53pm

Oh, how could I forget that he head butted me once too in a rage and bruised my head. He also recklessly drove us off the road once when he was angry with me and then pummeled the dash board of my car, breaking it. He then got out of the car and punched my door leaving a big dent. There is more, but I will stop.

    anonymous Aug 24, 2015 9:17am

    I KNOW it is hard and you love him and you're ever hopeful of him changing. I KNOW you think with your love and the help he needs he will conquer it. I KNOW that the times when he isn't angry and breaking stuff it is amazing and you cling to it for dear life as its all you wanted. I KNOW you're scared of him but think deep down he will never hurt you. I KNOW all this because I was there. Right there. Until 6 weeks ago when I got rid. And that's what you have to do!

    Believe me, it will be hard, you'll think you'll never meet anyone quite like him again, you'll grieve for what was and what could have been, you'll miss his hand in yours/the hugs/the sex/the affection/the dreams/the laughs…you will. And then the guilt will set in.."If only I had done/said/tried/not said". But one thing I have learned from all of this and I KNOW this must be true for you too – I did not value/love myelf enough to have put up with all that shit! You gotta look within. You gotta help YOU. You simply cannot help him, only he can do that. And as much as he promises he will get help and change, he won't. Why? Becasue he doesn't need to! You put up with it.

    I do hope for his sake and my ex that they do get help and "recover", truly I do. But you have to do what is best for you and your self-worth. Being in an abusive relationship is debilitating. It starts to become your "normal". That's just how life is.

    You can't keep making excuses for him. You can't keep subjecting yourself to this torment and living a life whereby you walk on eggshells. You're not living. You're not loving yourself. And one day when it does end drastically (and it will- one way or another), you'll wish you had all this time back so you could do things differently, so you could live a full and happy life with someone that lifts you up, raises your vibration and supports you in becoming the best version of you. Like my Dad said "there are 7billion people in this world, roughly half of them are men. Why would you want to stay with a man that causes you so much pain and fear when you could be with another that loves and cherishes you. One that doesn't need "fixing"?).

    I'm still healing and dealing, still going over it all in my head with the "what if's" and "shoulda, coulda, woulda's" but I'm catching myself each time and replacing the thoughts with what I DO want to attract. You can do it, you just gotta love yourself enough to want to. Let him see you won't stand for it. Demand the respect you deserve, your fututre self will thank you for it when you can step back from the tree and see the woods. I do look forward to the day where I look back and say "what the hell was I thinking?" I'm just glad I got out now and not wasted another 2/5/20/30 years of my life trying to "fix" him. It was never gonna happen!

    Don't be that broken woman. Stop delaying the inevitable. Do what's right for you and please, start loving yourself.

anonymous Jul 22, 2015 10:11pm

Can anyone offer any thoughts on temper issues. My boyfriend tends to have a temper that can really fly off the handle. I have tried to be understanding and loving about it from the beginning. For instance when his bike broke on a trail he hurled it down the trail whilst yelling obscenities. My response was to give him a hug even in his rage and it calmed him down, but eventually you cannot always do that in every situation and it would be nice if he regulated himself some. When we had an argument early on in our relationship and I was sitting on the passenger side of his car he got out and slammed the door so hard that the glass shattered in my face. He once rammed into a car next to us out of road rage and has crashed a few cars due to road rage. If a guy messes with him in anyway, he will confront them and sometimes beat them up or yell obscenities or chase them down in his car. At work he hurls tools and yells when car projects frustrate him. He regularly breaks my stuff if he is mad at me and early on when another guy approached me to dance, he ran outside and broke stuff. I am thinking of this because today he actually broke his hand today since he got so mad at his work that he punched an engine. All of our apartments have had holes in the walls from him punching them. Sometimes he has ripped the whole wall down. He gets impatient so easily. I care for him and do love him, but, man, he is stressful to be around often. Any thoughts? Also, this does make me feel emotionally distant at times and uneasy around him.

anonymous Jul 22, 2015 1:38pm

This person is confusing being empathic with having low self-esteem and no personal boundaries. A true empath will be able to sense the negativity and narcissistic tendencies in a person and intuitively know that the person is not a good influence. When you have no sense of your own worth or identity, you tend to take other people's energy/emotional resources to fill in your own void. This can feel like you are feeling other people's emotions and feelings because you literally are absorbing their energy. You might not be aware of this, but you're in a sense draining those around you by taking from them. This is not very different from how Narcissists take from people around them to validate their ego. This is why you are both attract each other; you vibrate on the same level. I'm not saying that you can't be an empath when you're in these kind of relationships. However, I suggest that you don't focus on labeling yourself as an empath as it can be a way for your ego to feel "special" and therefore a reason revel in victimhood. Try loving yourself first and fill yourself up with your own emotional resources, and be surprised how much things can change. You won't be overwhelmed by other people's emotions yet have a more clear and accurate perception to their state of being and emotions (if you really do have empathic tendencies).

anonymous Jul 22, 2015 9:46am

Great article, the combination has a myriad of variables that could implemented. I’m also an empathy and ended in a very abusive dysfunctional relationship with a narc. It’s taken me two years to “figure it out”. Yes, empaths are sensitive, we take on other’s emotions and want to fix everything. We feel other’s pain, I once thought I was psychic because I knew things I shouldn’t know. But later, I learned it is empathy. I never learned about boundaries and recognizing dangerous people until I was 50! Great article addressing the dynamic’s of empaths/narcs. I’m also a recovering codependent, I think a lot of empaths are codependents too? Thanks for sharing your article, spread the word!

anonymous Jul 12, 2015 6:50pm

This article is quite good but as some of the above comments say it confused empath with someone who is also codependent. The main target of the narcissist is the empath, codependent, infj (myers briggs) and highly sensitive person.

Being an empath in itself is great and always good and to be nurtured. It’s the codependent aspect of that which is sucked in by a narcissist. Yes I agree with the above in terms of time alone etc etc to nurture self but this is about nurturing our own wounds to attract better relationships and to use our empathy appropriately in a good way with good boundaries and not to just be sucked in. I have been sucked in by a few narcissists and have been in deep recovery since the last one and just coming through with the vow ‘this will never happen again’.

I am an infj, highly sensitive person, empath and I guess increasingly recovering codependent.

anonymous Jun 30, 2015 12:14am

So, I am an extrovert empath, I get so confused most days, what are my feelings and which ones are not mine, I got married to a narciss, and I have learnt so much about myself, I chose not to be a victum and rather look at my mirror, I found out a lot about myself,
I don't believe there are any victims in this world, only choices, and I believe that been gifted with emphathy is like everything in life, it has up sides and downsides, either way, because I can feel and resonate with different energies, this also means I am not always right, I also miss read situations, because I have miss read an energy,
Its all about learning how to be here in this world, to be present and to be able to look at knocks as building blocks and not as an excuse not to be fully with the world…
Sorry if this offend anyone out there, this is not my intention, I simply want you all to know, that every relationship has problems, but the biggest problem is not first recognizing it within yourself, and having the courage to heal it forgive yourself and move on,

Love and light

anonymous Jun 23, 2015 1:34pm

Narcissism is driving the youth of today a young man needs to be full of himself in today’s society, if he is not he is typically ostracized, or not a man. It’s just something I’ve noticed…

    anonymous Jun 28, 2015 2:38am

    Narcissism of today’s youth maybe driven by helicopter parenting? Then there’s the the career driven parents that are missing school functions, sports events due to late night meetings, or having to travel a lot; so, they try to bribe or make it up to their kids crazy lifestyles & absences due to careers by buying them almost everything & anything they want. It seems many kids don’t know boundaries today or recognize the word “No”. I’ve esp seen it in divided homes, where kids like to manipulate the parent’s. I think the kids learn to the parent’s off one another better than the parent’s can use the kids against one another! Of course, that’s not everyone; but seems to be a trend.

anonymous Jun 23, 2015 8:56am

Got any info on a mother empath raising a narcissist son?

anonymous May 31, 2015 12:24pm

“Empath” is not a real word. Not in psychology, medicine, or in the actual dictionary. Using this terminology implies that the victim is special, in some way, and this specialness makes them vulnerable to sociopaths/narcissists. This gets dangerously close to victim-blaming/rationalization.

The sad fact is that 1 in 5 women will be in an abusive relationship with someone who matches this abuser profile (about 1 in 20 people is a sociopath, completely lacking empathy; many more are narcissists).

I think it’s important to state that the default for human nature is to have empathy — it is these abusers that are pathological. Being human doesn’t make you an “empath” or any other special term — it makes you human. A human worthy of basic respect and reciprocal empathy/decency.

    anonymous Jun 10, 2015 6:07pm

    There is a difference though between the stimulus level of regular empathy and that experienced by an empath. Or, rather more accurately, a "hypersensitive person" as the actual tolerance level to the emotional stimulus is much different, and the stimulus, is in effect, amplified by that very hypersensitivity to the point that it cannot be ignored or distanced from one's own well being.

    It is not a choice or codependence or seeking approval, it is a defense mechanism against involuntary absorption of stimuli that we react to when we try to improve the mood of someone in distress around us. The concept is similar to how you might react to a commercial break on TV that is suddenly and uncomfortably loud by turning it down. We seek to quiet the emotional unrest because it is actively disrupting to our own ability to focus and manage. This is not something one can "counsel" themselves out of happening to them by simply thinking about it differently, it is actually a wiring of the central nervous system that is genetic and unalterable, kind of like how some people are allergic to bee stings while most people are not going to get more than a small annoying welt, an allergic person can have a severe reaction that sends them into anaphylactic shock and death if not treated.

anonymous May 25, 2015 7:50am

The sadness is how far we will go to love someone..waiting for that initial spark of empathy that was never real to begin with. That and the fact that we often believe what they tell us about ourselves — it is all our fault.

anonymous May 5, 2015 5:47am

Yes, narcissists are women in growing numbers. And they are often more dangerous that male narcissists as they cleverly use the woman=victim man=abuser myth in western cultures to blameshift when things go sour. They react explosively when the empath partner eventually gets wise to their tricks and exits the relationship. Look closely at the Emma Sulkowitz story and you will find a textbook example of an abandoned Narc using a distortion campaign to punish their ex for leaving them. The signature root of malignant narcissism is always childhood trauma, so look carefully at the background of anyone you get involved with and don’t fall for the “poor pitiful me” story.

    anonymous Jun 11, 2015 1:11pm

    Was married to a female narcissist who used these tactics exactly.

      anonymous Oct 17, 2015 1:16pm

      There are A LOT of female narcissists all over the place! As someone with an evolved empathic nature, when I look back over nearly ALL of my friendships with women, they are narcissists of some degree. I ended a long term, mostly long distance, friendship around two years ago. We knew each other nearly thirty years, but had spent relatively short amounts of time together via vacations and visits…and of course, long distance means unlimited phone and internet narcissistic supply for her. As my life evolved into a very good one, she began to attack me along the way in variety of ways…ANYTHING to mess with my head or self-esteem. I have always had pretty good self-esteem, but every now and then I am duped if I AM NOT paying attention. I noticed she was having huge arguments with coworkers and friends, then doing crazy payback stuff. I used to say, "I don't know if that is a good idea…," which probably irritated her (who knows?). I literally had to use the NO CONTACT method in ending the friendship. She definitely would have tried to wreak havoc if I had attempted an end the friendship discussion. There is no way to end on a positive note with these people. After two years I received a crazy text like we just talked a few weeks ago, then when I didn't respond it was followed with the typical put down text. I may be wrong but the wording of each text seemed very precise so if I responded I would look like the crazy one. I felt she had an audience she was dying to show a text too (fortunately we have no common friends). She is BLOCKED now. It kind of scares me to hear from her after all this time. She has left a plethora in her wake of narcissistic behaviors, yet always paints herself as the victim…very calculated and directed to those who provide comfort. Anyway, sorry you fellas had deal with this type of woman…I get it.

    anonymous Aug 28, 2015 4:17pm

    I am going through this exact thing in divorce now. It is extremely hard to control your own emotion when the woman shifts gears and plays the poor me role, all the while setting up another attack at your own character. As a man it is not acceptable or percieved to be acceptable to reach out for help. I went through wave after wave of my own character being dragged through the mud, even when at the same time trying to help the very person working so hard to destroy me. It’s very easy for the female in the relationship to gain support outside of the relationship, especially when attractiveness is involved. There are any number of men out there willing to step in and be the white knight for an attractive lady claiming abuse. Thankfully I did reach a breaking point and severed myself from this relationship that could only be described as toxic. I beat myself up for quite a long time wondering if I really did the right thing, and if I should have done more to save my marriage. It led to great moments of self reflection though, and once the cycle of control was broken and I could step away and truly see the relationship for what it was, it was a huge measure of relief. I have a long road still to learn to love and trust the right way, but I think it’s important that it is understood that men do go through the same thing. I think it’s also important that other men in this situation know it happens to others and it doesn’t make you less of a man to ask for help or guidance. I’m thankful I didn’t end up in a bodybag or setup for something that could have cost me everything.

anonymous May 5, 2015 3:30am

Do not mistake a narcissist as someone with empathy. There is a fine line, where people with narcissistic personality traits, are in fact SOCIOPATHS! The difference is although both are self absorbed, a narcissist may actually have a guilty conscience. A Sociopath, has no capacity for emotion. Their entire life is an act, played out for their benefit. A Sociopath has no compassion for others, nor can he/she grasp the concept. A Sociopath is the most dangerous of personalities because of the inability to understand how one can be emotionally hurt, and absolutely no remorse. Serial killers usually fall in this category.

    anonymous Jul 22, 2015 2:47pm

    And they are also EXTREMELY adept at reading others' emotions and playing them back to them. Sociopaths are hard to spot, and their fake, albeit convincing displays of emotion often appear to be authentic (even to an empath). Your intuition may flag you that there's something too rehearsed and perfect about them–listen to it! I've heard that it's common for victims of relationships with sociopaths to have believed the sociopath was was their soul mate–what they've been searching for in a partner. Experts call this "love-bombing:" the Sociopath having figured out all the buttons of his victim, takes on the persona of prince/princess charming and maintains this until he/she is done/bored having drained what they wanted from their victims. Sociopaths are emotional, moral and spiritual vampires. Take heed!

anonymous May 2, 2015 5:02am

The truth of this is that most people, in particular women (no offense) think that because they get involved in these kind of bizarre relationships is not empathy. If you respond to someone exploiting your own vanity (yes vanity) then you in fact are the narcissist. There is something perfectly self absorbed about not being able to see objectively and claiming someone is your one true love even though they are in fact a loser or worse, just an asshole. To directly respond to the article a true empath by defination can feel another persons emotions. So you would be able to tell someone was a narcissist right off the beginning and see them for who they really are. I know it’s hard to find out you’ve been used, we all have a way of coping, however being involved someone who is using you but you think you know better, too “in love”, etc that’s also narcissistic and definitely not empathic. I’m not saying that it’s always so black and white but sometimes it’s important to examine our own behavior instead of labeling someone else as the problem.

    anonymous Jun 11, 2015 4:18am

    Offense taken. Have you been emotionally manipulated? Are you an empath? You can feel another's person's emotions, but you can't always tell which are yours and which are their's. Similarly, the tendency to feel another's pain when they can't feel yours, makes you easy to exploit. Now, I know better how to sense projection energy and to be suspicious of that, but early on, as a young trusting person, I had no clue.

anonymous May 1, 2015 11:41am

You are CODEPENDENT. Don't confuse codependency with empathy. Those two things are NOT the same.

I am getting tired of every victim of every narcissist believing they have some "special feeling" powers. Most do not. They are, in reality, inverted narcissists (codependents).

    anonymous Jun 11, 2015 4:09am

    I think being an empath can suck someone into a relationship with a narcissist, which then leads to codependent patterns developing. For me, I never had trouble with codependency before getting involved with the narcissist. When I met the narcissist, his energy kept telling me to pay attention to him, that he was so beautiful and fascinating and perfect and I would never find someone like him. Of course, at the time, I didn't realize, this was his energy, not mine! His energy kept insisting that I needed him, and I thought those were my legitimate thoughts brought to me by fate or what-have-you. Hard lesson learned I guess.

    anonymous Oct 17, 2015 1:27pm

    I don't think of myself as codependent or necessarily as an empath, but more of an upbeat person that narcissists like to have as one of their reflections in the mirror.

anonymous May 1, 2015 1:49am

What’s even worse than either a narcissist or an empath? When you stumble across a narcissistic empath who is self absorbed and wanting to fix everyone… Now that’s a hangover and a half…

anonymous Mar 11, 2015 7:46am

One thing: It’s not that a narcissist is unwilling to feel empathy. Rather, they don’t have the capacity or capability to do so. I’ve tried many times to convince myself that it is choice for them, which the term “unwilling” implies and which carries the hope that some day they will choose otherwise, but have been repeatedly proven wrong.

This is an interesting article and has given me yet another tool to work with as I strive to stop picking the narcissist out of the crowd. The concept in the article is eye-opening and spot on, and gave me a little more insight about myself. Thank you.

anonymous Mar 8, 2015 4:34am

Wow. A good one. When one of your fam Imy members is the one with NPD, it is terrible to live with. Sadly, I have the experience. :(.

    anonymous Mar 8, 2015 11:29am

    I do too, Michelle…my dad..which is another reason it felt so "right" to be with one.

anonymous Mar 7, 2015 10:30pm

This article is narcissi incarnate. I am a woman, an empath, and find the biases addressed here more of a public therapy session steeped in attention-getting victimhood than relevant information. I don't mean to be unkind, just honest.

anonymous Mar 7, 2015 9:37pm

I’m glad you made the connection that that at least some part of you was narcissistic as well. I believe your comments on how to help are pretty sound too. I don’t agree with how your reasoning for the relationship and your theory on empaths. Everyone is empathic, the degree of awareness and openness depends on your emotional armoring, childhood, and how much effort you’ve put towards personal emotional growth. However, people still feel others no matter what state they are in and attract similar people. All relationships and interactions are a mirror of ourselves. The description of yourself sounded like a person with low self esteem and weak personal boundaries. Ironically, that low sense of self worth is the underlying quality of a narcissist. Usually when they are head on intense narcissistic they are so emotionally armored and disconnected from themselves. That also reflects how you felt – disconnected and not speaking your truth, being unsure of yourself. Please take a look at this relationship in the past and all the ones you have now (friendships too!) and honestly ask yourself what emotions are in you that you think or know the other person feels? And look up psychology and projection!

anonymous Mar 7, 2015 8:05pm

You seem to be really talking about a codependent personality and a narcissistic personality coming together.
Empath ≠ Codependent.
Narcissists can be empaths, Codependents can be empaths.
Narcissists are so deeply self loathing and afraid others will see that brokenness that they do anything they can to put up a false bravado so that even they, themselves, do not have to face that frail, scared inner self. They can be empathic towards other's feelings, in fact they usually are: so that they understand who they can use to bolster themselves, and who they need to avoid (those who will threaten to crack their façade or not play along with the game). When Narcissists "self destruct" it is usually because they have that façade broken (it often happens in older age naturally; or when others challenge/disregard them). At that time they often go into a narcissistic rages or deep into self shame/loathing.
Codependents feed into that because they want to be loved and be the one who "saves" their partner and makes it all better. They empathically sense the deep fragileness of the narcissist and want to fix it/love it out of them. They disregard their own red flags and self worth to bolster the narcissist.
So, please, don't conflate "Empath" with "Codependent"… it does a disjustice to empaths who are not codependent. No empath who had a strong sense of self and worth would allow themselves to be taken for everything they have and compromise their own morals or ethics or needs or goals.

    anonymous Jun 12, 2015 2:42pm

    Hmmm, which one of the two serves humanity, and which one exploits it? Co-dependent is a horrible label for a caring person, who, like EVERYBODY ELSE wants to be loved. (sorry about the capitals, I was emphasizing). A narcissist is a predator, a co-dependent (ugh) is prey, but no one is immune to predators, not even other predators. Empaths fall prey only when they have not been caught in such a trap before. Once you experience it, you learn and you will never fall again, That's not being co-dependant, that is being a decent and quite normal human being. Narcissists can not truly be empaths. And empaths who continually go through abuse should not be shunned and shamed for caring for others, even if in THIS culture that is made out to be wrong. What is wrong with "saving" anyone? Isn't that better than destroying them? It is this culture that defines the boundaries of self, it is this culture which emphasizes the cult of self – me first, myself first, take no crap, etc. Self is an illusion. I hope the world gets filled with empaths (co-dependants) and that they all of them save at least some people. Let us redefine relationships. I'd only advise empaths to learn when and how to put up some tough boundaries for protection. But don't succumb to the co-dependant label. Be your beautiful and empathic self, care for people, love, forgive, but know when to close the door. Another Counselor.

      anonymous Jul 22, 2015 2:38pm

      Something seems to be getting lost in translation. Codependants (my family is full of them and I too must resist the learned behaviour) is when a person–empath or not–NEEDS the authority figure/narcisisst or controlling figure to maintain his/her own persona (being the martyr, the saviour, the nurturer, the victim). Without someone to save, the codependant is lost. He/she thrives on feeling special, to be the only one who can understand, tame, and coax love from the "beast"(like living out the beauty and the beast fable). The codepenant personality stems from deep rooted insecurity and the belief that he/she must earn love and is not automatically worthy of love and regard for who he/she is. He/she also derives passive aggressive power from playing the victim (often subconsciously) as a way to gain access to other peoples empathy, resources and attention. The codependant's efforts to help border on being an act of passive-agressive control over another. There is no glory in being a codependant, and from what I've witnessed, it rarely ends well for the codependant. You can be an empath without going overboard into codependant personality disorder. On the flip side, I was under the impression that a true narcissist is convinced of his/her own superioirity; not masking insecurity. But your defiinition makes sense. I do agree that the world needs more empaths and people willing to help eachother, but we need to seperate the codependant personality from what you describe as the warmhearted and naive-innocent empath personality. The codependant needs help to access healing and learn boundaries, whereas the self-assured empath may already have a sense of self and have at least a few boundaries in place.

      anonymous Aug 11, 2015 6:37pm

      Well said. I am an Empath who just dated a Narcissist. It took me 6 months to realize what he was. He would always play the victim about his wife abandoning him. Once our honeymoon period was over, his true self appeared. I realized he was a Narcissist with a drinking problem. He also became emotionally and mentally abusive. I soon realized why his wife left him when their son was 4 months old. Not too many women will leave the father of their first born at a young age unless the guy is truly evil. At first I believed his victim story but I soon saw that he was an abusive person who only wanted me for Narc Supply when it was convenient for him. He is still texting me and I am trying to have no contact.

        anonymous Aug 27, 2015 1:05am

        Good on you Xena!!! Half the battle is recognizing the behavior for what it is and the other half is acting on that knowledge. Sometimes this isn't so easy and requires lots of honest self reflection and action. I'm wondering though why you haven't barred his number from your phone?

anonymous Mar 7, 2015 6:42pm

Very well written. I was married to a narcissist for 13 years.

    anonymous Mar 8, 2015 12:42am

    21. And my sons are clones. Just shoot me.

    anonymous Apr 17, 2015 7:10am

    17 yrs for me…

    anonymous Feb 7, 2016 7:54pm

    I hope you got away from that! My mother is the narcissist in my life and she’s been abusing me for 32 years. I strive, fight and meditate every day with everything I do so I don’t make my own children feel how she made me feel. I can only hope that my recognition of the cycle and patterns help me keep from turning into her.

anonymous Mar 7, 2015 12:58pm

What happens when you have narcissistic tendencies/thoughts but can read people and feel energies like an Empath? It may seem like an oxymoron and completely impossible.. but really think about it. I believe I dated someone like this. It is a constant innerstruggle for him. And I know because I myself am an empath, and it was while being with him I discovered this about myself. We are no longer together, for multiple reason, we are each working our ourselves and our own lives through self-reflection. But I wholeheartedly believe one person can have both qualities and being an empath myself I know that is difficult within itself.. but to have both personalities.. Well I can't even imagine that.

    anonymous Mar 7, 2015 6:27pm

    That is interesting. I can see how a very sensitive empath, raised in an unstable environment or otherwise exposed to certain traumas before they had the mental acuity to process it all, could be particularly susceptible to developing narcissistic tendencies.

      anonymous Mar 8, 2015 12:03am

      I think in the situation I was referring to, this could very well be the case. Your explanation sounds familiar to his experiences.

    anonymous Mar 7, 2015 7:05pm

    I have both narcissistic and empathetic tendencies, and it is a constant struggle between balancing my own need for status with my desire to serve other people. Our society rewards those with narcissistic behaviors, and the very people who have feelings of entitlement along with the burning desire to achieve wealth/power ultimately develop a self fulfilling prophecy which leads them to success. In my personal journey towards success in business and in women, I’ve developed some narcissistic tendencies that have actually helped me achieve my goals.

    On the other hand , it is not easy to numb yourself to the feelings and needs of others, even if they bring you down with them. The empathetic side of me wants others to be happy, but I’ve realized that the more I tried to satisfy others the more I neglected my own needs. As much as I want everyone to be successful, I also have noticed that people don’t like it when you are doing better than them. As much as I want to be nice to everyone, I often don’t receive reciprocation.

    Sure, there is a certain balance that can be achieved, but the amount of each tendency is expressed in different ways in different contexts over time. In fact, I believe that many empaths turn into narcissists. The truth is that narcissists often do better than their empathetic counterparts – more income, more popular, less hurt feelings, etc. while empaths are left either catering to narcissists or in the dust.

    This might sound like a former nice guy’s logical explanation for being an asshole. Oh well.

      anonymous Mar 7, 2015 11:59pm

      I think this is a brilliant perspective. And I think you are right on the mark with some empaths turning into narcissists. Every Empath wants to protect themself and they do it even while they are protecting others and sometimes protecting their own self is the main reason they protect others. It all comes around full circle. So in conclusion it would appear that empaths and narcissists are on complete opposite sides of the spectrum, however, they can touch on the other side. I appreciate the response, it provides a unique outlook that I don't think many people consider.

      anonymous Mar 8, 2015 12:41am

      I can totally see this. I have empathic and "people-pleasing" tendencies that allowed me to get completely steamrolled in my divorce. Much counseling later, I am stronger,but still struggle with the need to fix people I care about. I know I am an empath, because I can't watch TV shows like America's Funniest Videos, because everytime someone gets hurt, I literally feel it. By the end of the show, I feel like have have been jumped by 6 guys with baseball bats. I know a couple people who were always people-pleasing empathic saps, (like I was) and were used and hurt over and over until they had to build a tough shell to protect themselves. While most people would just see that as self-care, when you have been self-sacrificing for so long, it feels like you are being narcissistic when you are just being equinanimous with yourself. A little self care goes a long way, but we are not used to affording that to ourselves and it feels foreign and undeserved, causing guilt. You are probably not an asshole. You are probably just a tad healthier in your boundary setting than you were. This was amazing, too, and everyone should watch it: http://www.ted.com/talks/guy_winch_the_case_for_e

    anonymous Mar 8, 2015 11:34am

    That is an interesting an complex question! I will have to mull…

anonymous Mar 7, 2015 5:55am

This was chilling and fascinating. Thank you SO MUCH. I haven't really ever considered much about being an empath before now, but I certainly will.

    anonymous Jul 3, 2015 2:05pm

    I also was fascinated with this! I am a true Empath, not only that, I've discovered I am also co-dependent, controlling and unable to NOT feel other's pain and want to fix everything!

anonymous Mar 7, 2015 3:07am

I love how the NPD fellow hijacks the 1st comment in the thread with the typical "poor me" self-pity subterfuge.
Don't fall for that "flip n bounce" .

I've realized how NPD has been a major part of my immediate family's history. And of all the reading and forum discussions, I've seen….. not one mentions anything about "recovery" for the NPD-diagnosed. All discussion is focused on recovery from the damage done and/or getting away from this type of relationship. I was curious,. but haven't read the often recommended book on this subject, "The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists: Coping with the One-Way Relationship in Work, Love, and Family".

    anonymous Mar 7, 2015 6:24pm

    I, too, have noticed how very little discussion is available in regards to recovery for people diagnosed with NPD, or even suspecting that condition of themselves. It makes it seem as if the entire medical community views people with NPD as hopeless, horrible people. Not productive, IMO. (Ditto for Borderline.)

      anonymous Mar 8, 2015 12:30am

      I have had some experience with npd's (Dad, first fiancee, ex husband, son, last bf) and did a lot of reading on it last year. In fact, I did see a lot of sources saying that NPD was very difficult to impossible to treat. Another article I just saw, i believe on Huffpost, was about the Narcissist and the Echo. Might wanna search that one as well. Same idea. This was really illustrative and helpful, Erica L. Thanks so much for writing it.

anonymous Mar 6, 2015 11:06am

I once worked for a severe Narcissist. He was very successful in superficial relationships or in relationships with people under him who would give him love (lies) in return for career success. His blindness led him to massive self destruction. A lot of people got hurt in the process. If anyone tried to warn him that actions have consequences he would punish them pretty severely at times. His world was ground to dust. It was a shame.

    anonymous Mar 6, 2015 1:18pm

    Mark, that is exactly how my ex behaved. He managed to drink himself to death by the age of 42. A terrible waste.

anonymous Mar 6, 2015 8:16am

Here is another good article on the subject of narcissists and empaths if anyone is interested.. .http://thehappysensitive.com/how-to-stop-being-empathic-and-become-a-complete-narcissist-a-k-a-arsecissist/

anonymous Mar 5, 2015 11:05pm

This is the first time I have read any article mentioning empaths in relation to any other disorder and I really enjoyed it. As a life coach I have experience with people who are working towards opening up their intuitive abilities whereas empaths wish to learn to shut them down. What most people do not understand about empaths is that they are so pschically open that they are often overwhelmed by other people’s emotions. My teacher, Grandmother Pathweaver who taught me the Medicine Way, spoke of this. She taught me how to pull other people’s emotions out of my heart. A few months latter I experienced meeting a friend and having an overwhelming urge to go home with him. I knew it was not my emotions but his, since the conversation was about his new freedom now that his daughter had moved out. I was so thankful I had learned the lesson to differentiate between my feelings and other peoples rather than getting involved with a relationship that was not my idea.

The thing is that empaths and people with empathy are two different experiences. Empaths can literally be overwhelmed by other people’s emotions. Empaths can be male or female and it isn’t about oxytocin, the drug that helps you to care about others which women have a higher amount of since we are often the care givers.

Empaths are wired to feel for others. We have neither acknowledged nor accepted this as a culture. We need to because nature creates certain types of beings for certain reasons and because we have more empaths on the planet than we ever have had before, we should take this opportunity to find out why nature feels we need this type of ability. How does this serve humanity?

What I really liked about this article is the pairing, it makes sense to me because there are some people I can’t spend time with. Their energy is too chaotic and I can feel that. I think that empaths would seek out the company of a narcissist because narcissists keep their energy and attention turned inward. This would make it much easier for an empath to spend time with that person. Empaths are natural healers often going into the nursing profession. Reiki is a good modality for empaths, but also Pranic Energy Healing which is more dynamic and less passive, and Yuen Chinese Energetics. All three rely on a person’s intuitive abilities and will support them in this growth only if that person has learned to take care of themselves first. Which is what this is all about. The narcissist says,’this is all about me!’ The empath says,’yes, it is.’

    anonymous Mar 6, 2015 7:18am

    Yes, Carolyne, that's it exactly.

anonymous Mar 5, 2015 9:26pm

I'm not a professional on this topic, at least not officially, but the empath sounds like someone who is dying to find any diversion from their own internal work, and gets a serious high from trying to control (or fix) everyone else in their life. Just a thought.

    anonymous Mar 6, 2015 7:21am

    The empath can't help feeling other people's feelings, so she must learn how to manage what she perceives. If she doesn't learn how to manage it, she does indeed become diverted from doing her own internal work and that diversion can be quite addicting.

      anonymous Mar 6, 2015 3:25pm

      Thanks for the reply Erica! I love learning about this kinda stuff.

      How do you know if you're an empath? I read the definition you provided, but the difference between (1) an empath and (2) a deeply compassionate & empathetic person, is not clear to me.

      I assume that you are not saying that because someone is empathetic to a person or situation, that person is an empath. Your description of an empath sounds much more all encompassing than that.

      How do you know if you are feeling what others feel?

        anonymous Mar 7, 2015 7:51am

        Sara, good question. I think it is an instinctive knowing. You are right, being empathetic to a person or situation is different than being an empath. An empath involuntarily feels and receives energy from every single being they encounter– friends, family, strangers, people they see on movies and TV, animals, sometimes even inanimate objects — EVERYTHING. It is a constant onslaught of energy and can be wonderful, but also draining, driving many empaths (like me) to become quite solitary.

        anonymous Jun 10, 2015 5:21am

        There is a lot of information about this categorized under the term "HSP" (for Highly or Hyper Sensitive Person) and is essentially a genetic difference in the wiring of the central nervous system (one that is shared by around 15-18 percent of not only human but animal populations as well) that sort of "turns up the volume" on sensory input to such a degree that those individuals will often have a much lower tolerance for the pain and suffering of others that they witness, as well as a much deeper emotional reaction to beauty or art or music. Someone once said it is like feeling an object with 10 fingers for the average person is rather for the HSP like feeling that same object with 50 fingers.

        Interestingly enough, the narcissist may have that same exact genetic tendency towards hyperstimulation, but learns to adapt to that differently than the empathic sort in the way that they protect themselves. While the empath learns to try and heal the pain of others so that they don't suffer from it themselves, the narcissist learns to isolate themselves emotionally as the sole focus so that avoidance of their own suffering is the primary concern even at the cost of others suffering. It is seemingly predictable which way that any individual with that has that genetic tendency towards hypersensitivity will develop depending on the circumstances of their early development and what sort of parental feedback they get from early childhood experiences. More stable and loving conditions tend to produce the "empath" while more precarious environments encourage the development towards narcissism.

        Dr. Elaine Aron, who is credited with identifying this trait in the mid 90's, developed s a simple test (http://hsperson.com/test/highly-sensitive-test/) – which can help determine whether someone is likely an HSP (a term which makes more sense to me personally than "empath" although it is true that empathy is certainly one major side effect of that sensitivity which I experience). It is a pretty effective barometer for determining where the separation is between a regular caring sort and one who cannot help that the feelings of others actually affects their own.. For example.. my mother and I scored VERY differently on that quiz where I answered "yes" to maybe 22 of the 26 questions while she only said "yes" to 2 of them, and going deeper into the research about that trait has explained a great deal of the difficulties that she and I have faced in relating to one another.

        I used to get frustrated by why she couldn't understand me, but now I get that she actually CANNOT find a parallel experience in her own life that is comparable to mine because she just doesn't feel things to same degree that I do. She is a very caring person who likes to help others, and she may note that someone is feeling badly, but it doesn't actually create a resonant similar emotion in her the way that it will affect me if I am around someone who is miserable, as that will actually detract from my own sense of well-being seeing the suffering of others. For her it is easy to say, "take care of yourself first and don't worry about others" but I cannot separate myself from that if others are unhappy around me so that I feel safe and secure and happy. If the person I live with is in a crappy irritable mood and snapping at the dog or whatever, I actually have to leave so that I cannot hear or see it happening or It will soon be me feeling snippy and irritable too. It is literally not possible for me to maintain a happy and light disposition by simply ignoring that other person or not interacting with them if I can still see them scowling or haar them slamming doors impatiently. It disrupts my own peace of mind considerably more than it would disrupt my mother's, as she is not affected at all by that same situation, if she even notices it at all…

        anonymous Jun 10, 2015 5:25am

        I don't know if the site will allow me to post a link in the comments, but searching "Dr. Elaine Aron HSP test" should get you to a pretty good barometer for determining that difference between caring vs empathic.

    anonymous Jul 17, 2015 1:01pm

    I am an empath who was married to a narcissist. It was a toxic marriage. Empaths do not control or fix people. We are a shoulder to cry on and do what we can to help the person. Whether it's by loaning money, giving rides to people, jumping someone's car, picking up hitch hikers. All of those things I have done. I have learned the hard way not to wear my heart on my sleeve. When someone comes to you with a problem it's hard to tell the person No I can't help you because we don't want to hurt them more than they are already hurting so we become the crutch.
    It has to end at some point.

      anonymous Dec 4, 2015 1:40am

      Stephanie , can i talk to you in private ? Like email, or something. I will have a first session of therapy on tuesday because i just dont know anything anymore. I dont know who i am , or what i believe , what is normalfor me or what happenned. Anyway , i suppose my husband is a narc, i wondered before but i abandoned the idea. Im in irealism. You said you went through something like that, and i was thinking you are more detached and know better than me. I would like to tell you very short some facts. I know this sounds crazy but i do need some confirmation that i am not crazy and is not all in my mind. I know the truth is inside me, but i just cant see it right now. And we have a baby together also. If you cant , i understand this completely. I dont want to impose.

anonymous Mar 5, 2015 8:31pm

Kyle –

You say recovering… May I ask how you knew you needed help?

    anonymous Feb 5, 2016 7:23am

    I don't know about Kyle, but for me, it was the realization that all my intimate relationships had failed, and that I and my behavior were the common factors in every case. Seeing that I was the source of not only ofher's pain but also my own, I chose to seek professional counseling, which led to a referral to a psychologist and some long term therapy. I wouldn't say there is a "cure" for NPD; it's more understanding the cause and effect mechanisms that drive the behavior, understanding and forgiving yourself, and monitoring yourself, asking "what's in this for me?" as you enter a relationship to make sure your intentions are not self serving. Over years now, I don't have to monitor as much, and I've added doing things in what I refer to as "a spirit of love" to put the other person's needs ahead of mine. It's been a tough transition taking many years and tons of self examination, but being able to like who I am now is priceless. I don't know if this sounds clinical enough or not; it's just what I had to go through. I believe self change on something so deeply seated in a person's psyche required both an event and commitment to the journey to heal, and I would suggest that at least some narcissists meet with the first but can't stay with the second. I also believe that many never realize what they are for what it is, and that's sad. I can't imagine now going back to the hellish life I used to create for myself and others.

anonymous Mar 5, 2015 6:18pm

interesting, but very similar to a much longer, detailed, and less biased article I found elsewhere quite some time ago.

I think it's false that Narcissist's 'carefully select' and that extreme empathy 'is not a pathology', or at least it shouldn't be put in that light simply to compare to something that just happens to BE a pathology (because labelling and comparison are not a mindful practice, by the way)

Narcissists and empaths are simply drawn to each other naturally. And each have their own equal and opposite issues to work on.

This article makes the narc out to be the bad guy, and the 'untrained' empath out to be the victim. Where, in reality, they are both doing their best to live with their natural conditioning which largely is not their fault.

Both of these people need therapy of some sort to help with their respective imbalances.

But, kudos on trying to make us recovering male Narcissists feel like the target of suffering female empath shame.

    anonymous Mar 5, 2015 11:30pm

    Kyle, Are you referring to An Empath and a Narcissist Walk into a Bar: No Joking Matter (http://www.thespiritualeclectic.com/2012/10/11/are-empaths-and-narcissists-2-sides-of-a-coin/)?

    anonymous Mar 6, 2015 3:23am

    The pairing of narcissists and ’empaths’ is not actually a new one. The psychology literature has been commenting on the pairing narcissistic and codependent personalities for decades. I prefer the term empath to codependent myself, perhaps because it seems gentler. I agree that narcissrists benefit from gentle treatment too. Well done for being in recovery. Change isn’t easy.

    anonymous Mar 6, 2015 1:34pm

    Kyle… Narcissist can be female too. My son is dating one now, unfortunately.

      anonymous Mar 7, 2015 1:20am

      arl, there are no unfortunates..

    anonymous Mar 7, 2015 7:57pm

    I think the general point of the article is that they both contributed in a giant fail spiral of a relationship. The empath was drawn to the confidence of the NPD person, the Narcissist was drawn to the empathetic person's understanding and forgiving nature.

    I don't think that narcissists necessarily select an empath. I think they were drawn to each other for qualities that they wanted. Unfortunately, empaths often ARE taken advantage of. I would know. I'm a 'recovering empath'. Empathetic people do want to help fix everyone. It's a bit of a compulsion, especially with people we're closest to. Knowing that my friends are hurting, or might lose their apartments loosen my pockets quicker than anything. I never call it a loan, it's a gift. I do it without expectation of repayment, and I do it because it makes me feel good.

    In that, it is extremely easy to take care of an empath. We do feel good by helping others. We want to ease people's pain, make them better.
    The reason I half-mockingly call myself a 'recovering empath' is because I'm still learning to acknowledge that sometimes I -have- to put myself first. I have a family of my own, and I don't make enough money to take care of my tribe as well (tribe referring to the close, tightly knit group of friends that I have that are just as fussed to take care of me as I am to take care of them).
    As for you shaming the author for sharing her personal experience, you can seriously go to hell. You MRAs give a bad name to men in general. "Oh, won't someone think of how this mean woman empath is shaming the mens." No, I won't. Because you turned around and tried to make her personal experience about you, and instead of about the bag of crap that took advantage of her, Kyle. I bet in the same situation, if you got your hands on an empath, that 'recovery' nonsense that you espoused would go out the damn window.

    P.S. – Nice gaslighting attempt. Not exactly disproving the author's point.

      anonymous Jun 11, 2015 2:43am

      Wow, just got out of a relationship almost to a tee like the one Erica wrote about, which was a relief to hear honestly, and I still fell for the flip and bounce until it was pointed out! I thought hmm, I suppose Kyle may have a point. But you know what, I've been over it and over it and it didn't feel like I had a choice! Especially being naive to the dynamic altogether when it started. I got sucked in and then spit out 7ish years later when I literally had zero energy left to get from one day to the next.

      anonymous Jun 23, 2015 5:50am

      Awesome post Demon. Sorry to not bleed for you there Kyle…but most Narcs never really commit to therapy. They often manipulate or charm the therapist and there are basically zero cases of any person with this disorder EVER recovering because you all think there's nothing wrong with you to start with and it's everyone else that is crazy…so, nice try but no cigar.

        anonymous Dec 14, 2015 2:24pm

        You are so very right. We went to three therapists who were all bowled over by my narcissist. One of them even asked ME (when he went to the restroom), “What do you think you could say to your husband that would get him to listen?” Huh?! Hey, that’s what I’m paying YOU the big bucks to help me with because Lord knows I’ve tried everything I can think of. When a “partner” (I use that term loosely) goes to a therapist with you with the intention of having the therapist “fix YOU,” you’re beat before you start.

      anonymous Mar 24, 2016 11:03am

      Well said. It’s great to hear a female say this . I don’t hear women talk like this very often well put .

    anonymous Mar 8, 2015 8:54am

    Kyle, absolutely you make the point many miss. It seems as though we all want to label our pain. Unless there is some sort of victimization, it keeps us stuck. I would also suggest, these issues are definitely equal & the same, not opposite as assumed.

    anonymous Apr 20, 2015 5:21pm

    I knew you were a narc before i reached the end of the 2nd paragraph! Makes the narc out to be the bad guy, huh? lol that's 'cause you are Kyle, but yeah, due to type you refuse to take any responsibilty for that. And yet again true to type you try to make yourself the victim by blaming the actual victim. A 'recovering narcissist'? lololo…no such thing!!!

    anonymous Apr 22, 2015 9:52am

    Kyle, you were good up until that last sentence, wherein you turned it around and blamed the author. Keep working on that recovery.

    anonymous Apr 30, 2015 9:36pm

    I agree Kyle. Also it’s just like a codependent person to play the victim and martyr and call themselves an empath. Everyone who is jumping all over you is probably a sick codependent and can’t see their own part in having been with narcissists. Two sick people can be together. If you are dating someone emotionally sick you are sick in some way too.

    anonymous May 30, 2015 7:18am

    Narcs DO seek out empaths, not necessarily all perhaps but the most psychotic, evil, devious ones certainly know who's going to be easy and vulnerable prey. Narcs lure empaths in with a false chameleon like personality then set on a mission of destruction, there is nothing 'natural' about it and I'm sorry but since when is having empathy an 'inbalalance'?

    anonymous May 30, 2015 10:20am

    Spoken like a true Narcissist!

    anonymous Jul 24, 2015 9:25am

    Of course the "recovering" narcissist must pick out one detail about the given example and then make it about himself. The fact that the only thing you gathered from that story is that it chose a male narcissist and female empath to illustrate the point indicates you are still in that mindset and have not yet begun "recovering." Just look, you took an irrelevant point to make this about yourself, and even more, making yourself out to be the victim. It's an article that's not "targeting" you or trying to make you feel shameful, but a narcissist would perceive it that way. All in the mean time you are able to put down females and insinuate that they (or any empaths) are just as responsible for the radical behavior of a narcissist. I encourage you to continue to "recover" but unfortunately personality disorders can only be maintained and empathy cannot be taught. One thing you can do is become more mindful. Recognize when you are "scheming" and trying to take advantage of another. Recognize how your actions affect other people by being genuine. Recognize that it is okay to disagree with another and to not let your own immediate emotions make you feel the need to be defensive/berating. Recognize that this world is not yours to give, but yours to share. You'll become a much happier person when you don't have to manipulate, blame, or guilt people into "getting ahead or "being right." When you reciprocate respect and empathy, you'll begin to find that most people are willing to help you get ahead and you'll be able to sustain an established friendship/relationship. If you continue to have a life of constant chaos from never finding fault within and never being able to say "I'm sorry," you will find yourself a lonely old man (named Kyle) with a trail of ash from the burnt bridges…

    anonymous Aug 16, 2015 2:04pm

    I think your definition of what you call an empath is actually a co-dependent partner, sometimes called inverted narcissism. This is a behavior that is formed typically with the spouse of an alcoholic partner but can also be formed from unhealthy relationships with mentally ill people who have illnesses such as NPD. These 2 attract each other and benefit from each others negative qualities creating a toxic relationship. Both people need help.

    anonymous Aug 25, 2015 7:49am

    Yikes! This could have been written by my ex! My skin started crawling with the first sentence! Way to be arrogant, demeaning and judgmental. Very thinly veiled, I might add. I thought I was in a safe place. Feels like a fox was let into the henhouse! You are going to attack me, I know, it's what Narcs do!

    anonymous Dec 27, 2015 1:35pm

    Kyle’s comment made me cringe. No matter what draws the narcissist and the empath together, no person deserves to be on the receiving end of abusive behavior. Although the term victim has many connotations, there is no doubt in my mind that any man or woman who has been abused by a narcissist has been victimized. To imply somehow that the empath is to blame somehow for choosing the narcissist as a partner sounds similar to those who claim a woman deserves to be raped if she dresses provocatively.

Christopher Rowe Apr 18, 2018 5:57pm

Hahahaha, Kristen you sound like my ex which was one of the worst Narcissists I have ever met. Penny is absolutely 100 percent correct on these abusive people. I'm also an Empath and have been dealing with these types of people my entire life.

Lali Zu Mar 13, 2018 11:54am

It is called psicopath and complementary relationship. This kind of personality( the psycho) its not a disease it's a way of living that comes naturally since the person was born. You have nothing to do about it, you can't change the person itself. stay way as much as possible. The lak of contact is the key and the Professional assistance for the complementary as well

Penny Schwartz Feb 9, 2018 8:23pm

Kristen Fuller Schaffernoff, a victim is not "taken over" by a Narcissist! She is seduced! The Narcissist studies her and then "mirror images" her, leading her to believe he is her soul mate. He is sweet, sensitive, caring and thoughtful (because he is " mirror imaging" what she is). Once he knows that he has her hooked, then he slowly introduces her to his real self. Not all Narcissists are great at the "game", but some should be given awards for their acting skills. I am an empath. I am sweet and caring, but I am not stupid or a weak pushover. If anyone walked up to me and started making demands, I would tell them to go jump in a lake! Narcissists use charm at first, then they slowly start making demands, and then they become abusive, leaving the victim to wonder what happen to the sweet charming man she had fell in love with. Empath is not synonymous with weakness! I would rather be an empath with too much compassion, than to be cold and heartless with no compassion. You are part of the problem in this society. You are blaming the victim! Shame on you!

Sandra Hartman Nov 7, 2017 2:03am

Too late I read this. Actually I find an alarming fact. Narcissists want to put me down, degrade me, in essence destroy me. It destroys me to realize I absorb & can no longer deflect this superior, ego manic grandiose selfish self indulgence. I was raped twice. My filter assess & dismiss avoid is gone. In the anger I have these creeps just go on & I'm termed mentally ill . When I'm not, I have uniquely mingled with lots of narccists but my agenda is wrong. I want there grandiose seeking & lies to be outed by themselves. My suppression in abuse has been shattering. I speak rather than act. I no longer have the naturalness having absorbed the darkness of narccists. Hey Joe this is who I am you jerk cut out the superior put downs with your role & ill gotten position where the insincerity hurts me. Belligerence from damage feels uncomfortable. Sadly psychology/psychiatry has hurt me. 24-36 psych meds I never needed for any length of time if at all caused life threatening brain leisions. The I don't know or understand " practicing medicine" yes I do malpractice is criminal I understand that & should be listened to. Social media. I don't understand. My phone on overload. This block may be easy to remove Sandy 385 389 0597. Thank you. I'm repelled by narccists they ascribe & often obtain controlling jobs where my civil rights suffer. I don't butter up well I feel the undeserved hate & hostility. Game playing at 70 bothers me

Lauren Marie Flynn Jul 15, 2017 3:37pm

spoken like a true narcissist

Lauren Marie Flynn Jul 15, 2017 3:36pm

I wish people, myself included, could feel the same way about self abusing behavior. Why is it that it is so easy to say "they do not have the right to use or abuse someone else", but so difficult to say "I do not have the right to use or abuse myself"?

Kristen Fuller-Schaffernoth Apr 13, 2017 12:54am

Getting taken over by an asshole doesnt make you an empath it makes you a sucker, for the sake of other humans with weak constitutions lets call a spade a spade, dont blame another person for stealing what you readily gave, your time, your trust and your dignity.

Irene Swinkels Mar 9, 2017 9:09pm

Ohhh this is such a wonderful article... The only thing is: whenever an empath (been there, yes...) is sucked into a narcissicts life, they are blinded and there is no way to warn them. Love to all people involved. It's horrible and damaging... <3

Scott Andrews Sep 23, 2016 10:02pm

Kendall MacKenzie Binkley I wish I saw it in the first place. I learned a lot about her and me, too. Learning one's own psychology should be taught in school, along with fitness and nutrition. People go out into the world knowing the answers to questions that a member of society should know without knowing the more fundamental matters to try to recognize trouble, avoid it and get out of it. And any stigmas attached to mental health and cognitive ability should be eliminated, too. Learning to empathize and teach trolls to do so, etc. All these things cost money and ignoring them hurts the economy so it honestly is important to a society as well.

Kendall Binkley Carpenter Sep 23, 2016 3:36am

Attempting to explain that to a narcissist is simply a waste of time and completely in vein. I left a narcissist after 10 years of marriage, and 3 beautiful children, last September. He sucked me in again recently; luckily it didn't last long. He recognized a new weakness and used it against me- I was quickly reminded why I left in the first place. During my healing process I have since realized my mother is also a narcissist. As difficult as it was to accept, I cannot explain how much that has changed my life because I was finally able to begin the process of healing wounds I didn't realize existed- and changing the way I react/interact with her. The distance has been a blessing. My point is I know neither will change. I've begged silently, loudly, calmly, and hysterically crying on my knees. It's disturbing the way their expressions, separately in separate situations, were identical... the way they both fed off my pain and literally smiled uncontrollably due to their satisfaction of completely breaking me in that moment. The best way to handle a narcissist is recognize one prior to getting involved; or understanding what a narcissist is so you are able to immediately remove yourself from the abuse the moment it begins.

Scott Andrews Aug 21, 2016 7:28pm

Kyle, Excellent point: "Narcissists and empaths are simply drawn to each other naturally. And each have their own equal and opposite issues to work on." Regardless of anyone's "natural conditioning" they are responsible for their actions. They do not have the right to use or abuse someone else. It is bad to do any of that to someone and the person they do it to is their victim. If narcissists feel ashamed of themselves after they use and abuse someone, apologize to them, ask to be forgiven and change then congratulations to them. If narcissists do not do all of that then they have work to do because they have not made up for their cruelty.